Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bridge collpses in Minnesota

Captain Ed has this, but with very few details. He has confirmed his family is safe. He is slated to come on Hugh's show after the first break in the final hour of his show. From The Strib:

The Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during the evening rush hour Wednesday, dumping at least eight cars and a truck into the water and onto the land below, creating a horrific scene of damage, fire, smoke, injuries, frantic rescuers and terrified motorists.
It was not clear how many people might be hurt or killed, but witnesses said at least 20 cars were involved.

Multiple trauma victims -- some in critical condition -- have been taken to Hemmpein County Medical Center.

The crumpled green wreckage of the bridge lay on the east bank of the river, and a huge section of concrete roadway lay on the west bank. Down below in the river gorge, rescue workers scrambled to help people on the roadway that now lay in the gorge. Fires burned and black smoke rose billowed the wreckage.

Workers have been repairing the 40-year-old bridge’s surface as part of improvements along that stretch of the interstate.

Rescue workers were helping some people from cars in the river onto land.

People at the scene said the entire bridge collapsed, leaving part of the roadway submerged and part above water.

A number of people were walking around on the roadway that was not submerged.

Ramon Houge of St. Paul, was on his way home from work at Wells Fargo and was driving on the bridge when heard a rumbling noise, saw the ground collapse and cars go down. He said cars backed up as best they could and he parked in a construction zone and was finally able to turn around and drive off the bridge. “It didn’t seem like it was real,” he said. Traffic was bumper to bumper and hundreds of people would have been involved, he said, adding that he saw kids on a bus with blood on their faces.

Sarah Fahnhorst, who lives in an apartment a block away from the bridge, heard a huge thud and then “the entire building shook. It shook the ground.”

Emergency calls began flooding into Minneapolis' 911 center about people and cars dumped into the Mississippi River.

"Everybody's pretty much saying the same thing: That there's some people in the water" said Tashia Brown, a 911 operator.

She said one 911 caller said she could see the construction workers using a jackhammers when the bridge collapsed close to her car. "She saw it and she said she just gunned it and just made it out of there," Brown said.

Minneapolis police and fire, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, the Minnesota State Patrol and other agencies were responding.

Some callers were requesting ambulances, others said they had slight injuries but didn't know how to get off the bridge.

Amidst the rescue efforts, the Minnesota State Patrol said at 7 p.m. that the cause of the bridge collapse remained undetermined.

Traffic was bieng stopped at University Avenue from the North and Washington Avenue from the South.

The State Patrol was setting up a command post.

The arched bridge had risen about 64 feet above the river before its collapse at the end of rush hour, when cars were bumper to bumper in traffic.

Area law enforcement, including the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, had launched at least three boats to help with the rescues.

Our prayers will be with those that suffered through this tragedy. Hopefully, the death toll in this accident will be low, as will the casualties. Terrorism is not being claimed as a factor in this. Keep an eye on Captain Ed Morrissey's site for updates.

Publius II

More Naivete From Obama

First, he wants to meet with our enemies and talk. Now, he says we are on the wrong battlefield, and would eye Pakistan as the next target in our war:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would possibly send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists, an attempt to show strength when his chief rival has described his foreign policy skills as naive.

The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that he must do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters under an Obama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a U.S. troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid.

"Let me make this clear," Obama said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. "There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

Naive does not begin to cover the idiocy this man is showing. Let me get this straight here: Because he feels President Musharraf is not doing his job right, we are going to invade his nation? Pakistan is an allyof this nation, and President Musharraf is doing what he has to do to try and rein in the Islamicists.

While it would be OK to apply political pressure when it was necessary, to turn around and threaten an ally is beyond the pale. It is simply not constructive. We can offer all the help to President Musharraf we can, but to invade his country is not a help; it is a hinderance in the worst way.


Monday, July 30, 2007

An Examination In Thinking

This dawned on me today, and I find it disgusting. The New Republic allowed a soldier in Iraq to put together a piece that defamed our soldiers. They are sociopaths. They are thugs. They are uncaring, unfeeling loose cannons that are capable of just about any sort of abusive behavior.

The Left elevates Scott Thomas Beauchamp to a pedastel, and lauds his bravery for speaking, as they would say, "truth to power."

Michael O'Hanlon, Kenneth Pollack, and John Burns speak about what they saw in Iraq, with regard to the "Surge's" early success. They talk about how Anbar's violence is greatly decreased. That Iraqi forces are taking the lead on many missions. That security -- the military side of the equation -- is working. The Left responds by attacking them. They are sell-outs. They are lying. Someone in Iraq twisted their arm.

What is their motivation for lying? Seriously, because no one on the Left is explaining that accusation. They sold out? For what? An interview with a soldier, or something like that? General Petreus, as John Burns explained yesterday in the Hewitt interview, has insisted that his commanders make themselves available to media -- be they new media or MSM -- so that the real story of what is occurring abroad gets out. The accusations pass the sniffer test about as much as Private Beauchamp's embellishments do.

But this does speak a great deal about the Left and their thinking. Basically speaking, if you "tow the line," i.e., you continue to say what the moonbats say, and give a de facto "loyalty" oath to those beliefs, you are safe. Go off the reservation, and it will take a miracle of "Goracle" proportions to bring you back into the fold.

Thomas highlighted this this morning in his addendum to his late night post on the good news out of Iraq. See, the Left is not simply arguing with Mr. O'Hanlon, Mr. Pollack, and Mr. Burns. They are savaging them. A classic example is John Murtha's response to the op-ed they wrote which is "It's an illusion."

It is not an illusion. It is working. All we need to do is give them the time they have asked us for, and that the Congress promised them they would have.


"Mr. Coreleone prefers to get bad news as soon as possible."

What's the bad news? The surge is working. Who's it bad for? The Democrats in congress caving into the moonbat antiwar nutters. And who says it's working? Well, for starters, Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, and brother the Left is pulling out the knives on this one. Dean Barnett tracked the Left's reaction today, and as moonbats naturally do, they're eating their young that disagree with their opinions. They are decrying both men as being nuts, and it's not not just prominent liberal bloggers. No, even the mainstream moonbats are weighing in.

These people are accusing both men of lying. As if they had a reason or motive to lie? Both men are on the record as opposing the invasion and war in Iraq. They admit that. But the simple fact remains that neither man is going to deny that it's working. The signs are there. Violence is down. AQ fighters and leaders are being caught or killed on a fairly regular basis.

Would the Left like more proof? Your honor, I present defense exhibit "B:" New York Times Baghdad chief, John Burns,/li> with an interview conducted last Friday with Hugh Hewitt, and aired Monday afternoon. Here are some excerpts:

On Petreus's credibility and honesty in his report --

HH: Now when General Petraeus returns in September to make his report, do you expect Petraeus to be completely candid with the American people about the good news and the bad news in Iraq?

