Blogito, Ergo Sum
by Gregg Calkins


14 November 2007 a coolish and sunless Wednesday once more
 

Have the Democrats decided?  According to the NYT this morning:

Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire — the states that begin the presidential nominating battle — say Senator Barack Obama and John Edwards are more likely than Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to say what they believe, rather than what they think voters want to hear, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Polls. But they also view Mrs. Clinton as the best prepared and most electable Democrat in the field, the polls found.

She may be a liar but, unlike Bush, she's OUR liar?  Edwards shrugged modestly and flashed his boyish grin.

Spitzer Dropping Plan of Licenses for Illegal Immigrants

Gov. Eliot Spitzer said opposition to his proposal has been too overwhelming to move forward.

Hillary said she's against the idea, now, too.  Damn you, Spitzer, she muttered beneath her breath.

The Washington Post can only find this to say about the war in Iraq:

A budget dispute erupted into a full-scale battle Tuesday as President Bush vetoed the Democrats' top-priority domestic spending bill and the party's Senate leader threatened to withhold war funding if the president does not agree to pull out of Iraq.

The long-anticipated clash came to a head as Bush rejected a $606 billion bill to fund education, health and labor programs, complaining that it is too expensive and is larded with pork. Within hours, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) declared that Bush will not get more money to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year unless he accepts a plan to complete troop withdrawals by the end of next year.

Should be a good debate, because at some point Reid is bound to be asked if he still thinks the war is lost.  Or will he adopt Senator Durbin's assertion...that we've killed them all, so it's time to come home?

Quite aside from a pro-or-con article about the war, I wonder how Hillary feels about the prospect of entering office with no more troops in Iraq?  I mean, two years after our troops had been completely removed from Vietnam the North had rebuilt sufficiently to reinvade the South and win the war, supposedly defeating the U.S. and President Nixon.  Can Hillary envision the same thing happening to her?

Republicans are sure to point out that it wouldn't have happened if they'd had their way, just as Democrats are arguing that the debacle in Iraq would not have happened if they'd had their way and sent enough troops to begin with. 

I don't think I'd like taking office under those conditions, myself.  Hillary will be a lot better off the safer and more stable Iraq is--as will we all, of course--because she was always FOR the war, after all.  Remember?  She'll be happy to show you her 1998 public law...got a copy right here, it just so happens...

Howard Kurtz in Media Notes is writing about campaign speech generally, but I was tickled by this example:

Mitt Romney once promised not to self-fund his campaign, and ever since has been busy robbing his kids' inheritance to do just that.

Isn't that great?  You can't even spend your own money any more because it already belongs to your kids.

What do you know?  Here's the Washington Times with a front page item titled "Are We Winning the War?"

The authors don't seem too certain, it seems, but they like the numbers.  Only signs can be figured both ways...

The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said this week that sectarian violence between Shi'ite and Sunni fighters in Baghdad had dropped 77 percent from last year's high.

Mr. al-Maliki called it a sign that sectarian fighting in the capital "is closed now." Some skeptics countered that the drop reflects the fact that ethnic cleansing has now been completed in many once-mixed urban neighborhoods.

As Senator Durbin would say, we've run out of insurgents to kill.

And, of course, the authors do make some mistakes:

An alliance of convenience between U.S. forces and once-hostile Sunni tribes against al Qaeda has become so solid that former Sunni insurgents say they warned American troops to stay away as they took on al Qaeda terrorists themselves in a pitched battle late last week in the city of Samarra that produced heavy al Qaeda casualties.

Unmentioned was the rest of the story...the sheik was worried that American air support would be unable to distinguish his men from al-Qaeda, since none wore uniforms.  Still, it was a promising sign just the same.

Here's the part that has AQI gnashing its teeth in frustration:

While declining, the fighting in Iraq has just returned to levels seen before the February 2006 bombing of the Shi'ite shrine in Samarra by extremists — an attack that sent violence between Sunnis and Shi'ites soaring.

So close, they moan...that's how close we came to causing a full-scale civil war.

Still, the critics moan, the Iraq government isn't working as well as the U.S. government does.  After all, Iraq still has problems...

By this time, Harry Reid said, I'd have fixed everything!   Me, too, chimed in Nancy Pelosi.  Me, too, Benazir Bhutto trilled, poking her head through the curtain.  Just give me another second, Putin added, and everything will be running smoothly.

