Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fit For Print But Not To Air: 7

1. A little late and probably linked to on every other blog out there but, who knows - maybe someone who was not paying attention before or was not reading the other blogs may want this link to Representative Ron Paul's profile in The New York Times

Ron Paul is the only Republican presidential candidate who voted against the Congressional resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq and the only one to have run for the president under the Libertarian banner.

2. Senator Joe Biden's plan for Iraq gets a positive review here but the presidential candidate I bet probably does not want journalists dismissing his candidacy by referring to him as a potential Secretary of State.

3.Senator Chris Dodd says the next president's personal characteristics will count as much as his ideas. "People have to have a gut reaction to you," the five-term senator from Connecticut is quoted as saying in The Des Moines Register. If this is about gut reactions then bland-talking theme-less seeming senior citizen looking Dodd wouldn't get my vote. But of course, gut reactions shouldn't determine who we should vote for.

4. One Republican candidate stops short of calling China an enemy. "China is not just an economic threat," - Representative Tom Tancredo as quoted in The Des Moines Register

5. Senator Sam Brownback courts the South Vietnamese-Americans.

6. The list of candidates with controversial supporters is increasing. John Edwards , Mitt Romney , Rudolph Giuliani , John McCain , and now, Barack Obama, have their fair share of trouble makers could do without these supporters. Senator Barack Obama came out against lobbyists.

7. Former Governor Mitt Romney defended himself against flip-flopping charges, saying it "If changing your mind is a problem in this country, we're in trouble." Perhaps the governor who is courageous enough to change his mind so that is is in conformance with Republican primary voters will change his mind about the hunting of ferrets.

8. Former Senator John Edwards offered Iowans his tax plan, which calls for tax cuts and credits for the lower and middle classes (however that is defined is anyone's guess) and tax increases for the rich.

9. A short profile on Representative Duncan Hunter can be found here.
He by the way, defended Alberto Gonzalez on "Hardball" Monday night.

10. Former Governor Tommy Thompson is looking to build his support through a motorcycle riding constituency? Sigh. The reasons for voting for a president are ...





Future Events for Presidential Candidates as presented by The Washington Post

Senator Joe Biden will promote his campaign book, "Promsies to Keep: On Life and Politics" at a National Press Club Luncheon on August 1, 2007 and participate in a Demcoratic debate held on August 19, 2007.

On July 31, Senator Sam Brownback will meet with Pioneer Hi-Bred employees in Johnston, speak for gun rights at Izaak Walton League in Ames, and speak about foreign policy at the United States Center for Citizen Diplomacy. He will participate in the Republican debate hosted by ABC News on August 5, 2007.

Senator Hillary Clinton will speak at Iowa State Education Association summer conference held in Storm Lake on July 31, participate in the Human Rights Campaign/Logo gay rights forum held in Studio City on August 9, and debate her opponents in yet another Democratic Primary Debate on August 19.

Senator Chris Dodd will give a speech at the YearlyKos Convention on August 4, 2007 in Chicago, participate in the Human Rights Campaign/Logo gay rights forum held in Studio City on August 9, then participate in a Democratic Debate hosted by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on August 19, 2007.

Former Senator John Edwards will hold a fund raiser at the Temple Nightclub in San Francisco on August 1, speak at the YearlyKos Convention held in Chicago on August 4, join his opponents in a forum concerning issues of concern for gay people sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and Logo, and participate in a debate hosted by ABC News on August 19.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will participate in a Town Hall meeting held at The Governor's Inn in Rochester, NH on July 31, then participate in an August 5 debate sponsored by ABC News,

Former Senator Mike Gravel will participate in the August 19 debate that will be aired on ABC.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will participate in the August 5 Republican primary debate aired on ABC News.

Representative Duncan Hunter will partcipate in the Republican primary debate hosted by George Stephanopoulos on August 5.

Representative Dennis Kucinich will be interviewed by the AFSCME presidential search committee on July 30, participate in the AFL-CIO multi-candidate forum and Human Rights Campaign/Logo forums held on August 7,and August 9, speak at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on August 10 and the California Democratic Leadership Council meeting held in Los Angeles on August 11.

Senator John McCain will hold a fund raiser at the Marriott Center City in Pittsburgh on July 30, make an appearance at the Young Professionals for McCain event held in Washington, hold a fund raiser at a private home in Cincinnati on July 31 and at The Heathman Hotel in POrtland, Oregon on August 1, then participate at a Town Hall held at Stanford Summit in Palo, Alto.

Senator Barack Obama will hold a public breakfast meeting with his wife in Great Impasta, Champaign and a town hall meeting held at Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids, a Women for Obama luncheon, and a reception held at the Radison Hotel in Chicago, in Peoria on July 30. He will also participate in the YearlyKos Convention held in Chicago on August 4, the Human Rights/Logo gay rights forum held on August 9 and the Democratic Debate hosted by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on August 19.

Representative Ron Paul will participate in the August 5, 2007 debate aired on ABC News.

Former Massachusetts Mitt Romney will hold a fund raiser in Virginia Beach on July 31, and two on August 3 - one in Rockport and another in Kennesbunkport. He will also participate in the Rep8blican primary debate held in August.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will be campaigning at The Hawkeye Restaurant in Keokuk Iowa, the Eldridge Community Center in Eldridge, the West Liberty Community Center in West Liberty,and the SEIU Local 199 in Coralville on August 2. He will also participate in the Democratic debate held on August 19.


Representative Tom Tancredo will hold several town hall meetings - one at the The Smokey Row in Pleasantville, Iowa on July 30, one at West Side Family Dining in Grinnell on July 30, one at Family Table Restaurant in Osceola on July 31, one at the Pizza Ranch in Creston on July 31, and one at Junction Cafe in Bedford on July 31. He will participate in the Republican primary debate on August 5.

Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson will attend a meeting at Boz's Kitchen in Coming Iowa on July 30, another at the Bedford Country Club on the same day, another at the Ice House Restaurant in Clarinda, at the The Gathering Place in Sidney, and the Red Oak Country Club in Red Oak on July 30. He will participate in the Republican primary debate held on August 5.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Weekend Preview

No preview will be offered this weekend but political commentary concerning the latest debate, Alberto Gonzalez' and/or other political events here and/or around the globe will be offered.

Iraq And Saudi Arabia: The Bright Side

There are at least two ways to look at the Saudis' efforts to undermine Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and fund the Sunni insurgents. U.S. President George W. Bush is apparently frustrated because he is seeking to bolster Maliki's administration to counter the militants on both sides. Saudi efforts to arm the Sunnis and provide the Iraq's Sunnis with a seemingly never-ending supply of foreign fighters.

By replenishing Sunni insurgents with foreign fighters, the Saudi king relieves his country of potential enemies to his regime at the cost of the coalition's military strategy aimed toward victory.

The Saudi king's strategy does, however, offer us a way out of Iraq without yielding the country to Iran. Replenishing the Sunni insurgents' with foreign fighters may create the military equilibrium so that no one can win the war for Iraq, forcing the three principle factions to choose between a decades-long fruitless war that ends in stalemate or a negotiated settlement everyone can live with.

Democratic Congressmen in the meantime will use this news to provide yet another reason for a U.S. troop withdrawal. U.S. troops have no reason to stay if their strategy is being undermined by friend and foe alike.

