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The team that America is sending to Germany for the World Cup is the most talented, the most experienced group ever to represent the United States. That said, it would be an upset if they made it out of the preliminary round thanks to our horrible luck in drawing 2 of the top 12 teams in the world as opponents in the first three games.

Ranked 5th in the tournament, Team USA boasts several players who have distinguished themselves on the international pitch as well as a couple of bona fide stars who have made a name for themselves in Europe. Coach Bruce Arena – the longest serving international coach in the competition – has also assembled a strong cast of supporting characters drawn largely from MLS (Major League Soccer) clubs here in the United States.

Gone are the days when the US team was composed mainly of naturalized citizens and college kids. America is now recognized as a legitimate soccer power in the world and the European club teams line up at the doors of our best players, hoping to sign them to contracts that rival those of any professional athlete in the United States.

And things are only going to get better. The jaw dropping skills of several of our younger players – some of whom didn’t make this year’s team – promises that the future of soccer in America is bright indeed and that the center of gravity of the sport may be shifting slowly from overseas toward the United States as far as the talent pool is concerned.

But for this team, the future is now. Featuring an offense with blazing speed and proven scorers, Team USA will be able to outrun almost any opponent they are likely to face. A solid, if unspectacular defense is anchored by one of the finest keepers in the world. And with a mixture of youth and experience, the chemistry of the team may help in overcoming a brutal draw that features games against the 2nd ranked Czechs and 11th ranked Italians as well as the relatively unknown team from Ghana.

In order to advance, America must be able to steal a win from either the Czechs or Italy and a tie with one of those two powerhouses. A win against 48th ranked Ghana should be a given but not much is known of them save their stellar midfielder Michael Essien who helped propel Chelsea to a Premiere League title.. A loss to any of these teams would more than likely finish the American’s chances.

The Americans will be sorely tried in their first match of the tournament against the Czechs who feature a punishing defense along with arguably one of the top 5 players in the world, midfielder Tomas Rosicky. It would have been worth the price of plane fare just to see Rosicky in action whose ball handling and passing skills are mind-boggling. But the Czechs are also limping a bit as they go into action with both their talented strikers nursing injuries and Rosicky himself recently suffering a slight thigh injury in the last 10 days. Even with some of their stars on the mend, the Czechs will give Team USA all they can handle and then some.

The Italians are a different kettle of fish altogether. Unpredictable, emotional, and prone to breakdowns on defense, the Italians nevertheless have to be taken seriously as a contender to take it all. Their high powered offense features a world class playmaker in Francesco Totti who plays for AC Milan AS Roma, one of the great European club teams and a potent pair of strikers in Alessandro Del Piero and Luca Toni.

I actually think that Team USA has a great chance to score a huge upset against the Italians. Even though America is ranked higher, against the better European teams, the USA gets absolutely no respect. It’s been a long time since the USA has beaten a great European side and the Italians are ripe for a fall. Not only are their fans the most rabid in all of Europe with a sports press that makes New York media look like pussycats, but a scandal involving their best league almost cost coach Marcello Lippi his job. Couple that with the usual angst over some talented players that were left off the roster for one reason or another and you have a team that may be in some turmoil as well as having to endure the enormous pressure of sky-high expectations. If the Americans can get a lead and hold it for awhile, we may see the Italians disintegrate (they’ve done it before).

Still, despite some very talented players, the US may be on the outside looking in when the tournament moves to the round of 16. Only two teams will advance from each of the 8 groups and most observers fully expect Italy and the Czechs to move on from Group E. That said, here’s an overview of the US side and their various strengths and weaknesses.


The 1994 World Cup team where Tony Meola virtually carried the US squad against a powerhouse team from Columbia in the second round, giving the US it’s biggest World Cup victory in 50 years, proves how important a good keeper can be in advancing to the later rounds of the tournament. Fortunately for the US, Kasey Keller is every bit as good as Meola and at 36, has the experience so necessary when playing in such pressure packed games. Simply put, he is one of the finest goalkeepers on this or any other planet.


Team USA boasts a rock solid defense anchored by “Steady Eddie” Pope and newcomer Oguchi Onyewu, a huge, intimidating presence on the backline. Some observers believe Onyewu will emerge as an international star in the tournament and he has the physical gifts to do it. At 6’4”, 205 pounds, the 24 year old is lightening fast and very good in the air, able to head out the dangerous crosses on set piece plays where much of the scoring in the tournament will originate. Also watch for the youngster to overlap on offense, streaking down the wings to get in on the play.

At halfback, the US features two more solid and experienced players in Eddie Lewis and Steve Cherundolo. Both have plenty of international experience and Lewis especially is capable of jumping into the play if necessary.

If there is a weakness to the team’s defense, it isn’t on the back line. Coach Arena may surprise us and start an additional defenseman with Pope and Onyewu against either the Czechs or Italy, especially if team Captain Claudio Reyna is unable to go due to injury. But as it stands, the USA backline will be one of its strong points.


Arena has an embarrassment of riches at midfield with 4 world class speedsters possessing superior offensive skills and two reserves almost equally as gifted. The aforementioned Reyna has been a star in Europe for several years while playmaker John O’Brien has made a name for himself in the MLS. Both players are deadly accurate passers, vitally necessary in these matches as the marking gets incredibly tight against the top teams. On the wings, we’re likely to see two fellows with eye popping speed. DaMarcus Beasley has some serious skills and will pressure defenses the entire game with his exciting runs down the right wing. On the left, Bobby Convey proved in the recent World Cup warm up games that he can blow by any defender on the planet.

Waiting in the wings are two more talented players in Pablo Mastroeni and Clint Dempsey. In fact, Arena may start one or both of those men in place of Beasley and/or Convey. Much will depend on what formation the US team will go with. If Arena decides to go with the extra midfielder or a slightly more defensive minded side, Mastroneni may get the nod over Convey. Then if the US falls behind, he can bring Bobby’s fresh legs to bear in the second half.

This is the strength of the US team: Tremendous speed with the endurance of youth to have defender’s tongues hanging out by the end of the match. But along with that speed comes a downside. Both Beasley and Convey need to elevate their defense. They have been known to run themselves out the play to the point that a good counterattacking side like the Czechs could race down the field in odd-man breaks. And against an experienced, talented team like the Czechs, that is just asking for trouble.


Brian McBride and Landon Donovan will most likely see action up front, although Arena has been known to go with 5 midfielders in which case Landon will slip back to the midfield. The US has never had such talented strikers if you include the gifted but youthful Eddie Johnson in the mix as well as another speed demon, Brian Ching. That said, McBride, while spectacular in the air, is not known for being a good finisher. And Donovan usually does much better as a playmaker, roving the midfield looking for space and then driving on goal using his superior one-on-one skills to create chances.

This is a youthful, talented American side who will be tested as no other of our national teams been challenged in the opening round. And it doesn’t get any easier. If they win through to the round of 16, the all-world Brazilian team awaits them.

If it comes to that, a Brazil-USA match up would be the most important soccer game in the history of this country. And man, I just might fly to Germany to be able to tell my grandchildren that I saw it in person.



