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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Dems still don't get it;
   Theoretical foundations of recent Cabal of Dems attacks

At the Lexington Institute, Dr. Loren Thompson published on October 18 a hit list of TEN WAYS IRAQ IS LIKE VIETNAM (AND ONE WAY IT ISN'T). It doesn't take a political genius to finger it as a possible source of some of Leahy's et al factoids when he recently 'celebrated' the 2,000 death of an American soldier in Iraq.


  1. Apples and Oranges are roughly spherical
  2. The color of your standard Apple and Orange is of the 'warm' variant.
  3. Apples and Oranges are 2 to 4 inches in diameter.
  4. Apples and Oranges are fruits.
  5. Apples and Oranges have seeds.
  6. Apples and Oranges are a good source of Vitamin C.
  7. Apples and Oranges are very popular juices.
  8. Apples and Oranges grow on trees.
  9. Apples and Oranges suffer from similar pests and diseases and both industries protect the fruits of their labor similarly
  10. Apples will keep the doctor away and the orange juice industry claims Oranges are heart-healthy.

One difference between Apples and Oranges is that Oranges are from China, while the Japanese claim to grow the best Apples.

I reserve the right to justify similar conclusions about apples and oranges.

And now, for something completely irreverent:
     well, as irreverent as philosophy can get

Reihan Salam, in an article about the burgeoning and bustling life in Montana at the Weekly Standard, made the following comment. Remember, this comment taken out of context has nothing to do with the article. Well, mostly.

When the deck is stacked against you, cheating is pretty much your only recourse.

Amen, Brother!

One of my favorite life-coping strategies is, when presented with either the classic Rock and a Hard Place, Mexican standoff, or even Hobson's Choice; always choose Door Number Three.

When you break the rules that shouldn't be rules in the first place, it confuses them every time.

Federalist Patriot Daily Quote:
   Madison on Diversity

"The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 10, 23 November 1787)

Will Syria retake Lebanon?:
   Syria increases the flow of arms into Lebanon

Syria has withdrawn its forces from Lebanon, but the proxies of Syria and Iran still remain. Fatah Uprising, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hezbollah, all are being rearmed and resupplied through the Syrian border. They have a great deal at stake, and a great deal to lose, in a truly independent Lebanon. Without the oppressive support of the Syrian army and intelligence, there is a growing threat that they will be engaged by a unified Lebanon and will lose their staging ground against Israel.

Syria may not attack directly, but that is what proxies are for.

Will Syria call in their markers?

   Iran threatens to destroy Israel

Port McClellan has started a commentary on the new hard-liner Iranian President's threats to Israel.

My comment:


Israel is calling for Iran’s expulsion from the UN. That is entirely proper.

The US is not backing that call. Nor should it.

The founding principle of the UN is that all nations have a sacrosanct right of sovereignty. As a member enjoying that privilege, no country should be tolerated when it makes such a mockery of it. But casting Iran into the wilderness, unfettered by any global obligations, UN or otherwise, Iran would be even more dangerous. Being isolated from the world is something the mullahs are already comfortable.

But, it is making a mockery of that “irrelevant” institution, isn’t it?

Think about it.

   How the Left Has Lost

Yesterday, Craig Aaron at InTheseTimes.com posted a critique (How the Right Has Won) on the Republican Party and its successes (how do you criticize success??).

His recommendations to the Democratic Party?

Wait for it.

He’ll be waiting a long time...

My rebuttal:


HOW THE LEFT HAS LOST should be the title.

Everything Aaron talks about is exactly why Democrats haven't made any gains in ten years.

The solution will not be to hope “that the masses will wake up and suddenly take an interest in politics,”

No, of course not. Because that is indicative of a Party in denial. In fact, the masses are awake and are flocking to the other party because the Party is 1) asleep, 2) stuck in Back to the Future, 3) fantasizing of past glories, 4) take your pick.

Medicare, Social Security, welfare, all good ideas, in their time. They were infinitely better than what they replaced, because there was nothing to replace.

But they weren't the best and greatest. They are showing their age. Social Security has become any but secure, mortgaging children's futures for their grandparents. Welfare created the permanent (and expensive) "nanny state". Even the other party is afraid to touch the out-of-control Medicare costs.