JB: I think there’s no doubt that he’ll be candid. As a matter of fact, every time I’ve spoken to him about it, he talks about the need to be forthright, and as he puts it, he said we’re not going to be putting lipstick on a pig. I think that’s a fairly, that’s military jargon which most Americans will understand. David Petraeus is a man who’s had a remarkably distinguished military career, and he is very clear that he thinks his responsibilities lie not to the White House alone, but to the White House and the Congress conjointly, and through them to the American people. I don’t think that this is just a profession, a claim. I think he really intends that, and he’s been very careful not to make commitments at the moment as to what he’s going to say, though we may guess it. And I think he’s going to say that the surge is having its effects, it hasn’t turned the tide of the war, there’s been too little time for it, and I think he and Ambassador Crocker, who will be his partner in that September report, are going to say one thing very clearly, and that is a quick, early withdrawal of American troops of the kind that is being argued by Nancy Pelosi, for example, would very likely lead to catastrophic levels of violence here. And in that, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will be saying something which is pretty broadly shared by people who live and work here, I have to say. The removal of American troops would very likely, we believe from all indications, lead to much higher, and indeed potentially cataclysmic levels of violence, beyond anything we’ve seen to date.

Realism on the ground by those there --

HH: Speaking more broadly now, in the American higher command, is there optimism that the surge, given enough time, will bring the kind of stability to Iraq that we all hope it achieves?

JB: You know, optimism is a word which is rarely used around here. The word they would use is realism. You have to look at what the plan is. The plan is that with the surge, aimed primarily at al Qaeda, who are responsible for most of the spectacular attacks, the major suicide bombings, for example, that have driven the sectarian warfare here, the belief is, or the hope is, that with the surge, they can knock al Qaeda back, they can clear areas which have been virtually sanctuaries for al Qaeda, northeast, south, west and northwest of Baghdad, and in Baghdad itself, and then have Iraqi troops move in behind them. The problem here is time. How much time does the U.S. military have now, according to the American political timetable, to accomplish this? I think most generals would say, indeed have said, most serving current generals here have said that a drawdown, which took American troops from the 160,00 level they’re at now quickly down to 100,000 or 80,000 over the next, shall we say, year to eighteen months, that’s too fast. If you do that, I think they would say, though they don’t put it quite this frankly, that this war will be lost for sure. Given a little bit more time, they think that it is realistic to think that the Iraqi forces can move in behind them, and can take over the principal responsibilities for the war. The problem is, of course, that American generals have been saying this now for four years, and as we know, the Congress is beginning to run out of patience with that. But I think that they have a good plan now, at least if there is any plan that could save the situation here, any plan that could bring a reasonably successful end to the American enterprise here, it’s probably the plan they have right now.

On Sunni/Shia relations, with relation to the surge --

HH: When we spoke in February, you told us about the killing that had been underway in Adamiya, one of the places where sectarian violence in Baghdad had really flared in October. What’s your assessment of the Shiia on Sunni violence level in Baghdad six months into the surge?

JB: It is reduced, and it’s reduced primarily, as far as we can see, because of the increment, and I’m talking here of a virtual doubling of American troop strength in Baghdad, to speak only the neighborhood in which the New York Times operates here, the Rusafa neighborhood on the east side of the Tigris River, we here now have American troops quartered about a half a mile away from us for the first time in three years. So when you put American boots on the ground, you definitely have an inhibiting effect on this, and we’ve seen that in falling levels of sectarian violence. Where you don’t have American boots on the ground inside Baghdad, you see higher levels of sectarian violence. So I would that on the whole, the situation is somewhat better than it was, which is exactly what you would have expected by introducing a significant increase of American combat troops.

HH: John Burns, that means it’s down, but is there any kind of movement that you can see that would suggest that when, that the Iraqis are coming to their own conclusion that they’ve go to work through other means than violence, is there a lowering of the hatred level there in Baghdad?

JB: Well, of course, that would be what the American military would call the most crucial metric of all. If we could see that, then we would begin to see the end of the war. Now the fact is that the Iraqi people are, of course, exhausted with the violence. The question is at what point does that begin to translate into the kind of stepping up that would make a change in the warfare, specifically the flow of intelligence to the Iraqi and American militaries here, which would enable them to go after the people who are primarily responsible, whether it’s Shiite death squads or its suicide bombers, mostly Sunni suicide bombers. The intelligence flow, we’re told, is a good deal better, very much better than it was. This is an intelligence driven war, but the American military will tell you that they still don’t have enough of it. They have quite a good flow of intelligence, which has allowed them to have some spectacular successes, including one just last night in Karbala, southwest of Baghdad, the holy city where they went after a Shiite militia death squad leader. And this happens virtually every night, usually special forces operations, American led. They’ve have some success with that. So that’s really the key metric. When the Iraqi people’s exhaustion with this war begins to express itself in a full flow of intelligence to the Iraqi and American military, then you will see real progress in the war. Up until now, it’s much better, but it’s still, according to the American military, still not nearly enough to make it a crucial difference.

On arguing for withdrawal --

HH: One of the arguments for those favoring a timeline for withdrawal that’s written in stone is that it will oblige the Iraqi political class to get serious about such things as the oil revenue division. Do you believe that’s an accurate argument?

JB: Well, you would think it would be so, wouldn’t you, that the threat of withdrawal of American troops, and the risk of a slide into catastrophic levels of violence, much higher than we’ve already seen, would impel the Iraqi leadership to move forward. But there’s a conundrum here. There’s a paradox. That’s to say the more that the Democrats in the Congress lead the push for an early withdrawal, the more Iraqi political leaders, particularly the Shiite political leaders, but the Sunnis as well, and the Kurds, are inclined to think that this is going to be settled, eventually, in an outright civil war, in consequence of which they are very, very unlikely or reluctant, at present, to make major concessions. They’re much more inclined to kind of hunker down. So in effect, the threats from Washington about a withdrawal, which we might have hoped would have brought about greater political cooperation in face of the threat that would ensue from that to the entire political establishment here, has had, as best we can gauge it, much more the opposite effect, of an effect that persuading people well, if the Americans are going, there’s absolutely no…and we’re going to have to settle this by a civil war, why should we make concessions on that matter right now? For example, to give you only one isolated exception, why should the Shiite leadership, in their view, make major concessions about widening the entry point for former Baathists into the government, into the senior levels of the military leadership, that’s to say bringing in high ranking Sunnis into the government and the army and the police, who themselves, the Sunnis, are in the main former stalwarts of Saddam’s regime. Why would the Shiites do that if they believe that in the end, they’re going to have to fight a civil war? This is not to reprove people in the Congress who think that the United States has spent enough blood and treasure here. It’s just a reality that that’s the way this debate seems to be being read by many Iraqi politicians.

On whether the war is lost, and what sort of violence would be expected in the wake of a withdrawal --

HH: Do you believe that, John Burns, that the war is lost?

JB: No, I don’t, actually. I think the war is close to lost, but I don’t think that all hope is extinguished, and I do think, as do many of my colleagues in the media here, that an accelerated early withdrawal, something which reduced American troops, even if they were placed in large bases out in the desert to, say, something like 60-80,000 over a period of six to nine months, and in effect, leaving the fighting in the cities and the approaches to the cities to the Iraqis, I think the result of that would, in effect, be a rapid, a rapid progress towards an all-out civil war. And the people who are urging that kind of a drawdown, I think, have to take that into account. That’s not to say, I have to say, that that should be enough to inhibit those politicians who make that argument, because they could very well ask if that’s true, can those who argue for a continued high level of American military involvement here assure us that we wouldn’t come to the same point three or four years, and perhaps four or five thousand American soldiers killed later? In other words, we might only be putting off the evil day. It seems to me that’s where this discussion really has to focus. Can those who argue for staying here, can they offer any reasonable hope that three, two, three, four years out, the risk of a decline into cataclysmic civil war would be any less? If the answer is no they can’t, then it seems to me that strengthens the argument of those who say well, we might as well withdraw fairly quickly now.