Paul Mirengoff has a decidedly more sober and realistic look at Team USA than my rather amatuerish and enthusiastic take. He’s making a good case for a more conservative lineup against the Czechs playing what sounds more like a 4-5-1; a formation that Arena used against Mexico in Mexico City and which generated virtually no offense whatsoever.

That said, the US side didn’t have Reyna or O’Brien for that match which led to enormous difficulties in our offense trying to get through midfield with any kind of momentum. Coach Arena walked into that venue – one of the toughest in the world – hoping for the result. What he got was Mexico swarming all over the US for 90 minutes and a 2-0 loss.

Paul also points out that the Czechs are getting a little long in the tooth (especially in the back) and that the Italians sometimes have trouble in the big tourneys due to enormously high expecations. He still doesn’t give the US much chance getting out of Group E and reluctantly, I am forced to agree with him.

NOTE: Actually, Paul appears to be advocating a more traditional 4-4-2 with Donovan paired up front with McBride and Mastroeni playing on the shoulder of the back line rather than a true winger position. That may help slow down Rosicky a bit and give some support to Eddie Lewis who has the speed and toughness but not much experience at left half.

And by the way, for all of you who think that soccer is a wussy Euro-weenie sport…The motto of Team USA is “DON”T TREAD ON ME.”

Sound familiar?

By: Rick Moran at 3:58 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (21)


Allah is reporting that Condi Rice is announcing that the Administration will deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program:

The long and short of it is that the ball’s back in Iran’s court: if, as suspected, they refuse to stop enriching uranium then we’re off the hook for not talking to them directly. We offered, they declined. But here’s the thing: why on earth would she acknowledge Iran’s right to nuclear energy? Presumably that’s a concession to the Iranian people, who have had propaganda to that effect drummed into them for months. But what happens if Iran calls our bluff, suspends enrichment temporarily in order to get us to the table, and then starts enriching uranium again for its “energy” program? She’s already conceded they have the right to do so. On what grounds does she object next time?

Allah asks the correct questions and the answers to all of them is an unsatisfactory “I don’t know.” But the idea that this changes the strategic situation in any way is incorrect. We still have the full range of military options on the table if this Administration or the next feels it necessary to slow down the Iranian bomb program. We still have the option to invade if we’re of a mind to, although God knows what kind of a hornets nest that would stir up in the region.

The only thing that changes, as Allah correctly points out, is that the diplomatic ball is back in the Iranian court. Given the extremely troubling news that Ahmadinejad is not being reined in by the conservative mullahs who actually run the country but is, in fact consolidating his power by continuing his purging of what passes for “moderates” in Iran, it will come as no surprise if talks that would stop the lunatic’s bomb making program go nowhere.

What all this maneuvering comes down to is a very simple, straightforward question: Can we allow the current regime in Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons? If we cannot, then the rope we allow Mr. Ahmadinejad to hang himself with must be very short indeed. In other words, we should not stand for any tomfoolery about stopping and starting an enrichment program that could very well be proceeding along two tracks anyway – a civilian component that is verifiable by the UN and a secret military program that the CIA doesn’t believe exists but that troubling indications have surfaced of such a possibility.

I understand why many would look upon any talks with Iran as a fruitless exercise. But given the perception of the United States around the world – a perception eagerly promoted by left wingers in this country and abroad – that the US is hell bent on blood and conquest, it would assist our efforts, however feebly, to garner some support from states where our friends need the political cover of negotiations in order to support us.

We may end up going it alone if we take action against the Iranian nuclear program. But it would be prudent and wise to do everything we can to prevent such a development by negotiations even if there be a small chance of success. Events themselves might overtake the mullahs and Ahmadinejad which would make any military action unnecessary.

A small chance indeed. But one that we owe to those we will be sending into harms way to protect us.


In contrast to the rambling, insulting, laughably ignorant letter sent by President Ahmadinejad to President Bush that didn’t contain anything resembling a diplomatic proposal, this short statement by Condi Rice shows the DUmmies and KosKids how it’s done:

“To underscore our commitment to a diplomatic solution and to enhance prospects for success, as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table,” Rice says in her prepared text. “We hope that in the coming days, the Iranian government will thoroughly consider this proposal.”

Now would you please shut your yaps about how the Administration “spurned” or “rejected” or “turned down” that lunatic’s offer for peace? That piece of fluff had about as much to do with a diplomatic overture as Barry Bonds legitimately breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record.

By: Rick Moran at 11:03 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (33)

Mensa Barbie Welcomes You linked with Sanctions - Insurgence: Iranian Impasse
Ninth State linked with Breaking: U.S. Agrees to Talks with Iran
Assorted Babble by Suzie linked with Rice: Nuclear Weapons Represents a Direct Threat
The Sandbox linked with U.S. Agrees To Direct Talks With Iran
Stop The ACLU linked with U.S. Sets Conditions for Talks With Iran
The Political Pit Bull linked with U.S. Will Talk To Iran If... Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with U.S. Sets Conditions for Talks With Iran
All Things Beautiful linked with A Bloody Fight For The Integrity Of Iran Ignored By The Media
CATEGORY: Politics

Al Gore is a truly liberated soul.

Bursting the bonds of earthly manners and morals, Gore has transcended his lowly origins as an American politician and has entered the rarefied stratosphere of cultural and political godhood. He is worshipped as a prophet, a doomsayer on global warming, especially in Europe where the secular masses need someone or something to activate their “God Gene” – at least until Sharia law arrives in a couple of decades. Then, our European cousins will get all the “God” they can handle…and then some.

These Euro-weenies nearly swooned in admiration when our transmogrified Al turned up at the Cannes Film Festival – not quite as anti-American as Hollywood but only because the attendees are too busy preening for the international paparazzi and participating in an endless, orgiastic, self congratulatory seance about how clever and beautiful they truly are.

Al was one of the brightest lights on display at this gussied up cattle call thanks to his starring role in the anti-capitalist, anti-globalization movie An Inconvenient Truth. As we all know, there are many “inconvenient truths” in the world including the fact that Al Gore is a solipsistic nincompoop with the brains of a warthog and the personality of a three toed sloth. The glitterati in Europe went ga-ga over the film, largely because, as Gore readily admits, it “speaks truth to power” by spreading propaganda and lies about climate change:

“...I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous (global warming) is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”
(HT: Maggies Farm)

We should actually amend Gore’s admission to “speaking scary lies to frighten the masses.” In other words, the sky may not be falling but if we all sacrifice our first born to Gaia, we may stop it from happening anyway. This went over very well with that segment of the population that longs for the days of horse drawn carriages and using whale oil for indoor illumination. Maybe New Bedford can make a comeback in the coming years as the center for Shamu killing.