And to roll out the unions as an example of pure Democratic principles while chortling about gross Republican indiscretions is funny. I guess Aaron isn't old enough to remember the union corruption and links to the underworld in the 60s and 70s.

Most Americans do remember. Especially the union membership. Maybe the recent rendering asunder of the AFL-CIO that we are hearing is an aftershock of intransigent union leadership that (still) isn't listening to its rank-and-file.

hmmm.. Replace "union" with "party" and "AFL-CIO" with "DFL" in that last paragraph, and maybe we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Republicans have sure seen the light.

In these times, the progressive faction of the Republican Party, pioneered by Kemp and Gingrich and personified by the Bushs' "Thousand Points of Light" and "Compassionate Conservatism" has stolen the Democratic thunder. Laugh all you want at George & Son's simplistic phrases, but they are the ones laughing all the way to the White House.

The Democratic Party has got to stop being so conservative in their political actions.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Dems still don't get it:
   Kennedy places his ace

Apologies to Sen. Durbin. Sen. Kennedy gets the "body count" award,

October 25, 2005

(As Prepared for Delivery)

**Fact sheet included FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Laura Capps/Melissa Wagoner (202) 224-2633

Mr. President, as of today, 2000 American soldiers have been killed in combat in Iraq.

Since last January's election in Iraq, we have lost 565 American soldiers. 74 of those soldiers have been killed in October -- an average of three a day. An additional 15,220 have been wounded, and more than 7,000 of whom were unable to return to combat.

The youngest of America's fallen soldiers was just 18. The oldest was 59. Nearly three quarters had not even celebrated their 30th birthday. They came from every state in the nation. This includes 38 soldiers from my own state of Massachusetts.

And it gets worse...

The Dems still don't get it:
   part 3 - Durbin "body counts" for Leahy

nuf said,


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) issued the following statement on the death of 2000 American soldiers in Iraq:

“According to news reports today, 2000 American service men and women have died in the war in Iraq. It is a sad milestone.”

“Words of tribute are in order to honor the sacrifice of these brave men and women and their loved ones. But words are not enough. We owe them leadership and a clear strategy to bring our troops home with their mission truly accomplished.”

“America cannot stand by as we drift into an open-ended long-term commitment in Iraq. We owe these fallen soldiers and all who serve a clear strategy of accountability.”

“The choice is not resolve or retreat. Our responsibility to these soldiers, the more than 15,000 wounded and the 150,000 still in harm’s way is to call on the President to share with our nation a clear path to stability in Iraq and the return of our troops at the earliest possible time.”

“There are some who say we must stay the course in Iraq in order to honor and uphold that sacrifice. I argue to the contrary that we best honor these brave men and women, and the over 15,000 Americans who have been wounded, by setting policies that will reach our goals; giving the Iraqi people their best chance at security, stability, and democracy; and bringing our remaining troops home.”

“Today is not a day to cast blame or question past decisions. Today is simply a day to mourn our dead, to honor their service, and to extend our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to their families. But we cannot put off a debate over the best course for the future.”

I think it is time to start tracking the comments from this Democratic Cabal.

The Dems still don't get it:
   Kerry follows Leahy's suit

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is running with Sen. Leahy in what is beginning to look like a concerted plan by the Democrats to raise the Iraq War issue again.

Here is the Kerry Plan,

To undermine the insurgency, we must instead simultaneously pursue both a political settlement and the withdrawal of American combat forces linked to specific, responsible benchmarks. At the first benchmark, the completion of the December elections, we can start the process of reducing our forces by withdrawing 20,000 troops over the course of the holidays.

The Administration must immediately give Congress and the American people a detailed plan for the transfer of military and police responsibilities on a sector by sector basis to Iraqis so the majority of our combat forces can be withdrawn.

Yep, same claptrap, same Senator, different wars.

These guys just don't seem to be understanding the real lessons of the Vietnam War. Why should the enemy, whether they are the Viet Cong or the Iraqi insurgency, cave in to our military if we are telling 'em,

"Surrender, or we will leave. Oh wait. Surrender! We're leaving now!"

And Kerry's notion of a political solution ignores reality,

We Need A Political Solution:

Our strategy must achieve a political solution that deprives the Sunni-dominated insurgency of support by giving the Sunnis a stake in the future of their country. The Constitution, opposed by more than two thirds of Sunnis, has postponed and even exacerbated the fundamental crisis of Iraq.

