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Brett Favre: A classic quarterback in a classic pose.

The fact that Brett Favre may be retiring from professional football following the final game of the season against my beloveds tonight is not the end of the world – although I may get an argument about that from Packer fans. The title of this post, taken from Kate Wilhelm’s brilliant doomsday novel, refers instead to another theme brought out in her Hugo Award winning book; the original is always better than the copy.

The novel highlights a possible solution to keeping the human species alive following an environmental collapse; cloning. The problem is that eventually, the clones lose many abilities we humans take for granted – mainly spacial acuity and intuitive thinking skills but in other ways as well. Wilhelm doesn’t come out and say it but the reason for this is that the clones chose to forgo sexual reproduction. This idea is explored when two clones have a baby the old fashioned way – a strange and wonderful boy who possesses insight and abilities that the clones lack. He was not simply a copy of one of the other clones; he was an original, possessing the genes of two clones.

For much of Brett Favre’s 15 seasons in the NFL, scribes and pundits have touted this rookie or that as “the next Brett Favre.” The futility of such comparisons is born out in the fact that none has emerged nor is one likely to anytime soon. At 6’2. 225 lbs, Favre possesses size and strength that until he showed up, was a rarity among professional quarterbacks. Now, of course, we have monsters like Ben Roethlisberger (6’5”. 240), Daunte Culpepper (6’4”, 265), and Vince Young (6’5”, 235). I can remember when NFL defensive linemen were that size.

But Favre is more than simply a mold-breaker. He is a true throwback – an in your face, smash mouth, chip on the shoulder, swaggering gunslinger of a signal caller with the heart of a champion and the soul of a warrior. He is not enamored of football as a ballet or an art form as some who may take pride in the beauty of a well executed play or the breathtaking thrill of a perfectly spiralling ball arching over the hands of a DB into the waiting arms of a receiver hit in full stride.

It’s not that Favre is incapable of such play; it’s just that his brilliance lies not in perfection but rather in what might be termed anti-perfection. I have seen Brett Favre complete passes 20 yards down the field while in the grasp of two tacklers and on the way down to the ground. I have seen him throw a two handed, basketball-like chest pass for a first down. I have seen him throw the ball sideways, sidearm, underhanded like a bowler and pushed like a shot putter.

And he is as tough a customer as anyone who ever played football. I’ve seen him absorb titanic hits and get up laughing. I have seen him take off running for a first down and by the sheer power of his will, bull his way for the necessary yardage. He has started in 236 regular season games, more than any other quarterback in history. He has done this despite broken fingers, tender toes, twisted knees, cracked elbows, sprained ankles, and numerous other nicks and bruises too many to list.

He is older now, perhaps a little wiser in that he won’t expose his body to the kind of punishment he endured in his youth. The arm is still strong, which allows him to still try and force the ball into coverage; less often succeeding these days. And while still a god in Green Bay, the Packers themselves are torn between loyalty to their icon and the franchise necessity of having to develop a replacement for him.

All of this weighs on Favre as he contemplates his future. Should he buckle it up for one more year? Early this season as the Packers struggled, it almost seemed a foregone conclusion that Favre would hang it up after this year. But Green Bay has shown some life at the end of the year and will enter tonight’s game against the Bears owners of a three game win streak and perhaps an outside shot at a playoff spot.

With an improving team in a weak conference, Favre may feel that he could have one more shot at the brass ring before he retires in one or two years; the Super Bowl. But he is apparently weighing all of this against the fact that he has accomplished everything that a quarterback could possibly accomplish in a career; three straight MVP awards (only many ever to win more than two MVP’s in a career), a Super Bowl victory, passing records galore, and the certainty of a first ballot Hall of Fame induction.

In several interviews over the past two years, Favre has expressed a love for his 465 acre home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi that makes one believe he actually looks forward to the time that he leaves the NFL for days filled with hunting, fishing, and being with his family. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the competitive juices that make Favre the player that he is will not allow him to walk away until either he is carried off the field or his skills have diminished to the point where he can no longer help the team.

So I fully expect to see Favre adding to his Hall of Fame numbers next year as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers; a team I love to hate but a player who I and everyone else who loves the game of football will never forget.


As for the game tonight, my beloveds have nothing to play for, nothing to prove. Despite the optimism of Coach Lovie, I get the feeling most Bears fans are resigned to the idea that the team will not do anything in the playoffs this year. The secondary is a shambles (something Favre will probably expose in a shocking way tonight) and the defensive line is a shadow of its former self. The loss of Tommie Harris for the season seems to have taken something out of everyone on the line except Rookie of the Year candidate Mark Anderson whose 12.5 sacks is just two behind the rookie record.

Giving up more than 300 yards in total offense each of the last 5 games, the defense has allowed numerous big plays both in the running and passing game. The once fearsome pass rush has been missing for the last half of the season. In short, the Bears defense is now an rather ordinary group. This means the team will probably have to outscore their opponents in the playoffs in order to win. And given the inconsistency of Rex “The Wonder Dog” Grossman at quarterback, the prospects for advancing to the Super Bowl are bleak indeed.

But any Bears-Packers match-up is special. The weather will be rainy with possible snow showers later; a perfect throwback game as both teams will wallow in the mud at Soldiers Field before it’s all over.

I fully expect the Bears to lose. The line has dropped from the Bears being favored by 5 points to 3.5 in the last 24 hours – a sure sign the oddsmakers sense what I do. With nothing to play for, the Bears will probably lose big, perhaps by more than 2 touchdowns. And Brett Favre will prove once again why he is the best to ever play the game – as if we needed any more proof than he has brilliantly supplied over the past 15 years.

By: Rick Moran at 3:59 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)

Doug Ross @ Journal linked with Welcome to the Joe Rago Pro Journalist Institute

I see nothing remotely funny about the impending hanging of Saddam Hussein – a verdict I agree with but devoutly wish could have been handled better by all parties concerned.

Neither do I see anything at all to celebrate. It is embarrassing the way that some of the righty blogs are playing with this story. It is not a time for snark. Nor is it a time for juvenile posturing or ginned up, testosterone-laden high fives. Before you engage in such celebratory behavior, please imagine the million ghosts Saddam and his henchmen created and then imagine them screaming out their last agonizing moments on this earth. Think of the grieving families they left behind. If that doesn’t sober you up, try conjuring up images of the tens of thousands of women who were brutally raped in front of their fathers or husbands or the many thousands of children who were tortured in the presence of their parents.