Liberal Legal Jurisprudence

Going back to a topic this writer first brought up when the president nominated Chief Justices Roberts and later, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court but this time James Balkin discredits conservative legal theorists' dubious distinction between the liberals' attempt to "legislate from the bench" and the conservatives' promise to "interpret the constitution."


"Justice Clarence Thomas is well known for his claim that we should be faithful to the Constitution's original meaning. This often leads him to results contrary with the rest of his fellow Justices, including Justice Scalia, who also claims to be an originalist, but of the "faint-hearted" variety.

But there is more than one version of originalism. Original meaning originalism asks about the meaning of the words in constitutional text to the average person at the time of adoption. Original expected application asks how people at the time of adoption would have understood the text would be applied. Original understanding is usually some form of expectations based originalism-- it asks how the text's meaning and its likely application would have been generally understood at the time of adoption. Original intention asks what some relevant group of persons at the time of adoption intended the law to be or how it should be applied."
- Jack Balkin

So, the baseball umpire which Chief Justice Roberts once compared himself does not merely follow the rules but in effect sets them by interpreting how they are to be applied. Justice Thomas said high school students do not have First Amendment rights when they are in public schools because they didn't have that right in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ("expectations based originalism") but his newest colleague, Justice Alito, used "original meaning" originalism to reach a different conclusion - that high school students in public schools do have First Amendment free speech protections.

How can they reach different conclusions? One justice treated the rights as they were applied as the right protected by the Constitution while the looked at how that right could be applied today.

These principles, however, apply across the board. Liberals will find this analysis inconvenient from time to time

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Faith in War: Food for Thought

"Alas, in the unpredictable fog and Clausewitzian “friction” of war, to believe in something is more important than to be blessed by mere logic, or to have the ability for talented argument—even more important than the marvelous gear one carries. “Faith is the great strategic factor that unbelieving faculties and bureaucracies ignore”, retired Army Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters wrote in the Weekly Standard in February 2006. This is not a new idea, of course, just an obvious but too often forgotten one. It suggests particularly that we have forgotten Dostoyevsky, who wrote in The Brothers Karamazov that the signal flaw of the upper classes is that they “want to base justice on reason alone”, not on any deeper belief system absent which everything can be rationalized, so that the will of a society to fight and survive withers away.

Peters fears that Islamic revolutionaries believe in themselves more than we believe in ourselves. Terrorists do not fear the Pentagon’s much touted “network-centric warfare”, he writes, because they have mastered it for a fraction of a cent on the dollar, “achieving greater relative effects with the Internet, cell phones, and cheap airline tickets” than have all of our military technologies. Our trillion-dollar arsenal, he notes, cannot produce an instrument of war as effective as the suicide bomber—“the breakthrough weapon of our time.” If not Dostoyevsky, Kipling would have understood this. In the poem “Arithmetic on the Frontier” Kipling writes that as the hillsides of eastern Afghanistan teem with “home-bred” troops brought from England at “vast expense of time and steam”, the odds remain “on the cheaper man”, the native fighter. The suicide bomber is Kipling’s “cheaper man” incarnate.

This breakthrough weapon is a product of fanatical belief—of a different sort than Captain MacWhirr’s, but of belief nonetheless. Jihad as practiced, not as theorized, places more emphasis on the “mystical dimension” of sacrifice than on any tactical or strategic objective. Jihad is most often an act of individual exultation rather than of collective action, observes Olivier Roy in The Failure of Political Islam (1994). It is “an affair between the believer and God and not between the believer and his enemy. There is no obligation to obtain a result. Hence the demonstrative, even exhibitionist, aspects of the attacks.”

The suicide bomber is the distilled essence of jihad, the result of an age when the electronic media provides an unprecedented platform for exhibitionism. "
- Robert D. Kaplan in The American Interest


Of course the question is whether faith alone can assure us victory and moreover, in medium-sized wars like the one we are now fighting in Iraq, whether whether we must have faith in the people we are protecting as well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quotes and Thoughts from the Youtube Democratic Debate: Telling Moments

1. Barack Obama on His Inexperience as an Asset

"Well, I think the questioner hit the nail on the head. As I travel around the country, people have an urgent desire for change in Washington. And we are not going to fix health care, we're not going to fix energy, we are not going to do anything about our education system unless we change how business is done in Washington.

Now, part of that is bringing people together, as Chris said. But part of it is also overcoming special interests and lobbyists who are writing legislation that's critical to the American people.

And one of the things I bring is a perspective as a community organizer, as a state
legislator, as well as a U.S. senator, that says: Washington has to change."
- Senator Barack Obama

Comment: This is the routine speech given by anyone who does not have experience in Washington. President Carter used it, President Clinton used it, President George W. Bush used it, and now Senator Barack Obama is using it. Like Obama, President Bush said he will go to Washington to change it. When he was done with it, Washington would be a land of milk and honey. Social security will be saved. Affordable health care will be provided for all. Taxes will be cut. Republicans and Democrats will carol their way out of the White House back to Capitol Hill, holding hands.

Fa-la-la. ahem. Let me clear my throat. Has it happened yet? Nope.

2. Barack Obama on on Reparations

"I think the reparations we need right here in South Carolina is investment, for example, in our schools. I did a...

(APPLAUSE)

I did a town hall meeting in Florence, South Carolina, in an area called the corridor of shame. They've got buildings that students are trying to learn in that were built right after the Civil War. And we've got teachers who are not trained to teach the subjects they're teaching and high dropout rates.

We've got to understand that there are corridors of shame all across the country. And if we make the investments and understand that those are our children, that's the kind of reparations that are really going to make a difference in America right now."
- Senator Barack Obama

Comment: Pretty good answer here in so far as he turned the question around on its head. Ask not what the country owes one group of people; ask what the country needs to do to fix it so that all, including (but not exclusively) those most affected by the sins of the past, can share in the country's blessings.

3. Sound bite of the Evening

"The Democrats have failed the American people. When we took over in January, the American people didn't expect us to give them a Democratic version of the war. They expected us to act quickly to end the war." - Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)

4. The Promise

"When I am president of the United States, when I send our troops into battle, I am going to be absolutely sure that it is based on sound intelligence, and I'm going to tell the truth to the American people, as well as the families who are being asked to sacrifice." - Senator Barack Obama

I wonder if the senator has read this book yet. I'm sure Mr. Obama wlll respond to militar crisis her rather than later.

5. Meeting with Enemies

Question: "In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?"


Senator Obama: "I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.

And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We've been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.

They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region." - Senator Barack Obama



Clinton: "Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are.

"I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration.

And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy.

And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we're not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be."
- Senator Clinton

Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are.

I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration."

And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy.

And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we're not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be."
- Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York)

Um. High-level presidential envoys would give the presidents of North Korea, Iran, and Syria the same free publicity. Better to leave the discussions to the lower echelons of power first to see what these leaders are willing to offer in return.

5. Iraq

"The diplomatic work cannot begin to heal Iraq, to protect our interests, without troops out. Our troops have become targets. You are going to say six months, because it might provoke a civil war. There is a civil war. There is sectarian conflict." - Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico)

"Number one, there is not a single military man in this audience who will tell this senator he can get those troops out in six months if the order goes today.