Basking in this hagiagraphic halo courtesy of the socialist press, our Al has also demonstrated that he hasn’t forgotten how to trash the United States while on foreign soil – something that he and Jimmy Carter have become so adept at doing that they are now the most sought after anti-American Americans in the world, eclipsing even the long shadows of Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark. Just yesterday, Gore delivered a few brave broadsides at President Bush and, by extension, the United States. Dissing the office he so rightly was denied while proving his cowardice by doing it in Great Britain, Gore gave a curious assessment of what is wrong with the Administration:

Al Gore has made his sharpest attack yet on the George Bush presidency, describing the current US administration as “a renegade band of rightwing extremists”.
In an interview with the Guardian today, the former vice-president calls himself a “recovering politician”, but launches into the political fray more explicitly than he has previously done during his high-profile campaigning on the threat of global warming.

Denying that his politics have shifted to the left since he lost the court battle for the 2000 election, Mr Gore says: “If you have a renegade band of rightwing extremists who get hold of power, the whole thing goes to the right.”

What “thing” Gore is talking about remains undefined. If he is talking about the freely elected government of the United States of America, I daresay someone should sit the former inventor of the internet and model for Love Story down and lecture him on the efficacy of democratic rule. As a man of the left, however, there is never an electoral defeat of liberal ideas. Either the American people are too stupid to realize how truly good and noble their potential liberal masters are or the vote is rigged by evil conservatives and their buddies in giant corporations. Anything else is unthinkable. Why, being rejected at the ballot box because of their loony ideas would be like rejecting peace, love, and unsustainable tax increases.

What is it about being overseas that seems to bring this hatred out in Mr. Gore? Maybe its no fluoridation in the water. Perhaps its the dearth of “chunky monkey” ice cream. Or it could be that Gore just doesn’t have the common decency to keep his mouth shut so that the Anti-American left in Europe won’t have the ammunition to trash the United States and make it harder for the left leaning governments of Europe to deal with us. Having Jimmy Carter running around the world like a global electoral fruit fly, flitting hither and thither with his pronouncements about elections in Venezuela and Iran actually being models of democratic contests is one thing. No one really thinks of Carter as being an American citizen anymore. He has given himself over to the thugs and enemies of freedom so completely, that he has become the third world tyrant’s favorite enabler.

But Gore should know better. Even during the worst of the Clinton scandals, former executive branch employees Bush and Quayle never dared utter the kind of wild, out of control claptrap that passes for political analysis and that is eagerly lapped up by the lickspittle left overseas. Alluding to “renegade right wing extremists” is so over the top, so laughably idiotic that only the simple minded, the deluded, and the certifiably insane actually agree. For in truth, while Bush may be a lot of things (and not all of them flattering), accusing the United States government of being a “renegade band of right wing extremists” under his leadership sounds more like General Sheridan describing the Indian wars of the 1870’s.

Like it or not (and most conservatives don’t like it), the Bush Administration has been a moderately conservative President governing closer to the middle than the left will ever give him credit for. One need only look at his Supreme Court picks to realize that both Roberts and Alito are fully in the mainstream of conservative jurisprudence – a fact that galls liberals to no end since anyone to the right of Ted Kennedy is considered a conservative extremist. And if I mention the words “Prescription Drug Plan” the first thing that comes to your mind should be “statist boondoggle” not “right wing extremism.”

Perhaps we should yank Mr. Gore’s passport and declare him an enemy combatant. That way, he could preach about global warming to the gimlet eyed jihadists at Guantanamo rather than bothering us with his fear mongering and anti-American rants.

At least he’d almost be on foreign soil when he did so.


Dean Esmay points out that Gore also was the first to make comparisons of right wingers with Nazis (“Digital Brownshirts). I guess “renegad right wing extremists” should be considered an improvement then, huh?

Shakespear’s Sister:

He still swears he’s not running. We’ll see. I don’t believe it for a second. I’ve wanted no one as my president besides Al Gore since I was 16 years old; I have always been convinced we needed him—flaws and all—and I’ve never been more sure about that than I am now. And I think he feels the same, whether he’s ready to admit it or not.

Methinks she is trying to give hagiography a bad name.

Joe Gandleman offers some curious analysis:

Has Al Gore stuck his foot in his mouth or has he articulated a view that even some Republicans may be privately saying?

Wha? Run that by me again?

I talk to a lot of Republicans – privately and otherwise – and the idea that this Administration is made up of “renegade right wing extremists” proves that Mr. Gandleman should set the kool aid down on the table very carefully and walk away. Outside of the Lincoln Chafee wing of the Republican party – both of them – there’s nary a Republican soul who thinks this President or this Administration is too “right wing” or “extremist” in any way, shape, or form.

As a genuine right wing extremist (according to my critics, anyway) I can vouch for that.

By: Rick Moran at 9:05 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

:: Political Musings :: linked with To Which We Can Only Reply...

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So you hate the very mention of soccer and will let me know in no uncertain terms in the comments that you are disgusted with me for being so much in love with a game that most Americans find dull, boring, and so…so…EUROPEAN!

Color me unfazed. Soccer is about to take center stage in the sports world and like it or not, our country has a chance – a minuscule one to be sure – to win the World Cup in Germany that starts next week.

Before giving an overview of the team and our opponents for the first round, let me tell you why I love soccer and why even if you’re a casual observer, you too can enjoy the matches.

Like many of you, prior to 1980, I hated soccer. I saw nothing exciting about a game that featured players apparently running around aimlessly, kicking and heading the ball to no obvious effect save killing time. Low or non-existent scoring meant that the game held no attraction for us Americans who were used to high scoring basketball or football games (although when you think about it, a 17-14 football game translates to a soccer score of 3-2).

All that changed with the arrival in Washington D.C. of Johann Cruyff.

Cruyff was named “European Player of the Century” in 1999 and was Player of the Year in Europe 3 times during the 1970’s. By the late 1970’s and early 80’s, the North American Soccer League (NASL) was searching for established stars to fill out its rosters of also-rans and American college kids. They ended up importing Cruyff (Washington Diplomats) along with the great German striker Franz Beckenbauer (New York Cosmos), and the legendary Irish winger George Best (San Jose Earthquakes) in order to put some fannies in the seats as well as teach the Americans what the game was really all about.

The trio didn’t disappoint. Displaying jaw dropping skills (even though all three were fading toward the end of Hall of Fame careers), they electrified crowds across America. Alas, they could not manage the herculean task of breaking through the American sports muddle in order to elevate soccer to major league status. Many would argue that this has yet to happen, although interest in the game itself has never been higher.

Of the three European stars, Cruyff stood out by virtue of his all-around skills on both offense and defense. And watching the aging legend, you began to appreciate that soccer is much more complicated than it might appear at first blush. There is beauty in its intricacies. What fans refer to as “the build up” can be exciting in and of itself as the offense works the ball around the midfield area looking for an opening. The pinpoint passing and footwork of players as they seek to control the ball and keep it from defenders can be a sublime exercise. And then, the long ball delivered right on the foot of a speeding winger or flashing striker, the ball traveling 30, 40, even 50 yards perfectly leading the player and perhaps resulting in “a chance.”

