Monday, July 21
Friday, July 18
By Reid Wilson July 18, 2008
There are fewer incumbents who better fit the description of a paranoid incumbent than Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk. The moderate whose district sits just north of Chicago won his first term with just 51%, and after two easier elections won a fourth term in 2006 with just 53% of the vote. This year, a new poll for his campaign shows, Kirk leads his 2006 opponent by a much wider margin.
The poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates for Kirk's campaign, surveyed 300 likely voters on 6/9 for a margin of error of +/- 5.6%. Kirk and advertising executive Dan Seals were tested among a sample that included 35% Democratic respondents, 33% Republican respondents and 32% independents or others.
General Election Matchup
Kirk...........53 (+3 from last, 3/08)
A one-day poll is not a standard survey length, and Democrats will make an issue out of the numbers. Most pollsters will conduct their surveys over multiple days to ensure that one news story or event doesn't weigh too heavily on the sample's mind. Too, the sample size is relatively small.
But Kirk's lead is easily outside the margin of error, and his favorable rating is a strong 67% to 16%. Seals' approval rating is 39% compared with 16% who see him unfavorably, a good ratio for a challenger, though he will have to bring up his name identification before he closes the gap with Kirk.
A moderate, Kirk is not likely to be cast as in lock step with Congressional Republicans or President Bush. And though John Kerry and Al Gore won the district in both 2000 and 2004, Kirk has been on the ballot with hometown favorite Barack Obama before, winning 64% of the vote when Kerry beat Bush by a 53%-47% margin in the district.
Still, Democrats are optimistic that they will eventually take the district back. Seals beat out a former Clinton Administration official in the Democratic primary in February, but if he can't knock off Kirk this time around, it may be the last time Seals makes a bid for Congress.
Thursday, July 17
Independent reporter Michael Yon has spent more time in Iraq embedded with combat troops than any other journalist in the world, and a few days ago he boldly declared the war over:
Barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.As Michael Totten notes,
What most of us still think of as “war” in Iraq is, at this point, a rough and unfinished peacekeeping mission. Whether it is officially over or not, it has certainly been downgraded to something else, and it’s about time more analysts and observers are willing to say so.Looks like the ol' Commander-in-chief got something right. Listen libs, I hate to say I told you so, but.....yeah, I told you so. On second thought, I actually love telling you I told you so.
Wednesday, July 16
• After vowing to eschew private fundraising and take public financing, he has now refused public money.
• Once he threatened to filibuster a bill to protect telephone companies from liability for their cooperation with national security wiretaps; now he has voted for the legislation.
• Turning his back on a lifetime of support for gun control, he now recognizes a Second Amendment right to bear arms in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
• Formerly, he told the Israeli lobby that he favored an undivided Jerusalem. Now he says he didn't mean it.
• From a 100 percent pro-choice position, he now has migrated to expressing doubts about allowing partial-birth abortions.
• For the first time, he now speaks highly of using church-based institutions to deliver public services to the poor.
• Having based his entire campaign on withdrawal from Iraq, he now pledges to consult with the military first.
• During the primary, he backed merit pay for teachers -- but before the union a few weeks ago, he opposed it.
• After specifically saying in the primaries that he disagreed with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-N.Y.) proposal to impose Social Security taxes on income over $200,000 and wanted to tax all income, he has now adopted the Clinton position.
Obama's breathtaking flips and flops are materially different from McCain's. While McCain had opposed offshore oil drilling and now supports it, the facts have obviously changed. Obama's shifts have nothing to do with altered circumstances, just a change in the political calendar.
Tuesday, July 15
By Christopher Hitchens
If there is one element of moral and political certainty that cements the liberal consensus more than any other, it is the complacent view that while Iraq is "a war of choice," it is really and only Afghanistan that is a war of necessity. The ritualistic solidity of this view is impressive. It survives all arguments and all evidence. Just in the last month, as the Iraqi-based jihadists began to beat a retreat and even (according to some reports) to attempt to relocate to Afghanistan and Pakistan, it still seemed to many commentators that this proved that no U.S. forces should have been wasted on Iraq in the first place. This simplistic view ignores, at a minimum, the following points:
1. Many of the al-Qaida forces—most notably the horrific but now deceased Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—made their way to Iraq in the first place only after being forcibly evicted from Afghanistan. Thus, if one did not want to be confronting Bin Laden fans in Mesopotamia, it was surely a mistake to invade Afghanistan rather than Iraq.
2. The American presence in Afghanistan is not at all "unilateral"; it meets every liberal criterion of being formally underwritten and endorsed and armed and reinforced by our NATO and U.N. allies. Indeed, the commander of the anti-Taliban forces is usually not even an American. Yet it is in these circumstances that more American casualties—and not just American ones—are being experienced than are being suffered in Iraq. If this is so, the reason cannot simply be that our resources are being deployed elsewhere.