Let's start telling the truth. Number one, you take all the troops out. You better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die, number one.

So we can't leave them there. And it's going to take a minimum 5,000 troops to 10,000 just to protect our civilians. So while you're taking them out, Governor, take everybody out. That may be necessary.

Number three, the idea that we all voted -- except for me -- for that appropriation. That man's son is dead. For all I know, it was an IED. Seventy percent of all the deaths occurred have been those roadside bombs. We have money in that bill to begin to build and send immediately mine-resistant vehicles that increase by 80 percent the likelihood none of your cadets will die, General. And they all voted against it.

How in good conscience can you vote not to send those vehicles over there as long as there's one single, solitary troop there?"
- Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware)

"You know, I put forth a comprehensive three-point plan to get our troops out of Iraq, and it does start with moving them out as soon as possible.

But Joe is right. You know, I have done extensive work on this. And the best estimate is that we can probably move a brigade a month, if we really accelerate it, maybe a brigade and a half or two a month. That is a lot of months.

My point is: They're not even planning for that in the Pentagon. You know, Mr. Berry, I am so sorry about the loss of your son. And I hope to goodness your youngest son doesn't face anything like that.

But until we get this president and the Pentagon to begin to at least tell us they are planning to withdraw, we are not going to be able to turn this around.

And so, with all due respect to some of my friends here -- yes, we want to begin moving the troops out, but we want to do so safely, and orderly and carefully.

We don't want more loss of American life and Iraqi life as we attempt to withdraw, and it is time for us to admit that it's going to be complicated, so let's start it now."
- Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York)

"The underlying assumption here is that we're going to be in Iraq until the next president takes office, and I reject that totally. People can send a message to Congress right now -- and this is in a convention of this appearance -- they can text peace, and text 73223, text peace. Send a message to Congress right now, you want out." - Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)

"I have advocated, again, that we have our troops out by April of next year. I believe that the timeframe is appropriate to do that. I would urge simultaneously that we do the things we've talked about here, and that is pursue the diplomatic efforts in the region to at least provide Iraq the opportunity to get on its feet. But I believe our military ought to be out before that." - Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut)

6. illegals getting health coverage

COOPER: Would your plan cover undocumented workers?

DODD: It would. People who live in this country -- children certainly would be covered. And I'm in support of the immigration policy here that requires them to contribute so that...

COOPER: So that's a yes?

DODD: If they're paying part of that thing, then they also get covered. Because, frankly, I don't want them contributing disease problems and health issues to the rest of the...

COOPER: Let's try to answer the question.

COOPER: Would your plan, Governor Richardson, cover undocumented workers?

RICHARDSON: Yes, it would. It should cover everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

In this country, no matter who you are, whether you're a ditch- digger, you're a teacher, you're a CEO, you're a waiter, you're a maid, every American deserves the right to the best possible quality health care.

(APPLAUSE)

That would be part of my plan. But also, it is prevention. It's starting early with kids. It's having -- get rid of junk food in schools, as I did in New Mexico...


7. Laugh Moments

a. Jet Plane

COOPER: How many people here a private jet or a chartered jet to get here tonight?

You're not sure?

(LAUGHTER)

RICHARDSON: Yesterday.

COOPER: Yesterday, OK.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Senator Gravel, what was that? You took the train?

GRAVEL: I took the train...

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: OK.

GRAVEL: And maybe one of these will give me a ride someday.

(LAUGHTER)


b. Working as President for Minimum Wage

COOPER: Senator Gravel, would you work for the minimum wage?

GRAVEL: Oh, yes, I would, but I would say that we don't need a minimum wage; we need a living wage. We don't have that in this country because of what they passed.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Dodd, would you work for the minimum wage?

DODD: I have two young daughters who I'm trying to educate them. I don't think I could live on the minimum wage, but I'm a strong advocate to seeing to it that we increase it at least to $9 or $10 to give people a chance out there to be able to provide for their families.

COOPER: Senator Edwards?

DODD: That's leadership in the country.

COOPER: Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: Yes.

COOPER: Yes.

Senator Clinton?

CLINTON: Sure.

Senator Obama?

OBAMA: Well, we can afford to work for the minimum wage because most folks on this stage have a lot of money. It's the folks...

(APPLAUSE)

... on that screen who deserve -- you're doing all right, Chris, compared to, I promise you, the folks who are on that screen.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)
DODD: Not that well, I'll tell you, Barack.

OBAMA: I mean, we don't have -- we don't have Mitt Romney money, but...

(LAUGHTER)

But we could afford to do it for a few years. Most folks can't. And that's why we've got to fight and advocate for...

COOPER: Governor -- Governor Richardson, yes?

RICHARDSON: Yes, I would.

COOPER: OK.

Senator Biden?

BIDEN: I don't have Barack Obama money either.

(LAUGHTER)

My net worth is $70,000 to $150,000. That's what happens you get elected at 29. I couldn't afford to stay in the Congress for the minimum wage. But if I get a second job, I'd do it.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?

KUCINICH: Anderson, I live in the same house I purchased in 1971 for $22,500. I think we need to increase the minimum wage and so all my neighbors can get an increase in their wages.

COOPER: So would you work for it?

KUCINICH: I would.

COOPER: OK.

KUCINICH: But I wouldn't want to...

COOPER: By the way, you'd all get overtime, too. So don't worry about that.

(LAUGHTER)


So, those saying yes: Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, John Edwards. (they are lying or joking) those saying no: Chris Dodd, Joe Biden. those who dodged the issue: Barack Obama

c. Kucinich on the left

COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, talk about Senator Gravel.

KUCINICH: Wait a minute. He talked about my wife.

COOPER: Well...

(LAUGHTER)

KUCINICH: You notice what CNN did. They didn't put anybody to the left of me. Think about it.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: I'm not sure it would be possible to find anybody.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

KUCINICH: And you know what? And you know -- and I'm glad I get a chance to debate you to my left, because there's no one more mainstream on the war and on health care and on trade than I am, Anderson.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Quotes and Thoughts from the YouTube Democratic Debate

Some of the better quotes from the YouTube Democratic Primary debate.


1. "You know, we're here at The Citadel. I want the people of The Citadel to know that I mourn the passing of those people who gave their lives, but I also would not hesitate to call upon you to defend this country, but I'll never send you in pursuit of a political agenda or a lie." - Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)


2. "The issue is: Which of us is ready to lead on day one? I have 35 years of being an instrument and agent of change, before I was ever a public official. And during the time that I've been privileged to serve as first lady and now as senator, I've worked to bring people together, to find common ground where we can, and then to stand our ground where we can't." - Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York).

Comment: 35 years? How does she arrive at that number?


3. Yes, it is politics. The Democrats have failed the American people. When we took over in January, the American people didn't expect us to give them a Democratic version of the war. They expected us to act quickly to end the war.

And here's how we can do it. It doesn't take legislation. That's a phony excuse to say that you don't have the votes. We appropriated $97 billion a month ago. We should tell President Bush, no more funds for the war, use that money to bring the troops home, use it to bring the troops home.

And, Anderson, right, now if people want to send that message to Congress...

they can text "Peace," 73223.
Representative Dennis Kucinich

4. "But, you know, one thing I have to say about Senator Clinton's comments a couple of moments ago. I think it's terrific that she's asking for plans from the Pentagon, and I think the Pentagon response was ridiculous. But what I also know is that the time for us to ask how we were going to get out of Iraq was before we went in.

