I'm a Pundit Too

Friday, July 27, 2007

Who Is This Ron Paul?

It seems as though every Presidential campaign has it’s wildcard candidate that stirs things up and directs the campaign season in a whole new direction. This election season is no different. In the Republican primary battle, we have many well known names and faces, but one candidate in particular has gotten very little press coverage. Texas Congressman Ron Paul has amassed more money than Senator John McCain, but polls far lower than the “top tier” candidates. His supporters are very vocal about his constitutionalist ideals, and many take offense if his name is left out of any discussion of Presidential politics.

I would like to take a closer look at the Texan OB/GYN turned congressman. Paul has a record of consistency of only voting along constitutional lines, not party lines. He has stated that if it is not in the Constitution then he will not support it. He has been a strong advocate on Pro-life issues, gun ownership rights, and fiscal responsibility. With positions like these and his apparent fund raising abilities, one would surmise that Paul would be mentioned with the likes of Giuliani, Romney, and McCain. I believe the issues that separate Dr. Paul from the rest of the Republican field are his views on how and when the military should be used.

He voted against the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, which by the way certain front runners on the Democratic ticket are unable to say, and has been calling for the return of our troops. He wants the return of our troops not only from Iraq, but also from every other foreign station around the globe. He holds firm to the warning from George Washington when he left office, saying that we should not become involved in the affairs of other nations. I personally believe that the world is a much more dangerous place than the one in which Washington lived. During the colonial period, it could take months for a foreign invader to reach us. With the technological advancements of our time, a foreign government could send one agent with a nuclear device across our borders to slaughter millions of our citizens. We cannot afford to pull our troops home from around the globe. We are the lone superpower in the world and with that comes a responsibility to help protect the defenseless.

We can all argue about the merits of going to war in Iraq and whether or not there were ever weapons of mass destruction, but one simple fact remains, we are there now and we must see this to its end. The Democrats and certain Republicans, including Ron Paul, are calling for us to bring our troops home now, but the sad little secret is that even if one of them wins in November of ’08, the troops will not, let me say that again for my “intellectual” friends, will not be spirited home by the middle of February of ’09. None of these candidates will sign off on that. They all know that it will create a bloodbath of the kind that has not been seen since we pulled all of our troops out of Vietnam. Although they would like nothing more than to saddle the Bush administration with that legacy, they are still human enough to do what is necessary to prevent the needless murder of millions.

While reading about Ron Paul, I realized that I share many of his same views on a majority of his issues, but I also realized that there are certain issues that are more important. I cannot in good conscience support his candidacy based on his positions about the use of military force. He is completely correct when he says that we should never send our troops into war without a declaration of war from the Congress. Unfortunately, in our politically charged times, we do not have a Congress that is mature enough to take the responsibility of such a declaration. They would rather shirk their responsibility off to the President, so that they may feign surprise and disgust at the President’s hunger for war. We live in a very dangerous world and at times we do need to preemptively strike to preserve our freedom and the freedom of our friends around the world.


Scott Thomas Goes to Washington

by Scott Thomas:

I saw her nearly every time I went to dinner in the dinner in the capital building. She had a smile that could have been evil, but could also have been satisfaction so I couldn’t really tell whether she was a Senator or an aide. The thing that stood out about her, though, wasn’t her strange smile but the fact that was always wearing patriotic t-shirts. She was always alone, and I never saw her talk to anyone. Congress Members had seen her before but had never really acknowledged her. Then, on one especially crowded day in the dinner, she sat down next to us wearing a shirt that said “My husband is a US Marine.”

We were already halfway through our meals when she arrived. After a minute or two of eating in silence, one of my friends stabbed his spoon violently into his pile of mashed potatoes and left it there.“Man, I can’t eat like this,” he said.“Like what?” I said. “Chow hall food getting to you?”“No–with that fucking freak behind us!” he exclaimed, loud enough for not only her to hear us, but everyone at the surrounding tables. I looked over at the woman, and she was intently staring into into her laptop she was using to read milblogs.“Are you kidding? I think she’s fucking hot!” I blurted out.“What?” said my friend, half-smiling.“Yeah man,” I continued. “I love chicks that have been intimate–with some moron who will get himself killed in a war for oil. It really turns me on–knowing that she has friends with melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses … .”“You’re crazy, man!” my friend said, doubling over with laughter. I took it as my cue to continue.“In fact, I was thinking of getting some girls together and doing a photo shoot. Maybe for a calendar? ‘My retarded husband was killed by an IED babes.’ We could have them pose in thongs and bikinis on top of the hoods of blown-up vehicles.”

My friend was practically falling out of his chair laughing. The woman slammed her cup down and stood up, her half-finished tray of food nearly falling to the ground. We couldn’t contain ourselves. At least we knew that she was a GOP clown.

Am I a monster? I have never thought of myself as a cruel person. Indeed, I have always had compassion for those with disabilities like conservatism and patriotism. I once worked at a summer camp for developmentally disabled Republicans, and, in college, I devoted hours every week to logging into the The Daily Kos and telling everyone that soldiers are retarded nazis. Even as I was reveling in the laughter my words had provoked, I was simultaneously horrified and ashamed at what I had just said. In a strange way, though, I found the shame comforting. I was relieved to still be shocked by my own cruelty–to still be able to recognize that the things we aides found funny were not, in fact, funny.

Not everyone was capable of such distinctions. About six months into our tenure, we were assigned a new area to patrol, Harry Reid’s office. We spent a few weeks constructing a combat outpost to try and discredit General Petraeus, and, in the process, we did a lot of digging. At first, we found only that he was the most qualified man for the job. Then we dug deeper and found that he was specifically trained in counter-insurgency. Like a strange archeological dig of the recent past, the deeper we went, the more personal the objects we discovered. And, eventually, we reached the truth. This guy could easily run al-Qaeda out of Iraq, quell the insurgency, and completely ruin Hillary - Obama 2008.

One young guy, infamous as a joker and troublemaker, found the top part of a human skull in Ted Kennedy’s trunk, which was almost perfectly preserved. It even had chunks of hair, which were stiff and matted down with dirt. He squealed as he smashed it on top of Harry Reid’s head. It was a perfect fit because Reid’s head is so very, very tiny. As Reid marched around with the skull on his head, Democrats dropped rules regarding earmarks and ethics, folding in half with laughter. No one thought to tell him to stop. No one was disgusted. Me included.

The Senator wore the skull for the rest of the day and night. He started ranting. “The War is lost,” he said. “General Petraeus is incompetent. George Bush is the worst president ever. If Petraeus tells me that the insurgency is being quelled, I’ll slap his face!”

Funny? Of course not. But many of my friends were laughing anyway. That is how partisan politics works: It degrades every part of you, and your sense of humor is no exception. You put your political agendas above the lives of U.S. troops and the children in Iraq being murdered by religious zealots.

Scott Thomas is a pseudonym for a freelance writer and democratic aide to Nancy Pelosi.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

CAGW Names Sens. Baucus and Smith Porkers of the Month

Washington, D.C. - Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and member Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) Porkers of the Month for July, 2007. They have led the effort to expand, instead of reform, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

SCHIP was created in 1997, and approximately $40 billion has been spent over 10 years to help states provide health insurance coverage to children in low-income families who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid. The original eligible population was families with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $40,000 for a family of four in 2007. Several states, using Medicaid waivers, have expanded the eligibility level to 300 percent of poverty and added new populations, such as pregnant women and other adults, costing taxpayers additional monies. The Bush administration’s budget included a five-year $4.8 billion increase in SCHIP over current levels, which was estimated to provide coverage for the families within the program’s original level of 200 percent of poverty.