Cruyff was pure magic. He could do things with a soccer ball that I didn’t think possible. Time and again the crowd would “ooh” and “ahhh” as the star’s lithe body would deceive some poor schmuck of a defenseman and Cruyff would speed past the poor lad is if he wasn’t there. Featuring the ability to change speeds and direction while working the ball with his feet or “dribbling,” Cruyff had the best vision of any player I’ve ever seen. He knew instinctively where his teammates were on the field and would inevitably deliver a perfect pass that would send the player in on goal for a chance. Not blessed with a particularly strong leg, his shots nevertheless would be placed on goal exactly where he wanted them. What the ball lacked in speed coming off his foot, it made up for with an uncanny knack of finding the back of the net.

Attending a Washington Diplomats game out of boredom, I was almost instantly hooked. And therein lies the challenge for American soccer in that like hockey (in which it resembles in other ways as well), soccer is a game best seen in person – or, failing that, in high definition. Being able to see the total field gives one an appreciation for the nuances of the offense as well as the teamwork of the defense.

I don’t expect any of this to change anyone’s mind about soccer. But if you’re an agnostic about the game, I would strongly suggest you tune in to the World Cup matches on ESPN and ESPN 2. Watching the finest players in the world playing against each other, you just may walk away with a new appreciation of the game and its ability to both entertain and enthrall you.

Not surprisingly the national teams reflect the basic characters of their country in some ways. One of the favorites, host country Germany, is methodical in its offensive approach while featuring players who are brilliant technical students of the game. Another contender is Great Britain. The Brits play a scrappy, up tempo game that features some of the most pugnacious characters in Europe.

The French (my long shot favorite to win it all), are stylishly aggressive and feature some of the most skilled players in the world. And yes, they tend to be haughty bastards on the field.

Spanish club soccer is probably the most exciting in the world thanks to many outstanding players imported from South America and Africa. And their national team isn’t half bad either as they play a rollicking kind of up tempo game that features extraordinarily skilled one-on-one players.

And always in the front of the world soccer pack is Brazil. Blessed with players of enormous skill, speed, and technique, the Brazilians are simply awesome to watch. When they play as a team, they cannot be beat. But with so many international stars and so many gigantic egos, they also can disintegrate right before your eyes. Even then, they can beat all but a handful of the best teams in the world.

Tomorrow, I will profile the American team and analyze US opponents in the first round, assessing our chances to advance to the round of 16.

By: Rick Moran at 11:30 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

In Training linked with U.S.A.! U.S.A!
CATEGORY: Politics

Almost unthinkable six months ago, the improving prospects of a Democratic takeover of the House and perhaps even the Senate has many observers trying to gauge what the loss of power for Republicans would mean in the short term as well as how such an event might impact the Presidential election in 2008.

First of all, I feel compelled to point out that we are still five months away from the election, an eternity in politics. As such, prognosticating the results can be compared to trying to predict the weather 100 years from now. This fact doesn’t seem to stop Al Gore from predicting doomsday so I’m going to put my two cents in on what a Democratic House might do both institutionally and legislatively.

As far as the Democrats chances, at this point you would have to say they have a 1 in 3 chance of being successful in capturing the 15 seats necessary to take over the House while their odds are considerably less in winning the 5 seats it would take to force the Senate to change hands. The Republicans have several chances to pick up Senate seats that will offset some of their losses, making a Democratic takeover of the upper house a longshot indeed. Only a seismic shift in the way Americans view government would give the Democrats that kind of victory, something that no poll is suggesting. In fact, many bedrock Democratic ideas are still wildly unpopular in the country – a fact that may turn out to be the saving grace for Republicans in the end.

That said, there is a general feeling of disgust in the country that goes far beyond any negative feelings people have toward George Bush. In fact, if the Democrats persist in trying to make the election into a referendum on Bush, the Republicans would probably still hold on to power in the House. This is because such efforts usually fail. It failed for Republicans in 1998 as it failed for Democrats in 1982 when President Reagan’s approval numbers were in the upper 30’s. The only recent success of such a strategy occurred in 1974 when Democrats gained 52 seats in the House running against Nixonian corruption.

But Americans are restless with incumbents who appear to place themselves in a superior position to the people they purport to represent. The various scandals involving both Democrats and Republicans reinforce that notion with Republicans taking more heat because there are simply more of them.

What this leads to is an increase in the number of House races that are placed in the “competitive” column rather than being considered “safe.” And if the Democrats are smart and can choose which races gives them the best opportunity for a pick-up, they can target resources and perhaps tip the balance in enough of the newly competitive races to bring them victory.

To be sure, most analysts including Evans-Novak, Charlie Cook, Stan Greenberg, as well as pollsters like Rasumussen believe that in order for the Democrats to succeed, just about every seat that is seriously “in play” would have to break for the Democrats on election day. At present, the Democrats have identified 22 such seats and appear to be ready to sink most of their financial and organizational resources into those contests. Considering that Republicans have a chance to pick up at least 5 and perhaps 7 open and competitive seats of their own, one can see why despite all the talk about the Democrat’s large lead in the so-called “generic ballot” for the House, their chances for a takeover remain much less than 50-50.

If the Democrats were to take control of the House, there would, of course, be massive changes ahead. As the Republicans played parliamentary tricks to increase their advantage in Committees, I would expect the Democrats to do the same. This would mean that even though the Democrat’s majority would be razor thin, they would pack Committees with much larger majorities – especially on vital Committees like Ways and Means and Armed Services. I would also expect Democrats to play fast and loose with how floor votes were conducted as well as imitating Republicans in the way that amendments could be offered to bills under consideration. In short, all the the parliamentary shenanigans that Republicans have used over the past decade to maximize their narrow majority will come back to haunt them institutionally on the House floor and in the Committee rooms.

And in those rooms, we will have a parade of Bush aides answering the dozens of subpoenas that many Committees and Sub-Committees will be issuing in conjunction with enough investigations to keep the press and the Democrats busy for years. Both current Minority Leader Pelosi and ranking Judiciary Committee member Conyers swear that they will not initiate impeachment proceedings against the President. This is a crock. Their investigations of the executive branch will inevitably lead them to advancing one or more of their conspiracy theories about Iraq that will almost certainly result in the full House voting to initiate impeachment hearings in the Judiciary Committee. I would predict that the Democrats will give themselves a comfortable majority in that Committee – enough to quickly vote out one or two articles of impeachment by next summer.

As for legislation, forget it. Any Democratic initiatives on health care are doomed to failure. They may seek to strengthen some environmental legislation like the Clean Air Act as well as address global warming with CO2 emission standards – both may pass but probably vetoed by the President.

Minimum wage legislation would get a boost as well as – more veto fodder for Bush. A roll back of the tax cuts would also be attempted (if I were in charge of White House stationary supplies, I would make sure to lay in good supply of veto pens). An attack on some other pet Bush initiatives like No Child Left Behind and the Prescription Drug Plan may succeed in that Bush might agree to some necessary alterations as a compromise.

And unless significant progress has been made in Iraq by next summer, I have no doubt that the Democrats would seek to pull a Viet Nam and try to cut off funding for our operations there. At the very least, they will seek to gain control of the conflict in some way by using the power of the purse strings.