HH: Now you’ve reported some very tough places, Sarajevo, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and after the liberation from the Taliban, and you’ve won Pulitzers for that. When you say cataclysmic civil war, what do you mean in terms of what you’ve seen before? What kind of violence do you imagine would break out after precipitous withdrawal?

JB: Well, let’s look at what’s happened already as a benchmark. Nobody really knows how many people have died here, but I would guess that in terms of the civilian population, it’s probably not less than 100-150,000, and it could be higher than that. I don’t think it’s as high as the 700,000 that some estimates have suggested, but I think it’s, and I know for a fact, that the sort of figures that were being discussed amongst senior American officials here, as a potential, should there be an early withdrawal and a progress to an all-out civil war, they’re talking about the possibility of as many as a million Iraqis dying. Now of course, that is suppositional. It’s entirely hypothetical. How could we possibly know? But I think you couldn’t rule out that possibility. And the question then arises, catastrophic as the effect on Iraq and the region would be, you know, what would be the effect on American credibility in the world, American power in the world, and America’s sense of itself? These are extremely difficult issues to resolve, and I can’t say, sitting here in Baghdad, that I have any particular wisdom about what the right course would be. And fortunately, as a reporter, I’m not paid money to offer that kind of wisdom, only to observe what I see. And there are days when I thank God that I’m not sitting in the United States Senate or the United States House of Representatives, with the responsibility of putting the ballot in the box on this.

John Burns, again, is the Baghdad bureau chief for the New York times. He's been there for almost four years watching and covering the war as it started, and as it continues. He, like the Brookings duo, also noted the morale of the troops, and how it has changed drastically since General Petreus's arrival in Baghdad. In the general, the troops see a commander who believes this mission is right, and it's goals are attainable. All he asks is that we have a little more patience with him and the troops. Read the whole interview, or listen to all three hours here. It's well worth it for anyone who wants to hear what's happening in Iraq. This interview, and the story filed by O'Hanlon and Pollack, should be just as important as a Michael Yon dispatch, or a Bill Roggio report, or a Michael Totten briefing.

These people are there. They're seeing it work. Who's the bad news for? Not just the Left in Congress, but the moonbat fever swampers, too. For them it's the worst news they could have handed to them. Game over. Checkmate. We ARE winning. The surge IS working. So, for all the moonbats out there that took pride in beating on all three men today, enjoy the peace while it lasts. Your colleagues in the know are still laughing their @$$es off at how obtuse they are, and how idiotic they look as knee-jerk reactionaries.

Publius II

ADDENDUM: At 5:00 a.m. (according to the timestamp on the piece) the editors of National Review posted up a symposium which included Frank Gaffney, John McCain, Michael Yon, Victor Davis Hanson, Clifford May, Mackrubin Owens, James Robbins, Peter Rodman, and Joseph Skelly. Within this piece are their opinions regardig the war, and they discuss not only the Brookings piece for the New York Times, but the surge in and of itself. Here's an example from Michael Yon:

I am in broad agreement with most of the article by O’Hanlon and Pollack and, in fact, have been reporting in writing, on national radio, and most recently on Good Morning America that I have been seeing remarkable positive changes in Iraq.

I asked General Petraeus last night for his opinion of the current situation. General Petraeus responded with: “Our assessment at this point is that we have begun to achieve a degree of momentum on the ground in going after AQI sanctuaries and in disrupting the activities of some of the militia extremists; however, AQI continues to try to reignite ethno-sectarian violence and clearly still has the capability to carry out sensational attacks that cause substantial civilian loss of life. And the militia elements certainly continue to pursue sectarian displacement in certain fault-line areas and to cause trouble in some Shia provinces as well. So there’s clearly considerable work to be done by Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. Beyond that, the spread of Sunni Arab rejection of AQI is very important and is a development on which we are still trying to capitalize beyond Anbar Province, where the effects are already very clear.”

In fact, I have had the feeling for more than a month that top U.S. leadership in Iraq has been being cautious not to show too much optimism at this time. However, I have seen changes with my own eyes in Nineveh, Anbar, and Diyala that are more fundamental than just winning battles. In Nineveh, the enemies of a united Iraq are still strong and vibrant, but the Iraqi army and police in Nineveh clearly are improving faster than the enemy is improving. In other words, the Iraqi Security Forces are winning that particular race. Out in Anbar, the shift actually began to occur last year while Special Forces and other less-than-visible operators, along with conventional forces such as the Marines, began harnessing the mood-shift of the tribes. Whereas in Nineveh the fight has been more like a race and test of endurance, in Anbar the outcome was more like an avalanche. Parts of Diyala, such as Baqubah, witnessed avalanche-like positive changes beginning on June 19 with Operation Arrowhead Ripper. I witnessed the operation and was given full access. However, other areas in Diyala remain serious problems. I have seen firsthand many sectarian issues. There remains civil war in parts of Diyala (largely thanks to AQI). Down in Basra, a completely different problem-set faces the British who themselves are facing tough choices.

Skipping past the blow-by-blow and getting to the bottom line: I sense there has been a fundamental shift in Iraq. One officer called it a “change in the seas,” and I believe his words were accurate. Something has changed. The change is fundamental, and for once seems positive. And so, back to the O’Hanlon-Pollack story in the New York Times, “A War We Just Might Win,” I agree.

See? Mr. Yon is someone that we read carefully and often. He's there, unlike the occasional "envoys" from Congress that go, stay for a week, and come home. He's there. He goes out with the troops. He sees the good and the bad, which he fully recognizes in this brief piece. It's a given that there will be problems along the way, but as we can see from these men, the duo from the Brookings Institute, and from John Burns that significant, tangible progress is being made over there.

We're not saying that by September General Petreus is going to declare victory, and roll up AQ in Iraq. His progress, hopefully, will be measured honestly by Congress. He's not going to lie to them. He's yet to do that with anyone. John Burns (who I was unable to cite more thoroughly due to the length of the interview itself; that is why there are links to the transcript and audio) stated he had spoken with General Petreus. The general, he says, goes out of his way to clear time for reporters to speak with him, in a candid fashion, and as yet, he strikes no one as the sort to BS them.

Those in Congress need to give the surge time to really work. And those in Congress need to tune out the cacophony of voices from activists that have nothing better to do than to whine, complain, and cite skewed information for the betterment of their arguments. This is a war, and the US can ill afford a defeat. Such a situation would be a disaster not only for our nation, but for Iraq, as well. We've said it before and it's worth repeating: It's time for the adults to seize back the reins of power from the kids int he party. The kids are going to get us killed. At the very least, they are going to get us hurt in a way that will make 11 September look like child's play.