And that is something that too many of us failed to do. We failed to do it. And I do think that that is something that both Republicans and Democrats have to take responsibility for.

When I am president of the United States, when I send our troops into battle, I am going to be absolutely sure that it is based on sound intelligence, and I'm going to tell the truth to the American people, as well as the families who are being asked to sacrifice."
- Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois)


Comment:
I wonder if Mr. Obama has an opinion about this book about CIA. And can he please, when asked if our soldiers died in vain in Vietnam, give a "yes" or "no" answer?

5. "First of all, thank you for inviting us here in The Citadel. It's great to be here at this wonderful college, university.

Certainly, I think it's a very important question one ought to be asking because, while hope and confidence and optimism are clearly very important, I think experience matters a great deal -- the experience people bring to their candidacy, the ideas, the bold ideas that they've championed over the years, whether or not they were successful in advancing those ideas and able to bring people together.

I'm very proud of the fact that, over my 26 years in the Senate, I've authored landmark legislation, the Family and Medical Leave Act, child care legislation, reform of financial institutions.


In every case, those are new ideas, bold ideas, that I campaigned on and then were able to achieve in the United States Senate by bringing Republicans as well as Democrats together around those issues.

That's what's missing, more than anything else, I think, right now, is the ability to bring people together to get the job done."
- Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut)


Comment: Good answer, but I couldn't help but notice this later:

"For example, it took me seven years to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act, and I helped to end wars in Central America and bring peace to Northern Ireland. I'm ready to be president."

Seven years. That's not a good batting average for a guy running to serve 4-8 years as president.

6. "Anderson, you've been there. You know we can't just pull out now. Let's get something straight. It's time to start to tell the truth. The truth of the matter is: If we started today, it would take one year, one year to get 160,000 troops physically out of Iraq, logistically.

That's number one.

Number two, you cannot pull out of Iraq without the follow-on that's been projected here, unless you have a political solution. I'm the only one that's offered a political solution.

And it literally means separate the parties; give them jurisdiction in their own areas; have a decentralized government, a federal system. No central government will work.

And, thirdly, the fact of the matter is, the very thing everybody's quoting is the very legislation I wrote in January. It said: Begin to draw down combat troops now; get the majority of the combat troops out by March of '08.

There's not one person in here that can say we're going to eliminate all troops..."
- Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware)

Comment: He's right about the solution to the problem but what if the Iraqis do not want that as their solution? Biden offered us a Plan B for Iraq (ethnic-religious federalism) but we may be reaching the point for a Plan C (containing the war to Iraq).

7. "Number one, there is not a single military man in this audience who will tell this senator he can get those troops out in six months if the order goes today.

Let's start telling the truth. Number one, you take all the troops out. You better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die, number one.

So we can't leave them there. And it's going to take a minimum 5,000 troops to 10,000 just to protect our civilians. So while you're taking them out, Governor, take everybody out. That may be necessary.

Number three, the idea that we all voted -- except for me -- for that appropriation. That man's son is dead. For all I know, it was an IED. Seventy percent of all the deaths occurred have been those roadside bombs. We have money in that bill to begin to build and send immediately mine-resistant vehicles that increase by 80 percent the likelihood none of your cadets will die, General. And they all voted against it.

How in good conscience can you vote not to send those vehicles over there as long as there's one single, solitary troop there?" - Senator Joe Biden

Comment: As usual his command of the facts allowed him to outshine Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina) in last night's debate. Why is he not considered "front tier?"

8. Questioner: "Don't you think if we pulled out now that would open it up for Iran and Syria, God knows who -- Russia -- how do we pull out now? And isn't it our responsibility to get these people up on their feet? I mean, do you leave a newborn baby to take care of himself? How do we pull out now?"

"Look, I opposed this war from the start. Because I anticipated that we would be creating the kind of sectarian violence that we've seen and that it would distract us from the war on terror.

I'm going to get to the question, Anderson.

At this point, I think we can be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. But we have to send a clear message to the Iraqi government as well as to the surrounding neighbors that there is no military solution to the problems that we face in Iraq.

We just heard a White House spokesman, Tony Snow, excuse the fact that the Iraqi legislature went on vacation for three weeks because it's hot in Baghdad. Well, let me tell you: It is hot for American troops who are over there with 100 pounds worth of gear.

(APPLAUSE)

And that kind of irresponsibility is not helpful.

So we have to begin a phased withdrawal; have our combat troops out by March 31st of next year; and initiate the kind of diplomatic surge that is necessary in these surrounding regions to make sure that everybody is carrying their weight.

And that is what I will do on day one, as president of the United States, if we have not done it in the intervening months."
- Senator Barack Obama

Comments: He gets a second round of applause. For what? He couldn't or wouldn't answer the question?

9. Questioner: "Do you believe the response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina would have been different if the storm hit an affluent, predominantly white city? What roles do you believe race and class played in the storm's aftermath? And if you acknowledge that race and class affected the response efforts, what can you do to ensure that this won't happen in the future? And what can you do to ensure this nation's most needy people, in times of crisis and always, something will be done to help them too?"

DODD: Well, it's a great question, Morgan, to raise here. It, obviously, points to one of the most dark and shameful moments in recent past history in our country -- the fact that a major American city went through a natural disaster, and we found almost (ph) little to do. The American president had almost no response whatsoever to the people of that city, New Orleans.

In fact, today still, the problem persists where people who had to move out of their city, move elsewhere, and little or no efforts to make sure they can get back in their homes. They have literally thousands of people whose homes were destroyed, their economic opportunities destroyed.

I believe that had this occurred in a place with mainly a white population, we would have seen a much more rapid response and a consistent response to that issue.

As an American president, we can never, ever allow again a major city, a major population center in our country go through what New Orleans, what the Gulf states did as a result of the kind of neglect from an American president.

As president, I would commit to do everything possible we bring to bear the talents, the resources.

In fact, it should have been done ahead of time, to have a FEMA operation that was prepared to respond to these predictable disasters. So it's a mark of shame on our country. It ought to be reversed. It will in the Dodd administration."


Comments: So Dodd says he does believe the administration's inept and slow response to the crisis at New Orleans can be attributed to racism. Wow. Can his equally unprepared non-answer as to what he would as commander-in-chief be attributed to racism?

More comments and quote excerpts will follow tonight.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More on Vitter

"Making use of a prostitution ring isn't a private matter, and Vitter should not be sitting in the United States Senate while the "D.C. Madam" is facing up to 55 years in prison for selling what he was apparently interested in buying." the conservative Ross Douthat gets it

as does Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post.

"This isn't just a moral transgression. If Vitter cheated on his wife, that would be a private matter of seeking, as he put it, "forgiveness from God and my wife."

But Vitter didn't just cop to a "very serious sin." It's a fair inference that he committed a crime. Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "D.C. Madam" in whose phone records Vitter's number turned up, is facing federal charges of running a prostitution ring."


That he did come forward to testify for the madam who can face serious jail time suggests that he was engaged in criminal activity.