So much for “the unitary executive.” I don’t imagine we’ll be hearing much from our leftist friends about the “balance of power” between the executive and legislative branches as Congress seeks to usurp the executive’s authority on any number of matters.

Would anything good come of a Democratic takeover of the House? Perhaps by 2008, it would make people long for Republicans being back in control – at least, that appears to be one aspect of the so-called Tapscottian strategy (named after Heritage fellow and blogger Mark Tapscott) that gives Republicans a reason to stay home this November. Mark is a very smart fellow, but this is stupid. Without the “culture of corruption” to run against, the rules of incumbency would reassert themselves and even Democrats in marginally Republican districts would be enormously difficult to unseat.

Actually, Republicans would be wiser to run against the “culture of investigations” that the American people are much more likely to tire of – especially when it turns out that most of these investigations will be fishing expeditions that uncover little in the way of real corruption and instead show Democrats to be petty and spiteful politicians. To my mind, that would resonate far more with voters than any grand strategy that envisions Republicans riding to the rescue as Democrats trash the country.

One thing for sure; a Democratic victory in 2006 will make the Republican Presidential race very interesting indeed. Do the Republicans work to nominate a true blue conservative? Or do they try and split the difference in the electorate by nominating a Guiliani or even a McCain? I think that a Democratic victory in 2006 will weaken conservatives and allow for the nomination of a Guiliani or even a Romney as more moderate forces successfully blame stay-at-home conservatives for a 2006 election debacle.

Stranger things have happened in politics.

By: Rick Moran at 7:38 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

Bogus Gold linked with A Democratic Win in 2006 - What Would It Mean?
CATEGORY: War on Terror

The Marines who took part in what the military itself is calling the “unjustified killing” of civilians at Haditha last November may as well plead guilty and throw themselves on the mercy of the court.

Better yet, why bother with a trial at all? John Murtha has them tried and convicted already and has announced that a cover-up took place and that the incident is “worse than Abu Ghraib.” And the netnuts, whose skepticism about everything the military says about Iraq seems to have magically disappeared overnight, are trying to compare the 24 civilians who may have been executed by as few as 4 Marines with the more than 240 civilians who were massacred by an entire company in Viet Nam at My Lai. We can forgive them their wild exaggeration because, after all, their hearts are in the right place, even if the facts regarding Haditha are still hidden from everyone. Those facts include the other side of the story, which, if you’re a liberal, isn’t as important as using the incident to reveal some “larger truth” about America and the war. Not exactly clear what that truth is quite yet but give them time, they’re still working on it.

It may very well turn out that the Marines are guilty of unspeakable war crimes and deserving of the harshest punishment imaginable – death by firing squad. Then again, it may turn out that all is not as it appears on the surface and that other mitigating factors will be revealed that could alter our perception of the event. The point is we just don’t know. And this makes all the handwringing on the right and gloating on the left a little hard to understand – especially when one considers the fact that in the past, Iraqis in insurgent strongholds like Haditha have been notoriously inaccurate about relating events surrounding military actions.

Are we getting the whole story from the “eyewitnesses” in Haditha? In fact, if you read media stories of the events that tragic day, one is left with the distinct impression that much of the information comes to us via hearsay – someone is telling a story of what happened based on a story told to them by an eyewitness (we think). Remember that the military, for whatever reason, didn’t begin this investigation until 4 months after the events took place. Is it possible that at least some of the lurid details that have leaked out are incorrect?

Holding one’s condemnation until more facts are revealed is not denying that the incident took place. We used to call this “common sense” – that is, before such silly notions were dispensed with by bloggers who have acquired psychic abilities that enable them to see into other men’s souls not to mention glean details that are unavailable to the rest of us. US military investigators experience with Iraqi eyewitnesses has been extraordinarily uneven, to put the best possible face on it. Remember Guiliana Sgrena, the kidnapped Italian “journalist who claimed tanks fired on her car killing the Italian agent who helped free her? The Iraqi driver swore he was only going 20 MPH when approaching the checkpoint. An investigation revealed he was going 50 MPH. Was the driver lying or was he simply wrong?

The incident I described in my post yesterday at Ishaqi where Iraqis claimed that 11 Iraqis were murdered by US soldiers contains bloodcurdling “eyewitness” accounts of the soldiers executing the Iraqis in cold blood. There are even photographs of the dead at the Tikrit morgue as well as statements from Iraqis that all of the dead, including children, died of gunshot wounds to the head.

The later investigation revealed that insurgents used some civilians as human shields as the Americans moved in and that some civilians died when the house caught fire. It is believed that a few of the insurgents escaped, executing other civilians as they fled.

The fact is, Ishaqi is an insurgent hotbed and some of those statements may have been the direct result of an al Qaeda in Iraq disinformation campaign carried out by sympathizers. And here we have a similar situation in Haditha, a town that has been in the grip of insurgents since the war began. Who do we believe? Who do we trust? Do we automatically take what is told to us by locals whose brothers, fathers, or relatives may be part of the insurgency?

Clearly something happened in Haditha that military investigators believe constitutes a war crime. But until we start to get leaks from the other side of this story, or until we hear what the Marines believed was going on in open court, I prefer to withhold my guilty verdict and instead, pronounce myself troubled about both what the Marines did to civilians and what higher ups may have done to the truth.


Time Magazine is reporting that some of the Marines who took part in the massacre are rolling over on their fellow Marines:

A military source in Iraq says the men of Kilo Company stuck by their story throughout the initial inquiry, but what they told the first military investigator raised suspicions. One of the most glaring discrepancies involved the shooting of the four students and the taxi driver. “They had no weapons, they didn’t show hostile intent, so why shoot them?” the military source says. Khaled Raseef, a spokesman for the victims’ relatives, says U.S. military investigators visited the alleged massacre sites 15 times and “asked detailed questions, examined each bullet hole and burn mark and took all sorts of measurements. In the end, they brought all the survivors to the homes and did a mock-up of the Marines’ movements.” As the detectives found contradictions in the Marines’ account, “the official story fell apart and people started rolling on each other,” says the military source. (HT: Michelle Malkin)

Needless to say, it appears the investigation has progressed past the point of local eyewitness accounts and is now focusing on actual discrepancies in statements made by the Marines involved.

Just as importantly, it appears that a cover-up occurred that goes up the chain of command to at least the battallion level. It is my understanding (and someone correct me if I’m wrong) that battallion commanders have at their disposal funds that they can disburse for reconstruction but that in this case, appear to have been used to compensate victims’ families of the massacre. If true then the nature of the attack on civilians that day was probably falsified at almost the highest levels of command.

Is the war effort going to be further undermined because of the actions of 13 out of the hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women who have sacrificed so much, given so much, endured so much in this cause? Can the lickspittles who couldn’t give a good goddamn about the Iraqi people or our military and who only want to hang George Bush and see this incident as another way to attack their political enemies be allowed to make Haditha a code word for failure?

Not if I have anything to say about it.


Many thanks to all those who pointed out the double negative in my last paragraph above. I have changed the wording from “be prevented from making ” to “be allowed to make.”