Um, has Kerry read the papers today? Three Sunni parties, who have finally realized the failure of their collective "no participation" policy, have joined together to form a Sunni coalition in the face of the upcoming December 15 elections.

Isn't that an adequate political solution that will deprive the Sunni-dominated insurgency of support? And hasn't that been America's goal all along?

So what points are Leahy and Kerry not getting?

Federalist Patriot Daily Quote:
   Protection from, and for, Religion

We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.

George Washington (letter to the Members of the New Church in Baltimore, 27 January 1793)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Dems still don't get it:
   Leahy plays trump, but we're playing chess

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) stumped for the Democratic party line yesterday on the Floor. Leading with their trump Vietnam card, Leahy bemoaned our ignorance and our arrogance as we assumed third world peoples are inferior to the rigors of American intellectualism.

Yes, I am talking about the ugly American syndrome.

Leahy made the astoundingly new revelation that America lost in Vietnam because we didn't understand the Vietnamese mind, and therefore underestimated its potential and cunning. Funny, I thought it was because we underestimated the cunning of the American mind and lost the war on Main Street, USA. I thought we lost the war because political sensibilities (sensitivities??) kept us from exercising that most basic of military principles:

Go for the throat.

(well, actually a little further south, but there are no parental controls on access to this site!).

We all remember, don't we, that in pursuit of the Viet Cong, the political choke chain on the American military strangled us at the Laotian border. Well, maybe everyone except Democrats like the good Senator, who seems to have never learned the value of rear echelons.

Leahy explained to all of us who have forgotten Vietnam that the Vietnamese are basically a monocultural society. Whereas,

Iraq -- a complex country comprised of rival clans, tribes and ethic and religious factions who have fought each other for centuries -- we understand even less.
(honk if you see where this is going).

Conclusion, American foreign policy bungled Iraq even more so.


Leahy laments we were promised a quick war, we were promised democracy would flourish like a desert flower.

Democracy would spread throughout the Middle East. Freedom was on the march.
Wait a minute. The Iraq War was sold as one chapter in the War on Terror. When Bush declared the War on Terror shortly after 9/11, he said this was not going to be a quick war. In fact, he promised it would be long and hard.

Yet, Afghanistan fell within a few months, and after two years of preparations, Iraq also fell in a few months.

So maybe Leahy is dyslexic? Instead, we were warned of the long haul, yet the conflicts thus far have been quick? Perhaps that explains this diatribe??

As far as the flower of democracy, Leahy's memory must be shorter than the life of a fruit fly. Emerging democracies in the past couple years:

  • Afghanistan, done
  • Iraq, new constitution ratified, second round of elections in a couple months
  • Egypt, first elections with more than one candidate
  • Lebanon, Syria kicked out, struggling with that legacy
  • Syria, wait for it...
  • Pakistan, more secular, less Islamic
So, we are still waiting for Iran (who finds itself wedged between two Arabic democracies and is behaving accordingly), Saudi Arabia (dancing on ice), Kuwait and a bunch of smaller states.

Leahy needs a geography lesson. I think he is looking at the wrong continent.

The intrepid Senator goes on to show that we are grossly unwelcome in Iraq,

According to soldiers who volunteered for duty in Iraq believing in the mission and who have returned home, many Iraqis who detest the barbaric tactics of the insurgents have grown to despise us. They blame us for the lack of water and electricity, for the lack of jobs and health care, for the hardships and violence they are suffering day in and day out.

I applaud the Iraqis who courageously stood in long lines and cast their ballots for a new constitution, despite the insurgents’ threats. There are many profiles in courage among the Iraqi people, just as there are in the heroic daily endeavors of U.S. soldiers there.
I guess the Senator is calling the Iraqi people ungrateful ingrates for all we have done for them. Funny, recent Pew polls of Iraqis show overwhelmingly (over 70%) support for an American presence in Iraq, at least in the short term. Even al Jazeera heaps at least as much criticism on current undemocratic Arab regimes (including the late Saddam regime) as they do on Americans.

Where is the Senator getting HIS intel?

Finally, Sen. Leahy just gets silly and disingenuous,

We learned this week that the Administration has even resumed the discredited Vietnam-era practice of measuring progress by reporting body counts.
Yet, he led of this Grand Senate Floor speech with,

And we know that the insurgency is continuing to grow along with American casualties -- 1,999 killed and at least 15,220 wounded, as of yesterday
Do you think his speech just happen to coincide with the Democratic landmark of the 2,000 American casualty? Coincidence in politics?