Our enemy isn't stupid. General Petreus himself said that they have seen just how quickly AQ can adapt at any given moment. And given that they're receiving aid from nations like Iran and Syria, this would be the wrong time to play round-heel, and get the Hell out of Dodge. We urge readers to call their representatives in Congress, and tell them to stand fast. Hold the lines, and make sure we don't leave precipitously, leaving behind a nation that will most certainly turn on itself in civil war, and one that will definitely be ravaged by the enemies within their own borders. I was three when we left Vietnam, and hundreds of thousands were slaughtered by the invading Communists. Marcie wasn't even born yet. I'd hate to see it happen all over again with a defeatist withdrawal from Iraq.

Publius II

Sunday, July 29, 2007

On the lighter side of news today ....

Yeah, I'm straying fromt he heavy topics for right now. I've been listening and reading about a lot of news today, but this story made me laugh:

Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney has filed a lawsuit against The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, claiming the paper libeled her in at least two editorials and a news article.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Fulton County State Court against the newspaper, its parent company, Cox Enterprises, as well as its publisher, managing editor and editorial page editor Cynthia Tucker.

Among other allegations, the lawsuit alleges the paper contained libelous and defamatory statements in two of Tucker's 2006 columns, including one about the congresswoman's altercation with a Capitol Hill police officer in a Washington office building. That column was included in a submission that won Tucker the Pulitzer Prize earlier this year.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

McKinney, a Democrat who lost to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson in last year's party primary, is asking for unspecified monetary damages.

Her lawyer, J.M. Raffauf, didn't return a phone message left at his office by The Associated Press on Sunday. An attorney for the newspaper, Peter Canfield, called the allegations "frivolous" and said he would move to have them dismissed as soon as the paper is served with the suit.

file this under the "Mother Moonbat" area of irrelevance. Now that she's out of work, and out of the limelight, she'd like to remind America why she's unemployed. The tactics are the same. Somebody said something critical about her. Trust me, if this suit goes forward, the race card will be played before it's over. Same old Cynthia, same old playbook.

Publius II

The Pelosi/Murtha Scheme

Neither one rate all that high on our "relevancy" scale, but regardless of that, they are the ones in the House scheming to bring defeat in Iraq. From The Washington Times today:

With Congress's August recess less than one week away, it should hardly come as a surprise that Rep. John Murtha, the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, is readying more legislative mischief. Mr. Murtha, a close political ally of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has made it clear that plans to use the $459.6 billion defense appropriations bill, which comes to the floor this week, to short-circuit the current military campaign against jihadists in Iraq and shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo).

Mr. Murtha plans to offer three amendments to the fiscal 2008 defense appropriations bill: One would set a 60-day timeline to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq (which will certainly help al Qaeda and the like in planning the Rwanda-ization of the country). A second Murtha amendment would implement the Pennsylvania Democrat's "slow-bleed" strategy for ensuring a U.S. military defeat by conditioning funds for the war upon the military meeting some unattainable standards for training and equipping the troops. Should the administrate violate the strictures in an effort to reinforce besieged American soldiers or prevent genocide, we have no doubt that if the Democrats are still in the majority that they will be holding oversight hearings and issuing subpoenas to U.S. military commanders and senior Pentagon officials, summoning them to testify about "why they broke the law" by sending these soldiers to the battlefield.

Mr. Murtha's third amendment would close the Guantanamo Bay facility. He hasn't said precisely what he wants to do with these terrorists, but his Democratic colleagues have weighed in, including Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia (who has been perhaps the most fervent congressional advocate of shutting down Gitmo) as well as House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan.

Messrs. Skelton and Conyers want to grant the detainees habeas corpus rights, permitting them to challenge their detentions in federal court. while Mr. Moran has suggested: 1) sending them back to their countries of origin (he doesn't specify whether these people would be turned over to security services in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, or set free to rejoin their jihadist comrades on the battlefield — something that has already happened in at least 12 cases involving prisoners released from Gitmo); or 2) imprisoning them here. By arming unlawful combatants captured on the battlefield with a panoply of rights a la American criminal defendants, the Democrats are creating a perverse incentive for foreign enemies of the United States join terrorist groups and violate the laws of war — knowing that even if they behave as barbarians, they can fight everything out in U.S. courts, represented by lawyers working with groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights.

While we're discussing new "rights" for Gitmo detainees, there's new evidence suggesting it is false to assert that most of the men locked up there are hapless innocents or low-level functionaries who pose no real threat to American forces. A new study published by the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point concludes that between 73 and 95 percent of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners represent a threat to U.S. forces; they include veterans of terrorist training camps, al Qaeda fighters and men who have experience with explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and sniper rifles.

It would be unconscionable for Republicans and sane Democrats not to challenge Mr. Murtha and Company to explain why they want to grant such dangerous people expansive new legal rights.

It is unconscionable that these two people are looking to end this war when so much good news is coming out of Iraq. These people want to see defeat. they see it now, and they are working to make it a reality.

The Republicans need to stand strong, gather the "Blue Dogs," and fight the extreme Left-wing of the Democrat majority in the House. The troops need their chance to make this work. If Representative Murtha and Speaker Pelosi get their way, the troops will be denied the victory they are fighting to achieve.


Good News the Left Does Not Want To Hear

When it comes to Iraq, the Left never wants to hear good news. It is a quagmire; a military blunder, and it was perpetuated with lies by the administration. That is what you think if you are a typical war critic on the Left, like those that sit in Congress and denounce the war yet take no responsibility for their participation in it.

Today Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack penned a piece on Iraq that will have the Left howling:

(Hat-Tip: Hugh Hewitt)

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

In Ramadi, for example, we talked with an outstanding Marine captain whose company was living in harmony in a complex with a (largely Sunni) Iraqi police company and a (largely Shiite) Iraqi Army unit. He and his men had built an Arab-style living room, where he met with the local Sunni sheiks — all formerly allies of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups — who were now competing to secure his friendship.

In Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood, which has seen some of the worst sectarian combat, we walked a street slowly coming back to life with stores and shoppers. The Sunni residents were unhappy with the nearby police checkpoint, where Shiite officers reportedly abused them, but they seemed genuinely happy with the American soldiers and a mostly Kurdish Iraqi Army company patrolling the street. The local Sunni militia even had agreed to confine itself to its compound once the Americans and Iraqi units arrived.

We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside. A local mayor told us his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq. All across the country, the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark.

But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

Read the whole piece in the New York Times. It is worth it because these two men, hardly "right-wing neo-cons," have just returned from Iraq and they are seeing the same progress we have been witnessing for the past few weeks. Since mid-June when General Petreus received his final deployment of "Surge" troops, the troops on the ground have been taking the fight right back to the insurgents and jihadis.

We are working with the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds to help them stabilize the various regions still being rocked by violence. Now we go into an area, and after it is pacified, we do not leave. In the past we would, or we would leave the Iraqi military behind, only to watch the area fall back into the enemy's hands. That is not happening any longer. Now we are staying, and now we can trust the Iraqis to stick with us and stay on task. They are better trained, and we no longer have the problem of turncoats in the ranks.

The strategy is working. We knew it would work prior to it's implementation. General David Petreus, literally, rewrote the counterinsurgency handbook for the Army. He is utilizing every tactic and strategy within it. All he asks, all our troops ask, is that they be given the time they need to carry out their mission. Both Mr. O'Hanlon and Mr. Pollack acknowledge that morale is high, and the troops believe in the mission because they can see results. They can see how things are turning around. I firmly believe that had General Petreus been in Baghdad a couple of years ago, things would have been distinctly different.