No, there is nothing funny about killing this brute, a man who has shown no remorse nor the slightest flicker of regret at the trail of dead bodies he has left in the wake of a life spent torturing and murdering anyone who opposed him. The fact that the world knew of this brutality and did nothing about it – including the US government who marginally assisted the beast in his war of conquest against Iran – only goes to show that anyone who believes in the efficacy of the UN is only kidding themselves. Tyrants like Saddam will exist as long as the governments of the world carry on business as usual with the despots while trying to block the screams of their victims from conscious thought.

Saddam may have been a particularly brutal tyrant. But the difference between his regime and the regimes of dozens of others around the world is only a matter of degree – thousands dead or tortured instead of hundreds of thousands. It says a lot about humanity at this stage of our evolution as a social species that we can be so sanguine about the murderous depredations of a Robert Mugabe or a Islom Karimov simply because the body count hasn’t achieved the elevated status of a Saddam or a Kim Jung Il. We in the civilized world can tune out the cries for succor from the oppressed rather easily – international law, free flow of oil, international commerce, even the War on Terrorism – take your pick. One excuse is as good as another.

I wish I could believe that hanging Saddam will make other tyrants pause and clean up their acts, hoping to avoid suffering a similar fate. But you and I know that is wishful thinking. What is more probable is that the dictators will redouble their efforts to stifle opposition thinking it will guarantee their security – at least from their own people.

But in the end, whether it’s having your neck snapped by a taut rope or dying peacefully in your bed, the criminal oppressors who cause so much human misery and suffering will all come face to face with their own mortality. And I have to believe that as the curtain rings down on their existence, the cold hand of fear will grip their failing heart as they contemplate an eternity that may include torments far surpassing those they meted out during their useless, failed existence on this planet.


Allah thinks that the deed will be done by 4:00 PM eastern time today. He says he will have the video if its available.

We’re all adults and can make up our own minds whether to view someone hanging until dead. I will say that Ogrish (no link – find it on your own) had some video of a hanging (from Burma, I believe) that was, in the words of Henry Tunstall from the John Wayne movie Chisum , describing a hanging he witnessed as “ghastly.” A good descriptive for what I saw. The beheading videos were much more graphic and actually caused me some queasy moments.

Will I watch it? I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Also, make sure you keep a window on your screen open for Michelle Malkin’s expected round-up of react from blogs, from the MSM, and from her readers.

By: Rick Moran at 11:37 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (36)

Slobokan's Site O' Schtuff linked with Keeping It All In Perspective
Cao's Blog linked with they taunted Saddam to the end
Slublog linked with Moran on Saddam's Death
The Command T.O.C. linked with Right Wing Nut House: SADDAM’S DEATH: A SAD ENDING TO A SAD CHAPTER IN HISTORY
The Random Yak linked with Hussein Hanged
A Slower Pace linked with The world is a better place today.....
GM's Corner linked with One More Death Doesn't Really Matter
Cao's Blog linked with Saddam to hang at dawn on Saturday
The Shape of Days linked with A sad ending to a sad chapter in history
Assorted Babble by Suzie linked with Butcher of Baghdad in Custody of Iraqis
Flopping Aces linked with Swinging Saddam - Live Thread
Michelle Malkin linked with Kuwait's "Not to Forget" Museum; Saddam's date with death

The case against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who refused to deploy with his unit to Iraq and made statements against the war and President Bush, took an unusual turn yesterday when the army subpoenaed the journalists who originally reported on Watada’s statement:

Army prosecutors have sent subpoenas to journalists in Oakland and Honolulu demanding testimony about quotes they attributed to an officer who faces a court-martial after denouncing the war in Iraq and refusing to deploy with his unit.

The Army’s subpoenas, which the journalists said they received last week, put them in the uncomfortable position of being ordered to help the Army build its case against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who faces up to six years in prison if convicted.

“It’s not a reporter’s job to participate in the prosecution of her own sources,’’ said Sarah Olson, an Oakland freelance journalist and radio producer. “When you force a journalist to participate, you run the risk of turning the journalist into an investigative tool of the state.’’

But Olson, who received her subpoena Thursday, acknowledged she has no legal grounds to refuse to testify, since she is being asked only to confirm the accuracy of what she wrote about Watada and not to disclose confidential sources or unpublished material.

Normally, she said, “no one, myself included, has any problem verifying the veracity of their reporting.’’ The ethical problem in this case, she said, is that she would be aiding the prosecution of one of the dissidents and war critics who regularly trust her to tell their stories to the public.

(HT: Instapundit)

I can understand the reporter’s reluctance to testify. But the defense attorney says he doesn’t mind the reporters giving testimony – ostensibly because he is basing his defense of the soldier on Watada’s First Amendment rights:

Watada’s lawyer, Eric Seitz, said he understands journalists’ unhappiness at having to appear in court but would not object if they complied.

“It doesn’t bother us or disturb us that reporters testify Lt. Watada made those comments,’’ he said. The main issue, Seitz said, is “whether he had First Amendment rights to say what he did.’’

Both Olson and her lawyer, David Greene, declined to say whether she would comply with the subpoena, which requires her to take part in a hearing in January as well as the court-martial. She could be held in contempt of the military tribunal and jailed if she refuses.

I think Olson is overreacting. She’s not being asked to reveal anything. She will be asked to confirm the accuracy of her reporting, something any reporter worth their salt should gladly do whether it be to the public or a military tribunal. In fact, she appears to be setting up something of a strawman in order to justify non compliance:

Before sending subpoenas to the journalists who reported Watada’s comments, the Army asked them to verify their quotes voluntarily, but they refused. Olson said last week that free expression is endangered by both the Army’s case against Watada and its attempt to enlist journalists.

“If conscientious objectors know that they can be prosecuted for speaking to the press and that the press will participate in their prosecution, it stands to reason that they would think twice before being public about their positions,’’ she said. “What we need in this country now is more dialogue and not less.’’

This is nonsense. First of all, conscientious objectors will never be prosecuted for “speaking to the press.” That’s ridiculous. What they might be prosecuted for is what Lt. Watada is being charged with; failure to deploy with his unit and “conduct unbecoming an officer” for his statements against the Commander in Chief. Would Watada be prosecuted if he simply stated his opposition to the war and left out his criticism of the Commander in Chief? I doubt it.