When pigs fly.

Leahy closed off with this,

The Iraqi people, at least the Shiites and Kurds, have voted for a new constitution, as hastily drafted, flawed and potentially divisive as it may be.

Saddam Hussein, whose capacity for cruelty was seemingly limitless, is finally facing trial for his heinous crimes.

And elections for a new national government are due by the end of the year.

By then, it will be more than two and a half years since Saddam’s overthrow, and we will have given the Iraqi people a chance to chart their own course. The sooner we reduce our presence there, the sooner they will have to make the difficult decisions necessary to solve their own problems.

Our military commanders say that Iraq’s problems increasingly need to be solved through the political process, not through military force. We must show Iraq and the world that we are not an occupying force, and that we have no designs on their country or their oil. The American people need to know that the President has a plan that will bring our troops home.

Once a new Iraqi government is in place, I believe the President should consult with Congress on a flexible plan that includes pulling our troops back from the densely populated areas where they are suffering the worst casualties and to bring them home. Those consultations should begin in earnest as soon as Iraq’s new government is in place.
I don't get what his problem is, then. Unless we are talking 2006 Congressional Elections...

At least he didn't use the 'Q' word.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Viva la free markets!:
   This is why I believe in the free market system

From the NYT Op-Ed column,

Nevertheless, the Manhattan district attorney's office is investigating allegations of overcharging at Scores. To which I say, as someone who has worked in strip clubs, you've got to be kidding - there's no such thing as "overcharging" in this industry.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lebanon's president and the Hariri assassination:
   Interesting, if true

From the NYT,

Early Saturday, Lebanon arrested the first suspect identified in the United Nations report. The suspect, Mahmoud Abdel-Al, a member of the Ahbash Sunni Muslim Orthodox group with close ties to Syria, was detained on a warrant issued by Prosecutor General Saeed Meerza, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press about the matter. The police also seized documents from Mr. Abdel-Al's home.

The United Nations report said that a mobile telephone listed in Mr. Abdel-Al's name had dialed Lebanon's president, Émile Lahoud, minutes before the bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and 20 others. A spokesman for Mr. Lahoud denied that the president had ever been in contact with Mr. Abdel-Al.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

NYT On This Day - October 23, 1983:
   US Marine barracks attack in Beruit, 161 dead

I had signed my enlistment papers 8 days before this.

Beirut Death Toll at 161 Americans

Who in the world is John Yoo?:
   Yoo's new book and flak from the Boston Globe

John Yoo, a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new book, The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11.

I am not really familiar with some of Yoo's ideas, who came under fire for a "torture" memo he wrote while at The Office of Legal Counsel advising the President and the Department of Justice, but a scathing attack by Christopher Shea of the Globe has inspired me to give the book a fair hearing. I would welcome any enlightening comments on Yoo from the legal beagles in the audience.

Shea takes the upcoming book as an opportunity to ridicule Yoo's credibility, while abandoning his own journalistic integrity. Shea does a good job of providing Yoo's point of view, but dismisses it with ad hominem attacks of Yoo's alleged Hamiltonesqe tendencies (all emphasis is mine).

Given his connections to the administration, Yoo's sketch of the presidency will no doubt be interpreted in some quarters as revealing how the Bush White House sees itself in its dreams.

When it comes to foreign policy and the president's role as commander in chief, ''Yoo concludes that for all intents and purposes we have an elected king," says Michael J. Glennon, a professor of international law at Tufts University's Fletcher School, reflecting a common view among left and centrist scholars.


Yoo returns again and again, with something like glee, to President Clinton's flouting of the War Powers Resolution,

Shea's representation of Yoo's views on presidential war powers is mostly fair,

As Glennon's jibe about an ''elected king" hints, Yoo says the Constitution was more influenced by the 18th-century British system than scholars concede. Under the British system, the king ''has the sole prerogative of making war and peace," as the British legal scholar Blackstone wrote, yet Parliament exercised considerable control via the purse strings. ''The sword is in the hands of the British king, the purse in the hands of Parliament," James Madison said during the constitutional ratifying convention in Virginia. ''It is so in America, as far as any analogy can exist."