This is the sort of news the Left fears. This is why they were trying to force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq before any reports could be made, before any progress could be shown.

Think about this: The Surge troops have been in place a little over a month. They have until September -- three months -- to show that progress is being made. If General Petreus returns with news of that progress -- drastic and substantive progress -- will the Left finally shut up, and let the troops do their jobs, or will the antiwar zealots ramp up the rhetoric again, citing more "lies" from the administration?

You can please some of the people some of the time, but you will never satisfy a liberal's view of reality. It is always gloomy, and filled with malaise.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

The GOP YouTube debate, and the controversy surrounding it

This is a subject that has had a decent amount of attention this past week. While the media doesn't seem concerned with it, or mentions it in a minor passing thought, the blogs have almost erupted in a war over it. It's been noted on Captain's Quarters today, and a possible solution has been presented. This is what the Captain said:

The Republican reluctance to engage in the scheduled September YouTube debate has created a fierce debate in the blogosphere, including something of a civil war at Hugh Hewitt's Townhall blog. Hugh himself has adamantly insisted that Republican candidates eschew the substance less spectacle of the YouTube/CNN enterprise as a media setup. Patrick Ruffini, his co-blogger, insists that a refusal will show an unwillingness to engage directly with citizens. I argued that the YouTube debate amounted to a political equivalent of the game show Let's Make A Deal, while Rick Moran casts it as a test of political courage. Michelle Malkin and Mark Steyn agree with Rick, while Jasmius at Heading Right says the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot.

Clearly, though, we have competing interests here and everyone has something right in this debate. The Republicans have to do better in reaching out directly to voters. In fact, given the real and/or perceived hostility of the national media towards the GOP, it behooves the Republicans to find ways around the media filter. The question is whether the CNN/YouTube structure allows them to do it.

The flaw in pursuing the debate as it CNN structured it for the Democrats is that CNN chose the questions. Even Joe Biden complained about that selection during the debate, calling the final question -- a demand for each candidate to say one thing good and one thing bad about the candidate to their left -- a "ridiculous exercise" as he answered it. A review of the
transcript shows that the actual questions held little substance and gave little information to voters about the candidates or their positions.

So what's the solution? How can we engage voters in a national forum through the New Media, while keeping the debate substantive and serious? I have a simple solution: have CNN cede the editorial/selection process to the New Media, in the form of the blogosphere.

CNN would ask bloggers to form a committee to review the YouTube entries. Since this debate is a Republican primary event, the bloggers should probably represent that segment of the electorate -- primarily Republicans, but perhaps with independent/centrist representation as well. The committee would review all of the YouTube entries and narrow them down to around 20, through whatever process and criteria to which these bloggers agree. They would also agree to the order in which the questions would be asked.

How does this solve the argument? It removes CNN from any responsibility for the question selection, shielding them from bias allegations. It puts the onus on the New Media to act responsibly in its question selection. This mechanism truly would make the candidates accountable directly to the people who will vote for them in the primary races. The candidates would have no excuses to avoid this debate, either.

CNN has engaged the blogosphere in innovative ways before. If CNN and YouTube agree to this process, I would find the result fascinating -- and expect full participation from Republican candidates.

This was an issue that had Thomas on one side, Marcie on the other, and eventually had Thomas reversing himself after he heard a number of the questions. If nothing else, it's not as though they didn't hammer this one out, and according to what I've heard, Thomas was completely unwilling to give in until he heard the questions, and realized that CNN would definitely be biased in choosing the questions. In short, the questions would lack any sort of serious substance, and would likely be used for a "gotcha soundbite" by the mainstream media. So, I see where they are coming from.

On the other hand, I can also see where Messrs. Ruffini and Steyn are coming from, as well as Ms. Malkin. Say what you will, but if they opt to skip this debate it will not look good in the public's eyes; a party afraid to engage the average citizen -- listening and responding to their queries. So, what is the GOP to do?

The Captain has a sound idea. If the questions were chosen by bloggers -- center-right bloggers, to be sure -- then CNN could avoid the charges of bias and agenda journalism. It would fall to the team of bloggers compiled to pick the best, most substantive questions. The candidates cold avoid any of the nuttiness that Thomas cited (such as the young miss wanting to know when another commission would be establish to determine why Building 7 of the WTC complex fell; pure "truther" garbage that has no place in such a debate) and hopefully focus on the pressing issues coming up in the future.

What are the plans we have to deal with Iran, and prevent them from achieving nuclear weapons?

Our relations with North Korea, and what will the repercussions be should they go back to constructing nuclear weapons?

Will we watch Libya now that Sarkozy has reached a deal to build a nuclear reactor for Muammar Qaddafi?

What contingency would they have in place should the Musharraf regime fall to radical Islamicists?

On the domestic side, what is to be done about Social Security?

Will the tax system be revamped, or will we continue with the same outdated, unfair system?

These are substantive questions. They're not off-the-wall or flaky. these are the sorts of questions that should be asked of the people wishing to be president. We want real answers, not a thirty-second soundbite. I would like to add that while the Captain has an excellent idea, I agree with him on the amount of questions. Twenty to twenty-five questions would be plenty, and the candidates would actually have a minute or two to respond.

If the debate were held in such a fashion, I'm sure that not only would the impending "civil war" amongst the center-right bloggers would be over, but the candidates would be willing to embrace such a medium. Let's face facts here: We take these sorts of things far more seriously than the Democrats do. There is no reason why the candidates should fear what the bloggers come up with in terms of the YouTube questions. We're not looking for a "gotcha" moment. We're looking at who will handle helming this nation for the next four years. They can't be insulated from the public, and the public must know that these are people that can relate to their lives, their problems, and their concerns.

Is there a chance that a nutty question could be thrown out there? A slim one, yes, but it would be worth it, in all honesty, to prove that this side of the blogosphere is serious. And it would be an ideal moment for the candidates to recognize that this election will be unlike any we have ever witnessed, for the "trench warfare" in the election will be conducted on the Internet. We need only look to the one potential candidate who has embraced the alternative media more than any other, and the supporters that this sort of appeal has generated for him.

Sabrina McKinney

ADDENDUM: 2:05 PM AZ time ... Sabrina posted this up about two hours ago, and given our busy day with friends in town, we've been a little busy to handle the site. TY Sabrina for keeping up where we slack.

We both read this piece with interest. It seems to be a viable compromise. It also raises the legitimacy of the center-right blogosphere when it comes to the GOP candidates. Furthermore, the GOP candidates would have nothing to fear from the center-right assembling the the questions from the YouTube entries, and choosing the order they're asked in.

As the controversy was first started on Hugh Hewitt's site between him and Patrick Ruffini, both should be among the bloggers chosen to assemble the questions. We also nominate Michelle Malkin, Captain Ed, Rick Moran, K-Lo, J-Pod, Rich Lowery, and Mark Steyn to participate in choosing the questions.