There have been plenty of examples both here in America and in Iraq where soldiers have not been shy about declaring their opposition to the war. As far as I know, none of them have been disciplined. And if they have, that too would be ridiculous. Joining the army doesn’t mean that you lose your right to protected speech under the First Amendment. But criticism of the CIC is a different story. It goes against both military tradition and common sense. You can’t have an army in the field second guessing the decisions of the CIC. This would affect morale not to mention lead to chaos in the ranks.

There is one more aspect to this case that troubles me; it appears that the Army decided to make an example of Watada. Here’s Watada’s statement – puerile though it may be – as well as an offer the young man made that I can’t understand why the military didn’t agree to:

Watada, raised in Honolulu, joined the Army in 2003 after graduating from college and was first stationed in South Korea. In public appearances and interviews, he has said he was motivated to enlist by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but had misgivings about the Iraq war from the start and eventually concluded that it was both immoral and illegal.

“As I read about the level of deception the Bush administration used to initiate and process this war, I was shocked,’’ Olson quoted him as saying in one of the statements cited by the Army as conduct unbecoming an officer. “I became ashamed of wearing the uniform. How can we wear something with such a time-honored tradition, knowing we waged war based on a misrepresentation and lies?’’

The interview, conducted in May, was published on on June 7, the same day Watada declined to go to Iraq with his armored vehicle unit in the 2nd Infantry Division. He said he offered to redeploy to Afghanistan or resign his commission but was turned down.

As I understand it, such requests for reassignment based on conscientious objections are unusual but have been honored in the past. As have requests to resign a commission for similar reasons been accepted. It seems to me – as completely unschooled in military procedures as any civilian – that the army wants to single Watada out and make an example of his objections to the Iraq War. If so, we can reasonably ask if Lt. Watada is being treated fairly.

Despite sounding like a Michael Moore clone, Watada is entitled to his opinions. However, his refusal to deploy based on his political opinions cannot be allowed under any circumstances. But what about his refusal to join his unit in Iraq based on his personal, moral precepts?

These are tricky waters indeed for both Watada and the army to navigate. Watada refusal of duty is not based specifically on the moral tenets of any organized religion but rather on his own personal, moral code. In this respect, Watada’s refusal of a lawful order to deploy may be seen in the same moral context as a soldier who refuses to carry out an order to shoot civilians or kill babies. It doesn’t matter if we believe Watada to be a misguided, simple minded fool. Each soldier is responsible to their own concept of morality. In this sense, Watada’s dissent may be seen as an honorable means to live up to his own personal code of moral conduct – as long as he is willing to accept the consequences of his dissent.

That last being the key to any act of civil disobedience. Because in essence, that is what Watada is doing in a very public way; he is trying to influence others by sacrificing his career and possibly his freedom. We can violently disagree with his methods and his rationale; but we can also recognize that in a democratic, civil society, this is an honorable means to disagree with the government.


Some may disagree with my characterization of Watada’s actions as “civil” disobedience. And they would be technically correct. But the practical consequences of Watada’s protest go beyond military justice and enter the realm of politics. For this reason, Watada’s protest impacts civil society much more than it impacts military jurisprudence.

By: Rick Moran at 8:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (18)

Mensa Barbie Welcomes You linked with Gerald Ford: Paying Respects

It appears that the President of the United States will also forgo the proceedings in the Rotunda on Saturday in favor of staying at his ranch for another day.

Lest anyone think my displeasure is reserved exclusively for the Democratic LEADERSHIP (Note: The Republicans on the junket are not a part of the leadership in the Senate. Those in the comments from my last post who have demonstrated their towering ignorance by not being able to tell the difference between the Majority Leader of the Senate passing on this event and two relatively unknown GOP members skipping out might want to deepen their thinking faculties a bit.) anything I said about Reid above goes double for Bush.

Look, friends. Hearken to me.

A nation is an organism, a life form. And what animates this life form, what gives it the power to unite our people – so diverse, so different – are its traditions, myths and legends; in other words, the symbolic over the substantiative. The Constitution does a fine job in defining the powers of government. But its real power is in its iconic symbolism in which we have bound up all the hopes and dreams of our citizenry for a better life.

The United States is a very young country by any standard. We are so young, we really have no “myths” or “legends” per se. That’s because even our greatest mythic heroes like Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett left a written record behind along with friends and acquaintance who were able to tell biographers and historians what those two larger than life characters were all about. A “legend” is hardly legendary if we know that the myths surrounding the legend are untrue. And yet we continue to try and conjure up symbolic representations of our mythic heroes because it is through them that we like to see ourselves reflected in our national mirror.

And tied up in these efforts to create legends has been the dominant truth about American public life since George Washington; the presidency as a symbol of nationhood. We have no king, no royal family. Our continuity is the result of civil compact among all of us that the office of the presidency belongs to no man, no party; that it is the one aspect of public life in which we invest enormous power and place enormous trust in the occupant not to abuse that power. Hence, the presidency as a symbolic representation of us, the citizens of the United States imbues the occupant of that office with the status of civic god – especially after he is safely retired and unable to do any damage to our liberties.

I think Bush should be widely criticized for not attending every event related to the Ford funeral rites. The symbolic life of the nation demands that he attend and participate. I believe he and Reid’s failure to take part in the ceremonial, the tradition of laying to rest a former president and former Commander in Chief lessens the hold that office has on our emotional bonds with America – what Lincoln referred to as the “mystic chords of memory” – that allow us to rise above that which separates us and unite in common cause to remember a dead icon.

I fully expect the lefty commenters to belittle this rationalization. So be it. It is probably why in 50 years, long after I’m dust thank god, the way citizens feel about the United States will be unrecognizable to my generation.

By: Rick Moran at 4:41 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

Pajamas Media linked with The Trouble With Harry... and George Too:

The votes are in from this week’s Watchers Council and the winner in the Council category is “Directions on Iraq: A Blogging Colloquium (Updated)” by The Glittering Eye. Finishing second was Joshuapundit for “Ex-president and Jew Hater for Sale—Jimmy Carter’s Dirty Little Secret.”

Winning in the non Council category was The Fourth Rail for “The ROC.”

Long time Council member and dear blogging comrade Dymphna from Gates of Vienna is going to be spending less time blogging in the future. Hence, she has decided to step down from the Council. If you’re interested in serving, please go here and follow the steps outlined.