The 18th-century understanding of ''declaring war," Yoo continues, was different from ours. When Britain declared war on France in 1756, for example, in what became known as the Seven Years' War (or the French and Indian War), the two countries had been fighting in North America for two years already. The declaration, Yoo argues, was a diplomatic notification, not a military decision, telling English citizens, for example, that any communication with the French king was now illegal.

If the framers meant ''make war," but wrote ''declare war," they would be ''very clumsy draftsmen indeed," Yoo writes.

Yet, the only counter to that argument is taken from Curtis Bradley, a professor of law at Duke, who,

points out that George Washington did not have a standing army to order into battle. He needed congressional funding to take the first martial step. He's not sure the Yoo view can apply when presidents wield aircraft carriers and missiles.

I'm not sure I understand that as an effective counter to Yoo's war powers argument. How did current presidents get the authority to wield carriers and missiles already in place? Did Bush pass a tax bill that gave him the authority to build and maintain a standing army? I don't know my Latin, but I am sure there is a phrase that explains that little bit of logical fallacy...

Apples and oranges come to mind, but then, that would only validate, nay, justify, Yoo's efforts to define Constitutional intent when extrapolated to standing armies.

Shea's critique is replete with name-dropping, but without providing an accurate and logical analysis, or justification for his own attacks.

I'm smelling a not-so-hidden agenda here.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

More "Journalistic Integrity":
   Status Quo at the LA Times

In an October 22 article, the LA Times reports,

a top U.S. official for aid to Iraq has accused the Bush administration of rushing unprepared into the 2003 invasion because of pressures from President Bush's approaching reelection campaign.

It isn't until well past the shock and awe of the first couple paragraphs (often called "above the fold") that the paper more fully explains what was said by Robin Raphel, State Department Coordinator for Iraq assistance.

But the combined pressures of politics and military requirements "made us move before we were remotely ready for the post-conflict situation,"

I would think that military requirements would indeed be a powerful factor in, ahem, military operations, no? And political requirements, like 'em or not, must be considered when engaging in operations with serious political consequences, right?

There is also a rather perfunctory comment that the official is a 28-year veteran of the State Department's foreign service and a former assistant secretary of State.

So, the LA Times accurately reported the facts. But facts are merely facts, irrespective of their presentation? Aye, there's the rub.

I have not read the LA Times often enough to know its politics. I don't need to. This is a classic case of twisting a story for circulation impact over journalistic integrity values. Taking pot shots at a controversial Presidency has a higher paper purchase index than taking a jab at someone, who used to be a little higher up the political totem pole, might be a little disgruntled, eh?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Measuring Iraqi Success:
   Soaring Real Estate Prices

Michael Rubin is upbeat about Iraq future. Seems that real estate prices are skyrocketing. As Rubin argues,

When people fear for their future, they invest in gold; jewelry and coins can be sewn into clothes and smuggled out of the country. When people feel confident about the future, they buy real estate.
Iraqi's are buying into real estate, big time.

Thanks to Michael Brandon McClellan at Port McClellan.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Free Political Test!:
   Ok, it is no better than a Parlor Game, but it is somewhat interesting

I have seen over the past couple decades attempts to flesh out the old Left vs Right political spectrum of 18th Century France. There is a web site that does a kind of Myers-Briggs test to determine your political colors in two dimensions.

It is flawed; the creator is definitely NOT a political scientist. One of the more blatant screwups is that the economic spectrum gets the Left/Right designation while the social spectrum is a Authoritarian/Libertarian designation. Yet, an example of the extreme Right pole is labeled Libertarianism and the Libertarian pole is Anarchists.

And what about politics vis-a-vis political evolution vs "fall from grace", or pacifism vs militarism, or social justice vs law of the jungle, or, well, you get the point.

But for IQ/personality/anything test geeks like me, it is a mildly interesting trivia break.

I scored -1.07 and -1.98.

That only proves my point ...

(thanks to luminous beauty, an arch-nemesis, and David, both from InTheseTimes.com)

It's all the Progressives' fault!:
   A little self-flogging to appease their masters

David Sirota, senior editor of InTheseTimes.com and a progressive, flogs himself and all progressives for failing the Democratic Party.

My self-confessed progressive response:

Incredible. Declare falsehoods to be truth and you can prove anything.

The one symptom Sirota fails to mention, the one he suffers from as well, is denial.