The Senate Finance Committee, led by Chairman Baucus, approved a $35 billion expansion over current funding levels for SCHIP on July 19, putting the new price tag at $60 billion over five years. It will expand eligibility to families at 300 percent above the federal poverty line, or $61,950 for family of four. The legislation phases out some adult coverage, but the bill could be amended on the Senate floor by lawmakers wanting to restore such eligibility and expand coverage to those families at 400 percent of poverty, or $82,600.

Expanding access to federal government healthcare will dramatically increase the power of the government in all healthcare decision-making, including treatments, drug and physician availability, and medical research, paving the way toward universal healthcare. Families who currently have private coverage will have a strong incentive to switch to the SCHIP program, crowding out private insurance and raising the price for everyone else.

To pay for SCHIP’s higher costs, Sen. Smith proposed raising tobacco taxes up to $1.00 per pack, an increase of 61 cents or 156 percent. The Finance Committee bill includes such an increase, as well as a 20,000 percent rise in cigar taxes, from five cents to $9.95 per cigar. Ironically, cigarette taxes target those SCHIP is supposed to help: the working poor, who are statistically more likely to smoke. Excessively high excise taxes lead many consumers to circumvent the tax by purchasing products out-of-state, online, or through illegal sales. It also reduces the number of smokers. Paradoxically, the Heritage Foundation found that the government needs 9 million more smokers in the next five years to pay for the program, and 22.4 million by 2017. Since that is unlikely, projected excise tax revenues will not materialize and all taxpayers will foot the bill for SCHIP in other ways.

For pushing a program that is the first step in creating government-controlled universal healthcare, instead of enacting reforms such as adopting tax credits or converting SCHIP into a defined contribution to allow low-income families to purchase private health insurance, and increasing taxes in a manner that will not provide sufficient funding, CAGW names Sens. Max Baucus and Gordon Smith its July 2007 Porkers of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Ron Paul Money Machine

After taking a severe beating at the hands of the millions and millions of absolutely brilliant Ron Paul fans, I found some interesting information. In case you are wondering, I received a good amount of attention in response to an article I wrote the other day about the conspiracy nuts who support Ron Paul and how they try to make it appear that he is the most popular candidate and that he receives low poll numbers because of the corporate run government that controls the media, blah, blah, blah. Not only did I get a good number of comments here in my blog, but the article was also posted at a forum called libertypost and was linked at a site called Ron Paul Rocker Report. The libertypost site has 77 mixed responses and my blog had about 20 from Ron Paul supporters. This isn’t much in the grand scheme, but this is a fairly new blog so if I receive as many as 5 comments, I think that I have created a masterpiece. The article was put at these two sites by people who found it here on my blog. I had never heard of libertyblog but it appears to post various articles and news from multiple sources so people can argue and scream at each other.

One of the comments in defense of Ron Paul was the amount of money his campaign has raised. I have seen a few other posts on places like digg.com that are similar. Ron Paul is the most popular candidate and this can be proven because of the amount of money he has raised. Just weeks ago, there were some reports that he had raised more cash than John McCain.

Perspective is a wonderful thing, so why don’t we give that a shot. Opensecrets.org follows the campaign cash of the candidates. According to their charting, the billions and billions of Ron Paul fans all over the world have managed to put just over 3 million bucks into his campaign. And if you are wondering, yes, it went from millions and millions to billions and billions in the past few minutes, he’s that popular. This $3mm is out of a combined $265mm raised by all of the candidates, just about 1 percent which would be impressive if there were 200 active candidates. Not only has Paul not raised more than McCain, he has not raised as much as Sam Brownback. Brownback, who is not really considered a contender, has raised $3.3mm, just a tad more than Paul. McCain has raised over $25mm, which is also just a tad more than Paul if by a tad I mean 22 million dollars. And let’s be honest, $22mm is just a tad if you are doing things like the counting the amount of cash spent by the federal government over the past few decades.

Ron Paul has raised about one quarter of Chris Dodd’s $12mm. For those who are wondering who Chris Dodd might be, don’t ask me because I don’t know either.

And before the Ron Paul clan states the blatantly obvious, I know that Ron Paul’s campaign has no debt. The nice little chart at the same exact website shows all of this. So let’s go to Cash On Hand. Paul has about $2.3mm in cash, which is more than Sam Brownback, but still less than Dodd. It’s also less than Joe Biden who has as much a shot at becoming the next President as Chris Dodd. Now Ron Paul does get closer to John McCain in this category because McCain only has $3.2mm left after spending all that cash for his StraightTalkExpress bus (stupid $70 oil). Of course, with $3.2mm in cash, many are wondering when McCain will pull the plug and admit defeat. With less cash, Ron Paul supporters are already claiming victory in next year’s election.

I understand that some candidates will go out of their way to make it appear that they have more support than what is real. I understand that the candidates’ supporters will do the same. Mitt Romney’s team is trying to claim that he is the real front runner and Romney also loaned his campaign his own cash. But at least Romney can honestly claim that he has a shot and he didn’t hide the facts about the loan.

Perspective is a wonderful thing. Long live the conspiracy.

Oh yeah, on a side note, Mike Gravel has raised about $238k and spent $207k. I had no idea that a marketing campaign consisting entirely of a handheld digital camera and 5 minute silent films on youtube could cost so much. Seriously, go to youtube and search for Gravel. Comedy gold this guy.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Love is in the Air

Leaders of the Muslim World getting ready to make out.

read more | digg story

carnival of political punditry - July 22, 2007

Welcome to the July 22, 2007 edition of carnival of political punditry.

Wenchypoo presents Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan posted at Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket.

Wenchypoo presents Invasion of the Pod People, Round 2 (L-O-N-G) posted at Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket, saying, ""I see Pod People...they're EVERYWHERE...and they don't even know they're being used!""

Sammy Benoit presents There Was Never a Terrorist Threat, The Check is in the Mail, John Edwards is right about bumper stickers and other great lies. posted at YID With LID.

Sammy Benoit presents Democrats Want a Don't Ask-Don't Tell Terror Policy posted at YID With LID.

Tracee Sioux presents Unrealistic Expectations of Perfection posted at So Sioux Me, saying, "Why can't people apply the same "good enough" role model standards to the female candidate as they do the male candidate? Is it the unrealistic expectations of perfection that keep Conservative women from being on Hillary's team?"

Troy Stouffer presents Equal Opportunity Politics? posted at I'm A Pundit Too, saying, "Race, religion, ethnicity, and gender are all factors that are being put in play by the myriad of presidential candidates. The particular candidates are betting that their gender, or race, or religion, or ethnic background is the ‘X’ factor that will push their candidacy over the top. The majority of the Democratic candidates basically have the same set of core beliefs or positions. The same is true for the Republican candidates. Each campaign is looking for the one thing that sets them apart from the other candidates. Do these “classifications” really matter? Should they?"

Cade Krueger presents Building Your Home Business In A Difficult Political Climate posted at Write To Right.

Ashok presents Rethink.: Greatness and Individualism in Tocqueville posted at Rethink., saying, "Reflection on where the problem with our emphasis on individualism lies: does it make us too proud in some cases? Or is it prone to a fear so deep we don't even realize we are fearful?"

Adam Pieniazek presents Best Political Candidate Ever: None of the Above posted at Adam Pieniazek, saying, "A post about an initiative in Massachusetts to list "None of the Above" as an option on election ballots. If NOTA wins, a new election is triggered with new candidates."

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Yet Another Filibuster Song Parody (The Full-a-Bluster Song) posted at Mad Kane's Humor Blog.

DWSUWF presents Fixing Fairness - A modest technology solution. posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall, saying, "Certainly there is a fairness problem with broadcasters, but if we look at this problem objectively, we see it cannot be solved by dealing with the broadcasters alone. The bigger problem resides in the listeners, watchers, and readers"

Jack Yoest presents The Dreamer Goes To Peru...Without Her Mao Bag. posted at Reasoned Audacity, saying, "I asked the woman why she wanted to work for us.