Dymphna and her partner at Gates of Vienna the Baron are two of the best minds on the internet. And Dymphna is one of the finest writers it has been my pleasure to read. Clarity and reason were the hallmarks of her articles. And her passion is always on display. She pulls no punches and her only enemy is shallow thinking.

A lady. A scholar. A joy. She will be missed.

By: Rick Moran at 3:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

Watcher of Weasels linked with The Old Switcheroo
CATEGORY: Politics

This is fascinating. Two interviews with former President Ford before he died and two almost polar opposite positions taken by the ex-President (according to the reporters) regarding his support for the Iraq War.

First, Bob Woodward’s taped interview with the former President that was embargoed until after he died:

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. “I don’t think I would have gone to war,” he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford’s own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford “very strongly” disagreed with the current president’s justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney—Ford’s White House chief of staff—and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford’s chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

“Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction,” Ford said. “And now, I’ve never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do.”

Did Ford say that the Iraq War was “not justified?” Or did he say that he would not have used the justification of WMD as a causus belli?

According to Thomas DeFrank, the other interviewer, it’s the latter:

“Saddam Hussein was an evil person and there was justification to get rid of him,” he observed, “but we shouldn’t have put the basis on weapons of mass destruction. That was a bad mistake. Where does [Bush] get his advice?”

Ford was predictably defensive about Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, his two White House chiefs of staff. Asked why Cheney had tanked in public opinion polls, he smiled. “Dick’s a classy guy, but he’s not an electrified orator.”

If Ford believed “there was justification” to get rid of Saddam, then we are left with something of a conundrum; which Ford should we believe? After all, he told DeFrank that he actually supported the war:

Ford was a few weeks shy of his 93rd birthday as we chatted for about 45 minutes. He’d been visited by President Bush three weeks earlier and said he’d told Bush he supported the war in Iraq but that the 43rd President had erred by staking the invasion on weapons of mass destruction.

So why the massive feeding frenzy by the left (and the handwringing on the right) over Woodward’s embargoed interview (that Ed Morrissey believes reflects badly on the ex-President) while few if any bloggers are looking at the DeFrank piece?

First, I have little doubt that our invasion of Iraq made Ford very uncomfortable. One need only listen to his acolyte Brent Scowcroft to discern the realpolitik thinking about Iraq and the Middle East of which Ford was enamored. In the realists world, Iraq was a secular bulwark against radical Iran. It is interesting to note that Ford supported George Bush 41 in not going “on to Baghdad” in 1991. Scowcroft believed (and we might extrapolate that Ford agreed with him) that even a de-fanged Saddam confronting Iran was preferable to a weak and divided Iraq at Iran’s mercy.

But after 9/11 and Dick Cheney’s “One Percent” doctrine (that if there was a 1% chance that a nation was a threat to attack America with WMD, the threat must be eliminated) that kind of “realism” lost out to the seductive idea that not only could the Saddam threat be neutralized but that bringing democracy to Iraq would have a salutatory effect on efforts to promote democracy in the entire region.

Leave aside for the moment the realist’s belief that our real interests in the Middle East lay with the corrupt Kingdoms who sit on most of the world’s oil and that Israel was, if not expendable, certainly a secondary concern and depending on who was advising the President, an obstacle to stability in the region. The fact is, we can both promote democracy and work for stability at the same time.

A tricky balancing act to be sure but not impossible. And judging by recent events, it appears that this may be what we are going to try. Going on under the media radar have been historic elections in Qatar, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia (and earlier, Lebanon). The momentum toward increased participation by the people of the Middle East is growing. And for all the blunders, the mistakes, the tragic stupidities that have marked our efforts in Iraq, the idea that these events have taken place because of the invasion and subsequent elections in Iraq cannot be dismissed out of hand.

I think that Ford told Bush exactly what he wanted to hear; that he supported him. This despite the reservations he expressed to Woodward. And indeed, the fact that he embargoed the interview with Woodward would seem to support that contention. But Ford was if nothing else, a man who treasured loyalty. It is not surprising that he would suppress his misgivings about Iraq while he was alive.

Make sure you read DeFrank’s article about his last visit with the ex-President. It is an uncommonly frank portrayal of a man who knows he doesn’t have long to live and, with misty eyed reflection, watches as the highlights of his life roll past him.

By: Rick Moran at 2:12 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

CATEGORY: History, Politics

It says a lot about the character of the new Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he would blow off the state funeral of Gerald Ford, the least partisan of our most recent presidents, in order to get in a little holiday sight seeing and engage in some hobnobbing with South American leftists. In fact, I think it a precursor of what we can expect from the Democrats in general for the foreseeable future. Out of power for a decade, I think it safe to say that these ain’t your daddy’s Democrats. In fact, I’m certain that these aren’t the Democrats of the 1970’s either.

The Majority Leader of the Senate during Ford’s tenure as President was Mike Mansfield. The craggy faced Montana lawmaker served in that leadership position longer than anyone in history. Perhaps his greatest moment occurred during the service in the Capitol Rotunda for the assassinated John F. Kennedy when he delivered what is considered one of the most moving eulogies in American political history:

There was a sound of laughter; in a moment, it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a wit in a man neither young nor old, but a wit full of an old man’s wisdom and of a child’s wisdom, and then, in a moment it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

There was a man marked with the scars of his love of country, a body active with the surge of a life far, far from spent and, in a moment, it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.

Somehow, I don’t think our Harry quite measures up, do you?

Mansfield was a brilliant man, an accomplished diplomat. Harry Reid is a political hack. But the differences go beyond talent, beyond intelligence. The fact is, Mike Mansfield was a gentleman. Harry Reid is not.

Mansfield could be as hyper-partisan as any politician today but he always behaved in a way that reflected his belief that the feelings and sensibilities of others was something to be considered. In other words, Mansfield demonstrated the number one trait of a gentleman; empathy.

Harry Reid seems to have a dead spot in his soul where empathy usually resides in the rest of us. Blowing off the government of the United States, his colleagues, the Ford family, and history itself is just the latest in series of actions and statements that show Reid to be unfit to follow in the footsteps of giants like Mansfield, LBJ, and the venerable wise man George Mitchell – all of whom would have blanched in horror at the prospect of the Majority Leader of the Senate missing a high affair of state such as a presidential funeral.

Reid has demonstrated on numerous occasions that his rank partisanship gets in the way of him acting like a normal human being; to wit:

Reid made headlines in May 2005 when he said of George W. Bush, “The man’s father is a wonderful human being. I think this guy is a loser.” Reid later apologized for these comments. Reid also called Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas an “embarrassment” and referred to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as a “partisan hack.”