E.J. Dionne misses the point:

"The essential point, however, is that believing in a wall between the public and the private makes you a traditionalist, not a libertine. The traditionalist embraces a strict moral code but sees it as best enforced in the personal realm."

Senator Vitter may have committed a crime that was provided for by someone charged with committing a related crime.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS


1. "FOX News Sunday on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - Al Qaeda and the War on Terror, interview with a philanthropist. (a) Fran Townsend, assistant to the president for Homeland Security on the war on Al Qaeda. (b) "fair and balanced" debate on the war on terror between Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri) and Senator Evan Bayh (D-Indiana). (b) FOX News Panel discussion - election 2008 coverage with the Clintons' battling the Edwards' and Rudolph Giualiani taking on the president. Panelists will include FOX News Washington Managing Editor Brit Hume, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams of National Public Radio, and Mara Liasson of National Public Radio. (c) Power Player of the Week - multi-billionaire Richard Branson. Hosted usually by Chris Wallace though he was out for the past two weekends. Show is re-aired on the FOX News Channel at 6:30 PM ET.


2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):
Topics This Week - terrorism. (a) Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell on terrorism. (b) Senator Russell Feingold (D-Wisconsin) on the war on terror. (c) Political Round table discussion with David Brooks of The New York Times, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, and Stephen Hayes. Hosted by Tim Russert. This show is re-aired at 10:00 PM ET on MSNBC.


3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): check back later. Hosted by George Stephanopoulos.


4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): Topics This Week - Iraq and the War on Terror. Guests include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Hosted by Bob Schieffer.



5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - Al Qaeda, Iraq, election 2008. (a) White House Homeland Security Adviser, Frances Townsend on the next steps in the war on terror. (b) insight into the political campaigns with Representative David Bonior of the Edwards campaign and Representative Artur Davis of the Obama campaign. (c) Other guests - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) on the war in Iraq and the war against Al Qaeda. (e) Interview with Pakistani Foreign Minister Kurshid Kasuri on the war in terror. (f) commentary from CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, CNN Chief National Correspondent John King and CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. Hosted by Wolf Blitzer.


II. THE WEEKEND TALK SHOWS


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - the war in Iraq and political spouses. (a) what the senate will do about the war in Iraq once they come back from recess. (b) politicians' spouses. Hosted by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes.



2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):
Topics This Week - Al Qaeda, Senator Vitter, and ESPN. (a) Al Qaeda - bad report on the war on Al Qaeda. (b) Senator David Vitter. (c) ESPN - fair and balanced? Co-panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler and host Eric Burns.



3. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - Republican Candidates and the War, Senator Hillary Clinton as a Female Candidate. (a) GOP Presidential candidates and the Iraq War. (b) Senator Hillary Clinton as a female running for the White House. Guests will include David Gregory of NBC News, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Heileman of New York Magazine and Katty Kay of the BBC. Hosted by Chris Matthews.



4. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but anyone who is interested in watching it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts that are posted on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is hosted by Howard Kurtz.


III. OTHER WEEKEND NEWS/TALK SHOWS


1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News Channel (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - Natalee Holloway, the NFL and Michael Vick. (a) latest on the Natalee Holloway case. (b) Michael Vick sponsors - whether they should pull their sponsorship. (c) whether NFL tolerate bad behavior. Host is Julie Banderas.


2. "Heartland" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET): Updates for this show have not been forthcoming on show's home web page but if there is once it will be posted here as well. This show is hosted by John Kasich.



III. WEEKEND FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS



1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): Topic This Week - Vanity. (a) Plastic Surgery Vacations - trips to get affordable surgery. (b) Breast Implants - parents buying their daughters breast implants. Hosted by John Stoessel.



2. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
Topic This Week - Ambush At The River Of Secrets. Four U.S. Marines who brought the death count in Iraq to 3,000 are honored.


3. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - Double Feature. (a) "A Time For Truth" - no description provided. (b) "Millionaire Manhunt" - no description provided.


4. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - romance, taxidermy, "Hairspray". (a) Cover Story - Tracy Smith reports on True Romance and the dwindling concern with age differences. (b) Sunday Almanac - Carl Sandburg. (c) Movies - David Edelstein on "Hairspray". (d) Sunday Passage - has yet to be determined. (e) Events - Bubbles. (f) Books - voices behind the tape. (g)Sunday Profile - John Water. (h) Bill Geist - Taxidermy. (i) Nature - topic yet to be determined. Hosted by Charles Osgood.



5. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
Topics This Week - repeat. (a) "The Death of Timothy Souders" - Scott Pelley reports on a mentally ill prison inmate, Timothy Souders, who dies of thirst, calling into question the state of mentally ill prisoners' care at prison facilities. (b) "Dr. Evil" - Morley Safer profiles Washington lobbyist Rick Berman. (c) "Hillbilly Rockstar" - Anderson Cooper reports on Kevin Chesney's successful country music shows.


V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT


1. "Law and Order Criminal Intent" on NBC (Friday at 9:00 PM ET): Episode This Week - "Silencer" - Detectives Eames and Goren investigate the murder of a prominent ear surgeon. Stars Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan, Julianne Nicholson as Megan Wheeler, Kathryn Erbe as Detective Alexandra Eames, Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren and Eric Bogosian as Captain Danny Ross.


2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET): Repeat. Pop-singer Justin Timberlake as host and musical guest.


3. "Law and Order" on NBC (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET): Detectives suspect a former sex offender when a young boy is found dead on the side of the road. Regular stars include Regular stars include Sam Waterston as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Jessie L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, Milena Govich as Detective Nina Cassidy, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, and Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch.


4. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET): Episode This Week - "The Good-Bye Room." An adopted woman asks the Cold Case Squad to look into the death of her birth mother on the day she was born. Stars Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, Danny Pino as Scott Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as William Jeffries, and Tracie Thomas as Kat Miller.


5. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET):
Episode - 911. Team searches for a 911 operator who goes missing after receiving a life-threatening note. Stars Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgado.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Link on Bongs 4 Jesus Case

"Finally, some may draw a measure of reassurance that Roberts gained a majority only with the votes of Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy. Alito wrote a narrow concurrence, joined by Kennedy, that emphasized the Court’s ruling “goes no further than to hold that a public school may restrict speech that a reasonable observer would interpret as advocating illegal drug use and … it provides no support for any restriction of student speech that can plausibly be interpreted as commenting on any political or social issue, including speech on issues such as the wisdom of the war on drugs or of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.”" - David L. Hudson Jr. of The First Amendment Center

Actually that is the only thing that provides free speech purists (or near purists) a glimmer of hope. The other things Mr. Hudson would have us take comfort - Roberts' failure to use Hazelwood and Roberts' refusal to accept as constitutional bans against ideas deemed offensive can be attributed to Chief Justice Roberts' minimalist approach, not his judicial philosophy or his views on the First Amendment's reach. He may try to move the court away from Tinker v. Des Moines in a future case.

Through the concurrence, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. clearly sided with those who think a student's free speech rights are constitutionally protected, whether the message being espoused is in line with the school district's values or not.Concurring Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel A. Alito sided with the school district in this case only because they viewed the "Bongs 4 Jesus" display as a sign encouraging fellow students and spectators to commit a crime (use illegal drugs) and not as a sign of advocacy (legalizing drugs).