3. Many of the most successful drives against the Taliban have been conducted by American forces redeployed from Iraq, in particular from Anbar province. But these military victories are the result of counterinsurgent tactics and strategies that were learned in Iraq and that have been applied triumphantly in Afghanistan.
In other words, any attempt to play off the two wars against each other is little more than a small-minded and zero-sum exercise. And consider the implications. Most people appear now to believe that it is quite wrong to mention Saddam Hussein even in the same breath as either a) weapons of mass destruction or b) state-sponsored terrorism. I happen to disagree, but just for an experiment, let us imagine that some regime did exist or did arise that posed such a combination of threats. (Actually, so feverish is my imagination that I can even think of one whose name also begins with I.) Would we be bound to say, in public and in advance, that the Western alliance couldn't get around to confronting such a threat until it had Afghanistan well under control? This would be rather like the equivalent fallacy that nothing can be done in the region until there is a settlement of the Israel-Palestine dispute. Not only does this mean that every rogue in the region can reset his timeline until one of the world's oldest and most intractable quarrels is settled, it also means that every rogue has an incentive to make certain that no such settlement can ever occur. (Which is, of course, why Saddam threw, and now the Iranians throw, their support to the suicide-murderers.)
It would also be very nice to accept another soft-centered corollary of the Iraq vs. Afghanistan trade-off and to believe that the problem of Afghanistan is a problem only of the shortage of troops. Strangely, this is not the view of the Afghan government or of any of the NATO forces on the ground. The continued and, indeed, increasing insolence of the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies is the consequence of one thing and one thing only. These theocratic terrorists know that they have a reliable backer in the higher echelons of the Pakistani state and of its military-intelligence complex and that while this relationship persists, they are assured of a hinterland across the border and a regular supply of arms and recruits.
So, the question for Sen. Barack Obama and his glib supporters is this: Would they solve this problem by removing the American forces from Iraq and putting the thereby-enhanced contingent there to patrol a frontier where one of our main "allies" is continually engaged in stabbing them in the back? (At one point last year, Obama himself appeared to accept the illogic of his own position and spoke hotly of the possibility of following the Taliban onto Pakistani soil. We haven't heard much of that lately. Did he mean to say that, come to think of it, we had enough troops to occupy three countries instead of the stipulated and solitary one? Or would he just exchange Iraq for Pakistan? At least we do know for sure that Pakistan has nuclear weapons acquired mainly by piracy and is the host and patron of the Taliban and al-Qaida.)
Another consideration obtrudes itself. If it is true, as yesterday's three-decker front-page headline in the New York Times had it, that "U.S. Considering Stepping Up Pace of Iraq Pullout/ Fall in Violence Cited/ More Troops Could Be Freed for Operations in Afghanistan," then this can only be because al-Qaida in Iraq has been subjected to a battlefield defeat at our hands—a military defeat accompanied by a political humiliation in which its fanatics have been angrily repudiated by the very people they falsely claimed to be fighting for. If we had left Iraq according to the timetable of the anti-war movement, the situation would be the precise reverse: The Iraqi people would now be excruciatingly tyrannized by the gloating sadists of al-Qaida, who could further boast of having inflicted a battlefield defeat on the United States. I dare say the word of that would have spread to Afghanistan fast enough and, indeed, to other places where the enemy operates. Bear this in mind next time you hear any easy talk about "the hunt for the real enemy" or any loose babble that suggests that we can only confront our foes in one place at a time.
At some point, Democrats decided that facts didn't matter anymore in Iraq. And they nominated just the man to reflect the party's new anti-factual consensus on the war, a Barack Obama who has fixedly ignored changing conditions on the ground.
It's gotten harder as the success of the surge has become undeniable, but -- despite some wobbles -- Obama is sticking to his plan for a 16-month timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. He musters dishonesty, evasion and straw-grasping to try to create a patina of respectability around a scandalously unserious position.
Obama spokesmen now say everyone knew that President Bush's troop surge would create more security. This is blatantly false. Obama said in early 2007 that nothing in the surge plan would "make a significant dent in the sectarian violence," and the new strategy would "not prove to be one that changes the dynamics significantly." He referred to the surge derisively as "baby-sit(ting) a civil war."
Now that the civil war has all but ended, he wants to claim retroactive clairvoyance. In a New York Times op-ed laying out his position, Obama credits the heroism of our troops and new tactics with bringing down the violence. Our troops have always been heroic; what made the difference was the surge strategy that Obama lacked the military judgment -- or political courage -- to support.
In his oped, Obama states that "the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true," citing the strain on the military, the deterioration in Afghanistan and the fiscal drain. All of those are important, but pale compared with the achievement in Iraq -- beating back al-Qaida and Iranian-backed militias, and restoring a semblance of order to a country on the verge of a collapse from which only our enemies could have benefited.