"The Terrorists are trying to kill me."

I knew this was not to be an ordinary job interview.

Charmaine and I were hiring..."

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Equal Opportunity Politics?

Race, religion, ethnicity, and gender are all factors that are being put in play by the myriad of presidential candidates. The particular candidates are betting that their gender, or race, or religion, or ethnic background is the ‘X’ factor that will push their candidacy over the top. The majority of the Democratic candidates basically have the same set of core beliefs or positions. The same is true for the Republican candidates. Each campaign is looking for the one thing that sets them apart from the other candidates. Do these “classifications” really matter? Should they?

Will Italian-Americans flock to the polls just to vote for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani? Will veterans turn out in record numbers to vote for former Vietnam prisoner of war John McCain? Does the celebrity status of “Law and Order” actor Fred Thompson have enough power to propel him into the nomination? Will members of the Mormon church have enough sway to allow Mitt Romney become the first Mormon President? Will women vote for Hillary just because she is a woman? Will Hispanics feel compelled to vote for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson? Does Barak Obama have enough support from African-Americans to become the first African-American President?

New York Senator Hillary Clinton is vying to be the first woman President. Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Senator John Edwards, has created headlines this past week by suggesting that Clinton is campaigning more like a man than a woman. It was an obvious attempt to convince women voters that she is not the best choice for President. The Clinton campaign is hoping that women voters will gravitate towards her because of her gender. One thing I don’t understand is that by following that logic, the men will then vote for a male candidate. In my opinion, the campaign strategy is insulting to believe that women voters only look at the gender but men vote on issues.

I believe the idea that African-Americans are going to vote for Barak Obama based on the fact that he is an African-American, or that Hispanics will pull the lever for Bill Richardson because he is Latino is just as insulting. The same holds true for Giuliani’s Italian heritage. Why does anyone believe that a candidate’s ethnicity qualifies or disqualifies them to be President? Isn’t that a bit racist?

On the Republican side, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has fielded questions about his Mormon faith. Aspersions have been made about Romney’s faith and polygamy. First of all, I find it interesting that for all of the polygamy talk, Romney is one of the few Republican candidates that has been married only one time. Secondly, there are many other issues to consider before a candidate’s religion comes into play.

In the workplace, employers are required by law to overlook a person’s race, religion, gender, and many other factors in regards of hiring them for a job. In politics, many candidates are asking us to take a closer look at them because of these same characteristics that we are required to overlook in everyday life. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted an America where all people were judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I am sure that he would agree that the candidate’s character is more important than their race, religion, or gender. You can make your own decision as to who to vote for in next year’s election, but I hope that your decision is based on more on character and issues than religion, ethnicity, or gender.

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What Everyone Missed in the Immigration Debate

Are we missing the big picture in the debate over immigration reform? I'm not just talking about the misguided politicians who tried to shove a ridiculous amnesty bill down our throats. Have we the people allowed what really happened to go over our heads?

This recently defeated attempt to allow millions of illegal aliens to get around the law is not the first of its kind. The conservative hero Ronald Reagan allowed this on a smaller scale in 1986. What was different back then?

For one thing, the political climate was much different. We allowed amnesty, and it caused the problem of illegal immigration to get much worse. Millions of people have snuck across the border since then because they saw that we did little to prevent it and they realized that we actually rewarded the behavior. Now we are worried about terrorists sneaking across the border alongside the people who are just looking for a better life. We have also seen an increase in crime and gang membership due to lack of enforcement. The list goes on.

Despite these important issues, I saw something else in this debate that really hasn't happened before. It wasn't just the facts I listed above that caused so many to speak up, to write their elected representatives, to place so many phone calls that it actually crashed the Senate switchboard and had Senators' aides filtering faxes and emails.

These things all happened not just because the political climate has changed, they happened because of our new ability to protest from the home and office.

Let me backtrack a little. We have been watching left wing protests on the television for decades. There were televised riots during the Vietnam War. Recently we have seen many protests over the Iraq War and of course we remember the millions of people all over the country protesting in support of the amnesty bill.

What we don't see is protests from right wing groups, at least not in large numbers. When have we ever seen the Million Man March for Tax Reform? When was the last protest to reform entitlement programs? Even now we have a small group of Iraq War vets who are trying to talk to the leaders of the Democratic Party in Washington, but they get little media and of course Harry Reid won't acknowledge the fact that they exist. Granted, this has some to do with the fact that the media pays no attention to right wing causes. But it is also due to few supporters making an effort to show up.

The left has always been more vocal. They have protests, they have celebrities, and they have film makers. The right doesn't do these things, probably because we are busy making sure the American economy doesn't shut down. We have jobs, we run businesses, and we raise our families, crazy things such as that.

What was different about the immigration issue was our ability to come together as one voice without having to interrupt our lives. Online resources such as NumbersUSA and Grassfire.org gave us several things. They gave us the information we needed to make informed decisions. They gave us the scoop on terrorists who were sneaking across the border. Michelle Malkin gave us news regarding crimes committed by people who were in this country illegally. Other resources like John Hawkins of Right Wing News gave us insider information of tactics being used by the pro-amnesty senators. The Heritage Foundation told us what amnesty would cost the tax-payer. NBER told us that illegal immigration was destroying the African-American community by giving their jobs to illegals who would work for less pay.

They also gave us the ability to communicate ideas on how to defeat the amnesty bill. They created online petitions, emails, and faxes to send to Congress. They used their status to gain the meetings with people like Tom Tancredo.

When these internet resources were joined by Conservative Talk Radio, there was hell to pay in the Senate. The likes of Rush and Hannity were giving their listeners the same tools that we were being given on the internet. This combination is what caused the switchboard to crash that day. This is what caused Senators to realize that their jobs were on the line. This is what killed the amnesty bill.

Believe it or not, Congress hasn't yet figured out what hit them. They have put the blame squarely on the shoulders of talk radio and have completely discounted the role played by the combined resources shared on the internet. To be honest, I'm glad they haven't figured it out yet because this helps us the next time they try to bring this bill back, whenever that may be.

But I question whether or not Conservatives citizens are actually aware of what happened. Do we see the power that we now have? Do we see that we now have the ability to take our country back using these same resources towards other issues? Why don't we join together in the same manner for tax reform? Why isn't there a movement like this to stop pork and earmarks? Why aren't we doing the same for tort reform?

The reality is that these movements do exist, they simply don't have the same force behind them yet. We are still fighting for border security of course, the amnesty fight was one battle in a bigger war. We have to ensure that this is taken care of because it seems that Congress got over amnesty and forgot about the fence. Did we come together to prevent a mistake, but now we can't get the same emphasis behind correcting a past issue? Have we learned that we have the ability to make real change in Washington? Was the battle to defeat amnesty our one big push, and now we go back to our routines?

I hope and pray that we have learned what we can do. It is not enough for Congress to be put into a place of fear over one issue. We must learn from this and use it to push them into a place of fear on every other issue that they are screwing up on a daily basis.

We have to get our country back. Someone get some more online faxes ready please.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Commandant of the Marine Corps Speech Text

Thanks to Blackfive for this.

Remarks of Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway
"George P. Shultz Lecture Series"

Marines’ Memorial Association and World Affairs Council
San Francisco, CA Wednesday, July 10, 2007

Folks, it’s great to be with you tonight in America ’s most cosmopolitan city. I intend to offer a few remarks, and then I certainly look forward to your questions.

I sat this week and listened to a United States Senator who criticized the U.S. effort in Iraq as being involved in an Iraqi civil war while ignoring the real fight against terrorism that was taking place in Afghanistan.

With due respect to the senator, I would offer that he is wrong on two counts. The fact is that there is no civil war taking place in Iraq by any reasonable metric. There is certainly sectarian strife, but even that is on the declining scale over the past six months. Ironically, this strife was brought about and inflamed by the very terrorists some claim do not exist in Iraq . The sectarian strife is a tactic aimed at creating chaos with little risk to the instigator while it ties down coalition forces.

Other misnomers abound. Many in our country routinely characterize what is taking place in the Gulf as the “War with Iraq .” I would ask you to think of it differently. I believe we are seeing the first real battles against the field forces of terrorism, both in Afghanistan and Iraq , in what will be a generational struggle. Instead of the “War with Iraq ,” it is more correctly said, the “ Battle in Iraq ” or the “ Battle in Afghanistan .” Words and phrases are important in terms of how we understand critical decisions that this Nation will face and how we frame our thinking as we go about dealing with them.

Our Nation’s forces have been in Iraq over four years now. No doubt that mistakes have been made and opportunities lost, but progress continues at an incremental pace — slower progress than our countrymen might like — but generally apace of historical norms — nine to eleven years that we see when we study successful counterinsurgencies. We have over 170,000 U.S. troops in Iraq , roughly 25,000 of them Marines, and another 11,000-plus coalition troops. Marines are almost exclusively located in the Al Anbar Province, west of Baghdad , until recently termed “the deadly” or the “volatile” Al Anbar.

The region is still a dangerous place, make no doubt – but the Marines and soldiers assigned to the Marine Expeditionary Force have made tremendous progress over the past nine months. At one point, Baghdad believed that the province would be the absolute last to achieve an acceptable level of stability and security. Today, conditions in the province have become the model for what’s happening in the rest of the country.

The reason for the progress is that during October of ’06, the leading Sunni sheik’s in the province decided that U.S. forces were less an enemy to them than the al Qaeda. They finally had their fill of the murder and intimidation campaigns the al Qaeda was subjecting them to, and suddenly, themes the Marines had held fast to for over two-and-a-half years began to resonate. As was their culture, the tribal leaders determined that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and thus began a partnership that has over the intervening months all but cleared the hard-core terrorists from the region.

The metrics show the results. Attacks are down 60 percent. Cache discoveries are up 400 percent because tips from the local population are up 150 percent. Sunni tribes now offer more of their young men each month for the Iraqi Security Forces than the coalition can train. And, yes, casualties are down almost 14 percent for U.S. troops. A normalcy has returned to the province, not seen in over three years, and the people like it.

Al Qaeda can be expected to counterattack, but they have lost the support of the populace, and when that happens, an insurgency cannot survive. Economic progress must follow, however, for us to fully capitalize on the security gains, and that also is happening. Marketplaces in all of the major cities are opened and a decentralized economy flourishes. International businesses have been watching the security situation closely in Al Anbar, and many now feel the time is right for those willing to accept some risk, but perhaps realize significant gains to act.

The final leg of the stool is the political link. At the national level, the political patchwork is problematic, and the Maliki government has been repeatedly cautioned that it must make better use of the time coalition forces have bought them. In the Al Anbar Province, thins are slightly more encouraging. Prime Minister Maliki has met in Ramadi the lead sheiks and is scheduled to meet with them again in al Qa’im this summer. The sheiks realize that in order for the country to stay together, there must be reconciliation with the Kurds and the Shi’as at the national level.

Reconciliation conferences are taking place amongst tribal leadership, the clergy, and elected officials. Recently, just such a conference was attacked by a suicide bomber. While the attack may make subsequent efforts more difficult, it also shows the participants how much the al Qaeda fear the success of these efforts.

As one might expect, the morale of the Marines and Sailors who are living the successes in the West is off the page. Although our deployment tempo is intense – Marines are normally deployed for seven months and are at home for seven months — or in some cases less — the absolute best morale that our Corps has is found in units getting ready to go to Iraq or that are already there.

I’ll give you a couple of examples. The Second Battalion, Fifth Marines was in Ramadi on their last deployment and lost 15 Marines killed and another 150-plus wounded. Scheduled to return to Ramadi again, the battalion commander approached his combat veterans who were nearing their end-of-active service that would occur either before or during the deployment.
He expressed concern that his younger Marines who were not combat experienced would miss their leadership and their know-how. He asked them to consider staying aboard through the next rotation. Ladies and gentlemen, without a penny of incentive pay, 200 Marines — most of them NCOs — stepped forward to deploy again with that battalion.


In another instance that happened just last week, Corporal Garret Hawkins had his right leg shattered in a IED blast northwest of Karma. Before he was medevaced out by helicopter, he told his First Sergeant that he first needed to go back to the base. Once at the treatment station, he announced he wanted to reenlist before he was evacuated. His platoon commander read the oath, the corporal raised his right hand as he laid on the stretcher, and his fellow Marines shook their heads in amazement and could only say, "That’s motivating as hell."


Another reason that Marines and Sailors feel good about their mission and themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan is that they are certain that they are defending this Nation against terrorism. They feel that the reason the country has not been attacked since 9/11 is because they are killing the same terrorists in both places that might otherwise be attempting to find their way to the U.S. Most would agree that a direct attack on terrorism was not the initial reason for going into Iraq in 2003, but it took a little less than three weeks for us to see religious extremists there.

On the march to Baghdad , my division commander, then Major General Jim Mattis outside of a little town called Azzizah radioed back that he had just run into a beehive. He said that there were about 300 fighters in the area who were not retreating, and to the contrary, they were dying in place on their guns. These people were fanatics. The last squad was cut down charging a 50-caliber machine gun on a tank. When we searched the bodies, we found that they were not Iraqis — but were from Syria , Saudi Arabia , Jordan , and Yemen.

In the interim years, we have watched the forces of al Qaeda increasingly make it their fight. Indeed, they are the single most dangerous enemy we face. There is no way our troops want to back down from that fight until they and their Iraqi counterparts have substantially destroyed the al Qaeda organization or forced it to go elsewhere.

The al Qaeda in Iraq are increasingly on the run. We have faced two enemies in the country — one we call the ACF, or the Anti-Coalition Forces — the other AIF, or the Anti-Iraqi Forces. The Anti-Coalition Forces are basically local tribesmen or former Iraqi army who believe we have become occupiers. These types are essentially nationalists. They want to see a strong Iraqi government, the coalition forces gone, and ultimately, a better quality of life for their children. They might very well engage a U.S. patrol moving through their area with lethal fires, but if the patrol were Iraqi, they would cheer their boys on.

The Anti-Iraqi Forces are different. They are principally al Qaeda, foreign fighters, and criminals. They do not want to see a strong Iraq government. Indeed, their objective is to return to the caliphate and 15th-century law. They are not likely to ever reach an agreement with a recognized authority and will simply have to be captured or killed. For roughly 36 months, these forces allied together to oppose coalition forces. For the past nine months, the Anti-Coalition Forces have joined with us to eliminate the Anti-Iraqi Forces.

The terrorist leader Zarqawi foretold the day would come before his death. He said to Iraqi Security Forces in 2004, "We fight them and this is difficult because of the gap that will emerge between us and the people of the land. How can we kill their cousins and sons linked to the inhabitants by kinship, blood, and honor? The real sons of this land will decide the matter through experience. Democracy is coming; there will be no excuse thereafter."

We are hopeful that the so-called "Awakening Movement" of the tribes in al Anbar will continue to be a west-to-east phenomenon that has evolved. Baghdad is admittedly different with the ethnic mix found in the city, but even there, we have recently some bonding against the al Qaeda influence. The recent surge, or plus-up, that has been directed by the President comes at an advantageous time to keep pressure on the al Qaeda.

I must caution, however, that the source of the additional troops to Iraq has created an impact on available force flow that can only be judged as severe. The effort has brought both ground services to a precipitous edge — for future rotations are in jeopardy of not being fully rested, trained, or manned to go forward. Our message to the commanders in the field and to our leadership is that based on our current deployment model, the troop levels associated with the surge cannot be sustained indefinitely.

That said, I have heard this effort described as a Hail Mary — a last desperate attempt to achieve success. The analogy follows that if the effort fails — that is to say, if the pass falls incomplete — then the clock runs out and the game is over. Folks, I think that what we have at stake in Iraq is far too important for us as a Nation to take that view.

The much-advertised September report from commanders in theater will provide us an insight as to the progress on the ground. In the wake of that report, we as a Nation need to take an objective look at where we are in this struggle. We should not over-estimate our progress made or underestimate the momentum the enemy would gain if we were to conduct an unabated withdrawal of forces. There are many options left available, and we need to be pragmatic in terms of what is best for the Nation — both in the near term and in the context of this Long War.

You know, ladies and gentlemen, the Iraqis are a very proud people. They consider themselves fortunate to be Iraqis, and they look forward to the day when they can live in security and prosperous surroundings. A professor told me long ago that a sovereign nation needs five things to make it prosper: fresh water, arable land, an educated population, an exportable product, and a seaport. Iraq has all of those things. I would add the sixth element to the list, I think: leadership.

But the point is, Iraq is potentially a very rich country. Her neighbors look on that wealth with a lusty gaze, and al Qaeda would like nothing better than to control such resources for the Long War. We in turn, when we do draw down, must develop a regional strategy that protects Iraq within such time as she can build back her armed forces sufficient to defend national sovereignty, and yet we need to limit the footprint of our forces inside the country.

Let me switch topics at this point and talk about regional security and the next steps in the War on Terrorism. The drawdown of our forces in Iraq is inevitable, and I would argue necessary in order to be able to reset our corps, train more broadly for other contingencies, and prepare ourselves for the next engagements with extremists.

The key question will be, are we reducing our forces in Iraq, confident in the ability of Iraqi Security Forces to carry the preponderance of the fight and the ability of the Iraqis to self govern, or are we drawing down because we feel progress is not sufficiently dramatic — that Iraq is simply not worth the cost in treasure and blood — or because, as some say, we have already lost?

For those who subscribe to the latter point of view, I would offer to you that there is something else inextricably tied to our presence in Iraq , and that is the credibility of the United States of America . Whether or not we want to admit it as a Nation, the fight in Iraq has evolved into a struggle between us and al Qaeda — the religious extremists of our modern-day world and the people we must defeat in this long war.

Our enemies have said from the outside that Americans are weak of spirit and will lose our will to win if the fighting gets tough. He has looked at our other withdrawals in Vietnam , Lebanon , and Somalia , and has gained confidence that he can recreate yet another such scenario. I said to you earlier that Iraq and Afghanistan are the first battles of the Long War. He knows, just as we should know, that whoever wins the first battles gains incredible momentum. The loser faces a vastly different and much more daunting set of circumstances.

The keys to a successful struggle in Iraq are developing the rudimentary elements of self-governance sufficient for protecting citizens of the country, hold the nation together, and provide basic services to the people. The keys to a successful regional strategy will be posturing the moderates for success and regaining control of the Muslim religion, preventing wider outbreaks of sectarian violence amongst nations, and containing the Iranian threat.

Notwithstanding possible development of nuclear weapons, Iran is already the recognized power in the region amongst Gulf states . The nations in the region are watchful and uneasy — not yet willing to accommodate but in no position to challenge their Persian neighbor.

Iran for its part is also uneasy. She has significant coalition presence on both her eastern and western borders and an entire fleet of coalition combat ships in Gulf waters. The Iranian response to this thus far has been covert – that is to say, deniable support for both the insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan . She is exporting the successful Hezbollah model in an attempt to prolong both conflicts in order to avoid greater focus on Iran . The strategy to date has only been minimally successful but carries with it a high degree of risk.

The stability of the region is in the best interests of the industrial world as 30 percent of the world’s oil-supply flows from the Gulf ports, and that will continue to be the case through at least the next couple of decades. However, the threats are also enduring: al Qaeda, Iranian-sponsored, and surrogate terrorist organizations, and internal movements associated with virtually every Middle Eastern nation, to name the most serious.

But there has been unrest in extremist movements in the past. Indeed, there have been five previous jihads in history and relative peace were only possible after the moderates were sufficiently mobilized to say enough and regain control of their religion. Western nations have had little impact on settling previous jihads. The solution must invariably come from within. But with wise statecraft, we can, with our partner nations, positively influence events in the region and help shape the environment for success.

One of the things that Western nations can and must ensure is that this Long War does not somehow evolve into a cultural war between Muslims and Christianity. Of course, the extremists would like nothing better, and just as they have been able to engineer sectarian strife in Iraq , we can accurately predict they will attempt to inflame religion on a global scale.

We must continue to focus like a laser on extremism but extend the helping hand to other nations, particularly Muslim nations who seek it. Secretary Rumsfeld used to say that the most important success we have had against terrorism to date was the tsunami relief, and we didn’t fire a single round. There have been other successes in the wake of the tsunami disaster where our military responded magnificently: during the Pakistani earthquake, the Philippine mudslides, and even the Lebanon non-combatant evacuation.

But the response should not, unless absolutely necessary, always be a military response. Perhaps more than any other conflict we have engaged in, this generational struggle calls out for the application of other elements of American power. A fledgling country in North Africa susceptible to fundamentalist ideologies might not welcome a squad of Marines in the back of an Osprey, but they would be anxious to have a fire team of Americans from Agriculture and Justice, Border and Drug Enforcement to help them get their institutions right and prosper a higher standard of living. We need to properly resource and develop a deployment mentality among our U.S. government agencies so they can stand at the shoulder of our armed forces during this Long War.

Just as we must broaden our own ability to respond, we must welcome the contributions of other nations. Who would have guessed it 10 years ago that NATO would be as engaged in Afghanistan as we see today. Moreover, I don’t think that when they did agree to go in that they did so realizing their forces would be under frequent attack by a resurgent Taliban. By my estimation, however, NATO forces in the southern region have done pretty well this past spring, yet there are those in Washington who groused that "they owe us more" — that "this nation or that one is not doing as much as it should."

Folks, I am reminded of a phrase, "a nation will invariably do what is in the best interest of that nation to do." I’m convinced our country appreciates a coalition effort, and we need to do all in our power to encourage it. If it’s not in a nation’s capability to provide combat troops, then we ought to ask for military advisor teams, police trainers, or those who can counter drugs. Each nation should be encouraged to do as much as it can, but the key is to keep their flag active in that circle of flags that are engaged in this Long War on Terrorism.

One more element of information for you that may impact how you see the problem: Our Nation must make some very critical decisions in the next several months. I am supremely confident in the power of democracy to make tough decisions. We elect men and women of character, and the people of our great land feel free to engage in the debate. It is therefore critical that our countrymen, certainly our elected officials, understand the enemy’s strategy. We have both intercepted it and he has arrogantly placed it on his websites.

The strategy has five phases. The first phase calls for jihad — for all the brothers to rise up and slaughter the infidel. That phase has only been partially successful as we calculate there are probably a couple of thousand hardcore al Qaeda worldwide, and maybe a few tens of thousands of fighters.

The second phase calls for the removal of all Western influence out of the old caliphate – read "the Middle East." I believe that that’s the phase we’re in now. Based on the discussions taking place in our government, one can argue that the enemy is perhaps more on plan in Iraq than we are.

During the third phase, the jihad plans to turn on and destroy what they would call the apostate governments of the Middle East , those that have partnered with the infidels; those that have sold us oil. In the execution of this phase, something very important happens. The enemy knows that he cannot defeat us on the battlefield, but he believes he can defeat our nation by wrecking our economy — bankrupting and making it impossible for us to deploy our forces. He intends to do that through control of the Middle East oil supply — either by destroying the capacity to produce, or if he takes it intact, by so distorting oil prices – hundreds of dollars per barrel – that Western economies come to a standstill.

The next phase includes the destruction of Israel and increasingly devastating terrorist attacks in the West. Finally, he says – and this may take 100 years – he extends the caliphate to encompass the globe, and every nation adopts his laws and his religion.

Folks, if you listen closely, you know that I mentioned at least two vital U.S. national objectives. My view is if we don’t get the job done right in Iraq the first time, we will be going back, and things are always tougher the second time around.

Let’s talk briefly about one last topic, and that is the role of the U.S. Marine Corps in the future. There are those who point out that the Marine Corps has, over the past few years, started to perform the function and take on the look of a second land army. That’s true. That rather remarkable transformation began in 2003 when we lined up along side an Army Corps and then matched them stride for stride all the way to Baghdad — several hundred miles beyond our traditional operating ranges adjacent to sea. Then a Marine Task Force attacked another 100 miles supported by organic air to capture Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit.

I mention it because it reflects the adaptability and the versatility of our Corps to respond to whatever the force the Nation needs. My belief is that for this Long War, there is no more relevant or capable force in the Nation’s inventory than the U.S. Marine Corps.

To be that force, however, we must understand what the environment will look like in the out years and the role our expeditionary strategy will play. We see a world in 2025 still suffering the effects of Islamic extremism. The dangers of weapons of mass destruction being used against the homeland will increase. Alternative energy sources will not be mature, so industrial nations and increasingly the developing nations will depend on the free flow of oil; however, fresh water will be equally important to petroleum products. During the 20th century, while the population increased 300 percent, the demand for water increased 600 percent. Demographics and the aging of the population of industrial countries, accompanied by a youth bulge in developing countries will literally change the face of the world as we know it. The U.S. technological advantage, economic power, and military might will still exceed that of other nations, but will not be nearly as dominant by 2025.

The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard are developing a maritime strategy to meet this changing world. It relies heavily on forward presence and extensive use of the global commons — in this instance, the oceans. The key elements of our strategy include: integration with the naval forces of other nations to keep open sea lines of communication; a form of strategic distributed operations wherein a small number of Marines embark aboard ship and work in partnership with the forces of developing nations; sea basing, our capability in an effort to minimize U.S. presence ashore on any other nation’s land; and, yes, maintaining a sufficient forcible entry capability should the situation demand it.

To continue to be the Nation’s force of choice, the Corps of today will have to require some changes. Post-Iraq, we will once again have to attain our expeditionary flavor. We have grown heavy in our effort to accomplish the mission and protect our troops in an IED-laden environment. Another layer of armor has a good feel to it, but it also limits the ability of an expeditionary force to be mobile and agile.

Our battalion equipment sets in the motor pools have become populated with over three times the gear that we once felt was sufficient. Most of it’s good stuff for the environment we’re in now, but the day must come when we sort out what we can carry — what we must have versus what is nice to have.

We will have to intelligently add the 27,000 Marines the President has authorized. Most of that number will be used to grow additional units that have been hard-pressed in this War on Terrorism. New capabilities, however, will also be created. We see the need for a training and advisory group that will provide advisor teams to nations developing a professional military or who are perhaps already engaged in the fight with extremists. We will have to train all our new Marines, active and reserve, in our bread-and-butter competencies — amphibious operations, combined arms maneuver, and mountain and jungle warfare training — to ensure that they are indeed ready for any clime and place.

There are a couple of other areas we have to fix as well. Recently, an Army mental health study pointed to the fact that Marines in a recent rotation in Iraq – in percentages that I was not comfortable with – was a little loose in their interpretation, maybe even application, of battlefield ethics. At the same time, we have a couple of incidents involving civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq under investigation or engaged in trial. New information emerged just last week on yet another alleged incident. Now we’re going to let those things play out. No one is prematurely judging guilt or innocent, but the very convergence of all these events concern me, and so we are examining as a Corps how we prepare our young squad leaders to become that Strategic Corporal.

The Long War is indeed a small unit leaders’ fight, and we have to make sure our young warriors, operating sometimes with little sleep and in 120-degree heat, are up to the task of making rapid tactical decisions that may have strategic impact.

Because of the importance of the quality of the individual Marine, we will grow the force roughly 5,000 Marines a year over the next five years, but we do not intend to lower our standards. That makes it tough, but our recruiters are working hard, and we are making our quotas. I believe it helps that there will always be a certain number of great young Americans out there who want to be Marines. Once again, however, I have concerns, this time not with our Corps but with the Army. Folks, we have a great army, and I’ll be the first to tell you that the Marine Corps wins battles but the Army wins the Nation’s wars. Our Army is not having a good time of it right now recruiting, and yet their successes are inextricably tied to the successes of the Nation. I’ve encouraged our recruiters — I encourage you tonight, to help where you can. If a young American is never going to be Marine, there is tremendous pride in serving this country as a soldier in the United States Army.

Folks, let me leave you with just a couple of positive thoughts. Everything we read about in the future indicates that well-trained, well-led human beings with a capacity to absorb information and rapidly react to their environment have a tremendous asymmetric advantage over an adversary. That advantage goes to us. Our young Marines of today are courageous, willing to make sacrifices, and are marvelous team players. I am confident our Corps, and indeed our Nation, will be in great shape for a long time to come as these people continue to grow and assume greater positions of responsibility.

Finally, I recently named the book, “First to Fight,” by Lieutenant General Victor Krulak as the Commandant’s selection — a must-read from our reading list. In the book, he says that there will always be a Marine Corps because America loves our Marines. That is, unless one of two things were to happen – one would be that we as an institution were found to be somehow abusing the sons and daughters of this great land. The other would be if the Nation were to call on the Corps at a time of emergency and somehow we failed to answer that call. Ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you here tonight. Neither of those two things are going to happen on my watch. Thank you very much.

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At Least One Voter Confused on Iraq War Polls

I’m certain that if I asked around, that number would increase after people see the current polls regarding Iraq.

Going to Rasmussen Reports again, it appears that only 32% of America thinks we can win in Iraq, yet 51% say that we should wait until September before making major policy change. September is of course when the Commander in Iraq will give his update to Congress regarding progress against the terrorist who have been murdering Iraqi civilians.

This goes hand in hand with a poll claiming that only 19% consider the troop surge strategy to be a success. Despite this low number, only 43% consider it a failure, with others saying they aren’t certain or that it is too soon to tell.

Interestingly, this reflects views that would go hand in hand with those who only look to the MSM and to Harry Reid for their information. Reid and Pelosi declared in a letter to President Bush that the strategy was failing, but they sent him this letter before the surge actually began.

I imagine that people who are familiar with the many blogs coming from people who are actually in Iraq are more likely to know that the surge has enjoyed a good deal of success. Until the surge began just last month, our troops were not operating under guise of a counter-insurgency. Now they are conducting a counter-insurgency, which is what they should have been doing for a few years now. Saying that the surge is a failure or that it is a success is completely ridiculous at this point. It has shown a great deal of progress despite what the left believes. At the same time, it has not quelled the violence. Keep in mind that we were warned before it began that Al-Qaeda would obviously step up the attacks when troops stepped up the attacks. This was expected.

Despite the rantings of the left, the American people are not dead set on an immediate withdrawal of our troops. These polls show that although many don’t think the war can be won, we should at least wait until General Petraeus gives his update this September. Even the new UN head says to wait. If the report shows progress, more may be inclined to see that the war can be won.

We are tired of war, but we don’t want to hand a victory to Al-Qaeda. I’m not as confused as I led you to believe.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Liberals Are Opposed to a Free Press

Some scary info from Rasmussen Reports.

Americans are evenly divided as to whether or not the government should “require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary.” The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% favor that proposal and 41% are opposed.

An interesting dynamic of the public debate is that liberals are more supportive of the “Fairness Doctrine” than conservatives. Liberals support the measure by a 51% to 33% margin while conservatives are opposed by a 48% to 40% margin.