Both sides interests would be met. The questions would be substantive in intellect, and the GOP avoids looking fearful of the public. CNN can still serve as host and time-keeper, and avoid any claims of bias. Plus, as Sabrina noted, if the center-right chooses the questions and they cap the amount, the candidates would get far more time to give a solid, substantive answer as opposed to a soundbite.

If this is agreed upon, we will stand by the decision. It should be offered not only to CNN, but to every candidate on the GOP side. If both sides approve, the center-right analysts should begin work immediately in choosing the questions.

Publius II

Gitmo "catch and release"

Michelle Malkin has a "must-read" piece this morning about the detainees from Guantanamo Bay that have been caught, then later released. Here is a report from The Age that gives some concerning details:

AT LEAST 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees have been killed or recaptured after taking up arms against allied forces following their release.

They have been discovered mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but not in Iraq, a US Defence Department spokesman told The Age yesterday.

Commander Jeffrey Gordon said the detainees had, while in custody, falsely claimed to be farmers, truck drivers, cooks, small-arms merchants, low-level combatants or had offered other false explanations for being in Afghanistan.

"We are aware of dozens of cases where they have returned to militant activities, participated in anti-US propaganda or engaged in other activities," said Commander Gordon.

His comments follow the death this week of Taliban commander and former detainee Abdullah Mehsud, who reportedly blew himself up rather than surrender to Pakistani forces. In December 2001, Mehsud was captured in Afghanistan and held at Guantanamo Bay until his release in March 2004. He later became the Taliban chief for South Waziristan.

"These former detainees successfully lied to US officials, sometimes for over three years," he said. "Common cover stories include going to Afghanistan to buy medicines, to teach the Koran or to find a wife. Many of these stories appear so often, and are subsequently proven false, that we can only conclude that they are part of their terrorist training."

An analysis of 516 Guantanamo detainees found that while there was no evidence linking six of them to terrorist activities, 95 per cent were a potential threat to US interests. This was based on their affiliations with groups such as al-Qaeda, their enthusiasm for violent jihad, their having undertaken small-arms training or having been willing to perform a support role for terrorism.

But only one in three could be definitely identified as a fighter for the Taliban, al-Qaeda or associated groups, according to the analysis by the Combating Terrorism Centre based at the West Point Military Academy.

Most were considered a greater than potential risk due to support they had shown the Islamist cause by fighting for Islamist forces or by undertaking advanced military training, including bomb-making.

We knew this would happen. As a matter of fact, our military warned us it was likely that once freed, many of these people would return to the battlefield. Call it a hunch, or instinct, or what have you, but they knew it then, and the recent stories about former "Gitmo" detainees rediscovered on the battlefield simply confirms it. I've scanned the CTC report she cites and it's very interesting. (The pdf is here and it is a small report; only thirty-nine pages.) The most interesting fact gleaned from the report is what Michelle cites in her post, namely the breakdown of 291 detainees examined by the investigators:

• 56 individuals admitted to fighting the U.S. or Coalition forces.

• 104 individuals were found to have manned the front lines.

• 9 individuals were found to have participated in a bombing operation, improvised explosives device (IED) attack or other explosives-involved operation.

• 98 individuals were found to have directly participated in, or supported the planning or plotting of, a combat operation.

• 3 individuals were found to have purchased weapons for the furtherance of committing hostile acts.

• 21 individuals were found to have engaged in ‘other’ hostile activities

In addition to that there is also a breakdown of the detainees based on national origin. Most of them come from Afghanistan, Yemen, and yes Saudi Arabia! "Our friends the Saudis." One hundred twelve have come from Saudi Arabia, while 102 come from Yemen, and 124 have hailed from Afghanistan. More interesting? Twenty-two come from China, which is the largest amount of jihadis caught and detained from a non-Muslim country, or a country not even near the Middle East.

The stories the jihadis tell are the same. The lies still keep getting peddled, and in the end these people go back to what they were doing when they were caught. They go back to the fields of battle, and attack US, NATO, and other Coalition forces. They're bombing us, blowing themselves up, and carrying on their jihad. A stay at the "Gitmo" detention facility is literally, as Rush parodies -- "An escape from the pressures and rigors of jihad." It's a vacation for them where they get their three, religiously-conscious meals, their prayer rugs, their delicately-handled Q'urans, their walks in the excercise yard, and their prayer times announced daily. It is like living the life of a shiekh. And if you were a jihadi, you'd enjoy it too.

But the Democrats seem to think that these people are telling the truth when they say they were captured by mistake, or they were merely farmers over there. They also believe the jihadis when they say they were abused and tortured at "Gitmo." It is diddficult to determine whether or not the Democrats are truly this foolish and naive, but as long as they keep pressing for the detainees' release, and the closure of the ONLY place these people can be held, we know they are not, and never have been, serious about winning this war.

Sabrina McKinney

Friday, July 27, 2007

Democrats vow to obstruct any further high court nominees

The four liberal members of the US Supreme Court -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, and John Paul Stevens -- have all stated they have no plans or intentions of retiring from the high court any time soon, but that's not stopping Senator Chuckie "Schmuckie" Schumer from flapping his gum about blocking any further appointments to the high court,/li for the remainder of President Bush's term:

New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a powerful member of the Democratic leadership, said Friday the Senate should not confirm another U.S. Supreme Court nominee under President Bush “except in extraordinary circumstances.”

“We should reverse the presumption of confirmation,” Schumer told the American Constitution Society convention in Washington. “The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts, or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito.”

Schumer’s assertion comes as Democrats and liberal advocacy groups are increasingly complaining that the Supreme Court with Bush’s nominees – Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito – has moved quicker than expected to overturn legal precedents. Senators were too quick to accept the nominees’ word that they would respect legal precedents, and “too easily impressed with the charm of Roberts and the erudition of Alito,” Schumer said.

“There is no doubt that we were hoodwinked,” said Schumer, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said Schumer's comments show "a tremendous disrespect for the Constitution" by suggesting that the Senate not confirm nominees. "This is the kind of blind obstruction that people have come to expect from Sen. Schumer," Perino said. "He has an alarming habit of attacking people whose character and position make them unwilling or unable to respond. That is the sign of a bully. If the past is any indication, I would bet that we would see a Democratic senatorial fundraising appeal in the next few days."

Schumer voted against confirming Roberts and Alito. In Friday’s speech, he said his “greatest regret” in the last Congress was not doing more to scuttle Alito. “Alito shouldn’t have been confirmed,” Schumer said. “I should have done a better job. My colleagues said we didn’t have the votes, but I think we should have twisted more arms and done more.”

OK, so twist more arms over allegations that were unfounded? Would Senator Schumer prefer to execute the "witch-hunt" tactic and start demanding that Alito and Roberts shun their moral beliefs? Geez, give me a break. Ms. Perrino is quite correct in the assessment that Senator Schumer obviously doesn't know the Constitution as well as he claims to. Furthermore, where did either man reverse himself?

They said in their hearings that they would abide by stare decisis if it applied. It is obvious from the cases that so many people on the Left are hyperventilating about that such a stance didn't apply. Come on, folks, these people take the race-based admissions case to mean that we're going back to segregated schools. Nothing could be further from the truth, but in the case of the Left, it's commonplace for them to make asinine statements like this. It's no different than Ted Kennedy painting Robert Bork as some sort of racist bigot when that's not even close to what Judge Bork was like. In fact, Judge Bork is considered one of the preeminent constructionist judges to ever sit on the bench.