Food For Thought: The Case for Peace Between the PA and Israel

"Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader and Palestinian president, is weak in many ways, but he has decisively isolated the radicals. Hamas loyalists in the West Bank (according to the latest polling, less than 25 percent of the population) face a different demographic than they did in Gaza, and a different economy that can be richly watered if Israel is wise enough to do so. Surrounded and penetrated by the Israeli Army and Palestinian Authority forces, they are not what they once were.

In economically besieged Gaza, Hamas is corralled by Israel, Egypt and the sea, its apparent strength exaggerated by Mr. Abbas’s decision not to fight on this battlefield but rather to profit by its loss, much as did King Hussein in regard to the West Bank in 1967.

The starving and oppressed Gazans who watch Hamas fire rockets, the chief effect of which is to summon Israeli tanks, may soon see a prosperous West Bank at the brink of statehood and at peace with its neighbors and the world. The quarantine of Gaza will cast a bright light upon the normalization of the West Bank. And although Hamas leaders portray Mr. Abbas as a collaborator, it is they who may be held to account for keeping more than a million of their own people hostage to a gratuitous preference for struggle over success."
- Mark Helprin in The New York Times

Well, I don't know if the Gazans are totally isolated since Hamas still gets their arms delivered from the Egyptian border but the people of Gaza are poor.

Then again, Hamas does fund school construction. Hamas does provides the Palestinians with basic medical care and social services.

Palestinian moderates will have to offer the people of the West Bank the services Hamas provides Palestinian citizens. It will have to offer West Bank Palestinians affordable health care, free schooling, and jobs while gaining the Israelis' aid and trust by maintaining law and order in the West Bank. The Israeli and Palestinian administrations are too weak to settle the Palestinina-Israeli dispute nut trust building measures can be implemented.

Iraq - Sadr

Mr. Sadr’s offices are accessible storefronts that dispense a little bit of everything: food, money, clothes, medicine and information. From just one office in Baghdad and one in Najaf in 2003, the Sadr operation has ballooned. It now has full-service offices in most provinces and nine in Baghdad, as well as several additional storefront centers. In some neighborhoods, the militiamen come around once a month to charge a nominal fee — about 5,000 Iraqi dinars, or $4 — for protection. In others, they control the fuel supply, and in some, where sectarian killings have gone on, they control the real estate market for empty houses.

The Mahdi militia is deeply involved in that sectarian killing. In a vicious campaign in the Amil neighborhood in western Baghdad, once a mixed working-class neighborhood of Shiites and Sunni Arabs, it has driven out many Sunnis and isolated others in a few enclaves.
- excerpt from this article in The New York Times

And his group, lest we forget, are the nationalists, the ones advocating for a position the president wants - a strong, unified and stable Iraq. His Iraq might counter Iran's growing influence in the Middle East and in that way. Moqtada al-Sadr is not our friend; some will say he is in fact a potential enemy but so was Saddam Hussein who, though our enemy, kept the Iranians in check. Moqtada al-Sadr could potentially function (for our purposes) as a Saddam Hussein. If he does, then we'd be no worse off than we were before we toppled Saddam Hussein.

But that's an if. We know he doesn't like us. We know his forces will brutally suppress the Sunnis, and there is always the chance that he will ally Iraq with the Iranians.

I know this isn't a popular thing to say given that most Americans like to think of our country as the beacon of light fighting for liberty but looking back, we were better off with Saddam Hussein running Iraq. He was a nuisance but also a useful foil that kept the Iranians from heading west.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Some Thoughts on Senator John McCain's Race to the White House

No one in the media thought Senator John McCain's campaign would implode this early in the campaign. Pundits considered him a first tier candidate with a real shot of winning the Republican nomination. Polls consistently showed him in a three-way Republican race with Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City.

Many thought Republican primary voters would vote for Senator John McCain. His firm support for the Iraq War, unpopular as it is among independents and Democrats, would assure him key support from conservatives who vote in the primaries. Republicans who disagreed with him, it was assumed, would reward the senator for his firm resolve on the war in Iraq and decision to stick with the president.

His opponents, it was assumed, could not match his conservative credentials. Mayor Giuliani won nationwide respect for leading his city through the September 11 World Trade Center attacks but many pundits didn't think he would gain the support of the religious conservatives who generally vote in the Republican primaries given his liberal stances on gun control, abortion, and gay rights.

The mayor helped push for and signed New York City's gay-inclusive domestic partnerships into law, opposed the partial-birth abortion ban that former President Bill Clinton vetoed, and supported strict gun control laws. Mitt Romney's conservative "conversion" on gay rights, gun control, immigration, and abortion were challenged since it happened as he was preparing his run for the White House.

War hero John McCain had it all. His chairmanship on the Armed Services Committee (when the Republicans were in charge) and his firm resolve on both Persian Gulf Wars and both Balkan Wars (Bosnia and Kosovo) would bolster his national security credentials while his socially conservative views would assure him the religious conservatives' support.

The senator's failure to win religious conservative support baffled many political observers, this writer included. The religious conservatives knew he opposed the federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on state's rights grounds but he is by far the least pro-gay of the three "top tier" candidates. He consistently opposed sexual orientation-inclusive employment nondiscrimination laws (Romney once supported them and Giuliani has yet to disavow his support for such laws), and he supported the failed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages and civil unions within his own state.

Senator McCain's pro-life voting record was unassailable until he announced his support for stem-cell research. Mitt Romney's was open for conservative criticism across the board until he switched his affiliation to the "pro-life" side on every issue in time for the race to the White House.

It's ironic but Senator McCain was blamed for pandering to a group of theologically conservative voters he was for the most part in agreement. Reporters, pundits and comedian alike accused the senator of pandering when he visited the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, and bridge the divide he created when he called Pat Robertson and Reverend Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance."

Then his campaign said he would visit the more liberal New School where he was eventually booed for supporting the war in Iraq, (which verified his conservative credentials) to excuse his visit at the Liberty School, distancing himself again from the group he at first tried to pander to.

McCain appeared defensive when he was confronted about the Republican Party's perceived intolerance towards gay people on one of Chris Matthews' college tour "Hardball" shows. The senator first supported gay unions even though supported a proposed Arizona state amendment banning gay union recognition, raising the religious conservatives' suspicions, then after the commercial break reaffirmed his opposition to gay marriages, winning some boos from the audience. When asked at one of the Republican Primary debates if he believed in evolution, Senator McCain answered in the affirmative, but appeared uncomfortable when he saw God's design in evolution.

His useless pandering to a like-minded group he needlessly offended in the first place can be attributed in part to his campaign's failure to decide whether he should run a general-elections centered campaign which caters to moderately liberal and moderately conservative independents or a primary centered campaign designed to win the conservatives' support.

He distanced himself from the president's war strategy, saying President George W. Bush has made a series of mistakes and then ties himself to it. Senator McCain said the president made a lot of mistakes and needs to change his war strategy and then binded himself to the unpopular troop surge. His visit to a Baghdad market that was not attacked when he went there was used a sign of progress in Iraq before reporters from The New York Times found marketers who frequented it dispute his claim.

If his Iraq War stance and jokes like "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" bolstered his image among conservative Republican primary voters and weakens his image among independents, his immigration stance did the reverse. The senator won no brownie points from the conservatives by supporting the illegal alien amnesty package unveiled last month.