(John Kerry's nomination) was the most non-ideological of choices in what we were supposed to believe was the most ideological of races.

John Kerry was losing to Howard Dean, the true ideology of the 2004 race, until Kerry took his cue from Dean and steered his campaign to a much more vigorous opposition to the Iraq War. Kerry didn't start to lead the pack until he co-opted Dean's message. It was only after that, and after Dean's tantrum, that Kerry earned his electability.

In fairness, Iraq may be an exception when it comes to the grassroots. There is undoubtedly a palpable - and growing - core of progressives outside the Beltway who put their desire to see American troops withdraw above their partisan loyalties.

No. No. No. That is the falsehood that is costing Democrats elections. That blatant partisanship is gutting the Party for the second time in three decades. As a strong believer in Bush’s post 9/11 foreign policy, I cheered when the Democratic Party abandoned their traditional issues in favor of taking down Bush on Iraq.

The Party has always had plenty of issues, real issues, to challenge a Bush Presidency. As a previous article, and debate, perversely illustrated, the social policies of the "far right" is Bush's real weakness. But instead of rallying the troops to fight that battle, the Democrats rested on their complacent arses, confident they had already won that battle. Instead, they targeted Bush's strength.

I certainly understand the machiavellian calculations in that. If you cut Samson's hair, the rest is cake.

But, the operators of the Democratic machine vastly underestimated both the instinctive support-the-president-in-time-of-war reaction as well as the more basic fundamentals to the policy. Carp all you want about Halliburton and Bush-Saudi Conspiracy Theories, the American public still wants to see a proud and strong America.

Read the papers over the past 10 years. Read the Op-eds and the Letters to the Editor. There is an underlying frustration and anger with the populous at large, for lack of a better phrase, with elitist Eastern liberalism. That anti-elitism hit new heights in the subsequent criticisms of anti-Americanisms. At a gut level, the populous, right or wrong, began to see the Democratic Party as castrating.

It is no coincidence that the two greatest Republican Presidents in the past 45 years are seen as Western politicians. They must be the greatest; they are so vilified by the Democratic machinery.

(Sirota’s Syndrome) is an affliction that hollowed out much of the Democratic base’s economic and national security convictions.

What is hollowing out that base is a growing perception of the increasing irrelevance of the Democratic Party. In the first gutting, Reagan Democrats left the Party largely on dissatisfaction with the entrenchment of a Party that was more concerned with power than policies. Sirota's syndrome is not a consequence of the Partisan Wars that marked the Clinton presidency, but from an earlier age where rank and file union and party membership were ignored by union and Party leadership.

There is a reason Reagan Democrats were called Democrats.

Even today, labor is spending $80 million dollars fighting Governor Schwarzenegger's Proposition 75 that would require government unions to get the approval of their rank and file membership before spending union funds to fight political battles against requiring union accountability as they spend millions of dollars in political campaigns against union reforms that ..., yadda, yadda, yadda, ad nauseum.

And, after many decades of New Deals and Great Societies, noble efforts to be sure, we are seeing that the implementations of those policies were not perfect. It is the height of progressive hypocrisy to decry "Hands Off!" as reformers attempt to fix social programs that are not delivering the goods. Creating a political base dependent on Democrats for a permanent dole is no different than the corrupt partisan government bureaucracies of 120 years ago.

The second gutting of the Democratic Party did truly start with the Partisan Wars of the 90s. Progressives in the Republican Party, who saw the danger early on, started calling for accountability in social programs. It is not enough to put those in need of a social net on the dole. Welfare is for emergency situations, to give a "leg up" to those economically dislocated by circumstance or chance. What happened, though is that once the Democratic Party broke the glass and pulled the fire alarm, nobody replaced the glass.

What is killing the Democratic Party is that they have indeed forgotten their progressive roots. Picking unwinnable fights, forgetting that progressivism is about fixing things and making them better; this is why progressives like me are leaving the Party.

The Republican Party is not the intrinsic antipode of progressives. Being a progressive is believing in social evolution, working for change that improves peoples lives. The difference between the two major Parties is not of direct opposites; 18th Century French Philosophy (the left vs the right) is limited by the lack of dimensionality. The major poles of the two Parties are on a different axis. The core value of the Democratic Party is progressivism; social evolution. But the Republican’s core value is not about reactionary conservatism. It is about classical liberalism distrusting governments.