He also called the President a “liar” and refused to apologize. Whether true or not, the idea that one politician calls out another for lying is loony. It is beyond the pot/kettle analogy, moving into the sublime territory of stratospheric irony usually reserved for Communists when they name their country a “Peoples Republic.”

Reid’s snub may be unprecedented, although I doubt whether statistics about such insults to the United States government are kept. And I doubt whether we’ll hear a peep of criticism from any sitting Democratic politician either. At bottom and with few exceptions, the values of tradition and etiquette mean very little to the left. After all, they’ve spent the last 40 years trying to overturn tradition and violate etiquette in order to “speak truth to power” or “challenge convention” or some other such nonsense that more often denotes agitating for change simply for the sake of change itself rather than any specific goal for improving society.

The fact that Reid’s deputy, my home state senator Dick Durbin is also on the junket (along with Kent Conrad, Judd Gregg, Robert Bennett, and Ken Salazar) means that the task of delivering the eulogy may fall to Senator Robert Byrd, President pro tempore emeritus of the Senate. Byrd, for all his faults, is a creature of the Senate and one who reveres and worships its traditions and precedents. I have no doubt that the West Virginia Senator will do a fine job in eulogizing Ford. But frankly, it’s not his job. It’s Reid’s. And the absence of the new Majority Leader at the state funeral of a former president sets a very bad precedent that I hope Republicans will never take advantage.

Jimmy Carter is no spring chicken. There will come a day in the not too distant future when his remains will lie in the Capitol Rotunda and the Honor Guard will stand their solemn watch. And Members of Congress will gather to pay their respects and deliver eulogies to the dead Commander in Chief. Will the Republican leader recall this insult by Reid and find other pressing matters to attend to? I hope not. For if there is one occasion where partisanship should be left at the door, it is in honoring those special men who took up what the Smithsonian referred to as “A Glorious Burden” and guided the United States and the Ship of State through perilous waters.

I’m with Hugh Hewitt 100%: “Turn. The. Plane. Around.”


Ed Morrissey:

What a classless act, and Reid, Durbin, Kent Conrad, Judd Gregg, Robert Bennett, and Ken Salazar should be ashamed of themselves. If Harry Reid can’t figure out that his new position as Majority Leader carries some extra responsibilities, then perhaps the Democrats need to find someone who does understand it.

Amen. Although with the exception of Byrd, I doubt there are more than a handful of Democrats who see anything wrong with Reid’s excursion and would therefore be equally unfit to lead.

And Heather at my blog bud Raven’s site – And Rightly So – wonders “What ever happened to respect?” Indeed.

UPDATE 12/29

It appears that the President of the United States will also forgo the proceedings in the Rotunda on Saturday in favor of staying at his ranch for another day.

Less anyone think my displeasure is reserved exclusively for the Democratic LEADERSHIP (Note: The Republicans on the junket are not a part of the leadership in the Senate. Those in the comments who have demonstrated their towering ignorance by not being able to tell the difference between the Majority Leader of the Senate passing on this event and two relatively unknown GOP members skipping out might want to deepen their thinking faculties a bit.) anything I said about Reid above goes double for Bush.

Look, friends. Hearken to me.

A nation is an organism, a life form. And what animates this life form, what gives it the power to unite our people – so diverse, so different – are its myths and legends; in other words, the symbolic over the substantative. The Constitution does a fine job in defining the powers of government. But its real power is in its iconic symbolism in which we have bound up all the hopes and dreams of our citizenry for a better life.

The United States is a very young country by any standard. We are so young, we really have no “myths” or “legends” per se. That’s because even our greatest mythic heroes like Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett left a written record behind along with friends and acquiantances who were able to tell biographers and historians what those two larger than life characters were all about. A “legend” is hardly legendary if we know that the myths surrounding the legend are untrue.

And tied up in these efforts to create legends has been the dominant truth about American public life since George Washington; the presidency as a symbol of nationhood. We have no king, no royal family. Our continuity is the result of civil compact among all of us that the office of the presidency belongs to no man, no party; that it is the one aspect of public life in which we invest enormous power and place enormous trust in the occupant not to abuse that power. Hence, the presidency as a symbolic representation of us, the citizens of the United States imbues the occupant of that office with the status of civic god – especially after he is safely retired and unable to do any damage to our liberties.

I think Bush should be widely criticized for not attending every event related to the Ford funeral rites. The symbolic life of the nation demands that he attend and participate. I believe he and Reid’s failure to take part in the ceremonial, the tradition of laying to rest a former president and former Commander in Chief lessens the hold that office has on our emotional bonds with America – what Lincoln referred to as the “mystic chords of memory” – that allow us to rise above that which separates us and unite in common cause to remember a dead icon.

I fully expect the lefty commenters to belittle this rationalization. So be it. It is probably why in 50 years, long after I’m dust thank god, the way citizens feel about the United States will be unrecognizable to my generation.

(This update has become a separate post.)

By: Rick Moran at 6:58 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (94)

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The year was 1980 and Gerald Ford was on a mission. The last two weeks of October, the 38th President of the United States was fulfilling a promise he made during the tumultuous Republican Convention to the GOP standard bearer Ronald Reagan; that he would campaign his heart out for Republican candidates running for the House and Senate. He would help “extend Reagan’s coattails” to bring as many GOP lawmakers to Washington as he could.

The Republican party had placed a jet at Ford’s disposal and he criss crossed the country, speaking at 3 or 4 events (sometimes more) everyday. It was a killer schedule, designed to maximize Ford’s appeal to traditional “Main Street” conservatives as well as moderate members of the party. The Thursday before the election, the former President landed at Washington National Airport (now Reagan National) at 7:00 AM, coming in from California where he had been campaigning until late in the evening. He was to speak to the faithful at a breakfast fund raiser for candidate Frank Wolf, making his third effort to unseat Democrat Joe Fisher in Virginia’s 10th district.

As a volunteer for the Wolf campaign, I was working the registration table that morning, handing out name tags and accepting late donations to the event. Taking a short break, I wandered out into the hallway behind the hotel’s ballroom for a smoke when I saw a lone man walking toward me. There was something familiar about him that I couldn’t quite place. He was striding purposefully but the rest of his body language denoted utter exhaustion. His shoulders drooped. His face, sagged so that the wrinkles came out in bas relief. His eyes were half closed, the circles under them pronounced.

With a shock I realized it was the former President. There were no Secret Service Agents. No clutch of sycophantic aides trailing in his wake. It was just me and the former President of the United States. I was thinking that he might not make it through the speech, so tired and careworn he looked. And then, magic.

He didn’t notice me until he was almost even with where I was standing against the wall. But when he saw me there with what must have been a dumbfounded look of disbelief on my face, he grinned and extended his hand. At that exact moment, his face lit up, the wrinkles disappeared, the eyes snapped open, and he drew himself up to his full height. It was like someone had thrown a switch. He clasped my hand firmly while all I could do was stutter out some meaningless platitude. I think I murmured “Thanks for coming” or some such nonsense that he probably didn’t hear anyway. And then he was gone, striding down the hallway toward the front of the room where he was to be introduced.

Making my way back to the ballroom, I stood along the wall opposite the podium and saw him in the doorway. His body and face had resumed their exhausted demeanor. But after the introduction, someone threw the switch again and he strode confidently to the lectern to deliver a barnburner of a political speech. Ford may not have been noted for his speaking ability. But I can attest to the fact that the wild applause and standing ovation he received was fully deserved. He skewered Carter and the Democrats for defeatism. He praised Reagan to the skies (despite his long standing anger at him for what Ford believed was the unnecessary challenge Reagan made for the nomination in 1976). And he talked about America as only a Midwestern politician can; with a hushed and reverent tone and a catch in the throat.

I always admired Gerald Ford for what he did during that campaign. The results speak for themselves. The GOP won back the Senate for the first time since 1958 winning 12 seats while the party picked up 35 seats in the House. To extend himself physically and emotionally the way he did was an act of selflessness that seemed to be the hallmark of his political career.

No great monuments will be built to honor Gerald Ford, dead yesterday at age 93. Nor will there will be any post mortem scandals that will tarnish his name or sully his image. His quiet retirement, in contrast to other ex-Presidents, assures him a measure of anonymity with most younger Americans today. To the extent that he lives on in popular culture, it is in the hilarious but unfair cheap shots taken by the Saturday Night Live crew who always portrayed the All-Star athlete as a bumbling klutz in their skits. It can fairly be said that Gerald Ford made Chevy Chase and to a large extent, put SNL on the map. And it is to his eternal credit that Ford was always fairly good natured about the spoofs which almost certainly helped defeat him in the close election of 1976:

Question: Really, what DID you think of Chevy Chase’s impersonations of you? Did you ever meet him?—Mrs. Arlene Gaudioso’s Fifth Grade, Rohrerstown Elementary School, Lancaster, PA.

President Ford: I enjoyed, up to a point, Chevy Chase’s impersonations. Yes, my wife and I have met and had an opportunity to get acquainted with Chevy Chase. He is a very skillful entertainer who had a sharp and penetrating sense of humor. I have learned over the years in the political arena that you cannot be thin-skinned. You have to take the good with the bad.

Simple, common, decency.

His political career was a testament to his sunny disposition and good natured, inoffensive personality. In 1959, he was named “The Congressman’s Congressman,” an accolade he relished. Serving as long as he did (1947-73), Ford rose to the post of Minority Leader if not quite by default then certainly as a result of his durability. He served during a time when the Republicans in Congress were not only on the outs but also usually on the wrong side of history as well. Opposing many of LBJ’s wildly popular domestic programs, House GOP members were disorganized and dispirited.

When Vice President Agnew was revealed to be a common criminal, Nixon reached out for the most non-controversial choice possible. Most observers believed that Nixon would have no choice but to name Nelson Rockefeller Vice President, seeing that he was the only nationally known Republican who possessed what Beltway Insiders considered the “heft” or “gravitas” to be President if worse came to worst. But in 1973, Rockefeller’s divorce was still an issue and rather than risk problems, the President reached out to Ford both because he was popular in Congress and because his reputation as an honest and decent man assured his confirmation.

I reject the notion that Ford was in over his head as President. I think history has shown that ordinary Joe’s like Ford have risen to great occasions in the past when the times demanded it. All you have to do is look at Ford’s decisions when he was tested by history to see he performed more than adequately. The Nixon pardon -controversial as it was and still is – nevertheless was perfectly in keeping with Ford’s character as well as his belief that it was of paramount importance that Watergate be put behind the country so that the business of the United States government could continue. People tend to forget that for more than a year the Presidency was an empty shell of an office with Nixon consumed by his defense. Ford rightly thought that the times were too dangerous not to have a presidency free from the ghosts of scandal that would have been resurrected during any trial of the former President.

It is unfair but historically accurate to say that the Ford Presidency (and Carter’s) was an interregnum between the Johnson-Nixon imperium and the Reagan revolution. The nation almost seemed to catch its breath following the devastating shocks of assassinations, race riots, war, protests, and minority agitation for full participation in American life. It was less than a decade between the race riots that began in the “long, hot, summer” of 1964 to the Nixon resignation in August of 1974 – 10 short years that saw dramatic changes in American life, American politics, and American mores. If Ford is to be known as a “caretaker” president, he did indeed, take good care of the country while he was in office. For that reason alone, he should be remembered with fondness by all.

I will always remember him; the only President I ever met. He was a good and decent man who served our country in war and peace the best he knew how. And considering some who succeeded him, I daresay his stellar character stands the test of time much better than some who believe themselves his better.

By: Rick Moran at 7:46 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)

Cao's Blog linked with Dick Cheney eulogizes Ford on December 30
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In June of 2005, the more radical conservative elements on Iran’s Guardian Council helped to engineer the election of President Ahmadinejad, hoping that his fervor would ignite a religious revival and take the country out of the hands of the “original” radicals who used their positions to personally enrich themselves at the expense of the Iranian people.

What Ahmadinejad referred to as the “petro-political mafia” dominated the permanent bureaucracy in Iran for a quarter of a century, lining their pockets with proceeds from oil revenues while using some of that money to grease the skids for their political masters. And the number one recipient of this bounty was former President Ayatollah Rafsanjani who is reported to be the richest man in Iran. Through a network of family and cronies, Rafsanjani concentrated economic power into his own hands during his two terms as President. He waged a war against the left wing Islamists who sought to oppose him by placing economic decisions into the hands of special committees and government bureaucracies.