Journalists say the senator lost his "first tier" status by supporting the war. Conservatives say his stance on illegal immigration did him in. His lackluster performance in the debates, didn't help, particularly when he was outclassed by the smooth-talking Mitt Romney who had an answer for every question directed at him.

The Political Heretic doesn't know why Senator McCain's campaign funding is in such disarray or why the media no longer consider him a "front" or "top tier candidate" because he doesn't particularly care for their arbitrary distinction between "top tier" and "second tier" candidates.

Mitt Romney's background as a governor obviously makes him a viable presidential candidate and his telegenic personality distinguishes him from some of the other candidates in the race but Governors Mike Huckabee and Tommy Thompson, and Jim Gilmore until he recently dropped out were accomplished two-term governors in their own right and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani no doubt presided over a city with a population that matches and in many cases surpasses that of some states within the union. Governor Tommy Thompson won national press attention for welfare reform. Senator John McCain's national security credentials are no doubt hard to match but Representative Duncan Hunter might pull it off. Representatives Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul deserve air time if only to further the debate on issues the other candidates seem to disagree on in terms of the details alone.

On the Democratic side, Senators Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama are considered the front runners. Name recognition and establishment support help the former while inexperience helps the latter. Former Senator John Edwards gets an honorable mention by appealing to the party's liberal primary voters. While these three candidates may deserve some spotlight attention, their on the jobs experience is matched and in some cases out shined by Senators Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Governor Bill Richardson and former Senator Mike Gravel. Representative Dennis Kucinich deserves air time if only because he appeals to the party base's liberal instincts.

Now that the media has written John McCain's campaign off, will they turn their attention to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee? He, after all, performed well at the debates. The former preacher spoke eloquently for his conservative cause. Will they turn to former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, the first governor to win national attention for welfare reform now calling for a federalist solution to the war in Iraq? or Representative Ron Paul the libertarian calling for a withdrawal from Iraq? Both distance themselves from the president's current war strategy, providing the Republican voters with a different option than the one that Romney, Giuliani, and McCain bound themselves to.

Don't count on it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Initial Benchmark Report

The initial benchmark report that was released yesterday provides the American public and the Congress men and women debating U.S. troop withdrawal measures the administration's assessment of the troop surge's effectiveness to date.

White House officials have downplayed the report's significance hours within its release and the report's authors themselves, describe it as a "snapshot of achievements and shortfalls" for a strategy that, according to them, only came into full force one month ago.

"Some of the benchmarks" the authors state in their report "may be leading indicators, giving some sense of future trends; but many are more accurately characterized as lagging indicators, and will only be achieved after the strategy is fully underway and generates improved conditions on the ground."

The administration "measured" the Government of Iraq's progress on meeting its political and military benchmarks within a six-month framework beginning in January. Measuring the Iraqi Government's progress within this short time frame allows the administration to downplay its failure to meet political benchmarks that were proposed long before the Iraq Study Group issued its report last December.

Iraq's Government, the report states, met eight of the eighteen military and political benchmarks that the administration was required by law to measure. The administration gives the Iraqi Government "satisfactory" grades for (1) establishing a constitutional review committee, (2) establishing the procedures whereby Iraq's provinces could establish autonomous regions like the de facto Kurdish state in the north, (3) establishing a series of political, economic and cultural institutions designed to support the Baghdad Security Plan, (4) providing the equivalent of three trained and ready brigades to the Baghdad security plan, (5) providing support for the plan to rid Baghdad of extremists of all sectarian groups, (6) establishing Coalition-Iraqi joint security stations designed to increase public interaction with the security forces, (7) protecting the rights of minority groups in the Council of Representatives, and (8) budgeting for reconstruction project reforms.

The progress credited to the Iraqi Government in most cases is qualified. For example, the Constitutional Reform Committee it is credited for establishing has yet to submit to the Council of Representatives its recommendations for constitutional reform. Establishing a committee was easy; forging the consensus for implementing its recommendations on Kirkuk's political future, federalism, and presidential powers will be more difficult as can be seen by the government's failure to establish a militia disarmament program, bolster the Iraqi Security Forces nationalist and sectarian-free credentials and capability, passing laws distributing hydrocarbon resources and oil equitably among Iraq's sectarian factions, and passing laws allowing former Ba'athists the right to participate in the country's civic life.

Assuring Iraq's minorities equal access and the right to speak at the Council of Representatives is easy, for all that is required is an equal right to a process where they will always be outvoted. Guaranteeing minorities an equitable share in Iraq's future is quite another.

This report's release will probably be used to bolster the arguments made by those who both, support and oppose the troop surge. Its supporters will refer the public to the instances where the authors of the report say the Iraqis, in large part with the help of Coalition forces embedded within their units, are successful in lowering the violence. Tribal leaders around Iraq, the report notes, are seeking the aid Anbar Sunnis fighting al Qaida have won. They will point to passages in the text that refer to the Iraq Security Force's uneven progress towards nationalization. Those divisions with coalition forces embedded within their units, it is suggested are less sectarian than those where the embedding of coalition troops has not taken place.

Withdrawing troops from Iraq, they will suggest, will undue the limited progress Coalition Forces have made in Iraq. The US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, for instance, said the country might be torn apart through civil and regional war should we leave prematurely.

Critics of the troop surge will refer the public to those passages where the authors admit to the Iraqi Government's failure to meet key political benchmarks designed to end the civil strife and they will note, that some of these disputes are linked with each other. The establishment of a Kurdish region in the north is a foregone conclusion but the dispute over a potential Shi'a region might be solved if the Sunnis were assured a fair and equitable share of the country's oil revenue and hydrocarbon energy. This hasn't happened yet. They will also point to the Iraqi Government's failure to remove the senior military and political officials ordering Iraqi Security Forces to arrest Sunni Arabs under false pretexts, remove Sunnis from their military posts, and selectively route out extremists along sectarian lines.

The critics will, as they already have for some time now, say Iraq suffers from a political problem that can only be solved through a political solution that Iraq's leaders seem incapable or unwilling to meet. For his part, the president says we need to give the surge some time to work. If the extremists could be weakened military, while local political ties with moderates are forged, the Iraqi Government might gain the political cover it needs to reach the political settlement that is in the best interest Kurd, Sunni Arab, and Shi'a Arab alike.

But is it too late? How long will the Iraqi Government need? How long will we give them and how much in cost of lives and dollars are we willing to expend on this endeavor? What will it take to get the Iraq's leaders to enact and implement laws designed to bring about national reconciliation?

President Bush? Congress? The public is waiting for an answer.

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): Topic This Week - the standoff on the war in Iraq.
(a) National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley on the president's war strategy and what we can expect over the next few months. (b) the chances a Democratic-controlled Congress have to end the war in Iraq as viewed by Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) of the Armed Services Committee. (c) Troop Surge advocate Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute on the surge and how long we have to wait for us to see any political dividends. (d) FOX News Sunday Panel - Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes of Beltway Boys, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, and Juan Williams of National Public Radio on the 'Republican revolt' and the president's design to head it off. Hosted by FOX News Washington Manager Brit Hume for this week. This show is re-aired at 6:00 PM ET on the FOX News Channel.