When their Party abandons change in favor of outdated solutions that are beginning to show signs of arthritis, when their Party starts to be more concerned with conserving what they have and resists change, progressives start to see the difference between the two parties becoming largely irrelevant.

Progressives can change the world without sucking on the teat of government.

Federalist Patriot Daily Quote:
   The Necessary Independence of the Judiciary

And it proves, in the last place, that liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have everything to fear from its union with either of the other departments.

Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 78, 1788)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Lincoln, Calhoun and the UN's dilemma:
   McClellan's insight into the future

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Iraqi Constitutional Vote:
   Does it matter that many Iraqis don't even want a unified country?

The Iraqis vote on their draft constitution in two days and the big questions are, will it pass and will the Sunni vote, or non-vote, sabotage approval. Much as also been said about the possibility of a Balkanization of Iraq and the subsequence consequence on Middle East power.

But the real question that is not being (seriously) asked is, do the Iraqis really want a unified country?

First, is there really a modern Iraqi identity? The tripartate ethnic, cultural and political divisions of the country has been much discussed, the Kurds in the north, the Shia in the south and the Sunni in the middle. But the Kurds want their own country and will set up shop at first blush. In fact, they already have a de facto country. The Shia, while excited about ruling a country previously dominated by their ethnic cousins, the Sunni, are at best lukewarm. Certainly ruling a whole country is better than a mere part of it, but even ruling a separate Shia state would be more than they have had in a long time.

Only the Sunni would be losers. Isolated politically and culturally from the North, East and Southeast, they also risk losing out on the tremendous wealth of the oil fields, mostly located in Shia and Kurdish dominated territory. But they are the holdouts, threatening chaos if the vote is Nay and their concerns aren't pacified. And Iran is, without a doubt, positioning for an ultimate breakup, regardless of the direction of the vote.

The vote on the draft in two days may say Yea, but don't hold your breath. It seems there is more support for unification outside of the Middle East, than within.

Iranian duplicity and Middle East politics:
   Interesting references from the mind of al Qaeda

At the Weekly Standard, Dan Darling, a counter-terrorism consultant for the Manhattan Institute Center for Policing Terrorism, focuses on one interesting paragraph on page 9 of the al-Zawahiri letter.

And do the brothers forget that we have more than one hundred prisoners - many of whom are from the leadership who are wanted in their countries - in the custody of the Iranians? And even if we attack the Shia out of necessity, then why do you announce this matter and make it public, which compels the Iranians to take counter measures? And do the brothers forget that both we and the Iranians need to refrain from harming each other at this time in which the Americans are targeting us?

Not only is it clear that the Iranians are once again very much involved in stirring up the troubles in the Middle East, but it is also equally clear they are playing both ends against the middle again. The Iranians are using their "custody" of senior al Qaeda officials, something they have never denied, to restrain al Qaeda from interfering with their own Shia interests in Iraq.

Now that we are done bombing Baghdad, maybe it is time to start Tomahawking Tehran.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Text of the Al Qaeda strategy policy letter July 09, 2005

Here is the letter from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi discussing jihad strategy, particularly in the context of Iraq. It was posted on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on October 11, 2005.

My.thanks to Port McClellan for posting the link.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Federalist Patriot Daily Quote:
   Sacred Constitutional Obligation

"The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution, which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all."

George Washington

Monday, October 10, 2005

Bringing out the Big Guns:
   Ziggy takes a pot shot a Bush

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Carter, has written a piece (yet again) criticizing Bush's policy in Iraq.

Now, I have nothing against intelligent, thoughtful criticism. It is a pity that Brzezinski seems to be incapable of it. I could only read the first three paragraphs of his October 9 article in the LA Times before giving up in disgust. Here is my criticism of that third paragraph. Please understand, I have not, and will not, read the whole article. Brzezinski starts his argument on faulty ground. It is not my job to argue his arguments.

That war, advocated by a narrow circle of decision-makers for motives still not fully exposed, propagated publicly by rhetoric reliant on false assertions, has turned out to be much more costly in blood and money than anticipated. It has precipitated worldwide criticism. In the Middle East it has stamped the United States as the imperialistic successor to Britain and as a partner of Israel in the military repression of the Arabs. Fair or not, that perception has become widespread throughout the world of Islam.