Now it makes a little more sense – but I hope my intent was clear nonetheless.

By: Rick Moran at 8:51 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (33)

A Rose By Any Other Name linked with Let Them Do Their Job
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This post originally appeared on May 30, 2005

Congressman John Logan was angry. His party, the Democrats, had just lost the election of 1860 to Abe Lincoln and the Republicans. But his opposition to the fire eaters of the South who were agitating for secession had incurred the wrath of men who just recently had called him a “son of the South.” In a speech on the floor of the House, Logan warned his Southern colleagues that if they persisted in their folly, the union would crush them. He returned to his district and gave a speech at Marion, Illinois that today is widely seen as helping keep that vital part of Illinois – “little Egypt” – loyal to the Union.

Resigning from Congress, he was one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers that fought on the Union side during the war. Most of these political officers were a disaster. Benjamin Butler, for instance, was a Massachusetts Democrat whose ineptitude as a soldier was surpassed only by his incompetence as an administrator. While overseeing the military occupation of New Orleans, Butler issued the infamous “General Order #28” that stipulated that “any female shall, by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation.”

Other political generals were equally unfit for command and ended up costing thousands of lives because of their incompetent leadership. But not so John Logan.

Logan organized a regiment of volunteers and was named a Colonel. Immediately distinguishing himself on the field of battle, Logan made it his business to study the art of war. Attached to the Army of the Tennessee, General Grant recognized Logan’s leadership ability and promoted him to General. He played a key role in the victory at Raymond, Mississippi that cleared the way for Grant’s march to Vicksburg and eventual capture of that vital city.

When Grant moved North to take command of the Union armies, Sherman, who had nothing but disdain for political generals, took over the Army of the Tennessee. But after seeing Logan in action during the Battle of Atlanta, Sherman was impressed enough to give Logan command of the entire left wing of his army on its march to the sea. Again, Logan distinguished himself as he fought off whatever resistance the South could throw at Sherman as he devastated the countryside.

Popular with the men under his command, Logan was a rarity – a commander the men could trust. They sensed his concern for their welfare as Logan made it a habit of visiting the company mess to taste the food himself. If he found it inadequate, he’d dress down the company commander and order him to fix the situation. Usually it was something simple like changing cooks or cleaning the cooking pots once and a while. In addition, Logan made sure the men under his command were properly supplied with shoes, blankets, and other necessities that kept the men comfortable during winter months.

Logan’s concern for his men was evident after the war as well. Elected to Congress again in 1866, Logan took part in the first memorial day observance in Illinois. It’s thought that Logan became especially interested in the issue of a decoration day for the nation following a gesture by the women of Columbia, Mississippi who, during a remembrance for the dead, placed flowers on the graves of both Union and Southern soldiers. Logan had fought with Grant at the battle of Columbia and remembered well the hatred of civilians toward the Union Army. Horace Greeley wrote a famous editorial about the Columbian women and Francis Miles Finch wrote a beautiful poem for the Atlantic Monthly entitled “The Blue and the Grey.”

Logan’s popularity with the men paid off when he was named Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). In 1868 he issued his famous general order that designated May 30th as Decoration Day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Because of Logan’s leadership, the GAR grew into the most influential voting bloc in the Republican party. For more than 30 years, no Republican could get the Presidential nomination without the support of the GAR. At it’s peak, more than 400,000 veterans of the civil war were members. Their presence during parades and remembrances of that war became a source of inspiration to an entire generation of American historians and writers.

Logan would go on and be elected Senator and even be nominated on the 1884 Democratic ticket for Vice President. He was a strong advocate of public education and served on the Committee for Military Affairs. When he died in 1886, he lay in state in the Rotunda of the Capitol. Thousands of tearful veterans filed past his coffin to pay their last respects to the man they nicknamed “Blackjack.”

Some historians have taken a less than charitable view of Logan’s motivations for initiating Decoration Day. They point out that Logan probably used the holiday to promote his own political career. His bid for the Senate in 1871 played up his role in boosting the holiday and he never failed to remind audiences of his service in that regard.

However, Logan also wrote a loving tribute to his men in a book that came out after his death entitled The Volunteer Soldier in America which was written partly in response to U.S. Grant’s autobiography that criticized the performance of volunteers during the war.

John Logan didn’t come up with the idea of Memorial Day. But his generous inclusion of Southern dead in his General Order authorizing Decoration Day was a magnanimous gesture that helped heal the wounds of that conflict and bring us together as a nation.

It might not be a bad idea this Memorial Day to take a page from our forefathers and recognize that those on the other side of the debate of the War in Iraq mourn our losses as well. For this one day, let us be united in recognition of the service these brave men performed and the fact that no matter what you believe, they have given that “last full measure of devotion” to a grateful nation.


My special friend Romeocat has a beautiful Memorial Day post filled with pictures of her recent trip to Washington, D.C. Special attention is paid to the World War II Memorial, an emotional place for her since her father served on Wake Island during the war.

A great Memorial Day A/V treat.

By: Rick Moran at 6:36 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

CatHouse Chat linked with Shrugs, BluMemorial Day, 2006
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I must confess to having a secret admiration for those protesters who willingly get themselves arrested in order to make a statement of defiance against the war as well as standing up in a very public way for what they believe in.

Some may call them traitors and perhaps, in the strictest interpretation of the law, they may be considered as such. I know that in another time, a less tolerant era, they would face considerable jail time. Even today, those who have dedicated their lives to protesting our stockpile of nuclear weapons have faced jail terms up to 18 years for some serious infractions at top secret missile sites. We don’t have to agree with these people to admire their sense of purpose and steadfast adherence to their own set of principles. In fact, we can and should vigorously condemn their myopia and stupidity. But that shouldn’t lessen our respect for their sincerity.

Others may object to my romanticizing the activities of these people but in truth, they follow in the footsteps of a long line of principled Americans who believed so strongly that their government had lost its way that they were willing to disobey the law and, just as importantly, accept the consequences of their disobedience by going to jail. Civil disobedience like this takes true courage. Perhaps not the same kind of courage exhibited on the battlefield but nevertheless a kind of courage that recognizes the fact that doing what is right will entail a personal cost. For the soldier, it may mean his life. For the anti-war protester, or the civil rights advocate, or the anti-apartheid demonstrator, it may mean the loss of liberty and the shame of prison.

The motivations of those who get themselves arrested these days is certainly a mixed bag. This group, for instance, seems to be made up of some of our scruffier peace-loving, anarchist brethren whose reasons for getting thrown in the slammer may revolve more around the fact that one is able to procure “3 hots and a cot” rather than any grand, anti-globalization crusade. At the same time, there appear to be many citizens who are dead serious about their beliefs and are willing to risk injury and jail time to bring public attention to them.