2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): Topics This Week - the interim report on Iraqi political bench marks and the race for White House. (a) interim report on the Iraqi War political benchmarks - Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) of the Armed Services Committee and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) of the Armed Services Committee on the decision to stay or withdraw our troops. (b) Election 2008 - Senator John McCain's campaign shakeup, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's fight with the International Association of Fire Fighters, and Senator Hillary Clinton and her husband's trip to New Hampshire as viewed by Bloomberg News Washington Managing Editor Al Hunt, Republican Strategist Mike Murphy, and syndicated columnist Robert Novak. Host is Tim Russert. This show is re-aired at 10:00 PM ET on MSNBC.

3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): Topics This Week - mixed progress in Iraq, the House vote on a troop withdrawal and Senator John McCain's campaign for the White House. (a) National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley on the the interim progress report, the intelligence report on al Qaida's growing strength, and what's next. (b) Senator John Warner (R-Virginia) of the Armed Services and Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) on the interim report and their suggested change in strategy. (c) Round table discussion - Jay Carney of Time Magazine, Claire Shipman of ABC News, Sam Donaldson, and syndicated columnist George Will of ABC News. Hosted by George Stephanopoulos.

4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):
Topics This Week - Iraq, Scooter Libby's Pardon, White House Subpoenas and politics. (a) Brig. General Mark Kimmitt, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East. (b) Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee). (c) Karen Tumulty of Time Magazine and Dan Batz of The Washington Post. Hosted by Bob Schieffer.

5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET): Topic This Week - the Iraq Progress Report. (a) Interview with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley on the interim report. (b) Debate among Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), and Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) of the Armed Services Committee. (c) Senator and White House candidate Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) of the Foreign Relations Committee on the interim progress report. (d) Iraqi National Security Adviser Hoshyar Zebari on the interim progress report. (e) Political Commentary from CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry, "The Hotline" Editor-in-Chief and CNN Political Contributor Amy Walter, and CNN Correspondent Joe Johns.


II. THE WEEKEND TALK SHOWS

1. "The Beltway Boys" on the FOX News Channel (Saturday and Sunday at 6:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - GOP Defections on the war in Iraq, Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff v. the Democrats, and Senator John McCain's campaign for the White House. (a) GOP Iraq War Defections - the president's effort to stem the tide and prevent further defections. (b) Michael Chertoff attacked for relying on his "guts." (c) Senator John McCain's political campaign shake up.

2. "FOX News Watch) on the FOX News Channel(Saturday at 6:30 PM ET): Topics This Week - media coverage over the Iraq War Debate, Senator John McCain's media coverage, and Katie Couric's CBS regrets. (a) the Iraq War Debate - media picking sides? (b) Senator John McCain - media coverage of his political campaign. (c) Katie Couric - CBS regrets. Co-panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler and host Eric Burns.

3. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - Republican dissidents v. George W. Bush and Senator John McCain's political campaign. (a) Republican Iraq War Opposition - Republican opposition to the president's war strategy is growing but will the president yield? (b) Senator John McCain's bad political week - chance of recovery? Guests to include Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory of NBC News, Editorial Page Editor Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Washington Correspondent Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker, and BBC Washington Correspondent Katty Kay of the BBC. Hosted by Chris Matthews. This show is re-aired at 8:30 PM ET on CNBC.

4. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but anyone who is interested in watching it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts that are posted on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is hosted by Howard Kurtz.



III. OTHER WEEKEND/POLITICAL TALK SHOWS

1. "The Big Story Weekend" on FOX News Channel (Saturday and Sunday): Topics This Week - nothing posted yet. Hosted by Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
Updates for this show have not been forthcoming on show's home web page but if there is once it will be posted here as well. This show is hosted by John Kasich. Hosted by John Kasich.


IV. FEATURE NEWS PROGRAM

1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): Topic This Week - Our obsession with hell. (a) Minister Carlton Pearson - preacher who once raised money for his church is stripped of his congregation after rejecting hell's existence. Reported by Bill Weir. (b) Matthew Dovel and his near-death experiences - Matthew Dovel said he saw heaven and hell at on separate near death experiences. Reported by Sylvia Johnson and Rob Wallace. (c) Ulysses Handy - was the man who would not apologize for his brutal murders born evil? Reported by Rob Wallace. (d) Sister Diana Ortiz, Elie Wiesel, and Ishmael Beah lived through hell on earth.

2. "This Week At War" on CNN (Saturday at 7:00 PM ET):
Topic This Week - whether the troop surge is working and whether Congress has reached its tipping point. Guests to include CNN Analyst and Retired Brig. General James Marks of the US Army, Baghdad Bureau Chief Bobby Ghosh of Time Magazine, Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, Executive Editor Jim Vanderhei of Politico.com, CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen, James Jay Carafano of The Heritage Foundation, Homeland Security Program Director David Heyman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, International Correspondent Michael Ware, and Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena.

3. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 PM ET and 11:00 PM ET): Topic This Week - Criminally Insane. Spree killers murder at random but are they monsters or mentally ill?

4. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 11:00 PM ET):
Topic This Week - "Blood and Money." Two wealthy brothers and two separate murders.

5. "CBS Mews Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - the war in Iraq, license plate art, Harry Potter, Robert Redford. (a) Way out of Iraq - commentary from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), then commentary from Representative John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania). Almanac - demise of Billy the Kid. (c) Art - Serene Altschul reports on Artist Michael Kalish and his license plates. (d) Movies - David Edelstein on "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." (e) Passage - Lady Bird Johnson. (f) Music - Bill Flanagan of MTV profiles four great women songwriters. (g) Walking - Bill Whitaker on the spiritual, mental and physical benefits of walking. (h) Sunday Profile - Rita Braver talks to Robert Redford. (i) Opinion - Mo Rocca on historical preservation. (j) Geist - Bill Geist on Messy Offices. Hosted by Charles Osgood.

6. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): this is a repeat. (a)"A Not So Perfect Match" - Leslie Stahl looks at DNA testing prosecutors' attempts to expand searches to include relatives with similar DNA strains. (b) "An American in North Korea" - Bob Simon reports on an American defector living in North Korea. (c) "Dog Nut" - Morley Safer on Sam Simon's business training stray dogs how to assist the handicapped. (d) Opinion - Andy Rooney.

7. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
Topics This Week - the seducer and .
(a) "Facing the Music" - cellist's husband turns out to be a charmer who seduced many women and, killer? Reported by correspondent Hoda Koth.(b) "Body of Evidence" - a preacher and two wives with one missing. Reported by Correspondent Keith Morrison.


V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT


1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): Investigation into an arson turns into a homicide investigation once the evidence shows victim was killed before the fire started. Regular stars include Sam Waterston as Executive Assistand District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Jessie L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, Milena Govich as Detective Nina Cassidy, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, and Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch.

2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:30 PM ET): Repeat. Hosted by Rainn Wilson with musical guest Arcade Fire.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 8:00 PM ET): "Blackout" - new evidence relating to the death of a wealthy matriarch in 1998 suggests murder. Stars Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, Danny Pino as Scott Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as William Jeffries, and Tracie Thomas as Kat Miller.

4. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET):
"Candy." Elena goes undercover as an exotic dancer in an attempt to find a missing stripper while Danny goes undercover as one of her clients. Stars Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgad.