Monday, January 31, 2005

Harry Reid's PREbuttal

Here's part of Harry Reid's prebuttal to President Bush's State of the Union Address:
"Last Thanksgiving, I traveled to Bethesda Naval Hospital to visit with some of our wounded troops. I met one young Marine who'd been involved in the battle of Fallujah. He had sustained severe leg injuries but his upper body was still strong & when I came to his bedside he grabbed me by the hand & pulled me in close. He looked me straight in the eye & said, “I’m counting on you.”
The fact is, he’s counting on all of us who have the honor of serving here in Washington. On behalf of all congressional Democrats, we won't let him down."
I don't doubt that this serviceman told Reid that but I wouldn't be surprised if he meant "Don't let me down again." I don't know that that's what he meant, I'm just saying that I wouldn't be surprised if that's what he meant.
Let me be clear: there is no partisan split in our commitment to defending this nation. America stands united in waging the War on Terror. We Democrats simply believe we need a stronger strategy for winning this war. We believe it's time that America had a national security policy that is as strong & brave & decent as the heroes who serve in uniform.
Like the President's policies aren't strong enough? Wake up Harry. There was just a historic election in a country that isn't exactly known for democracy.
"Unfortunately, that isn't the national security policy we currently have under the Bush Administration. With his re-election,­ with yesterday’s elections in Iraq,­ President Bush has a golden opportunity to change course. To use his State of the Union Address as a chance to come clean with the America people. To outline a stronger, clearer policy to succeed in Iraq, defend America from danger & advance the security & liberty of people around the world."
Changing course on the patriotic Iraqi people is a golden opportunity??? If that isn't bad enough, then he says that President Bush hasn't "come clean with the American people." President Bush must be awfully clever to have duped 62 million people into voting for him without coming clean with them.
By his comments, I'd guess Old Harry didn't hear a word of President Bush's Inaugural Address because he thinks that President Bush hasn't outlined a strong, clear "policy to succeed in Iraq..."
Say what you want but I think that Harry Reid & Nancy Pelosi are about as lame a set of party's leaders in the U.S. Congress.

Pelosi Being Pelosi

Just when you thought Democrats were done imploding & making themselves look bad, you read a story like this & you realize just how deeply they hate President Bush.
Pelosi in New Bush Insult
Smarting over the prospect that President Bush's policy in Iraq was vindicated by Sunday's historic election, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declined on Monday to offer any congratulations, choosing instead to insult his intelligence.
Speaking of the warm reception Bush is likely to enjoy when he delivers the State of the Union Address later this week, the top House Democrat told the National Press Club:"You really don't have to have very [good] communication skills if you have a couple of hundred people who will jump to their feet when you recite the ABCs," she said.

Talk about insulting. This woman is as hateful as her California colleague Babs Boxer. If Ted Kennedy didn't inhabit the mantle of Most Hate-Filled Democrat, Ms. Pelosi would be a leading candidate. That she's the House Minority Leader ought to be a permanent embarassment to sensible Democrats like Evan Bayh & Joe Lieberman. Compared to Ms. Pelosi, Dick Gebhardt looks like a steady, likeable statesman.

In comments on Sunday, Pelosi described the Iraq vote as an "accomplishment," but said it would've gone better but for Bush's blunders. "It would've been more successful if the political situation had been nurtured better, if Iraqi security could've been better organized & trained," she complained.

The Democratic Party's leadership must've been hypnotized & told to take a cheapshot at President Bush & never say anything positive about him without taking a shot at him in the same sentence. Dennis Miller put it well when he said that when Democrats talk about supporting the troops or complimenting President Bush, the first part of the sentence was a "preamble to the word but."

Driving Liberals Nuts

Josh Williams wrote a short article that should drive American liberals totally nuts. For that reason alone, Mr. Williams & this Iraqi mayor deserve enshrinement in some sort of conservative Hall of Fame, if that type of institution existed. Here's the article.
Pro-U.S. Mayor Has Target on His Back
By Josh Williams
January 30, 2005
BAGHDAD — The man replacing the mayor of Baghdad, who was assassinated for his pro-American loyalties, says he isn’t worried about his ties to Washington. In fact, he'd like to erect a monument to honor President Bush in the middle of the city. "We’ll build a statue for Bush," said Ali Fadel, the former provincial council chairman. "He’s the symbol of freedom."

The fact that this new mayor wants plans to erect a monument to honor President Bush ought to drive liberals like Babs Boxer, Teddy Kennedy & John Kerry downright nuts. If I knew how to contact him, I'd tell him his statement that "He's the symbol of freedom" made my day.

Fadel's predecessor, Ali al-Haidari, was gunned down Jan. 4 when militants opened fire on his armor-covered BMW as it traveled with a three-car convoy. Fadel said he received numerous threats on his life as the council chairman & expects to get many more in his new post. "My life is cheap," Fadel said. "Everything is cheap for my country."
As Iraq prepared for a volatile election that is being watched across the world, Fadel heaped praise on the U.S. Fadel acknowledged that many in his country appear ungrateful for America's foreign assistance. He said most Iraqis are still in "shock" over the changes, & need time to adjust. Any public monument to Bush is likely to further incense terrorist forces, who have attacked American troops & their supporters for months. Fadel said he’s undaunted.
"We have a lot of work & we’re especially grateful to the soldiers of the U.S.A. for freeing our country of tyranny," Fadel said. As for his own protection, the new mayor will be traveling in a new $150,000 SUV complete with bulletproof windows & flat-resistant tires.

Birmingham's New Legacy

The guys at have been asked a column for the Weekly Standard. Scott Johnson, AKA The Trunk, wrote their initial offering. Enjoy.
Birmingham's New Legacy
How the work of Martin Luther King Jr. & the murder of Denise McNair led to our new secretary of State.
by Scott Johnson
Jan. 31, 2005
When Martin Luther King, Jr. brought his campaign against segregation to Bull Connor's Birmingham, he laid siege to the bastion of Jim Crow. Birmingham was among the most segregated cities in the country at the time; King called it a city whose fathers had apparently never heard of Abraham Lincoln. Birmingham had also been the site of a horrific series of bombings of black churches & homes. In April 1963 King answered the call to bring his cause to the city. When King landed in jail on Good Friday for violating an injunction prohibiting demonstrations, he used the time to meditate on the counsel of prudence with which Birmingham's white ministers had greeted his campaign. King's
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail" was the result.
Reading the letter 40 years later is a humbling experience. Perhaps most striking is King's seething anger over the indignities of segregation:
I guess it’s easy for those who’ve never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But suddenly find your tongue twisted & your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your 6-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that’s just been advertised on television, & see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children...
As it happens, Birmingham's Condoleezza Rice was 8-years-old when King wrote those words in the Birmingham jail. Her confirmation as U.S. secretary of State this past week closed a loop, even if no one seemed to notice.
Eight days after that Good Friday in 1963, King was released from jail. On May 10 he announced a historic desegregation agreement with Birmingham's business community. On the strength of his victory in Birmingham he led the March on Washington on August 28 and gave his great
"I have a dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Only 18 days later, however, amid the continuing tumult over what King called Birmingham's "partial & grudging compliance" with the settlement terms he’d secured, Birmingham was the scene of a bitter sequel to the events of that spring.
On September 15, 1963, Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was holding its annual Youth Day when a bomb exploded in the basement & killed four girls who’d slipped out of Bible class early to lead the adult services later that morning. Among the four dead was Denise McNair. Had she lived, Denise McNair would be 53 today.
In numerous formal speeches she gave & informal remarks she made while holding the position of National Security Advisor, Rice recalled her ties to Birmingham & to her "friend & playmate" Denise McNair. In the Vanderbilt University
commencement speech she gave on May 17, 2004, for example, Rice said:
I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, before the Civil Rights movement, a place that was once described, with no exaggeration, as the most thoroughly segregated city in the country. I know what it means to hold dreams & aspirations when half your neighbors think you’re incapable of, or uninterested in, anything better.
I know what it's like to live with segregation in an atmosphere of hostility, & contempt & cold stares & the ever-present threat of violence, a threat that sometimes erupted into the real thing.
I remembered the bombing of that Sunday school at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. I didn’t see it happen, but I heard it happen & I felt it happen, just a few blocks away at my father's church. It’s a sound that I’ll never forget, that will forever reverberate in my ears. That bomb took the lives of four young girls, including my friend & playmate Denise McNair. The crime was calculated, not random. It was meant to suck the hope out of young lives, bury their aspirations, & ensure that old fears would be propelled forward into the next generation.
Rice added that "those fears weren’t propelled forward. Those terrorists failed."
The bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church had been the handiwork of former members of the Ku Klux Klan, brothers under the hood to former Ku Klux Klan Grand Kleagle & current Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Byrd. Byrd, of course, opposed Rice's confirmation as Secretary of State last week. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Byrd & 11 other Democratic senators in opposing Rice's confirmation was Democratic senator Mark Dayton who is, oddly enough, the occupant of Hubert Humphrey's seat in the Senate. History takes strange turns & politics makes strange bedfellows.
In ascending to the first among cabinet offices Rice becomes the first cabinet officer in the line of presidential succession. Rice's ascent represents fulfillment of a "promise" that Martin Luther King offered in the form of his "dream" in the summer of 1963. The promise traced its roots back to the Emancipation Proclamation &, Lincoln & King both insisted, to the Declaration of Independence.
In 1864 Lincoln wrote in response to prominent Democrats who urged him to rescind the Emancipation Proclamation: "The promise, being made, must be kept." The fulfillment of the promise represented by Rice's ascent is one in which all Americans can rightfully take pride.
Scott Johnson is a contributor to the blog
Power Line & a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.

Hillary Collapsed

Rush just reported that Hillary collapsed while giving a speach in Amherst, NY. While I've vehemently disagreed with much of Hillary's policies, I'll be praying for Hillary's return to health. I'd encourage all who read this blog to join me in prayer for her. I never want her elected President but that doesn't mean I wish her physical harm. It's encouraging to know that I'm not alone in this sentiment.

The Stuff Nations Are Built On

Jonah Goldberg's take on Sunday's election zeroes in on why freedom will always defeat terrorism.

Here's the first quote that I liked: "On Sunday, these fundamentalists offered their best argument against liberal democracy: We’ll cut off your heads, murder your children & butcher your wives if you vote. Poll workers were told their homes would be blown up if they didn't quit. The Islamists' chief spokesman in Iraq, Mu’sab al-Zarqawi was very straightforward: "We’ve declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy & those who follow this wrong ideology," Zarqawi declared in a statement."
Instead of intimidating large blocs of voters into not voting, they pushed large blocs of Iraqi people into voting. That's why the purple index finger will become emblematic of the defiance & courage of the Iraqi people.
Here's another clip: "Which brings me to an important detour: Is there a more execrable, horrid parody of an American statesman alive today than Ted Kennedy? Yes, yes, of course he's a joke; a family name wrapped around a bundle of appetite, cynicism & asininity. But he matters precisely because his party & the media imbue him with a moral stature now wholly severed from the admirable traditions & ideas we associate with the president who swore we'd pay any price & bear any burden to defend the survival of liberty.
AMEN, Jonah!!! Ted Kennedy has been exposed as an inept, bungling, hateful partisan over the past couple weeks. Last week, his hatred towards President Bush really showed as he said that we need to start pulling out troops immediately.
Fortunately, the majority of Iraqi voters didn't hear him or listen to him. They turned out in what appear for the moment to be heroic numbers. Samir Hassan, a 32-year-old man who lost his leg in a car bomb blast three months ago, showed-up. "I would’ve crawled here if I had to. I don't want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me. Today I’m voting for peace," he said. A polling station in Baghdad re-opened after a suicide bombing because the voters wouldn’t be deterred.
This type of courage & determination is truly heroic. Mr. Hassan is to be applauded for his determination. It's also encouraging to read the store that a homicide bomber couldn't deter voters standing in line. This is the reaction of people whose thirst for freedom runs high & is similar to the thirst for freedom seen when the Berlin Wall fell.
John Kerry grumpily says we shouldn't "over-hype" the election, which is just one more grain of sand on the vast beach of reasons why he deserves to remain the junior senator from Ted Kennedy's state. We should hype this to the hilts.
EXACTLY!!! When people grasp freedom, it's a glorious day. Good news like this should be trumpeted from the highest rooftops. The reality is that this type of good news CAN'T BE overhyped.

Purple Badge of Courage

Purple Badge of Courage
By Deborah Orin
January 31, 2005
It was the blue badge of courage, Iraqis defied evil & danced through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to cast their ballots & then wave the purple ink-stained fingers that proved they'd voted.
The sheer joy recalled the fall of the Berlin Wall, some said, but the Germans dancing around that wall didn't have to face down evil because communism had already fallen, while Iraqis knew they risked death, & more than 30 were killed. "The people have won... Take a look today to meet the model of courage & human desire to achieve freedom, people walking across the fire to cast their votes," proudly wrote the Iraqi bloggers Mohammed and Omar.
For over a year the two brothers, whose Internet site is "Iraq the Model", have recounted Iraq's daily life & their hopes for freedom & yesterday they told of their joy at dipping their fingers in purple ink. "I walked forward to my station, cast my vote & then headed to the box where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink. I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants," one of the brothers wrote.

This quote is getting tons of coverage. Fred Barnes quoted it while appearing on a special edition of Special Report yesterday. Laura Ingraham read it several times during this morning's show. She also played Christopher Matthews worrying that this purple mark was an identifier to terrorists & that these voters were now marked for death.

"I put the paper in the box & with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold. I was trembling with joy & I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me & said, 'Brother would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn.'"

Another Iraqi blogger, Alaa ("The Mesopotamian") wrote: "Iraq will be OK with so many brave people, it'll certainly [be] OK. I can say no more just now, I’m just filled with pride & moved beyond words."
"Baghdad Rose", an Iraqi woman blogger who identifies herself as a 27-year-old civil engineer with a daughter aged 3, posted a picture of her blue-tipped finger in a V-for-victory sign on her Web site. "I did it. I voted. Yes, yes, I did it. I have the courage to vote," she wrote in triumph.

Talk about unbridled joy & relief. It's amazing that more politicians didn't recognize the power of voting. President Bush recognized it & now is vindicated after yesterday's vote. Tony Blair is too.

Indeed the high turnout among Iraqi women was a surprise, the same as last year in Afghanistan when some women, facing death threats from Taliban remnants, said the Muslim prayer for the dead, just in case, before they went to vote.
No wonder President Bush could hardly contain his smile yesterday when he said: "Today the people of Iraq have spoken to the world, & the world is hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East." The fact that Iraq's election triumph came as a surprise to so many Americans shows how badly they’ve been served by most press & TV coverage, which told mostly of deaths & trouble & ignored the first glimmerings of new hope.
Iraqis, after all, lived through decades when Saddam Hussein fed people to Doberman Pinschers & plastic shredders & murdered hundreds of thousands who were buried in mass graves. Iraq's blue badge of courage also poses a challenge to America's Democratic Party, do Democrats really want to become the party of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry & Howard Dean, who paint Iraq as a disaster? After Iraqis showed their yearning for freedom, do Democrats really want Dean as their new national chairman? Are they proud of lionizing "Fahrenheit 9/11" film-maker Michael Moore for painting Iraq's terror thugs as heroes & "Minutemen"?

All last year, John Kerry, Howard Dean & vast parts of the Democratic Party blistered President Bush about his taking us to war. Now people can see that these Democrats are foreign policy vision-impaired. Please, please, please name Dean as DNC Chairman. Please put Teddy & John Kerry on every Sunday morning talk show.

All the Iraqis dancing with their flags yesterday were a reason for Americans to be proud of the war that toppled Saddam Hussein & opened the door to freedom, suddenly Bush's second inaugural speech just 10 days before sounded prophetic. "All who live in tyranny & hopelessness can know the U.S. won’t ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors," Bush said then. "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."
Deborah Orin is The Post's Washington bureau chief.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

He Still Doesn't Get It

John Kerry was on Meet the (De)Press(ed) today, mainly it seemed, to berate President Bush. Sen. Kerry also took the time to tell some whoppers. Here's some examples:

MR. RUSSERT: Election day, Iraq. Condoleezza Rice, the new secretary of State, has just told the United States & the world, "It's gone better than expected." What's your sense?
SEN. KERRY: I think it's gone as expected.
It's gone as expected? You're kidding, right? Didn't you criticize President Bush for being too stubborn on holding elections today? Weren't you part of the chorus that said these elections should be moved back so security should be improved & more Sunnis would choose to vote?

MR. RUSSERT: What specifically must President Bush do in your mind? Who should he call? Who should he meet with? What should he do?
SEN. KERRY: Well, you have to behave as if you really are at war. I'll give you an example. I was in Egypt three weeks ago. I met with President Mubarak. We were talking about training. I asked him, "You know, why don't you do more training?" His response was, "We've offered to do more training. We're doing 146 officers today. I don't know why we're not doing more. People haven't followed up with us. They haven't gotten back to us."
I had the same response in Jordan & in other countries, including European leaders who’ve offered to do more with respect to police training, more with respect to border & other kinds of training that could take place. We aren’t doing today the kind of war footing effort to train people, the Iraqis, to take over their own security. And a year & a half has gone by, Tim, & it has been much of it wasted as a consequence of the administration's approach.
The notion that President Bush & Colin Powell would refuse help from Jordan & Egypt, or from any country, is laughable. Most likely, Kerry either never asked these questions or he's lying about the answers he got.
Secondly, his quote of "Well, you have to behave as if you really are at war" is laughable. His chief foreign policy advisor during the campaign said that we weren't fighting a "real war" & that it's a metaphoric war "like the war on drugs or the war on poverty." Kerry himself said that he wishes we could return to the time when terrorism was just a nuisance. I said at the time that terrorism was never a nuisance, it's just that that's how the Clinton administration treated it. Now he's saying that we should behave that we're really fighting a war? Good grief!!!

MR. RUSSERT: Is the United States safer with the newly elected Iraqi government than we would have been with Saddam Hussein?
SEN. KERRY: Sure. And I'm glad Saddam Hussein is gone, & I've said that a hundred times. But we've missed opportunity after opportunity along the way, Tim, to really make America safe & to bring the world to the cause. I mean, look, I sat with any number of Arab leaders & I said to them, you know, "Mr. Prime Minister" or "Mr. President, is your country, do you believe Iraq, being successful there is important?" The answer is yes. "Do you believe that if it's a failed state, that's a threat to the region?" The answer is yes. "Do you believe that it could be a haven for terrorism even more than it is today?" & so forth. The answer is yes. Then you say, "Well, why aren't you there? What’s the problem?" And the problem becomes one of the way in which this administration, they’ll tell you openly, has approached them & the world.
On three different occasions, the Bush administration spurned the offer of the United Nations, the international community. People have offered police training. People offered peacekeepers. People have offered other forms of assistance & our administration has gone it alone. I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld has managed this about as inappropriately & with as much miscalculation as any war leader in our history.
Having a successful, thriving democracy in their neighborhood is important? What utter nonsense. A thriving democracy is the last thing that the Saudis, Syrians, Iranians or Egyptians want. Kerry said basically the same thing last October & foreign policy experts like Dennis Ross & Charles Krauthammer ridiculed him for saying that.
MR. RUSSERT: What would you do?
SEN. KERRY: I understand exactly what Sen. Kennedy is saying & I agree with Sen. Kennedy's perceptions of the problem & of how you deal with it. I would, in fact, last summer, if you'll recall, I said specifically that if we did the things that I laid out, the training, the international community, the services & reconstruction, & the elections & protection, we could draw down troops & begin to withdraw them. I think what Sen. Kennedy is saying, & here I do agree with him, is that it’s vital for the U.S. to make it clear that we aren’t there with long-term goals & intentions of our presence in the region. I agree with Senator Kennedy that we’ve become the target & part of the problem today, if not the problem...Now, I wouldn't be surprised if the new government, as soon as it's possible, begins to negotiate some modality like that. And I wouldn't be surprised if they even asked us to leave in some way over a period of time. I wouldn't be surprised if the administration privately, behind closed doors, asked them to ask us to leave. I think there are plenty of ways to skin this cat. But the most important thing is that you've got to have stability.
What Iraq is after this is important to the world. It can't be a haven for terrorism. It can't be a completely failed state. Now, you'll notice the administration has backed off significantly of its own high goals of full democratization & so forth, & I don't think you're going to hear them pushing that. There are a lot of conservatives, neo-cons & others in Washington debating now sort of what the modality of withdrawal ought to be.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you have any information that the Bush administration is privately requesting the new Iraqi government to ask us to leave?
This passage is full of ridiculous statements.
1. Kennedy trying to say that we should reassure Iraqis that we aren't there to plunder them is nonsense.
2. How can we express it more clearly "that we aren’t there with long-term goals & intentions..." than by assisting in today's election?
3. He said "Now, I wouldn't be surprised if the new government, as soon as it's possible, begins to negotiate some modality like that. And I wouldn't be surprised if they even asked us to leave in some way over a period of time. I wouldn't be surprised if the administration privately, behind closed doors, asked them to ask us to leave." That sounds awfully paranoid to me. It also assumes that he thinks that President Bush & his administration are devious.
4. When he says "Now, you'll notice the administration has backed off significantly of its own high goals of full democratization & so forth, & I don't think you're going to hear them pushing that", you've gotta wonder which administration he's been listening to. What does he think today's vote meant but to start the process of establishing a fully elected democracy there? It's like he's clueless as to what the President's Inaugural Address meant. Hasn't Kerry heard President Bush comment that "Freedom is on the March" more times than he'd ever care to listen to?
5. When Russerts asks if he's got proof of any of these assertions, he says that he doesn't. I assume that he's just got ironclad innuendo.
Thank God America was smart enough to reject this idiot.

I Did,,SB110709536470040284,00.html
Bloggers Share the View
From Election Day in Iraq
January 30, 2005
Bloggers have been buzzing about Iraq's first free election in half a century. These Web logs, whose authors run the gamut from professional journalists to ordinary Iraqis looking to share their observations, have been chronicling the situation in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Here’s a sampling of what's being written by those inside the country. Note that many bloggers don't reveal their real names, we have not verified their reports.
"Ali" of Free Iraqi reported that he woke up by 6:30 a.m. local time to vote, "I do this once every century." He recalled: "The voting center that was chosen in our district is a high school in the middle of the neighborhood. This was the same place I went in 1996 to cast my vote in a poll asking if we wanted to have Saddam as a president for life or not. I had to go at that time. The threats for anyone who refused to take that poll were no less than the death penalty." Later, he added: "This time we went by choice & the threat was exactly the opposite."
At Cigars in the Sand, an American working in Baghdad reported driving three bus loads of Iraqis to polling centers. "Every bus load has sang & danced the entire drive home," he wrote. He posted a picture of a polling center, "WELLCOME" was painted in English on the wall (he notes it's the thought, not the spelling, that counts), & said the men waiting in line seemed unfazed by the "multiple" explosions that could be heard in the distance. The blog has several interesting photographs from election day, including some from inside polling places. The site's author said he planned to spend tonight dodging celebratory gunshots. "After that," he wrote, "it's back to the hard task of capturing the momentum & translating it into real political access & choice. That will be long & difficult, undoubtedly plagued by further violence and setbacks. Today is a new beginning, not an end."
Husayn Uthman changed the name of his blog from "Democracy in Iraq" to "Democracy in Iraq (Is Here!)."The 26-year-old Iraqi described his turn at the polls. "My voting was only a simple act. I went, I identified myself, got my finger stained, filled out a ballot & dropped it in a box," he writes. "It isn’t a complex or grand process to the eye, but it’s one that I’ll forever remember & will recount to my children, & their children." On a blog called The Mesopotamian, the the author wrote, "This is a very hurried message, while we are witnessing something quite extraordinary. I myself have voted & so did members of my family. Thank God for giving us the chance."
Several bloggers gave thanks to the U.S. government. Among them, a writer identified only as "Hammorabi," who operates a blog operates a blog under the same name: "Our thanks go to George W. Bush who will enter the history as the leader of the freedom & democracy in the recent history! He & his people are our friends for ever!" Others said it was too soon to celebrate. "The current early & premature Iraqi election is being marketed as THE event, THE peak, THE happening! As if everything will be over after the day of elections! Just like in some stupid love movies where the curtain falls after the two lovers get married," wrote "Raed" of “of Raed in the Middle. "What matters isn’t the election, what matters is what will happen next."

Several bloggers described the blue ink that stained the fingers of those who had voted, a measure to prevent people from voting more than once. From I Should Have Stayed Home, written by two Americans in Iraq: "The permanent ink that so many people were afraid of is being worn as a mark of pride by every single person I’ve seen in the streets. They hold up their fingers to show that they voted." According to Iraq the Model, one of the more popular Iraqi blogs: "Everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the [polling] center."
Freelance journalist Christopher Allbritton updated his blog several times during the day. Early on, he described the strict rules that were being enforced in the name of security. "No driving, dusk to dawn curfews, states of emergency," he wrote. "If that's what it takes to provide security in Iraq, why erase one police state only to replace it with another?" Later, he wrote that those he saw at polling centers "looked happier than I've seen them in months" By the end of the day, he deemed the election a success. "Everyone out on the streets is happy, even the Iraqi security forces who will laugh & joke with journalists. the first time they've done it in months," he wrote.
On A Star From Mosul, a 16-year-old Iraqi girl wrote about feeling guilty for not voting, & jealous of her grandmother, aunt & uncle, who were old enough to cast their votes. "Don't be angry at me," she wrote. "I have nothing to do with me not voting." Her uncle writes a blog called Life in Baghdad, & is fond of verbose postings. On Thursday, he wrote a lengthy discourse explaining that he was conflicted on whether or not to vote. Many in his family had urged him not to, fearing for his safety. But he feared that if he didn't vote, the guilt would be overwhelming. Today, he revealed his decision in a two-word entry: "I did."
Write to Vauhini Vara at

The Sourpuss Party

That did it. I turned off the TV because the Democratic Party became the Sourpuss Party. I was watching Neil Cavuto interview Jan Shachowsky (D-IL) & David Dreier (R-CA). Neil asked Rep. Shachowsky if today was worth the price paid in terms of human life when she launched into a tirade worthy of Howard Dean or Ted Kennedy.
Ms. Shachowsky shot back with questions of her own, the most disturbing of which was "Does this mean that we now invade Saudi Arabia?" She repeated the Democratic mantra that this wasn't the reason given for invading Iraq, that getting rid of WMD was the sole reason we invaded. It's obvious that she didn't read the authorization bill she voted on because it listed each of the U.N. Security Council resolutions Saddam failed to live up to.
She again complained that it's costing too much & that the money could be better spent on her list of budget items.
After about 2 minutes of listening to her, I switched channels to CNN. BIG MISTAKE. A special Lou Dobbs show was on & a man who'd lost his son in Iraq was on. The man was in obvious pain & justifiably so. He asked why "these people" in reference to the Bush Administration hadn't been held accountable.
We just watched the Iraqi people exhibit great courage in turning out with great risk, people leaving the polling stations with great smiles on their faces & CNN's running another sad news story to 'balance' the good news headline of the day.
For their whininess, the Democratic Party earned their new title of the Sourpuss Party.

Idealism on the March

Many of the President's detractors, led by Ted Kennedy & John Kerry, argued angrily, vociferously & irrationally against his idealistic foreign policy. Through today's historic vote, President Bush's idealistic foreign policy has been vindicated. So-called realists like Brent Scowcroft & James A. Baker & virtually all of the Clinton foreign policy team (chief among them Richard Holbrooke & Madeleine Albright) have been repudiated. Idealistic foreign policy worked for Reagan & it's working for President Bush. There's some fundamental reasons for that.
1. Idealistic foreign policy is based on the principle that each person is created with an unquenchable thirst for freedom. That thirst is often pounded into submission by brutal dictators through torture but it can't be doused because it's a God-given thirst. Today, as I watched the Iraqi people exit the voting booths, it was abundantly evident that they felt a sense of honor.
2. Iraq's neighbors will now start asking their dictators "Why not us? Why can't we make decisions for ourselves?" Once those questions start being asked, they can't be stopped short of brutal military intervention. Clearly that won't happen in all the countries of the Middle East region.
3. Some have quoted Albert Einstein as saying that compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. I'd take issue with that. Freedom is the most powerful force in the universe. People will die for the right of freedom. In that sense, there's nothing else like it in the world.
Hopefully, President Bush will use his State of the Union Address to highlight this great success & to use the political capital he gained from the Iraqi elections to push his agenda.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Hi Tech Psy-Ops

Watching FNC play the film of the UAV's infrared film of the thugs who killed 2 & injured 4 servicemen took on an entirely new meaning when Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely said that these pictures were being broadcast all across Iraq. Tony Snow then said that this must be the ultimate in psychological warfare. Vallely agreed, saying that Iraqi TV was telling the bad guys "We've got all kinds of eyes in the sky & we will hunt you down." I'd imagine that that's gotta be pretty intimidating.
Update: The funniest line of the night award goes to Major Bob Bevalacqua. Rita Cosby asked what it meant that terrorists hadn't impacted the vote like they'd predicted. Major Bob's response? "Zarqawi had better find a new job."
There's been numerous deaths caused by several suicide bombers but they don't seem to be intimidating people from voting. Shepard Smith reported that, in Mosul, a suicide bomber tried breaching security at a polling place but couldn't get through. He said that about a dozen people were waiting in line to vote when this happened. After the bomb exploded, NONE OF THESE VOTERS LEFT.
Shep also reported about people leaving the city where Abu Graibh is located to vote in a city 13 miles away. Since there's no vehicular travel, the people have to walk there to vote. Shep's reporting that "literally thousands" are walking the road to reach their voting place.

Iraq's Best Hope

Elections Are Iraq's Best Hope
By Andrew Young
Jan. 28, 2005
As a Democrat, I believe in elections.
I’ve seen people in Mississippi, South Africa & Rwanda rise up & vote, in spite of violence. More than 20,000 people were killed by "insurgents" seeking to obstruct the election in KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa, yet the pictures of long lines of voters waiting for hours is the prevailing image. Why not Iraq?
The best hope for ending the war in Iraq is the coming election. Democrats ought to be pressuring our allies in Europe, Africa & the Middle East to help the notorious "Arab Street" realize this is the best hope for Iraqi citizens to write their own constitution & control their own destiny. The attacks on Condoleezza Rice during her recent confirmation hearings for secretary of state were a continuing admission that we have no clear alternative to the present policy & that we’ve succumbed to the cynic's desire to wish for failure of the Iraqi elections to prove that President Bush was wrong.

As a conservative, I take satisfaction in having conservatives win at the polls. When that's done, though, I prefer it when the country unites around a single foreign policy. Anything less than unanimity is unacceptable. After all, foreign policy is set solely by the president. Certainly Congress has oversight responsibilities but they don't get to set policy.

It’s time to put aside partisan differences & fight to protect the lives of our men & women on the scene of battle & to let the citizens of Iraq know that we’re eager to work with them in a partnership of free nations. The future of Iraq is in the hands of the majority of voters in Sunday's election. They’ll be the ones to write their own constitution & determine how they will live together in peace & freedom.

If we truly support our troops, then it's important that we do everything we can to not bring aid & comfort to the terrorists they're fighting. It's also vitally important that Iraqis know that we won't cut & run like we did at the end of the Vietnam War. Our word needs to mean something or else ALL Americans lose bigtime.

Rwanda suffered through a genocidal violence that led to a million deaths in a three-month holocaust. Now, 10 years later, Rwandans have devised a unity constitution that attempts to assure that no one group can ever again dominate the government. In contrast to our "winner take all" system, the Rwandan ruling party can hold the presidency & only 50 percent of the Cabinet & Legislature. The other 50 percent goes through the minority parties. Thirty percent of all Cabinet & legislative members must be female. The actual percentage of women in Parliament is 49 percent. The courts are independent & appointed by consensus.
Somehow the Kurds, Sunni & Shiite regions must learn, in the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., "to live together as brothers & sisters or...perish together as fools."
None of this is an endorsement of the faults of intelligence or the failure to plan adequately for post-invasion defense development & reconstruction of Iraq. We’re there. "We broke it, so we own it," as Colin Powell warned. But it does nothing for American or Iraqi security to play a blame game. There’s no ethical way to wash our hands of Iraq. This isn’t Vietnam.
There are real security interests in this region.
As I write, it's 20 degrees Fahrenheit in Atlanta. We couldn’t survive a six-month disruption of energy without serious social & economic consequences. We all use heat & light, but the Arab world needs technology, agriculture, medicine & management to maintain the current standards of living. They’ll need even more to meet the needs & challenges of a rapidly increasing population of children & youth with no plan for their education & employment.
It’s a breeding ground for terrorism, whether we’re there or not. There’s no way to reverse the global flow of information & technology. We can only share its use constructively or others will use it to spread terrorist threats. The challenge is to keep Saudi Arabia stable & to convince Iran that it doesn’t need atomic weapons to gain respect & to protect its security.
Dr. Rice deserves bipartisan support. We’ve just lost an election being negative. There are many areas where Democratic vision can really help the nation, especially in the areas of budget deficit, Social Security, the environment & health care. We can also engage in an intelligent debate on moral & religious concerns. But foreign policy must be bipartisan. The enemy is violence & chaos in regions critical to global survival. If Iraq disintegrates into chaos & civil war, we’ll all lose.

While I've disagreed with a number of things Mr. Young has said in the past, he's right on the money when he says that Democrats lost this last election being negative & for not having a vision that not only addresses 'Democrat issues' but that also address national security & foreign policy issues. Clearly, they didn't offer anything of a serious nature on the foreign policy front this last election.

Dr. Rice has an opportunity to develop a less arrogant, cooperative vision for the planet. Whether we like her or agree with her is irrelevant. She’s the most powerful woman on the planet. It’s important that we strengthen her position at the State Department & in the world.
Forcing her to defend the testosterone-laden mistakes of the past administration only lessens her opportunities for leading us through the present minefields of our time. Let us support her in this new & challenging role that she’s been called to perform & salute her achievements & contributions.

Peggy Noonan's Wrong

So says Larry Kudlow in an article written for Real Clear Politics. Here's a sampling of his comments.
"When you read that Jordan’s King Abdullah is taking steps to organize new elections in his country, with regional election districts that look a lot like Iraq’s, you realize just how wrong my friend Peggy Noonan is when she writes that President Bush’s inaugural speech “forgot context.” When you read the latest fatwa from the murdering terrorist Zarqawi, that it’s our democratic, freedom-embracing way of life that makes us the enemy, you realize how wrong Noonan is in calling Bush’s vision of eradicating tyranny worldwide “rhetorical & emotional overreach of the most embarrassing sort.”
Larry's right that it isn't about "rhetorical & emotional overreach." In reality, it's about drawing a bright line in the sand between what hateful, murderous ideologies stand for & what we stand for. No more moral equivalence. No more quibbling about details best left for professional negotiators.
"Go back & reread Bush’s second inaugural speech. He says “There’s only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred & resentment...the force of human freedom.” He declares that “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” He states that supporting democratic movements with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world “isn’t primarily the task of arms.” Read all this & you’ll know how wrong Noonan truly is."
Larry Kudlow correctly points out that President Bush isn't calling for military overthrow of governments. Instead, he's saying that America should be promoting freedom every chance we get & that we can do this by appealing, not to the leaders of countries, but by appealing to its vast citizenry.

Kennedy's Disgrace

Here's some worthwhile reading from the Powerline bloggers.
Kennedy's Disgrace
I don't believe we've commented on Ted Kennedy's ill-timed speech at Johns Hopkins. Iraqi-American Haider Ajina fills the void:

I have read a number of articles in Iraqi newspapers reporting on senator Kennedy’s speech at Johns Hopkins University. (They call him a senior senator). They are quoting him using words like “war of liberations, armed resistance, war of independence” to describe the terrorist acts in Iraq. Also asking for our complete withdrawal from Iraq by 2006 & describing what we did in Iraq as a calamity.
I think that AlZarqawy could not have rallied his troops with a better speech. What is he doing giving speeches like this so close to the elections in Iraq? Iraqis will brave threats to their lives to vote in hope that we will stay with them till they are ready. Now a U.S. senator tells them we must pull out quickly & leave the Iraqis with no help. When we fought for our independence during the revolutionary war we needed help from other nations & they did not cut & run after we declared our independence & our democratic republic. Does Kennedy not look at our past history? Will he stop at nothing for his own agenda & political gain? What shame what a defile to this great nation of ours. Then this is democracy & we must fight for his freedoms & rights like we do for ours. I wonder if he would do the same for us.

Actually, no, I don't think Kennedy would fight for our freedom. I'm not even sure he would try to save us if we were drowning. OK, that was a cheap shot. Sort of. But there is no possible excuse for Kennedy's behavior. He is a disgrace to the office he holds.
Haider asked a rather pointed question. In response to whether Kennedy will stop at nothing to advance his warped agenda, the answer is a resounding NO. Power is the only thing that matters to him at this point & he won't let something that's as trivial (at least to him) as good Republican foreign policy get in his way.
John's right in calling him a disgrace to the U.S. Senate & to the state of Massachusetts & there's probably a long list of other institutions he's disgrace, too.
His tirades aren't the least bit coherent & he hasn't had a new, or for that matter, worthwhile idea in a couple decades. That doesn't deter him, though, because he's a legend in his own mind.
Senator Kennedy, you've gotten elected all this time on your brothers' names. JFK & Bobbie were giants compared with you. They faced down the terror of their era. You've run as fast as you could from every foreign challenge the U.S. & its allies have faced for the last several decades.

Bush's Pensions Plan May Be Familiar

Bush's Pensions Plan May Be Familiar
Laura Meckler, Associated Press
January 29, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C.-- President Bush's advisers have settled on a proposal for structuring the personal accounts they hope to create in Social Security to resemble many company-sponsored retirement plans, with just a handful of investment options. Bush, who met privately Friday with congressional Republicans at a retreat in West Virginia to discuss Social Security & other issues, hopes to let younger workers divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into private retirement accounts. Supporters hope these would be more profitable than traditional government bonds because they could be invested in the stock market.
Under the developing proposal, workers would be enrolled by default in a "life cycle" account in which investments become more conservative as investors age, if they don’t choose one of the other options, officials in a position to know said. Republicans have said they’ll need Democratic support to pass legislation & a handful of Senate Democrats have been meeting with supporters of private accounts to discuss the issue. Most have said they oppose carving private accounts out of the existing system. Bush met last week with his Social Security advisers working to write a legislative plan. They briefed him on issues they had resolved among themselves as well as options in areas where there was no consensus.

Getting "a handful of Senate Democrats" on board for this legislation would be huge. It'd also help these Democratic senators get re-elected. Last week, Tony Snow interviewed Sander Levin & he had the whole Democratic demagogue going. He wasn't persuasive, especially when he said it (private accounts) were too complicated for workers to deal with. I thought he sounded like an idiot when he said that because everyday Americans deal with 401 (k)'s with relative ease. There's nothing complicated about it.

The other thing I like in this article is the default option of a 'life cycle account' if you choose to invest your money in private accounts. Having a professional investor monitor your account & empowering him to move money around to maximize a person's account growth while minimizing risk as much as possible.

At what cost
Yet to be decided were several big questions, including how large the private accounts should be, how much guaranteed benefits would be cut & how to pay as much as $2 trillion needed in the first 10 years to affect the transition to a new system. In devising a structure for the private accounts, the administration is modeling its proposal after the Thrift Savings Plan, a tax-deferred retirement investment plan similar to a 401(k). The idea is to minimize risk for people at the outset by offering as few as three to five diversified investment funds. Bush said in December that his plan would ensure that people couldn’t invest "in a frivolous fashion."
Under the Thrift Savings Plan, federal workers have five investment options, including government & corporate bond funds, a stock fund that tracks the S&P 500, an international fund & other stock funds. Under the nascent Bush plan, the default investment would be a "life cycle" account. It’d begin with investments that have greater potential for both risk & reward & shift to safer bonds as a worker ages, officials inside & outside the administration said.

Again, this sounds like a level-headed plan, which explains why so many Democrats oppose it. Limiting people's options to 3-5 solid options isn't a severe restriction. Rather, it's just a way to ensure solid growth in these funds.

The government would be responsible for keeping track of how much money is in each worker's account & give the lump sums to a financial services company to invest, a mechanism aimed at keeping administrative fees low, they said. That’d mean only a limited profit potential for Wall Street. More money might be available for industry if a second tier of investments were permitted.
Room for change
Under this model, once a worker's account reached a certain level, he or she could choose from a broader range of investment options. Any number of mutual funds could be approved for investment at this stage. This second tier of investment was recommended by Bush's 2001 Social Security commission after the initial accounts top $5,000, & this idea is part of several bills pending on Capitol Hill. But no decisions have been made about whether to allow a second tier, one administration official said.
"I look forward to talking to the country about the need to address big reforms like Social Security," Bush told about 200 House & Senate Republicans at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. He repeated his pledge to oppose any increase in Social Security taxes to shore up the system. He also repeated his warnings about the financial problems facing Social Security as the baby boomer generation ages, & stressed the need to act now.
Bush continued to steer clear of detailing crucial aspects of the plan, such as how Social Security would make up for tax money diverted from the retirement system. Critics of his proposal say that without a payroll tax increase, benefits would have to be cut or the government's debt would increase significantly. Some Congressional Republicans have been skittish about tinkering with the retirement system in the run up to next year's elections. But several who heard Bush on Friday said they were eager to take on the issue.
Shift in strategy
Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said Bush mentioned the federal thrift savings plan as part of a coming shift in his strategy for promoting the Social Security changes, moving to dispel the image of complexity surrounding the changes. "Right now, we’re sort of dealing with, Is there a problem?" Santorum said. "Then the next thing the president would look at is, What is a personal account & what does it mean to you?"
Rep. Sander Levin, D-MI, responded to reports about the Bush speech with a statement accusing him of using "smoke & mirrors" to explain his plan because, he said, the federal thrift savings plan is an addition to government employees' Social Security, not a substitute for part of it.

This shouldn't be shocking. That only Rep. Levin has demagogued the issue thus far is, by itself, a victory of sorts for the plan's passage.

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times & Washington Post contributed to this report.

Friday, January 28, 2005

From Auschwitz to Iraq

From Auschwitz to Iraq
Chuck Colson
January 28, 2005
In 1941, a monk named Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take the place of another condemned prisoner at Auschwitz. Six decades later, a young man serving in Iraq, a soldier inspired by Father Kolbe, sacrificed his life when he volunteered to take the place of another soldier. The story of this heroic young man, the son of a dear friend of ours in Prison Fellowship, is one we should tell our children as we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz this week.
Twenty-year-old Thomas Doerflinger grew up in a home in which human dignity was vigorously defended. His father, Richard, is a bioethics expert who speaks out against abortion, cloning, & other assaults against human dignity. Some of those who knew the blond, blue-eyed Thomas questioned why this bright young man chose military service. His father says Thomas had no interest in a soft & easy life; he sought instead a life of deprivation & duty, service & sacrifice. And he wanted to help free the citizens of Iraq, people who’d spent decades living under tyranny & terror.
Years earlier, Thomas had offered a hint of his future plans. When he was confirmed into the Catholic Church, he took the name Maximilian Kolbe. As Austin & Cathy Ruse write in the National Catholic Register, nobody takes Kolbe’s name lightly. “At a time in the world when courage mattered most, Kolbe didn’t hesitate,” they note. “He offered himself up to the starvation bunker in exchange for a man with a family. You take the name of Kolbe because you hold self-sacrifice & the love of fellow man in the highest regard.”

"At a time in the world when courage mattered most, Kolbe didn't hesitate." Now that's an unforgettable line. Courage always matters, of course, but heroes are recognized because their character shines brightest at a time when it makes the most difference. It sounds like Maximilllian Kolbe was a man of great courage & even greater integrity. Thank God that men like him existed when it mattered most.

Last November, the vehicle Thomas was assigned to, a Stryker APC, was undergoing repairs. Another Stryker was headed for Mosul, which had been overrun by terrorists. But the crew was one man short. Would Thomas be willing to take his place? While he was under no obligation to go, Thomas was known for volunteering. He offered to serve as a rear rifleman to provide cover for the other men. On November 11, the Stryker rumbled into Mosul. Thomas jumped out, & soon after was ushered into eternity, cut down by a sniper’s bullet. What motivates young men to make such a sacrifice, not only for their country & their comrades, but on behalf of strangers longing for freedom?

The Bible says "Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friend." How true. Thankfully, there's men like Thomas Doerflinger around when courage matters most. Hopefully the emerging Iraqi armed forces will exhibit this same type of courage when their countrymen need it most.

An answer comes from another Thomas. In the Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas put his discussion of just war in his chapter on charity & the love of God. Centuries later, John Calvin echoed his thoughts, calling the soldier an “agent of God’s love” & soldiering justly a “God-like act.” Far from viewing war as a “necessary evil,” Calvin said that “restraining evil out of love for neighbor” imitates God’s restraining evil out of love for humanity.

Not surprisingly, John Calvin gets it. Hating war & the high price of war doesn't make it an evil thing. Viewed in the right light, wars have always brought out not just the worst human traits but also the best in human traits. Thankfully, we have the examples of Thomas Doerflinger & Maximillian Kolbe to guide us.

Thomas Doerflinger’s death reminds us that the cost of restraining evil is heartbreakingly high. On the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we should pray for those who bear the cost of protecting our country, & who are willing to liberate another persecuted people.
Like Maximilian Kolbe, at a time when courage mattered most, Thomas Doerflinger didn’t hesitate.

Praying for heroes like Thomas Doerflinger's family isn't a huge sacrifice for those of us privileged enough to live here in the U.S. Let's always work at being men & women of the same honor & integrity that Mr. Doerflinger was. Let's also remember to pray that there will always be an Iraqi Thomas Doerflinger available when courage matters most.

Cut & Run Cowards

Democratic Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California, a longtime critic of the president's Iraq policies, introduced a House resolution this week calling for the president to withdraw U.S. troops immediately. "We've gone as far as we can with this & we're sacrificing our troops every day," Woolsey said.
The resolution has the support of 24 other House Democrats & Woolsey wants the debate to reach the House floor. Recently, she & 15 other House Democrats sent the president letters imploring him to bring home troops immediately.
This is the epitome of disgusting. Not only are these idiot & short-sighted Dems giving encourgement to the Zarqawis of the Middle East, they're also trying to betray the great friendship that's developed between the Bush Administration & Prime Minister Allawi. The peacenik wing of the Democratic party did this during Vietnam, forcing the South Vietnamese to live under Communist tyranny. Now they're back for a return engagement with the valiant Iraqi people.
No wonder why people won't vote Democratic when foreign affairs are the most serious matter of the day.

Harry Reid's Choice

Harry Reid's Choice
Will the new Minority Leader follow Ted Kennedy off a cliff?
January 28, 2005
The previous Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, is pursuing life in the private sector after, well, let's call it an involuntary retirement. His successor, Harry Reid of Nevada, now has to decide if he wants to lead his party with the same strategy. Mr. Reid is getting lots of advice from his peers, notably Ted Kennedy. The old liberal chieftain has been giving speeches trying to rally his party's remnants for one more attempt at total, unrelenting opposition to President Bush.
For the flavor of his counsel, we suggest readers look at Teddy's January 12 speech to the National Press Club. His message is that the recent election essentially meant nothing. "We as Democrats may be in the minority in Congress, but we speak for the majority of Americans," declared the man with four fewer Democratic Senate colleagues than he did before November 2.

Ask Tom Daschle or John Kerry if the vote meant nothing. That Teddy Kennedy thinks that Democrats of his persuasion "speak for the majority of Americans" shows that Kennedy is either clueless or he's just lying to the reporters covering him.

"Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam," he added, elaborating in another speech yesterday that "the war in Iraq has become a war on the American occupation." This, on the eve of an election in which millions of Iraqis will risk their lives to create a new self-governing country (see above). He also called for a precipitous American pullout that coincides with the wishes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, among others who are assassinating Iraqi democrats.
Meanwhile, back in the Senate, 12 Democrats & "independent" James Jeffords voted this week against Condoleezza Rice's nomination to become Secretary of State, & eight voted in committee against Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General. Two of them, California's Barbara Boxer & Minnesota's Mark Dayton, didn't merely say they disagreed with Ms. Rice on Iraq but also called her a liar.
"I don't like to impugn anyone's integrity," Mr. Dayton said, "but I really don't like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally." He's apparently referring to the prewar claims of WMD stockpiles in Iraq that John Kerry, Bill & Hillary Clinton & everyone else in Washington once thought existed because Saddam Hussein had booted out U.N. inspectors & failed to obey 17 U.N. resolutions. It seems clear that, even so soon after the election, the Kennedy-Dayton Democrats are determined to be the antiwar, or maybe just the anti, party.

Mr. Dayton is speaking in Minnesota liberal code here. As a resident of Minnesota, let me interpret what he's really saying: "I don't like impugning anyone's integrity but I'm fighting for my political life & I've got to rally my lunatic base if I'm to have any chance at getting re-elected."

It's also obvious that not all Senate Democrats think this is the best way to behave, either for the country's sake or for their own prospects in 2006. Joe Lieberman seems to be one of the doubters, giving a passionate speech this week urging his colleagues to confirm Ms. Rice. We suspect others have similar qualms, but as a Democrat it's hard to speak up against the desire to stand athwart history yelling "stop!"
As the new Senate leader, Mr. Reid is going to have to decide whose side he's on. From his days as minority whip, he knows that the Daschle strategy of fighting everything cost Democrats two seats in 2002 & four more last year. More broadly, Democrats have now lost three national elections in a row, the last two in part because of perceptions that they were weak on national security. Maybe it's time to try something else.

"Maybe it's time to try something else"??? But you haven't given Republicans a fillibuster proof yet. Don't abandon us yet. We've still got another goal to accomplish. Reactionary liberals cost their party 2 Senate seats in 2002, 4 Senate seats in 2004. Does that mean they'll cost their party 6 seats in 2006? We can only hope.

Democrats could even try to work with the White House to solve some problems, & get some credit for doing so. Certainly that strategy might help some individual Senators running for re-election to keep their seats. The Kennedy Democrats are betting that Iraq will become such a quagmire that they can safely run against the war & prosper in 2006 on a voter backlash. But even if they're right about Iraq, it's just as possible that voters won't want to reward Democrats who sound like they're cheerleading for America to fail.

You mean that Democrats might benefit from being seen as something other than blind obstructionists? What a concept. Let's hope they don't learn that until it's 2007.
Tom Daschle lost his majority & then his own career taking Ted Kennedy's advice. Democrats who want their party to succeed had better hope Harry Reid doesn't make the same mistake.

Wisconsin Voter Fraud Update

City OK'd 1,305 Flawed Voter Cards
People were allowed to cast ballots, despite filling out same-day registrations with wrong information
Jan. 27, 2005
Milwaukee officials said Thursday that 1,305 same-day voter registration cards from the Nov. 2 election couldn’t be processed, including more than 500 cases where voters listed no address & dozens more where no name was written on the card. But the revelation of the actual number of cards that couldn't be processed, far lower than previous estimates of 8,300 or more, raised new concerns, because it leaves a clear gap of more than 7,000 people who voted on Nov. 2 & can't be accounted for in city records.
The problematic same-day registration cards, the number of which was revealed in response to a Journal Sentinel open records request, could quickly become the focus of a major investigation launched Wednesday into potential voter fraud in the city of Milwaukee.
That effort comes after the newspaper's report finding more than 1,200 votes listed as being cast from invalid addresses. Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann and U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic are overseeing the probe with help from the Milwaukee Police Department & the FBI. While the framework of the joint investigation is still being developed, James Finch, the special agent in charge of the FBI's local office, said Thursday that the bureau's first task will be to look at questionable voter registration cards.
The city's own breakdown of the 1,305 cards that couldn't be processed showed 548 people were given ballots without listing an address on the cards & another 48 didn't provide a name.

Ballots were given to people that didn't list an address? Ballots were given to people who "didn't provide a name"? HELLO! Shouldn't a ton of red flags have gone up at that point? If this an indication of the quality of Milwaukee's election officials, then they'd better totally revamp their office. Let's hope it isn't an indicator but it ain't looking good for the home team.

And among many other problems, 141 gave addresses later found to not be in the city. One of the cards provided to the newspaper shows a voter clearly listing "Wauwatosa" as her city of residence. Nevertheless, she received a ballot & voted in Milwaukee. It's possible she filled out the card wrong, listing a Wauwatosa address where her Milwaukee address should have been. The woman, whose phone is disconnected, couldn't be reached Thursday night.

She can't be reached? Shocking, I tell you, just shocking. Her phone's disconnected? I wonder why.

Widespread failure
The new information shocked critics of the state's election laws & of how Milwaukee ran its election. Democrat John Kerry topped President Bush in Wisconsin by 11,384 votes, one of the narrowest margins in the nation. "The system is obviously failing in a major way," said state Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), who with nine other Republican lawmakers has also asked state auditors to review the Milwaukee election. "If the card isn't complete, they shouldn't be handed a ballot."

Mr. Stone is right on the money. It's only common sense, a surefire sign of a Republican. Lord knows common sense isn't in overabundance in the Democratic Party.

In addition to the cards that couldn't be processed, city officials have had nearly 2,800 verification cards, out of 73,079 sent out, returned as undeliverable. State law requires those be submitted to the district attorney's office. That number is higher than the 1,200 invalid addresses found by the Journal Sentinel, because the newspaper's review didn't cover apartment buildings, due to problems in how the addresses appear in data bases.

Here's another shocking statistic: Almost 4 percent of the voter cards sent out "returned as undeliverable." Let's hope they catch the people who perpetrated this fraud. They deserve to lose their right to vote & be thrown into prison for a decade at minimum. People that work to tilt an election are positively evil & deserve to pay dearly for this act of evil. Voting is one of the most precious of our rights as Americans.

Furthermore, Milwaukee officials must radically reform the voter registration process or else they need to be shown the door.

Lisa Artison, executive director of the city's Election Commission, said "layer upon layer" of human error likely is to blame for the problems, which came as election workers faced a crush of voters, tens of thousands of whom registered at the polls. "Obviously, our goal is to serve the voters as effectively as possible," Artison said. "With an election of this magnitude, there are going to be mistakes, & we're working to correct them." Mayor Tom Barrett reiterated his confidence in Artison & pledged that the process will be improved.

Ms. Artison, we appreciate your working to correct your mistakes but wouldn't it be better if you didn't make the mistakes in the first place? Mr. Barrett, what do you base your confidence in Ms. Artison? Or are you just trying to not pile on?

"We will look at all options to see what we can do," said Barrett, who was elected in April. "Obviously, it's a system I inherited." Barrett said the problems didn't shake his belief that voters shouldn't face a requirement to show a photo identification card at the polls before getting a ballot. He said the requirement would be a burden on some voters, particularly the elderly.

It's a burden to show a photo identification that you are who you are? Mr. Barrett better get things figured out. How else will we ever have elections of integrity?

Stone & Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) soon are expected to introduce a photo ID bill, something Gov. Jim Doyle opposes & likely would veto.

I don't know much about Gov. Doyle but if he'd veto common sense legislation like that, then Wisconsin had better vote him out in 2006 & do it resoundingly. Let's hope that Wisconsin's Republicans force this sensitive issue.

Such a requirement may not have prevented the problems surrounding Milwaukee's registration cards, all of which, if current law was followed, should've come from people who provided identification. Nevertheless, the 1,305 cards that couldn't be processed suggest a major breakdown in the system, which is meant to capture names & addresses of everyone who votes.

For instance, 236 cards had missing or incomplete dates of birth, so the person can't be identified fully. In nearly two dozen cases, the cards were deemed illegible. On 155 of the cards, the voter got a ballot even though the card didn't list a voter number, a key step in reconciling poll-site logs to the number of votes cast.

That 236 voter cards either didn't have a date of birth on it or had an incomplete date of birth is beyond troubling. It's time that tighter controls are established, not just in Wisconsin but nation-wide. Washington state might benefit from tighter controls, too. The bottom line, though, is having honest people in the positions of accountability.

Unexplained gap
Indeed, the release of the actual number of cards that couldn't be processed in many ways deepened concerns about the gap between ballots and voters. In Milwaukee, 277,535 ballots were cast in the Nov. 2 election. The city's own election records show only 269,212 people as having voted, however.
That gap of about 8,300 appeared to represent the number of same-day registration cards that couldn't be processed. The number originally had been put at more than 10,000, based on estimates the city sent to the state. If only about 1,300 cards couldn't be processed, that still leaves a gap of about 7,000.

When will these people learn that making it easy for people to vote is equivalent to making it easy to commit voter fraud? The "Count every vote" mantra must end & end soon. If that mantra isn't defeated soundly & soon, then elections won't mean anything. That'd be a great tragedy.

In reality, though, the gap is larger. The newspaper has found hundreds of cases where the same person is listed as voting twice, something officials attribute to a computer "glitch" when their information was entered into the city's computer system. Asked what could account for the remaining gap, Artison said there are many possibilities. Among them: Clerks who, after the election, scanned voter log books from the city's 312 wards may have missed some bar codes that are used to track each voter.
"There's a huge window for human error," said Artison. "They might miss a page. They might miss several pages. And there's a margin for human error at the polling places."
Milwaukee Ald. Mike D'Amato said, despite the recent criticism, he thought the city election was conducted well.
He noted the 1,200 votes from invalid addresses found by the newspaper represented about 0.4% of the total votes cast. D'Amato said the investigation by McCann & Biskupic was prompted by partisan complaints. "The problems are a function of the openness of our system & exist statewide," he said. "Yet they continue to attack Milwaukee."

Alderman D'Amato thinks that this investigation is only about "partisan complaints"? Might it be because McCann & Biskupic think this might be a grave matter because it's about the attempted theft of our most precious civil right? Might they be trying to improve a hopelessly flawed system?

In response to the newspaper's request to see the cards, the city provided what it termed a random sample of 50 of them,& has agreed to provide copies of the rest. Of the 50, 20 had no address listed for the voter who received a ballot. It's possible the person provided ID but did not completely fill out the card. However, the lack of address makes it difficult to verify if the voter was eligible.

I know that it was just a random sampling of voter registration cards but 20 out of 50 cards having errors isn't just significant, it's alarming.

Nine of the cards showed addresses outside the city. It's possible a person's identification card shows a "Milwaukee" address, even if the address is in the suburbs. The address would then have been rejected when entered into the computers, which kick out those outside the "address range" for the city. It's unclear whether these people voted in other communities in addition to Milwaukee.

Milwaukee election officials should look into that. It's yet another example of just how flawed their election system is. It's embarassing to think this system is this flawed.
Journal Sentinel reporters Tom Kertscher & Gina Barton contributed to this report.

More on Social Security Reform

Bush Advisers OK Social Security Plan
By LAURA MECKLER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - President Bush's advisers have settled on a proposal for structuring the personal accounts they hope to create in Social Security, while on Capitol Hill Senate Democrats were launching an effort to defeat the plan altogether.

Isn't it great knowing that the 'Loyal Opposition' is focused on fixing Social Security for another generation? This news just makes me feel good all over.

Under a plan recommended to Bush, the private accounts would resemble many company-sponsored retirement plans, with just a handful of investment options. By default, workers would be enrolled in a "life cycle" account, in which investments become more conservative as investors age, if they don’t choose one of the other options, according to two officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

A number of investment firms have this type of account & it's a solid idea. Typically, younger workers are more willing to take more risks with their money than people nearing retirement age. That doesn't mean they're willing to accept any risk but it's a good rule of thumb. As you near retirement age, however, people will accept a smaller return on their money for a more reliable, fixed-rate yield.

On Friday, Senate Democrats were to hold a session aimed at showcasing the problems with Bush's overall plan to let workers divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into individual accounts that could be invested in the stock market. Among those testifying before the panel were a pair of workers from the Social Security Administration complaining that the employees are being used for political purposes to sell the Bush plan to the public.
"The president is certainly going to use his megaphone to convince people this is a crisis, & he's dead wrong on that," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, (D-ND), chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, which works to promote party policies on the Senate floor & is sponsoring Friday's session. "We have to make the case that he's wrong." Also Friday, Bush was scheduled to speak to congressional Republicans at a retreat outside of Washington on Social Security & other issues. Bush met last week with his Social Security advisers working to write a legislative plan. They briefed him on issues they’d resolved among themselves as well as options in areas where there was no consensus.

It's true that President Bush initially characterized Social Security reform as a crisis but he's backed off that terminology a long time ago. He's recently called it a problem. Nonetheless, Democrats are bracing for a fight with their best demagogic lines already showing.
Yet to be decided are several big questions, including how large the private accounts should be, how much guaranteed benefits would be cut & how to pay as much as $2 trillion needed in the first 10 years to effect the transition to a new system.
In devising a structure for the private accounts, the Bush administration is modeling its proposal after the Thrift Savings Plan, a tax-deferred retirement investment plan similar to a 401(k). The idea is to minimize risk for people at the outset by offering as few as three to five diversified investment funds. Bush said in December that his plan would make sure people couldn’t invest "in a frivolous fashion." Under the Thrift Savings Plan, federal workers have five investment options, including government & corporate bond funds, a stock fund that tracks the S&P 500, an international fund & other stock funds.

The Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP, was adopted over a decade ago & has produced solid rates of return since its inception. The choices are limited, initially starting with only 2 options. Now it affords workers 5 options, all of which are producing solid rates of return.

Under the emerging Bush plan for Social Security, the default investment would be a "life cycle" account. It’d start with investments that have greater potential for both risk & reward & shift to safer bonds as a worker ages, officials in & outside the administration said. The government would be responsible for keeping track of how much money is in each worker's account & give the lump sums to a financial services company to invest, a mechanism aimed at keeping administrative fees low, they said.

Democrats were planning on using the corporate profits through administration fees argument. According to this information, that'll easily get swatted aside. Kudlow & Cramer have run several segments on Social Security reform & this is an argument that one of their experts made favoring a TSP-like system.

That’d mean only a limited profit potential for Wall Street. More money might be available for industry if a second tier of investments were permitted. Under this model, once a worker's account reached a certain level, he or she could choose from a broader range of investment options. Any number of mutual funds could be approved for investment at this stage.
This second tier of investment was recommended by Bush's 2001 Social Security commission after the initial accounts top $5,000, & this idea is part of several bills pending on Capitol Hill. But no decisions have been made about whether to allow a second tier, one administration official said.