Why is THIS problem so difficult to solve:

Congressional Republicans are scrambling to defuse the political time bomb they created in 2005 when they allowed states to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens — but a key Republican and author of the Real ID Act says their new bill is unconstitutional.

"Driver's licenses are issued by the states, not the federal government. I do not believe it is constitutional for the federal government to tell the states who they can issue driver's licenses to and who they can't issue driver's licenses to," said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the 2005 law and its provision allowing states the option of giving licenses to illegal aliens.

So...let the federal government start issuing driver's licenses, not the states.  Look, I'm all for the rights of the individual states, don't get me wrong, but the nation's highways are a national problem, not a state problem.  As long as one state's licenses are acknowledged as valid by all other states then that makes it a national issue, I think.  Driving laws and regulations need to be similarly made equal all across the nation, since state lines are wholly-artificial constructs and have nothing at all to do with driving skills and requirements.

The sensible thing, of course, if you didn't want to do that, was simply to make the driver's license illegal as a form of identification.  That's a no-brainer, seems to me.

Illegal aliens are a federal problem, too...states do not have individual immigration laws, after all.

Make driver's licenses federal in nature, managed by the individual states, and take away their identification privileges...that would solve several problems in short order, seems to me.

Here's another no-brainer:

The Virginia State Crime Commission yesterday passed a sweeping list of recommendations focusing on illegal aliens who commit crimes, and anticipate General Assembly approval because they do not address the more polarizing issue of denying social services.

Of course, they already committed one crime just by being there illegally.

Peter Berkowitz writes about a dinner conversation he once had about Bush hatred, one in which he suggested...

...that however wrongheaded or harmful to the national interest the president's policies may have seemed to my progressive colleagues, hatred tended to cloud judgment, and therefore was a passion that a citizen should not be proud of being in the grips of and should avoid bringing to public debate. Propositions, one might have thought, that would not be controversial among intellectuals devoted to thinking and writing about politics.

But controversial they were.  ... 

But as at that D.C. dinner in late spring of 2004, so again in early autumn 2007 at dinner following the Princeton panel, several of my progressive colleagues seized upon my remarks against giving oneself over to hatred. And they vigorously rejected the notion. Both a professor of political theory and a nationally syndicated columnist insisted that I was wrong to condemn hatred as a passion that impaired political judgment. On the contrary, they argued, Bush hatred was fully warranted considering his theft of the 2000 election in Florida with the aid of the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore; his politicization of national security by making the invasion of Iraq an issue in the 2002 midterm elections; and his shredding of the Constitution to authorize the torture of enemy combatants.

Of course, these very examples illustrate nothing so much as the damage hatred inflicts on the intellect. Many of my colleagues at Princeton that evening seemed not to have considered that in 2000 it was Al Gore who shifted the election controversy to the courts by filing a lawsuit challenging decisions made by local Florida county election supervisors. Nor did many of my Princeton dinner companions take into account that between the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, 10 of 16 higher court judges--five of whom were Democratic appointees--found equal protection flaws with the recount scheme ordered by the intermediate Florida court. And they did not appear to have pondered Judge Richard Posner's sensible observation, much less themselves sensibly observe, that while indeed it was strange to have the U.S. Supreme Court decide a presidential election, it would have been even stranger for the election to have been decided by the Florida Supreme Court.

I've personally watched that irrationality in action.  The irrationally angry don't care that it was Al Gore who put the election results in the hands of the courts, that was HIS ploy to win a recount and not any of Bush's doing, also once it got started in the court system it was bound to wind up in the USSC.  It's interesting to note the 10 of 16 higher court judges made similar decisions, not merely the USSC.

Even more irrational, however, is their refusal to recognize that the votes actually WERE exhaustively recounted, by several different organizations, many of which could not by any stretch of the imagination have been considered partisans for Bush, in fact quite the opposite. 

All decided that Bush won, which should have settled that argument for once and for all.  But not for irrational people, it didn't.

As for the 2002 midterm elections, it is true that Mr. Bush took the question of whether to use military force against Iraq to the voters, placing many Democratic candidates that fall in awkward positions. But in a liberal democracy, especially from a progressive point of view, aren't questions of war and peace proper ones to put to the people--as Democrats did successfully in 2006?

You would think it would be considered the only proper venue...but not by irrational people.

And lord knows the Bush administration has blundered in its handling of legal issues that have arisen in the war on terror. But from the common progressive denunciations you would never know that the Bush administration has rejected torture as illegal. And you could easily overlook that in our system of government the executive branch, which has principal responsibility for defending the nation, is in wartime bound to overreach--especially when it confronts on a daily basis intelligence reports that describe terrifying threats--but that when checked by the Supreme Court the Bush administration has, in accordance with the system, promptly complied with the law.

This is another good point.  The liberal press has chortled every time a court has ruled against George Bush, seemingly oblivious to the fact that every time he complied he proved that he was not, after all, shredding the Constitution.

The irrational won't accept the fact that it was a Democrat-controlled congress who rewrote the law to back Bush's treatment after the last USSC ruling.  And the irrational similarly won't accept the fact that it is this same Congress which has declined to write the laws necessary to define torture clearly and also declare it to be illegal in all cases...preferring to leave the decision up to Bush, giving themselves room to maneuver.

In short, Bush hatred is not a rational response to actual Bush perfidy. Rather, Bush hatred compels its progressive victims--who pride themselves on their sophistication and sensitivity to nuance--to reduce complicated events and multilayered issues to simple matters of good and evil. Like all hatred in politics, Bush hatred blinds to the other sides of the argument, and constrains the hater to see a monster instead of a political opponent.

Prof. Starr shows in "Freedom's Power" that tolerance, generosity, and reasoned skepticism are hallmarks of the truly liberal spirit. His analysis suggests that the problem with progressives who have succumbed to Bush hatred is not their liberalism; it's their betrayal of it.

The problem I see them exhibiting is the fact that they consider themselves so far intellectually superior to all others of conservative bent that they are honestly unable to conceive of them being simply wrong.  That idea simply cannot be tolerated.

I've always been amused at their "shredding the Constitution" charge, not only because of the way in which Bush has calmly followed every actual court ruling but also because these are the same people who argue Al Gore should have been elected because he won the popular vote.  Shred the Constitution, anyone?

The conflict between more conservative and more liberal or progressive interpretations of the Constitution is as old as the document itself, and a venerable source of the nation's strength. It is wonderful for citizens to bring passion to it. Recognizing the common heritage that provides the ground for so many of the disagreements between right and left today will encourage both sides, if not to cherish their opponents, at least to discipline their passions and make them an ally of their reason.

The rational mind is in control of its passions; not the other way around.

 Leave it to Tony Blankley to spell out the Democrat's worst nightmare:

It has become obligatory for both pro- and antiwar commentators to never mention the possibility of victory in Iraq. The most that antiwar people will admit is that the surge has gained a temporary military advantage in a war that cannot be won militarily. The most pro-war commentators will claim is that they see the possibility of "success" perhaps, maybe, someday, somehow.

But as of Veterans Day 2007, I think one can claim a very real expectation that next year the world may see a genuine, old-fashioned victory in the Iraq War. In five years we will have overturned Saddam's government, killed, captured or driven out of country almost all al Qaeda terrorists, suppressed the violent Shi'ite militias and induced the Sunni tribal leaders and their people to shun resistance and send their sons into the army and police and seek peaceful resolution of disputes. And we will have stood up a multisectarian, tribally inclusive army capable of maintaining the peace that our troops established.

Sadly for the Democrat Party, none of them can be enthusiastic about all of that happening before November 4 of next year.

Captain Ed on Iran's nuclear program, citing a New York Times item:

"Iran has met a key demand of the U.N. nuclear agency, handing over long-sought blueprints showing how to mold uranium metal into the shape of warheads, diplomats said Tuesday.

Iran's decision to release the documents, which were seen by U.N. inspectors two years ago, was seen as a concession designed to head off the threat of new U.N. sanctions.

But the diplomats said Tehran has failed to meet other requests made by the International Atomic Energy Agency in its attempts to end nearly two decades of nuclear secrecy on the part of Iran. ...

Both the IAEA and other experts have categorized the instructions outlined in the blueprints as having no value outside of a nuclear weapons programme."

Iran's explanation? Parents of teenagers will find some familiarity with this -- they have no idea how those blueprints got into their files. ... They claim the plans must have come with the illegal equipment they purchased from the AQ Khan network, from which they used to create their own reverse-engineered equipment.

The Captain is right about that neat "the dog ate my homework" explanation.  But, as Ed points out:

That somehow evades the important fact that Iran would not release those blueprints in the two years since IAEA inspectors "stumbled" upon them, as the AP puts it.

It took them that long to think of this answer.

For the life of me, I can understand the people who believe that Iran does not want to obtain the bomb.  Parents of teen-agers could tell you very easily.

Howard Fineman at Newsweek writes:

Heading into yet another TV debate, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton faces a potent enemy—not onstage, but in her own mind. She has a lifelong obsession with seeking out, and trying to control, unruly events and people. She often fails, and harms herself trying. If she doesn't ease up, she risks losing the race. Brainy women don't frighten voters; control freaks do.

Hillary hates surprises yet chooses to live in the most chaotic situations imaginable—from her eyes-wide-shut marriage to an undomesticated Arkansan, to a race for president in today's impossible-to-tame Wild West of bile-filled blogs and You Tube videos.

I've seen this disaster flick before. In her husband's 1992 campaign, she turned a family real-estate deal into a horror show by refusing to show documents about the transaction to The New York Times. She played the reporter along; then she stiffed him. The maneuver was too clever by half. "Whitewater" dogged the Clintons for years.

But Howard presumes something: that the documents would not have been extremely harmful.  I worked as a real estate broker for 30 years and I have some passing familiarity with schemes of the sort that, as far as I can tell, bore some similarity to Whitewater. 

Even when all of the schemes were technically legal there were still some niggling details and techniques which wouldn't really play well to the public, the investors, or the would-be buyers.  A certain lack of disclosure, say, which bordered on the unethical and possibly the illegal, who could be sure?

And, after all, real estate developers are looking for "good deals" for themselves, ways to make money in the subdivision process.  And for every "good deal" somebody manages to eke out by subtle stratagem, someone else of necessity suffers a "bad deal"...it's a zero-sum game, not a win-win.

Like Hillary's Rose Law Firm billing records...even if legal, they revealed things about her and her business tactics that she'd just as soon not have known.

If real estate transactions like this are too arcane for you, consider simply the used-car salesman.  Assuming the man does not lie, and I have no doubt that there are many perfectly honest used-car salesman, do you seriously believe that everything he says is going to be in the best interests of his client?  Well, sure.

Think who his client is, though.  He's an agent for his boss, not for you.  You are only a customer, and his obligation as an agent is not to get YOU the best deal, but his boss.  If his boss has told him that if negotiations fail he is authorized to come down $500 on the sales price, will the salesman tell you this right up front, do you think?  Of course you don't...that's what the negotiations are all about.  If you can be persuaded...this usually requires him running back to the office to "check"...that $300 is the max, so much the better.  Maybe you'd like to call that a win-win deal?

I don't know who this guy is but I loved the spin attempt!

I genuinely hope Joe Klein is right and Iraq's improvements are durable.  And contrary to Joe's implication, I don't think, politically, this is something for Democrats to fear.  The better Iraq is doing, the less of an issue it will be in the election.  The less of an issue it is in the election, the more issues like the health care crisis, the mortgage meltdown, inequality, and global warming will come to the fore.  Indeed, the less Iraq dominates the agenda, the more alternative foreign policy visions can emerge, and be tested, and become the new context for the discussion  All that is good for the Left.

Indeed, I occasionally believe that Republicans know that once American troops leave Iraq, the country's need for the Republican Party, at least temporarily, will cease. 

  Of course he wants the war to go away, he says, virtually admitting that this is because the Republicans have been right about it all along.  Take away their "right" positions, he reasons, and Republicans are no longer necessary...at least temporarily.  Like until the next attack.

I have to laugh at the thought that he would write something so transparently true of the liberal program while seemingly proud and unaware that all he is doing it revealing dirty laundry.

Republicans are necessary...but only when there is a war going on.  We may not need them between wars...temporarily...but the country will need them again, some day.

People sometimes say some revealing things inadvertently.  Take this one, reported on The Fix:

Mark Penn, Clinton's pollster and key member of her inner circle, told us the candidate's recent stumbles are a predictable low in the course of a roller-coaster campaign.

"She will come through this period," Penn insisted. "We've been through this kind of period before."

Really?  If you are doing your job, why have they happened?  Why are they still happening?  How many more will happen yet to come?  In an attempt to slough the stumble off as nothing much, routine stuff, you know, aren't you admitting incompetence?  This has happened before, no problem...as if you don't even care?

 


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