1) "has turned out to be much more costly in blood and money than anticipated". C'mon Ziggy, what war hasn't. The justification of the war was not one of counting body bags or bowling for dollars. There are serious and legitimate moral and sovereignty issues here, issues that have been explicitly stated since October 2001. While not strictly an ad hominem attack, Ziggy's logic has that same ring of logical fallacy.

2) "It has precipitated worldwide criticism". Again, the war is not a popularity contest. And the criticism has had their roots more in economic interests and fears of American hegemony than anything else. Chirac, Schroeder, Putin don't speak for the American people. Bush does.

3) "In the Middle East it has stamped the United States as the imperialistic successor ...". I guess Ziggy hasn't seen the Pew polls that indicate a supermajority (more than 70%) of Iraqis and Arabs want the American presence in Iraq, at least for the time being. Even al Jazeera has alluded to American presence as the lesser of two evils, the greater evil being the anti-democratic regimes that still pervade the Middle East, except of course in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ziggy needs to tune into Arab Street thoughts before he starts speaking for them.


Ok, I couldn't resist. I read the rest of the article.

More criticism:

In a very real sense, during the last four years the Bush team has dangerously undercut America's seemingly secure perch on top of the global totem pole by transforming a manageable, though serious, challenge largely of regional origin into an international debacle.

What Ziggy is actually talking about is that Bush took a theoretical, and untested, power and cashed it in for real power. I wonder what Ziggy's favorite philosopher Sun Tzu would say about the impotency of a power that you never intend to use in the first place..

Since before Ziggy's tenure at the helm, America had great potential power to make the world into a free liberal democracy. And, yes, in spite of the chilling effects of the Cold War and the threat of Nuclear Winter, we did make incremental gains towards that laudable goal, a goal enunciated in our history as far back as the Founding Fathers.

Ziggy alludes to this unrealized potential with words like "seemingly secure perch". Seemingly? Ziggy, was American strength all just an illusion? a con game we perpetuated on the world? a big bluff? Did Bush destroy that illusion?

Let me make this simple. Twelve years of Saddam thumbing his nose, a decade of al Qaeda attacks on American interests and American soil, yadda, yadda, yadda; they all called our bluff.

And found out it wasn't a bluff.

What Ziggy advocates is the same old tired containment theory. As long as Saddam didn't get out of hand, as long as oil flowed, Ziggy was more than happy to let Saddam manage his own internal regional issues.

There was a transformation, bigger than Ziggy realizes, or admits to. In the new unipolar world, we found we didn't have to lie down with tyrants anymore. We no longer have to rely strictly on containment or appeasement.

We got a big stick and we ain't afraid to use it.

Ziggy sounds like he thinks we should have just turned our backs on a "challenge largely of regional origin" and ignore the screams of anguish from the victims of torture, rape and murder.

It was a "manageable" situation, but only if you believe the only interest America had in the Middle East was oil. As long as the oil flowed, America had all the time in the world to resolve it through slow patient diplomacy. Saddam was certainly willing to talk.

For 12 years.

Besides, what's a couple hundred thousand lives compared to keeping our hands clean? The Europeans don't have a problem with it.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Gadfly Chronicles - Woes of Nation Building:
   Roasted Phillips is served

Self-described "disenchanted government insider" David Phillips, who draws a fair salary from the Council of Foreign Relations as a CFR Expert, cashes in another pot shot at America's handling of Iraq.

The unpaid Gadfly takes him to task.

Good feeding, here.

Friday, October 07, 2005

   Agent of Democracy

As an American who fully supports our troops and policy in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, I am often dismayed at the anti-American rhetoric that gets reported by al-Jazeera.

As a democrat, my heart soars.

The Wilson Center published an article by Marc Lynch about al-Jazeera and the open political debates that it has mid-wifed. It captures the spirit of democracy, in all its glory and ugliness.

But, my favorite part is a savage rip at Thomas Friedman, news scavenger extraordinaire. I published that little bit separately at my Gadfly Chronicles.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Federalist Patriot Daily Quote:
   The Independence of the Executive

"It is one thing to be subordinate to the laws, and another [for the Executive] to be dependent on the legislative body. The first comports with, the last violates, the fundamental principles of good government; and, whatever may be the forms of the Constitution, unites all power in the same hands."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 71, 18 March 1788)