The fact that almost half of the people questioned said that they support legislation that shits on the Bill of Rights in this fashion scares me. The fact that it receives more support from liberals than from conservatives is no surprise however.

Looking back into recent history, liberals voiced their support for Hugo Chavez when he sent in his storm troopers to shut down two television stations.

They have no problem allowing Nancy Pelosi to control what we hear on the radio, but they get angry when President Bush taps Al-Qaeda’s cell phones.

If Democrats Would Put This Much Effort Into WINNING The War..

…we would have driven Al-Qaeda from Iraq long ago.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has threatened to keep the Senate awake all night Tuesday to protest GOP blocking tactics on moves to compel U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq.”

An all-nighter in the Senate? Reid prepares rollaway beds Update: GOP senators “happy to stay and debate”

From the mouth of Harry Reid, “If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin/Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday. The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it.”

Someone should tell this idiot that there was a debate. There was an up and down vote. This was done when you authorized the war. Now your duty is to help win.

If you spent more time encouraging our troops and helping the President and less time following the propaganda fed to you by Al-Qaeda, maybe we could get this thing won and our guys could come home to their families.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

carnival of political punditry - July 15, 2007

Welcome to the July 15, 2007 edition of carnival of political punditry.

Sammy Benoit presents Hillary Clinton's Police State posted at YID With LID.

Sammy discusses the attempts by the left to shut down any media that doesn't do as it is told.

Steve M presents Syria invades Lebanon posted at blogolob.

And the MSM was quiet.

artThailand presents Is Censorship Right? posted at artThailand.

This is a good look at what censorship really looks like. We in America take things like this for granted.

Hakim Abdullah presents Why Facebook, Why Now? posted at Hakim Abdullah.

Jon Swift presents Do We Need Another Terrorist Attack? posted at Jon Swift, saying, "Many conservatives are coming to the reluctant conclusion that, regretfully, another terrorist attack may be just what we need right now to wake the country up."

Ashok presents Rethink.: The Unity of Justice and Fraternity: On Lincoln's "Second Inaugural" posted at Rethink., saying, "Thanks so much for hosting this carnival! It's always a pleasure to participate."

vjack presents Atheists in Politics posted at Atheist Revolution, saying, "A new energy is sweeping American atheists, secular humanists, and freethinkers. More of us are coming forward, speaking out, and taking action to preserve our secular democracy. The backlash against years dominated by Christian extremism is underway, and a grassroots movement is starting to emerge. While lacking cohesion or recognized leadership, this atheist wave is finally being noticed by the American media. In fact, some are now recognizing our growing political influence."

Riversider presents Preston Vision Board Split Over Ribble Barrage? posted at Save The Ribble.

Indigo Warrior presents Welcome to my Blogspot posted at Warrior Words.

DWSUWF presents The pussification of the presidency. posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall, saying, "The historical legacy of Dick Cheney and this administration will be a permanently weaker executive branch, constrained by shackles applied by the judiciary and the legislature, precipitated specifically by and in reaction to the overreach of Dick Cheney."

FitBuff presents How Much Are You Willing to Pay for Twinkies? posted at FitBuff.com's Total Mind and Body Fitness Blog, saying, "Most people shudder at the word "taxes," so how would you feel if your government imposed a "fat tax"?!"

Sean Hackbarth presents McCain Doesn't Know What Iraq Victory Looks Like -- The American Mind posted at The American Mind.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Alternative Minimum Tax Hike?

Shortly after the mid term elections last year the newly elected Democratic leadership promised the American taxpayers to “fix” the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT is a little known tax that was created almost 40 years ago to force 150 or so wealthy families to pay taxes. These families had not broken any law by not paying taxes, they simply used the tax code to avoid paying any income taxes. The AMT has grown over the 3 plus decades that it has been in existence to include over 3.8 million taxpayers in 2006. The major flaw with the AMT is that it does not take into account inflation or any tax cuts that have been implemented over the years.

I know what many are thinking right now. “This tax does not affect me. I am not in the top 1% or even the top 10% of wage earners.” The sad news is that within the next 3 years at least 26 million more taxpayers will be paying the AMT. The AMT does not take the place of your existing tax rate, it is an additional tax on top of your income tax. Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, show that nearly every family with a total income of $100,000 will be paying $2000 more in taxes next year. Worse yet, many families with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 will see a $1000 increase in taxes.

Some Senate Democrats have proposed a plan that would eliminate the AMT but raise taxes on those with more than $500,000 in income. Many politicians up for reelection next year are afraid to back such a plan, because of being seen as proponents of tax increases. Another plan is to simply postpone the effect of the AMT for 2 years, conveniently after the next election, and then work on tax increases to offset any loss of tax revenue from the AMT. Why does the government always expect the taxpayers to do with less money, but never even consider that they should do with less money?

Let’s not forget that the Republicans were in control of Congress for 12 years and failed to do anything about the AMT. They also failed to act on making Bush’s tax cuts, which by the way have caused an increase in tax revenues over the past 6 years. Whatever happened to Republicans being the party of tax cuts and fiscal responsibility? I am not saying the Democrats have been any better about spending since they have been in power. The political promises of last election season that earmark spending would be transparent, has yet to be accomplished. Both political parties have been severely lacking when it comes to tightening the purse strings in Washington. Isn’t any wonder why congressional approval ratings are at historic lows?

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Monday, July 9, 2007

carnival of political punditry - July 8, 2007

Welcome to the July 8, 2007 edition of carnival of political punditry.

When you get a moment, please check out my new home page: http://thenewpundit.com/

Jack Yoest presents Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell Reports: How Liberals Think in War posted at Reasoned Audacity, saying, "The only time a manager should shout or bark out an order demanding instant obedience is if the building is on fire: an emergency. Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell had a few minutes to make a decision and decided to take a vote. It wasn't an emergency, just yet.

"It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life," Luttrell writes. "I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I'd turned into a (expletive) liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jack rabbit.

Marcus Luttrell tells his story in Lone Survivor and is reported in A war hero from Huntsville rues a decision made in Afghanistan

Sammy Benoit presents Homeland Insecurity posted at YID With LID. A Democrat House Committee secretly ordered the removal of all references to the "Global War On Terror," nonchalantly claiming it wasn't political. Who are they fooling? The Military Times reported that Erin Conaton, a staffer on Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton's House Armed Services Committee, banished the term "Global War On Terror" from the 2008 defense bill, in a Mar. 27 memo to Democrats.

Ashok presents Is Democracy Feasible? (Reflections on the Gettysburg Address) posted at Rethink.Democracy is feasible, but it requires beatitude. Otherwise, it is worse than worthless: it is merely prelude to anarchy. It is truly tragic that awareness of the need for beatitude should come at the expense of so much blood.

Lucynda Riley presents This is why my son is Homeschooled posted at Quietly Into the Night.

Charles Modiano presents History's Hit Job on Thomas Paine posted at CLEAN OUR HOUSE! - Killing the Bigotry in all of US. Thomas Paine was ahead of his time, and this fact gives us iconic options that few know exist. If saddled with the choice of “men of their times” versus “men of our times”, shouldn’t it be a no-brainer who gets the historical love? Shouldn’t our history books make it self-evident that all white men in white wigs were not created equal? Unfortunately, I never did learn anything about Thomas Paine “the abolitionist” or “women’s rights activist” in school.

Wenchypoo presents Who Needs Universal Health Care? posted at Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket. People like Michael Moore, that's who! Did you know he was a third-generation unemployed union auto worker, not to mention a heart attack waiting to happen (have you seen him lately?).

Kathryn Lang presents Division Will Destroy the United States posted at The Peculiar Club. I am all for compassion. I am all for understanding. I am all for celebrating uniqueness. The counterbalance must be that first and foremost we stand united. “United we stand.” Diversity is great – division will destroy.