Selfish or sublime, the motivations of this subset of anti-war activists stands in stark contrast to the lazy, loud, insufferably arrogant rantings of the netnuts who talk a good game but refuse to put their hides on the line when other, more courageous souls run all the risks. These are the same goofs who continue to insist on calling their opponents “chickenhawks” while ironically exhibiting true cowardice by sitting safe and secure behind their little keyboards, ranting and raving about evil George and the Neocon wars of conquest, with the full knowledge that their execrable, rambling screeds are protected by both American tradition and the Constitution of the United States. In short, they have as much chance of going to jail for what they write as I do of winning the Miss America title.

Instead of thousands or tens of thousands of these “activists” (a misnomer if ever there was one unless one were to include watching Keith Olberman as anti-war activism rather than the cruel and inhuman torture it should be defined as), peacefully protesting on a daily basis, getting themselves arrested for blocking traffic in and out of military bases or chaining themselves to the White House fence or gathering in front of the Pentagon, all we get out of them is talk, talk, talk, and more talk.

Hint to netnuts: Activists are supposed to, you know, engage in “activities” not sit at a computer spitting out incoherent rants that few people outside of the digital asylum inhabited by your ideological compatriots ever read. Why not get up off your overly ample posteriors and do something about ending the war rather than simply whining like the spoiled brat, upper middle class sloth brains you appear to be?

Being smug, self-righteous, and cowardly will not end the war in Iraq in your favor (i.e. America losing). Yes, a large majority of Americans hate the way Bush is handling the conflict. And a majority of Americans believe that the war was a mistake. But you’ll never get American troops to come home until you start clogging the jails of this country with protesters who willingly break the law and are equally willing to take the consequences of prison time in order to achieve their goal. About the only inconvenience you’ve suffered in your “activism” is in missing episodes of MTV’s Pimp My Ride. Let me tell you, that just won’t get it done.

This is why you are held in such contempt by most of us. It would be one thing if you backed up your bluster with concrete citizen’s action. But your simpering, sniveling, hateful missives only serve to make you a target of derision and disapprobation – the fate of those who posit empty headed platitudes instead of directly acting on your beliefs.

Last year, I jokingly referred to the community of faux activists who were backing Cindy Sheehan’s camp out in Crawford without actually joining her as “chickendoves:”

You’d think with all the ink spilled and pixels filled with Cindymania that there would be thousands of lefties down there, screaming their rage and anger at Bush for not doing what they want – which is basically roll over and die.

What’s the matter? Don’t have the courage of your convictions? Don’t want to camp out under the broiling west Texas sun and suffer for the cause? Is the issue of war and peace so unimportant to you that you’re not willing to leave your families, you jobs, all the comforts of home and endure the danger of tripping over a camera cable or getting hit by a speeding satellite truck? Are you afraid you’re going to get poked in the eye by a wayward reporter’s pencil? Does the prospect of being in such close proximity to a bunch of tobacco chewing, bible reading, shotgun toting, red state goobers give you the cold sweats?

The answer was apparently yes. Sheehan never had more than a couple of hundred activists join her at the Bush ranch. All the more reason to start asking serious questions about the commitment of people to “peace” when they fail to show the courage of their convictions by standing up and being counted when the roll is called and the tocsin sounds for the kind of action that would mark them as true “warriors for peace.”

Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.


As if on cue, Darksyde at Daily Kos has a “Memorial Day” post up that criticizes those conservatives and Republicans who never served in the armed forces.

This from a guy whose closest brush with standing up for his convictions that risked anything except contracting Carpel Tunnel Syndrome from sitting on his ass, typing away at his keyboard was watching an episode of Judge Judy.

How much courage does it take to call people names while a war that you purport to hate more than anything (except maybe George Bush) rages on with Americans and Iraqis dying and being maimed without you lifting a finger to oppose it?

Calling political opponents chickenhawks may be emotionally satisfying – if you happen to have the maturity of a 6 year old. But when it comes right down to it, you are all fakes, phonies, and hypocritical cowards who would let George Bush take the United States into dictatorship and who don’t have the courage of their convictions to protest this war en masse in order to put the kind of pressure necessary on the Administration to bring this war to a close.

What kind of a patriot sits behind a keyboard and writes about the country slipping into a dictatorship without getting up off your fat behind and doing something about it – even picking up a gun if necessary? Your words are meaningless. If you are really serious about this dictatorship business, what the hell are you people doing sitting at home?

I guess it’s true. Liberals really don’t love their country as much as conservatives do. Because I don’t care how old I was, if I thought for one second that a President, regardless of party, was trying to establish a dictatorship, I would be carrying out some kind of direct action – even if I was alone. And that’s the difference between liberals and conservatives; the left are intellectual cowards who don’t have the guts to do what is necessary to act on their beliefs.

For a little less emotional response (and one more devastating), please see Mark Coffey’s excellent post quoting Hitchens on the chickenhawk criticism.

By: Rick Moran at 11:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

CATEGORY: Government

Chicago, the birthplace of Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Wards, Marshall Fields, and a host of other retail department or “Big Box” stores is considering a law whose effect would be to put a great big sign up at the city limits disinviting big retailers from doing any more business in “The City That Works.”

The law – currently backed by 33 of the 50 members of the Moscow…er, Chicago City Council – would require stores that have at least 75,000 square feet and $1 Billion in annual sales to pay employees $10 per hour plus $3 an hour in benefits.

“This is an effort to try to preserve the middle class,” said Joe Moore, an alderman from the North Side who sponsored the measure. Mr. Moore called the notion that it would drive retailers out of the city “hogwash.”

Mr. Moore is probably correct. The idea that retailers, already doing business in Chicago as a result of the sweetheart deals that lured them here, would leave is wrong. But what retailer in their right mind would open another store in Chicago, having to pay their employees approximately $3 per hour more in hourly wages plus another $3 an hour in mandated benefits than they would have to pay a couple of miles down the road?

David Vite, president and chief executive of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, tried to inject some sanity into the discussion:

[H]e thought the state would block such an ordinance and that it seemed unconstitutional because it would discriminate against some businesses. “To suggest that someone who is a janitor in a retail store should get paid more than a janitor at a bank doesn’t make any sense,” Mr. Vite said.

C’mon, David! This is the Chicago City Council we’re talking about here! Who said “making sense” had something to do with anything that august, albeit laughably corrupt body has ever done. Especially since the originators of this entire cockamamie scheme – lawyers for something called The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law – see nothing wrong with imposing a little economic Sharia law on high profile businesses who have already received enormous tax breaks and other goodies from this same City Council for opening stores in the first place.

But Jennifer Sung, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, which helped draft the proposal, said the measure would withstand challenges.

Ms. Sung said courts had ruled that distinctions could be made among industries if there was a rational basis for doing so. She also said that Illinois had granted local governments broad powers to pass regulations to promote a city’s health and welfare.

Similar legislation has been introduced in Washington, D.C., and discussed in New Jersey. Lawmakers in Maryland; Suffolk County, N.Y.; and New York City have passed laws requiring certain large employers to provide health care benefits for workers, but none of those laws have a wage component.

It’s no secret that in order to get most of these big box retailers to build and open their doors in many areas of the city, the City Council granted generous tax breaks and other sweeteners like infrastructure improvements, all so that the thousands of jobs created by these employers could be filled by city residents. How would it look if Wal-Mart up and abandoned the city as a result of being told how much it has to pay its employees?