Politically, Obama has to notionally support defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq, so even after he's executed his 16-month withdrawal, he says there will be a "residual force" of American troops to take on "remnants of al-Qaida." How can he be so sure there will only be "remnants"? If there are, it will be because the surge Obama opposed has pushed al-Qaeda to the brink. The more precipitously we withdraw our troops, the more likely al-Qaeda is to mount a comeback.
Obama treats as a vindication a recent statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki calling for a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. forces. But Maliki, playing to his domestic politic audience, can't be taken at face value. Neither Maliki nor anyone around him talks of an unconditional 16-month timeline for withdrawal as being remotely plausible. His defense minister says Iraqis will be ready to handle internal security on their own in 2012 and external security by 2020.
The Iraqis most enthusiastic about Obama's plan surely are al-Qaeda members, Sadrists, Iranian agents and sectarian killers of every stripe. The prospect of an American president suddenly letting up on them has to be the best cause for hope they've had in months. Obama's withdrawal would immediately embolden every malign actor in Iraq, and increase their sway in Iraqi politics.
In his oped, Obama sticks to the badly dated contention that Iraqis "have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge." In fact, roughly 15 of 18 political benchmarks have been met by the Iraqis -- progress Obama threatens to reverse.
Obama loves to say that we have to withdraw from Iraq "responsibly." There's nothing responsible about his plan. According to U.S. commanders on the ground, it may not even be logistically possible. Does Obama even care? He says that when he's elected he'd give the military a new mission -- to end the war. Conditions in Iraq, let alone winning, are marginalia.
There are two possible interpretations -- either Obama is dangerously sincere, or he's a cynical operator playing duplicitous politics with matters of war and peace. Watch this space.
Monday, July 14
In his recent NYT op-ed, he noted,
We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
Of course he's "long advocated" that. And since he says so, it's naturally true. Somehow Barry thinks that fighting terrorists in Iraq as opposed to in Scranton, PA would be better for our security interests.
He cites the Iraqi government as saying they want the US out as reason to pursue a timetable full-on. But as noted by Reuters,
"I don't think Maliki is very keen to set a timetable for withdrawal," said Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq expert at the International Crisis Group. "They (the govt) still know very well how much U.S. support they need for military operations."
But naturally the American left doesn't actually get their news from any else than Obama's speeches so they're none the wiser.
Here's a fun little video that gives you a better idea of Barry's tricks:
And while we're having some fun, I thought I'd throw in the coming "tasteless" New Yorker cover for kicks. Quite unsurprisingly the American Flag is burning, Michelle's strapped, Obama's Osama, and they're doing that fruity little pound they did when he got on stage in Springfield to accept the party nomination.
Saturday, July 12
Why do we not see them in the news at home more frequently??
They're highly unstable, nuclear, and refuse to cooperate with the west on anything.
Ever since Medvedev took power, and Putin stepped aside (not down, he is still effectively in charge), Russia has been doing some crazy stuff. They refuse to allow a missile defense shield which would stand no chance against Russia anyway. They have cooperated very little in the War on Terror, and the country generally operates as a police-state.
Keep an eye on Russia, they're coming back from the cold and it's going to be big.
Friday, July 11
Iran's doctored photo (bottom image) displays their recent missile launch. Naturally I was shocked when I heard the launch was pulled off without a hitch. Of course Tehran knows that wasn't the case but tried not to embarrass itself.
This one goes right on the shelf for 'crazy-countries-determined-to-look-strong-that-are-actually-weak', sitting right next to North Korea.
Way to be guys. Keep up embarrassments like this long enough, America may just drop some food on your country out of pity someday soon. Either food or ordnance. One of the two.
Wednesday, July 9
To give you an analogy, Iran is like a small child who sees a pot on the stove and is slowly tugging at it's handle to see how close the pot will get to the edge without spilling. Well, I've got news Iran, the pot is filled with boiling water and you're getting mighty close to being scalded.
The New York Times noted the American and Israeli response.
The Israelis — whose air force last month practiced what American intelligence officials called a rehearsal for a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities — said they did not want war with Iran. But Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said, “The Iranian nuclear program and the Iranian ballistic missile program must be of grave concern to the entire international community.”
The missile tests drew a sharp response from the United States. Gordon D. Johndroe, the deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement at the Group of 8 meeting in Japan that Iran’s development of ballistic missiles was a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“The Iranian regime only furthers the isolation of the Iranian people from the international community when it engages in this sort of activity,” Mr. Johndroe said.
He urged Iran to “refrain from further missile tests if they truly seek to gain the trust of the world,” and said, “The Iranians should stop the development of ballistic missiles which could be used as a delivery vehicle for a potential nuclear weapon immediately.”
As Obama has temporarily shifted to the middle to pick up moderate votes, I am not clear where he stands (or will stand in the future) on many issues. I am not sure where he will land after his campaign shifting has run it's course. At this point "change" is good, but will it be good change or bad change. Change to the middle, change to the far left? Truly, our economy is in shambles and much of it is "broken", but it frightens me to hear talk of forced redistribution of wealth. It runs contrary to capitalist principles. Yes, it would help me to have my taxes cut by taking capitol away from some ridiculously wealthy person, but I will make it somehow, some way without the handout, thank you. I feel the country as a whole is over compensating to the far left (rather than the middle) to get away from the policies of George Bush. I have always valued moderation. I considered myself a moderate Conservative. It is hard for me to comprehend how it makes sense to veer to the far left in order to rid the country of anything George Bush. I found this posting (below) by a Cuban Marine and thought it very though provoking.
Beware Charismatic Men Who Preach 'Change'
Each year I get to celebrate Independence Day twice. On June 30 I celebrate my independence day and on July 4 I celebrate America's. This year is special, because it marks the 40th anniversary of my independence.
On June 30, 1968, I escaped Communist Cuba and a few months later I was in the United States to stay. That I happened to arrive in Richmond on Thanksgiving Day is just part of the story, but I digress.
I've thought a lot about the anniversary this year. The election-year rhetoric has made me think a lot about Cuba and what transpired there. In the late 1950s, most Cubans thought Cuba needed a change, and they were right. So when a young leader came along, every Cuban was at least receptive.
When the young leader spoke eloquently and passionately and denounced the old system, the press fell in love with him. They never questioned who his friends were or what he really believed in. When he said he would help the farmers and the poor and bring free medical care and education to all, everyone followed. When he said he would bring justice and equality to all, everyone said "Praise the Lord." And when the young leader said, "I will be for change and I'll bring you change," everyone yelled, "Viva Fidel!"
But nobody asked about the change, so by the time the executioner's guns went silent the people's guns had been taken away. By the time everyone was equal, they were equally poor, hungry, and oppressed. By the time everyone received their free education it was worth nothing. By the time the press noticed, it was too late, because they were now working for him. By the time the change was finally implemented Cuba had been knocked down a couple of notches to Third-World status. By the time the change was over more than a million people had taken to boats, rafts, and inner tubes. You can call those who made it ashore anywhere else in the world the most fortunate Cubans. And now I'm back to the beginning of my story.
Luckily, we would never fall in America for a young leader who promised change without asking, what change? How will you carry it out? What will it cost America?
Manuel Alvarez Jr.
Tuesday, July 8
For the past several years, many people have predicted that China will be the future's global dominator; that we'll all speak Chinese. But consider this: China still has a population with more people living under the extreme poverty line than the United States has citizens.
Their cities are filthy with pollution and in fact, the country has begun shutting down factories just to prevent the smog from getting worse before the Olympics. It will be interesting to see how well the athletes can compete in polluted air (I predict few new world records will be set).
The country may have a giant booming economy, but that only affects a small portion of the population.
For China to pose any real threat to U.S. interests (to which the Chinese are actually bound), they will desperately need to overhaul their environment. And that says a lot, coming from me.
They will not be able to continue as the world's #1 polluter and have any shot at being the world's #1 power.
Sunday, July 6
-Obama is pretending he's a moderate.
-Obama is planning his u-turn on the situation in Iraq (he'll probably claim we're winning because of him).
-John McCain is actually doing his job in the Senate vs. Obama's present-votes/no-votes.
-John McCain is working on realistic policies that will actually address energy issues.
UPDATE: Obama gave a speech about the philosophy of energy policy.
I think it's all summed up best in a Dick Morris and Eileen McGann article,
"John McCain: when you have real experience, you don't need to exaggerate."
Saturday, July 5
Wednesday, July 2
In light of the current election, discussion of the Bush legacy is abundant. Most curious of this legacy is that many seem to utterly loathe him. Speaking with some Democrats, you get the sense that the President is worse than the enemy.
I don't know what left turn this country took that makes the President an idol of evil, but it may not be as bad as some make it out to be.
A recent Mark Davis, columnist for the Dallas Morning News, article noted that, Hillary Clinton's campaign speeches were punctuated with,
"The whole world is going to breathe a sigh of relief," she would proclaim, "when that moving van pulls up to the White House on its way back to Texas.
"She is, of course, largely correct. The sigh of relief will not issue from the whole world exactly, but from large parts of it.
The article goes on to note that the following people will be relieved at the president's exit:
-Hugo Chavez: Venezuela's socialist dictator. Nationalized Citgo Gas
-Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Iran’s dictator. “Israel must be wiped off the map”
-Kim Jong Il: North Korea's dictator. Oppressor of 23 million people
-Hamas: Terrorist organization. Enough said.
All have endorsed Barack Obama for president.