But ... if that is what happens, then I join Professor Glenn Reynolds in offering up my services for any sort of recess appointment the president would like to make. While I lack the legal credentials of Professor Reynolds (an a number of other notable conservative bloggers), I do have over twenty years private study under my belt with regard to the Constitution, it's relative jurisprudence, and the original meaning of the founding document. Professor Reynolds promises to make his stint on the bench an interesting one.

I promise Chuck Schumer that if he thought the high court was out of balance from this past term, he hasn't seen anything yet. Give me my chance on the bench, and I guarantee I'll give a fair number of liberal senators heart-attacks.

Publius II

Publius eats crow; reverses opinion

This rarely happens, and it has never happened on our sites -- any of them. But after a long discussion today about this issue, Marcie was able to change my mind. Granted, she had a little help from someone else, namely Hugh Hewitt. See, Hugh showed listeners tonight why the idea of the GOP YouTube debate is fanciful, at best; at worst, it could be disastrous for politics. Please, go here and listen to the three podcasts of some of these questions already submitted.

While I wholeheartedly respect Patrick Ruffini for his opinion on why the GOP candidates shouldn't bow out of the debate, the questions spoke for themselves. Out of the two or three dozen questions he chose, there were maybe two that actually made sense or had a point. The rest of the questions were bad, to say the lest.

There was a Truther wanting to know if anyone would commission a new, independent 11 September commission to investigate why building seven was the last building to fall despite the fact that no plane hit it. (Um, it's called debris from the two main towers falling, and the damage done to it from that debris would have called for it's demolition anyway. It's not an inside job, moonbat.)

There was someone from Sri Lanka that wanted to know why his country of origin was poor, and the US was so rich. (Capitalism, rugged individualism, and an entrepreneurial spirit unmatched by any nation on the face of the globe.)

There was a guy complaining about NAFTA.

There was a guy (no kidding here) named "Santa Claus" from Tahoe wanting to know what would be done with the millions of impoverished children.

Get the patern here? Either these people are obtuse when it comes to politics, and what government should be doing, or they're simply nuts. The candidates would have to face two hours of this sort of garbage. Say what you want about who chose these videos, and say what you want about my opinion of them, but the simple fact remains that our candidates are treating this election with the utmost seriousness.

If Patrick Ruffini and his supporters wish to have a debate where the candidates field questions from everyday Americans, let those people have a microphone, and stand int he auditorium to address them directly. After listening to this show -- twice, mind you -- I am of the opinion that to have YouTubers presenting questions to the candidates would be like watching a car wreck in slow motion, much like what we witnessed in the Democrat's subsequent debate within this format.

Oh, and why did I listen to it twice? We listen to his show live every afternoon via the Internet. But we live in Arizona, not California, so his show is on tape delay. When he's done at six p.m. our time in California, his show starts on KKNT here in Arizona. Marcie wanted to make sure I got the hint, so I was asked to endure the show again, in it's entirety. OK, I get it. I was wrong in siding with Patrick. While I understand his point, it's invalid in the face of the show today. It's a bad idea, and I hope the candidates don't give into the petition being circulated, or the "brow-beating" they may endure at the hands of pundits who would love nothing more than to see the candidates embarrassed by some of the obtuse people submitting these questions.

So, there. I ate my dose of crow. I was wrong. She was right.

Publius II

Welcome Hugh Hewitt readers. Feel free to hand out licks if you'd like. Marcie sure handed hers out last night with the capable assistance of Hugh's amazing display of American asininity. Sorry Patrick, but there's no way in Hell you can convince me the Spetember GOP YouTiube debate will be anything less than a bad bit of comedy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

McCain losing ground here in Arizona

That's the report from CNN's Political Ticker:

Republican Sen. John McCain is slipping in polls in his home state of Arizona.

According to a new survey from the American Research Group, Sen. McCain had previously polled at 45% in February, and is now at 32 percent in July. His decline appears to be tied to the rise of former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who has not yet formally announced his candidacy for president.

Sen. Thompson received 15 percent of the votes among likely GOP voters in the new poll.

We predicted that Fred would bleed a couple of the candidates, namely Rudy and McCain, but we also said that he would bleed McCain the most. Fred is running on a platform of small government and federalism, while McCain is banking on the "maverick" image that has so infuriated the base. If you listen to the talking heads on CNN or MSNBC, or read any of the MSM newspapers, they keep blaming the slip on his stance with regard to Iraq.

For the record, John McCain was done before he started, and it wasn't all due to Iraq. We can go back to 2001 with campaign finance reform (or as we "lovingly" call it, the "incumbent protection act). Fast forward to 2005, and McCain hurt himself with the Gang of 14 deal that kept the filibusters in place for judicial appointments. And who can forget the snafu this year with the Kennedy/McCain amnesty bill?

John McCain's done this to himself all along. He lacks the charisma that Rudy shows, and he lacks the ideas of Fred Thompson when it comes to government. Remember that John McCain has stood by the idea of being fiscally conservative, yet the amnesty bill would have cost the taxpayers, in the long run, over two trillion dollars. That's not being fiscally smart, at all.

We've made no bones about the fact we can't support him. If he becomes the nominee (and that's a BIG 'IF') we will of course vote for him, but it will be one that is cast while we're holding our noses. Of course we don't think he'll make it to the nomination. Right now there are doubts if he'll even make it to New Hampshire and Iowa. Those prospects are looking extremely bleak as he continues to lose campaign people, and hemorrhage cash from the funds he's raised.

Right now, John McCain is doing his best impression of Captain Edward Smith as his own ship slips beneath the icy waters of political failure.

Publius II

Putting politics above security?

It's been awhile since any mention of the NSA's Terrorist Surveillance Program has been mentioned in the news. But in today's Opinion Journal, the editors tackle this ire-raising issue:

The U.S. homeland hasn't been struck by terrorists since September 11, and one reason may be more aggressive intelligence policies. So Americans should be alarmed that one of the best intelligence tools--warrantless wiretapping of al Qaeda suspects--has recently become far less effective and is in danger of being neutered by Congressional Democrats.

President Bush approved this terrorist surveillance not long after 9/11, allowing intelligence officials to track terrorist calls overseas, as well as overseas communications with al Qaeda sympathizers operating in the U.S. The New York Times exposed the program in late 2005, and Democrats and antiwar activists immediately denounced it as an "illegal" attempt to spy on Americans, à la J. Edgar Hoover.

Democratic leaders were briefed on the program from the first and never once tried to shut it down. But once it was exposed, these same Democrats accused Mr. Bush of breaking the law by not getting warrants from the special court created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. Mr. Bush has rightly defended the program's legality, but as a gesture of compromise in January he agreed to seek warrants under the FISA process.

This has turned out to be an enormous mistake that has unilaterally disarmed one of our best intelligence weapons in the war on terror. To understand why, keep in mind that we live in a world of fiber optics and packet-switching. A wiretap today doesn't mean the FBI must install a bug on Abdul Terrorist's phone in Peshawar. Information now follows the path of least resistance, wherever that may lead. And because the U.S. has among the world's most efficient networks, hundreds of millions of foreign calls are routed through the U.S.