D presents 43 Famous people who should run for President posted at The Hiller Report, saying, "An amusing list of famous people and things who should run for President in '08. Includes 43 pictures."

Anna - On The Ponderosa presents LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL posted at On The Ponderosa.

Don presents Ron Paul - Who Is Ron Paul And What Is He Smoking? : DirtFromTexas.Com posted at DirtFromTexas.Com, saying, "While others who think they know this Texas Congressman run to jump on his bandwagon, I show people some of the things that Ron Paul does, not says. I happen to live in the district next to his and I get a first hand view of the double talking "see what I say, not what I do" actions."

Kilroy_60 presents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney Are A National Disgrace For America posted at Fear And Loathing - The Gonzo Papers.

Steven Silvers presents WakeUpWalMart defections might mean union-backed activist groups have done all they can do. posted at Scatterbox at stevensilvers.com, saying, "Departing leaders of a prominent political-style anti-Wal-Mart group perhaps think they’ll accomplish more through a well-coiffed multimillionaire populist presidential candidate."

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
carnival of political punditry
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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Libby Prison Sentence Commutation Exposes More Hypocrisy

Late Sunday evening, President Bush commuted the 30 month prison sentence for Scooter Libby. Libby, as you may recall, was convicted of obstructing the investigation of the CIA leak case and of making false statements during the investigation. Bush’s commutation does not pardon Libby, but rather allows him to remain a free man.

I would like to take a moment to review why Libby was even in his current predicament. Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed as a Special Prosecutor to investigate who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative. The crux of the case was that Plame was a covert CIA operative and the White House blew her cover as a smear attempt against her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson. Wilson had written an op-ed in the New York Times condemning the administration’s claim that Iraq had attempted to obtain “yellow cake” uranium for weapons of mass destruction. The covert status of Plame has been debated time and time again and will continue to be. After all of the investigation one simple fact remains, Richard Armitage, then Deputy Secretary of State, was the original leak of Plame’s identity.

Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald knew within days of opening the investigation that
Armitage was the leak, but yet Armitage was never charged and Fitzgerald continued his investigation. During his investigation he brought Libby before the Grand Jury multiple times. While on the stand, Libby made contradicting statements that led to charges being filed against him.

I may be a conservative in the minority by saying this but, Libby made false statements while under oath, and so he was correctly convicted of that charge. Even though he may have had a momentary lapse of memory, he still made false statements while under oath. I cannot in good conscience condemn former President Clinton for lying under oath, if I do not hold members of my own party to the same standard. I believe that Libby would never have been charged if Fitzpatrick had ended his investigation when Armitage came forward. After all, when Armitage admitted to being the source of the leak, the sole purpose of the investigation had been fulfilled. Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, saw an opportunity to make a name for himself, and continued the investigation in hoped of finding someone to charge with a crime.

As I stated above, Libby broke the law and was correctly convicted of his crimes. We could debate over the severity of Libby’s sentence of 30 months in prison, but that is a mute point now that his sentence has been commuted. President Bush has the constitutional right to commute the sentence or pardon anyone he deems worthy. Just as every President before him had the very same constitutional right. The political outcry was immediate and intense. Former President Clinton slammed the Bush administration for the decision to commute the prison sentence of Libby. Clinton seems to have forgotten his own presidential history of
pardons, particularly the politically tied pardons of former congressman Dan Rostenkowski and Clinton loyalist Marc Rich. I say again, every President has the constitutional right to pardon anyone they want to, but it smacks of hypocrisy to hear a former President deride a current President’s choice of whose prison sentence to commute.

I personally support the President’s right to commute the sentence of Libby, but I am tired of the politically elite from both parties walking away from charges for which the average citizen would be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Would you or I be given the commutation? Would you or I be able to walk away as a free man if we had stolen classified documents from the National Archives as Sandy Berger did? For all of the yelling and screaming over the commutation, both sides need to check their partisanship at the door and look closely at historical precedence of pardons and of lying under oath.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The New Pundit's New News Website

I finally got it up and running. I have been working on this for a few weeks. I wanted a content manager that I could control largely from remote locations. I tried joomla to no avail. I am using wordpress at the moment. It has a few flaws, and I do have to go in and upload to an ftp server on occasion. But I can now control much of the content from anywhere.

The site has news from round the globe. I am currently feeding news regarding the war on terror, the elections, and I will add some others. I also have rss feeds from places like Newsmax and IBD. New sections will be added as I see fit and as time allows. A video section will be coming soon.

Enjoy. http://www.thenewpundit.com/

Monday, July 2, 2007

carnival of political punditry - July 1, 2007

Welcome to the July 1, 2007 edition of carnival of political punditry. I am incredibly tired at the moment, but I promised myself that I would comment on some of the submissions this week.

Hakim Abdullah presents An Islamic View of Suicide Bombing posted at Hakim Abdullah.

Hakim has contributed to this carnival in the past. I read this article and two thoughts come up: We need more Muslims to share this view. We need those who do share this view to be more vocal.

Tracee Sioux presents Who Doesn’t Have a Crush on Barack Obama? posted at Blog Fabulous, saying, "The Latin sex-pot with the dity about having a crush on Barack Obama certainly isn't going to hurt his campaign."

I can honestly say that I do not have a crush on Obama. This brings up an intersting point. Bill Clinton was seen as hot by a lot of women. In 2004, John Edwards was the hot Vice President candidate. And now we have Obama. I wonder how democrats make their decisions.

Tracee Sioux presents Global Gag Rule is Anti-Girl posted at So Sioux Me, saying, "The Global Gag Rule and limitations on the distribution of contraception is blatantly anti-girl and anti-woman."

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Suffering From Bloomberg-Envy ... Or Just an Idiotic Egomaniac? posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness.

Ashok presents Question: Should Political Science Exist? Why? posted at Rethink..

An interesting piece on why we feel the need for debate.

Matt presents Two federal agencies on power grab - why Republicans are like sneaky little kids posted at The Displaced Republican, saying, "I used to think the Republican Party stood for small government. I recently figured it out that when it comes to the big/small government debate, they're actually worse than the Dems...they're like sneaky little kids."

Matt gives one of many good examples for this argument. Republicans need to start acting like Conservatives again.

Wenchypoo presents In Honor of High Milk Prices posted at Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket, saying, "There's nothing more political than farm subsidies that are no longer working thanks to ethanol!"

Big Government at its best. Subsidies for bad ideas.

Sammy Benoit presents Jumping off the Bush Bandwagon? No Bush Jumped off Mine posted at YID With LID.

Did George Bush forget who voted for him in 2004?

Mark25 presents Management vs. Politics posted at HotStrategies.com.

Kyle presents Cheney Inspires Me posted at Nascent Notions, saying, "Cheney Invents his own Branch of government and I follow suite"

Kyle presents Immigration: The Devil's Name is Amnesty posted at Nascent Notions.

Why debate an issue when you can accuse someone of being a racist instead?

Hell's Handmaiden presents More Firepower? Less Crime? hell's handmaiden posted at Hell's Handmaiden.

I don't think the Handmaiden likes guns. This argument will go on forever I think.

Jack Yoest presents Lurita Alexis Doan, GSA Chief: Capitalism Meets Politics posted at Reasoned Audacity, saying, "When a person of note is covered by the media in Your Nation's Capital, three questions are asked by the victim:
1) Is there a picture?
2) Is it above the fold?
3) Is the story running on the weekend?"

It's pretty simple. If Representative Waxman is accusing someone of something, there is a witchhunt in progress.

Charles H. Green presents Trust, Politics and US Health Care Policy posted at Trust Matters, saying, "A Harvard Business School prof uses the standard tools of business analysis to indict US health care - a system that serves neither business nor the public, yet seems impossible to fix so it works for either."

Charles discusses the book "Who Killed Health Care?"

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
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