“Don’t let me be the experiment,” said Emma Mitts, the alderwoman in the poor and mainly African-American neighborhood of Austin on the West Side, where the city’s first Wal-Mart is scheduled to open this year. “Not at a time when my community needs these jobs so badly.”

Wal-Mart has apparently assured the city that it plans to go ahead with the store opening regardless of what the wage situation might be.

But the shortsightedness of this proposal can be found not only in how it will affect the future of business development in Chicago, but in how it will affect the buying habits of the big retailers who already are purchasing most of their inventories from other countries. Wages are one of the only costs a retailer can control. By taking that decision out of the company’s hands and placing it in a governmental body, you force the retailer to cut costs elsewhere in order to maintain the razor thin profit margin at the store level that allows it to remain open. And where you cut those costs is in inventory – cheaper and less of it. Cheaper inventory usually means cutting off American suppliers and buying overseas thus resulting in a further erosion of our industrial base.

The debate over a “working wage” and a “living wage” will eventually be settled in favor of the worker as these things usually are in America. The question will be after that happens is how many jobs there will be to fill those “living wage” positions? Unless there is a concurrent requirement that company’s maintain the size of their work force as well as paying a “living wage,” there will be nothing to prevent employers from simply reducing their work force in order to maintain profitability.

The result – fewer jobs, a further deterioration in customer service at these stores, and the continued decline of the “Made in America” brand.

But hey! If it “preserves the middle class” (or what’s left of it), why not go for it?

By: Rick Moran at 7:50 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

CATEGORY: War on Terror

On March 16th, the Daily Star of Lebanon had a front page story about a massacre that was similar in some respects to the Haditha incident.

Eleven members of an Iraqi family, including five children, were killed in a U.S. raid on Wednesday, police and witnesses said. The U.S. military said two women and a child died during the bid to seize an Al-Qaeda militant from a house. A senior Iraqi police officer said autopsies on the bodies showed each had been shot in the head.


Associated Press photographs showed the bodies of two men, five children and four other covered figures arriving at Tikrit General Hospital accompanied by grief-stricken relatives.

The U.S. military said in a statement its troops had attacked a house in Ishaqi, the town 100 kilometers north of Baghdad, to capture a “foreign fighter facilitator for the Al-Qaeda in Iraq network.”

“There was one enemy killed. Two women and one child were also killed in the firefight. The building … [was] destroyed,” the military said, adding the Al-Qaeda suspect had been captured and was being questioned.

Major Ali Ahmad of the Iraqi police said U.S. forces had landed on the roof of the house in the early hours and shot the 11 occupants, including the five children. “After they left the house they blew it up,” he said.

The problem with the thrust of the story – that US troops massacred innocent Iraqis – was that it was debunked in a matter of days:

Quite a few internal contradictions had popped up – the old lady’s age was 75 in one story, 90 in another. The child four months old, or, then again, six months old. One version had the victims tied up, another handcuffed – with neither cuffs nor rope apparent in any of the photos presented as evidence.

The climax came when the still-mystified Coalition staff were hit with an accusation that they had skipped a meeting with local officials to discuss the incident.

“There was no meeting scheduled with any Coalition investigators today,” said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson. “There appears to be a distinct pattern of misinformation surrounding this entire incident.”

And while the Haditha incident seems to be different in that the preliminary investigation has uncovered evidence that Marines did indeed undertake to massacre innocent civilians in a systematic and brutal way, the fact is we don’t know at this point what exactly those Marines were facing nor do we know how much of the story is true, if any of it is exaggerated, if the witnesses can be trusted, or a dozen other “ifs” that could mitigate the circumstances or even clear the Marines entirely, as our Rangers were completely cleared in the Ishaqi “massacre.”

I have written in the past about the attempts of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Sunni insurgent’s attempts to spread disinformation about American forces and their operations. This effort is not only sophisticated by any standards, but also meets with some success due to the way that major media in Iraq is forced to cover the war.

I will not criticize the correspondents who are forced by the nature of the conflict and their nationality to remain in the Green Zone, having to rely on local “stringers” and other Iraqis for stories. But the danger in spreading al Qaeda propaganda in their almost total reliance on this system is so obvious that one can legitimately question their methods of confirmation. Here’s the Washington Post story this morning that was written by, among others “A Washington Post staff member in Iraq.”

Aws Fahmi, a Haditha resident who said he watched and listened from his home as Marines went from house to house killing members of three families, recalled hearing his neighbor across the street, Younis Salim Khafif, plead in English for his life and the lives of his family members. “I heard Younis speaking to the Americans, saying: ‘I am a friend. I am good,’ ” Fahmi said. “But they killed him, and his wife and daughters.”

Who is Aws Fhami? He is identified only as “a Haditha resident.” In an area that has proven to be a hotbed of insurgent activity, wouldn’t it have been prudent to tell us a little more about Mr. Fhami?

This is not to say that Mr. Fhami is lying. It is pointing out the obvious. Given the nature of the charges against the Marines, one would think that the absolute most stringent sourcing requirements would be in play.

Indeed, 8 paragraphs later in the story, we get the Post disclaimer:

The descriptions of events provided to The Post by witnesses in Haditha could not be independently verified, although their accounts of the number of casualties and their identities were corroborated by death certificates.

In other words, all the Washington Post knows for sure is that 15 civilians died and what their names were. And we’re going to go into national convulsions over this incident without a little more proof?

Clearly, the military is taking this incident very seriously. But I am left with an appreciation of the dilemma faced by military investigators; how do you get to the bottom of something like this when the witnesses for the prosecution may, in fact, be spreading disinformation of the enemy either wittingly or unwittingly?

The reports suggest there is video from the morgue. Here is a picture of the morgue in Tikrit where victims of the Ishaqi “massacre” were taken:

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As if to highlight the possible discrepancies in this incident, the terrorists are using the video shot at the morgue in Haditha as a recruiting tool:

The insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq said it sent copies of the journalism student’s videotape to mosques in Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, using the killings of the women and children to recruit fighters.

Reading through the description of what happened from Mr. Fhami, one gets the impression that he was indeed an eyewitness – or someone well coached. It is not a denial of the incident to raise questions like this, not when the stakes are so high. If, as the story points out, the Marines found only one gun among the casualties, one wonders why highly trained, disciplined troops would enter a house with guns blazing and throwing hand grenades. There are missing elements to this story that the media is leaving out at this point; the situation as it appeared to the Marines who are under investigation.

I am struck by the way this story has been embraced so uncritically, especially by those who question everything else about the war including the rationale for it. Time will tell if indeed, we have another “My Lai” or whether it turns into another “Ishqari.”


Michelle Malkin rightly questions the timing of all the leaks associated with this case and rounds up reaction.

By: Rick Moran at 11:36 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

telxrewupi linked with dzngcmssayw
Blue Crab Boulevard linked with About Rights
Rhymes With Right linked with Haditha Horror