That's right: If an al Qaeda operative in Quetta calls a fellow jihadi in Peshawar, that call may well travel through a U.S. network. This ought to be a big U.S. advantage in our "asymmetrical" conflict with terrorists. But it also means that, for the purposes of FISA, a foreign call that is routed through U.S. networks becomes a domestic call. So thanks to the obligation to abide by an outdated FISA statute, U.S. intelligence is now struggling even to tap the communications of foreign-based terrorists. If this makes you furious, it gets worse.

Our understanding is that some FISA judges have been open to expediting warrants, as well as granting retroactive approval. But there are 11 judges in the FISA rotation, and some of them have been demanding that intelligence officials get permission in advance for wiretaps. This means missed opportunities and less effective intelligence. And it shows once again why the decisions of unaccountable judges shouldn't be allowed to supplant those of an elected Commander in Chief.

When the program began, certain U.S. telecom companies also cooperated with the National Security Agency. But they were sued once the program was exposed, and so some have ceased cooperating for fear of damaging liability claims. We found all of this hard to believe when we first heard it, but we've since confirmed the details with other high-level sources.

Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell more or less admitted the problem last week, albeit obliquely, when he told the Senate that "we're actually missing a significant portion of what we should be getting." That's understating things. Our sources say the surveillance program is now at most one-third as effective as it once was.

The president's singular mistake in this mess was to place the NSA TSP under the auspice of FISA. Never before has a Commander-in-Chief waived his rights and authority under the Constitution to anyone that doesn't have the explicit rights. In other words, when it comes to national security, the buck stops with the president; not with congress, not with the courts, and certainly not with FISA. To date, eighteen cases have been brought against the executive for what others have called "illegal surveillance." The problem is that when it's done int he interest of national security, it's not illegal. The most prominent case that dealt with this issue was the FISA Court of Review case called In re: Sealed Case. It is the only time the FISA Court of Review has ever met to deal with a question regarding such powers with relation to FISA, and the court of Review ruled in favor of the executive branch.

This was the single most effective program we had in our arsenal to combat terrorists around the globe. As John Hinderacker notes at Power Line, it is "infuriating" that the Democrats refuse to allow the president to take steps to modernize FISA so it is more in tune with the world we live in, and with the tactics necessary to protect the nation. The Democrats are clearly putting politics before national security on this matter, and only God knows why.

But our ire still lies with President Bush. His concession to turn the operation over to FISA was a mistake. Granted he thought that in doing so, the pressure would be backed off a notch or two, and the Democrats would be placated. I'm sorry but this is the sort of mistake that presidents can ill afford to make.

The Democrats don't like him, and that should be evident by now with all the investigations they wish to launch into the executive branch over issues as trite as firing attorneys, to whether or not the intelligence for the Iraq invasion was "cooked," to investigating a non-crime like Valerie Plame's non-cover being blown, and so on and so forth. If these people had wanted to "get along" with the "compassionate conservative" that was elected in 2000, they would have by now. Here we are, six years later, and these people are still throwing bombs at him and his administration, and they show no signs of stopping.

Sheesh. And we thought he had it rough dealing with the same animals that wanted to blow us up?

Part of this is President Bush's fault. To that there can be no argument. However, a good deal of the blame for the failure of this operations sits at the Democrat's feet. They didn't raise a stink about this when Presidents Clinton, Bush (41), Reagan, or Carter used this power, but all of a sudden it's wrong for the current president to use it. This further proves who is on the right side of winning the war, and who simply can't leave politics behind when it comes to making sure the nation is secured from it's enemies.

Publius II

Rich Lowry On Hillary Clinton

For political junkies, the end of one election cycle has but a brief moment before the next one heats up. We do have elections every two years in America; every four years, the dogfight occurs for the presidency. We are now in the middle of such a fight as primary candidates try to make the people understand their point-of-view on issues and topics that are important to the electorate. Both sides have their strong candidates and their weak ones. (A brief check of our column archives shows that we have disseminated the GOP candidates fairly, and without any sort of whitewash to them.)

One person stands out on the other side of the aisle, and that is Hillary Clinton. Groan and gnash your teeth if you must, but she is the key frontrunner on the Democrat side, and even though Rich Lowry will never vote for her, he goes on the record stating he will never underestimate her again:

Hillary Clinton has led in almost every national poll among the Democratic presidential candidates, usually by double digits. She has turned in a solid, self-assured performance in all the debates, has revved up an impressive organization and hasn’t made a major mistake under the glare of a media that magnify everything she does.

Clinton is the underestimated frontrunner. How much will-he-or-won’t-he commentary has been devoted to almost-certainly-won’t Al Gore, and how many glossy pages and adoring column inches to Barack Obama, as she continues her steady march toward the nomination?

Conservative commentators like me have especially tended to discount her. We have argued that she’d never dare to run for Senate in New York; that if she ran, she’d be a terrible candidate; and that if she really ran for president, she would collapse under the weight of her own dullness and high negatives. Alas and alack, it is instead incontrovertible that — in her own way — she’s a talented politician who has a clear path to the Democratic presidential nomination and to the presidency.

She’s not a natural, a fact highlighted all the more by her association by marriage to the great natural politician of his generation. If the test of a candidate is whether you would like to sit down and have a beer with her, she will never pass it.

She excels on other tests. Iraq seemed her greatest liability at the beginning of the campaign: She would either have to repudiate her vote to authorize the war, or be repudiated herself by anti-war Democratic voters. But she found her way out of the trap.

Read the whole thing because it is well worth the time. Mr. Lowry takes time to munch on some crow, and that is something Thomas and I do occasionally when watching her. She is slick and able; her spirit and will to achieve the presidency cannot be denied. Unlike the others she is facing, she has experience in politics that prove to be the keys to the White House. We can look to the recent rhetorical flap going on between her and Barack Obama, but she did come out swinging with the right jabs at his debate answer from Monday night.

The fact that he stated he would meet with enemy nations, without any sort of pre-conditions is a dangerous gamble to take. Thomas and I still believe this is Senator Obama's "global test" moment. While she may not believe that the world is a dangerous place, she is hitting all the right buttons with the electorate. Her answer to the question on Monday -- invoking Fidel Castro's name -- was priceless. We tend to forget the Cuban-Americans in Florida that detest the man, and such a subtle appeal to them could prove invaluable.

Her march to the nomination is virtually unstoppable, save for a serious mistake or gaffe she may make between now and then. But her campaign is filled with professionals that know their job, and they are working for a woman that does not suffer fools long. One mistake made by them, as Mr. Lowry observes, and they will most assuredly be out of a job. While Senator Obama and Mr. Edwards may make life rough for her, she is still going to emerge from the primaries as the de facto nominee.

The Republican nominee must not only be someone who has a clear vision of the future of this nation, but also one that can contrast -- sharply -- to Senator Clinton's vision. We already know what this woman is about, and so do many others. Her unfavorability amongst voters is the only weight around her neck. What others perceive as cold, some prefer cool confidence. When others see arrogance, her supporters see unflappable assurance. There is a tit for every tat with this woman, and many have made the mistake of underestimating her.

We would be wise to remember that this woman, while not as coy and cagey as her husband, still has what it takes to win what she wants.