What Rafsanjani did more than anything was fill the ministries with allies. But this cronyism had one redeeming benefit; they were relatively competent technocrats. In this way, they assisted him in his efforts to dip his beak into a variety of economic pies.

One of his biggest corruption efforts involved a convoluted kick back scheme with Norway’s state run oil company. It is said that Rafsanjani personally oversaw many of the foreign contracts signed by the Iranian oil ministry just to make sure he got his cut.

Enter President Ahmadinejad and his radical brethren who believed that religious fervor was a good enough substitute for competence in running a ministry. By November of last year, Ahmadinejad had sacked hundreds of competent officials in every ministry of government in an unprecedented “anti-corruption” purge:

The rise to power of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guards commander, as Iran’s new president last year entailed a sweeping purge of hundreds of senior and mid-level officials in the country’s burgeoning bureaucracy. Supporters of Ahmadinejad’s two predecessors, Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, have been fired from key positions in all the ministries, embassies, state banks, and other governmental institutions.

The purged officials include dozens of ambassadors and diplomats, all but one of the ministers, and more than three quarters of deputy ministers, department directors, and provincial governors, according to a confidential government report obtained by Iran Focus. Many of them have been replaced by several hundred officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) seconded to government positions.

Rafsanjani has publicly rebuked the massive purges, but sources inside the Iranian government say he and Khatami have no clout to withstand the onslaught by hard-liners under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s leadership.

Hard-liners justified the first waves of the purges as the “need for fresh blood after 16 years of misgovernment” by Rafsanjani and Khatami. In many cases, rampant corruption among officials close to the two former presidents was given as the reason for the reshuffle.

The results of the purge were entirely predictable; the Iranian oil ministry, for example, is being so badly run, that the country is losing enormous amounts of money and may reach a zero revenue stream by 2015:

Iran is experiencing a staggering decline in revenue from its oil exports and, if the trend continues, income could virtually disappear by 2015, according to an analysis released yesterday by the National Academy of Sciences.

Iran’s economic woes could make the country unstable and vulnerable with its oil industry crippled, Roger Stern, an economic geographer at Johns Hopkins University, said in the report and in an interview.

Iran earns about $50 billion a year in oil exports. The decline is estimated at 10 percent to 12 percent annually. In less than five years, exports could be halved and then disappear by 2015, Mr. Stern predicted…

The shortfall represents a loss of about $5.5 billion a year, Mr. Stern said. In 2004, Iran’s oil profits were 65 percent of the government’s revenues.

“If we look at that shortfall, and failure to rectify leaks in their refineries, that adds up to a loss of about $10 billion to $11 billion a year,” he said. “That is a picture of an industry in collapse.”

The analyst is quoted in the article as saying, “What they are doing to themselves is much worse than anything we could do.”

Be that as it may, this information also gives rise to the idea that if this is true, then the Iranian nuclear program should be seen as an actual necessity and not as a choice of the mullahs to become a regional superpower. In fact, the analyst makes that very case in the article:

The analysis supports U.S. and European suspicions that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons in violation of international understandings. But, Mr. Stern said, there could be merit to Iran’s assertion that it needs nuclear power for civilian purposes “as badly as it claims.”

He said oil production is declining, and both gas and oil are being sold domestically at highly subsidized rates. At the same time, Iran is neglecting to reinvest in its oil production.

“With an explosive demand at home and poor management, the appeal of nuclear power, financed by Russia, could fill a real need for production of more electricity.”

The only problem with that analysis is that it’s bull cookies. Iran has been trying to develop a nuclear weapon since at least the early 1990’s according to the CIA and possibly longer. There wasn’t a problem with oil revenues back then nor was any contemplated – as long as they had competent bureaucrats to run the oil industry.

But in Iran, you get what you pay for. And the hardliners bought into Ahmadinejad’s glorious vision of a corruption free, pious Iranian government. What they got is a nightmare of incompetence and stupidity. Ahmadinejad’s first choice for oil minister was a joke; a close friend, tea and carpet trader and former acting mayor of Tehran, Ali Saeedlou who received a geology degree in 2003 from “Hartford University,” a place no one ever heard of or can confirm the existence of. The Parliament refused to be the punchline to the laugher and nixed his confirmation. This is but one example of Ahmadinejad’s mismanagement of government. Throughout the ministries, not only has there been mismanagement, but the same kind of corruption that occurred under previous administrations, seems to continue unabated. So much for “reform.”

It isn’t Ahmadinejad’s loose lips about destroying Israel or his taunting of America that has him in trouble with the elites in Iran. It is his rank incompetence as an administrator that is driving much of the opposition against him. This is important to keep in mind if the so called “moderate” radicals get back into power because the fact is, all segments of the Iranian government agree with Ahmadinejad with regards to Israel and the United States. Changing faces in the leadership will not lead the Iranians to halt or slow down their nuclear program nor will it deter them from meddling in the affairs of Lebanon or in sponsoring terrorism.

I guess Ahmadinejad was too busy looking for the messiah to see to the competent administration of his government.

By: Rick Moran at 11:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

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CATEGORY: War on Terror

It may be hard to swallow but the Iraq Study Group may have done the Bush Administration a big favor.

The fact that the ISG Report was so defeatist and so pessimistic about the future in Iraq means that any significant improvement to the security situation will greatly exceed expectations engendered by the report, thus giving the President a modest but welcome success.

Of course, achieving success will depend mostly on the ability of the Iraqi government to address the tangled web of political problems that are fueling much of the violence. But it is significant that the effort to cobble together a new coalition – more broadly based than the current Shia dominated regime – will continue despite the resistance of the iconic Ayatollah al-Sistani.

The old man may have given up on the United States already which could explain his failure to give his blessing to the plan to marginalize Muqtada al-Sadr by booting him out of the governing coalition. If Sistani is looking to the day that Americans are no longer in Iraq, he may see the Iranian dominated SCIRI as a bigger threat to Iraqi sovereignty than the ambitious nationalist warlord al-Sadr in which case, he will need the Mahdi Militia to fight off the expected lunge for power by the Badr Organization, the military arm of the SCIRI. Or, he may simply hate the idea of reducing the power of Shias in any Iraqi government. Regardless of his motives, his approval may not be required in order for a new government to begin taking the steps necessary to dramatically reduce the violence that threatens to destroy the Iraqi state.

And the problems faced by any new government will be formidable. If you only read one thing today, read this piece on Iraq from A sample:

There are several wars going on in Iraq. The most violent one is the war against Sunni Arabs. This community, which was about twenty percent of the population in 2003, is now fifteen percent, and dropping fast. Most of those Sunni Arabs that could afford to get out, already have. Those that remain are either too poor, or too stubborn, to leave. The stubborn ones are the Sunni nationalists who, for personal or altruistic reasons, do not want Iraq run by its majority population, the Shia Arabs.


Another war is Irans attempts to dominate the country. Iran is doing this through Shia Arab factions it has influenced, or bought. While the majority of Shia Arabs oppose Iran pulling strings in Iran, there is a realization that Iran is a natural ally against Sunni Arab efforts to put Iraqi Sunni Arabs back in charge of Iraq. This, oddly enough, is where the United States come in. Iraqi Shia Arabs look to the U.S. as a guarantor of Shia Arab dominance in the country. The U.S. is expected to keep both Iran, and foreign Sunni Arab, influence from interfering in Iraq.


Islamic radicals, both Sunni and Shia, are also at war with infidels (non-Moslems) and less devout Moslems…

Warlordism is alive and well in Iraq, as it is throughout the Arab world. But in most countries, the tribal and religious factions have been disarmed, and kept in check via favors or fear (or both.) That’s what Saddam did, and with Saddam gone, all the factions got their guns and went into business for themselves. Some of these private armies are there mainly to protect a criminal enterprise. Most of the criminal gangs have political wings, since the gangsters want to make money, not war, and are willing to pay off the government. But the criminals will fight to keep their loot. Some of the gangs provide support services for terrorists (making bombs, transporting weapons and people, whatever). The most notable warlords are those that lead political militias, but even these groups have “business” units that engage in extortion (or “taxes”) and theft (often of oil). Fighting the gangs is a war that can wait, but it will eventually have to be fought.

Viewed in this context, one can immediately see how military force can only be part of any solution to the violence in Iraq. There must be corresponding political moves by the Iraqi government that will mitigate the anger of the Sunnis while blocking the militias from walking the streets and enforcing their will with impunity. This is an extremely tall order for any Iraqi government, no matter how it is constituted. And all of this is happening in the shadow of the ISG Report that many Iraqis and neighboring states see as a defeatist document that will mean the precipitous withdrawal of American forces. Arnoud de Borchgrave:

“WatchingAmericadotcom” conveys a bleak picture of how the rest of the world views the 79 recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG). Whichever way you slice ‘em and dice ‘em, the report’s 104 pages spell failure. Some of its harshest critics in America say they’re a recipe for surrender. Abroad, they’re seen as a tacit recognition of defeat.

From Buenos Aires to Berlin and from Brussels to Beijing, ISG was a devastating indictment of a multibillion-dollar boondoggle. In Tehran and Pyongyang, the two remaining capitals in the “axis of evil,” and in Damascus, axis of lesser evil, cliches bristled about paper tigers and giants-with-feet-of-clay. That is precisely why President Bush is not about to accept ISG’s findings. Mr. Bush sees himself as a lone Winston Churchill figure from the 1930s railing against his somnolent colleagues as they appeased Adolf Hitler. And like Churchill at the end of World War II, he was not elected to preside over the dissolution of the American empire.

Reinforcing Mr. Bush’s gut feeling recently was a paper by Gen. Chuck Wald, recently retired as EUCOM commander, and Chuck Vollmer, President of VII Inc, which does strategic analysis for the Pentagon. “With the entry of Iran into the equation,” they wrote, “the next phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom could possibly include… a major invasion of Iran and pro-Iranian forces against Western forces in the region and Israel, and/or a global energy crisis.

“Rather than planning withdrawal from Iraq,” says the Wald-Vollmer paper, “we may be better served to plan for repositioning in this strategically important region. While withdrawal may be necessary in Iraq, withdrawal from the region would precipitate a global balance-of-power shift toward the Iran-Russia-China axis, which would be very detrimental for the energy dependent West.”

It is a continuing mystery to me why, if the stakes are as high as the President says they are in Iraq, that there has not been an urgency to the deliberations on what to do to change the situation on the ground. The President is proceeding as if the situation is stabilized and he has all the time in the world to come to some kind of decision. Instead, the blood shed has increased dramatically since our elections, the government of Iraq has sunk deeper into chaos and ineffectiveness, and our enemies in Syria and Iran grow bolder by the week. I realize Bush wants to achieve some kind of consensus within the Administration, but time’s a’wasting.

As if to underscore this point, it appears that al-Qaeda in Iraq is planning something spectacular. Counterterrorism Blog:

In response to yesterday’s audio message from Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, commander (or “emir”) of the Al-Qaida-led “Islamic State of Iraq”, Al-Qaida and its Iraqi insurgent coalition partners have announced the start of a “Mighty Raid on the Soldiers of the Crusaders and Apostates.” A statement circulated today by fighters loyal to the “Islamic State” declared, “We are at your service, Our Emir” and indicated that “new strikes by the legions of mujahideen—at their head, the Martyr Brigades, the Anti-Aircraft Brigades, the Assault Brigades, and the Fixed Weapons Brigades—are in progress targeting the fortresses of the crusaders and apostates.”

While the statement did not list any specific targets, there are general ongoing concerns about Baghdad’s international zone, otherwise known as the “Green Zone.” Only two months ago, the U.S. military announced that it had dismantled an Al-Qaida cell in Baghdad that managed to infiltrate the high-security Green Zone and was “in the final stages” of preparing to launch suicide bomb attacks.

A large, successful attack in the Green Zone will only make matters that much more difficult for the President. And the sooner his Administration can come to an agreement on what to do next, the better.

I don’t know if anything we do over the next few months will make a difference in Iraq. I know that we have to try. It’s not bluster or grandiose posturing to admit that things are bad and getting worse, but wanting to alter course in order to try and address the problems that have arisen as a direct result of our invasion and occupation. Many war opponents are accusing Bush of not facing up to reality and advocate withdrawing now before any more soldiers or civilians suffer as a result of our blunders in Iraq. But if, as the President has said time and again, the stakes are too high in Iraq to fail, then Bush would be a poor commander indeed if he threw in the towel now.

If the best that can be achieved is to exceed the lowly expectations engendered by the ISG Recommendations, I would take that over a precipitous and humiliating withdrawal. But time is running out. And sooner or later, our efforts will have to be seen as accomplishing something positive if the continued sacrifice of blood and treasure can be justified.

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