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For the last three years, poll after poll has shown an American public who overwhelming believed that the war was mismanaged, that Bush was doing a horrible job in prosecuting it, that it wasn’t worth the effort, that we never should have invaded in the first place, and that we are losing the war.

Of course, the only poll that matters – on election day – saw the Democrats sweep into power promising to “change course” in Iraq. Not defund the troops. Not redeploy to Okinawa. Not carry out a domestic insurgency against the military by setting impossibly high benchmarks for the Pentagon to meet in order to send troops to the war zone. Not even set arbitrary timetables for withdrawal, although a majority of Americans would support a timetable to withdraw some troops over the next one or two years.

In fact, I commented here after the election on the curious disconnect between what Democrats were actually telling the American people before the election and the anti-war “mandate” they were claiming after the vote. With precious few exceptions, the Democrats did not talk about pulling our troops out of Iraq in 6 months or a year. They didn’t advocate timetables for withdrawal. They didn’t run commercials about supporting the defunding of the war or redeploying troops elsewhere.

Their unmistakable message to the voters prior to election day was that they would “change course” in Iraq – an interesting theme that appealed to a broad section of the American electorate. Since even many conservatives and moderate hawks advocated “changing course” in Iraq, this big tent approach obviously worked. At least it “worked” in the sense that the Democrats got their majority.

Two recent polls however, indicate one of two things; either the American people, when faced with the reality of a Democratic majority, are having second thoughts about leaving Iraq before some semblance of order is achieved or, more likely, a couple of pollsters have finally asked the “right” questions about Iraq to reveal what the American people have believed all along.

In fact, this poll reveals what has been one of the best kept secrets of American opinion over the past three years. A fairly consistent majority of between 55% and 65% oppose pulling our troops out immediately (59%). And another consistent sign of support is that a majority (57%) support “finishing the job in Iraq” – keeping the troops there until the Iraqi government can handle security on its own. (HT: James Joyner)

The simple minded sloganeering from the left about polls on Iraq and how the American people support their anti-war agenda down the line fails to take into a account that citizens have a fairly sophisticated, nuanced outlook on the war. They think Bush is doing a poor job (60% “strongly” or “somewhat strongly” agree” ), that 52% believe Congress isn’t doing much better, that only 17% want our troops to leave immediately, that a bare majority (50%) believe we should stay until the job is done, that a surprising 56% agree with the idea of supporting the President even if they disagree with him (another 17% “somewhat agree”), and in another surprise, 53% believe that victory is still possible.

Also, a whopping 66% believe that losing the war would cause America to lose its super power status. And 53% believe strongly that the Democrats have gone too far, too fast, in pressing the President to remove troops from Iraq.

The American people are also realists about the outcome. More than 80% believe Iraq will not become a stable democracy after the US leaves.

The other poll taken by IBD shows similar attitudes toward the war, the President, and the Democrats.

What gives? You can believe we are losing the war (as I do) and still support the President and the mission. You can think that the President is doing a piss poor job of prosecuting the war but also believe the Democrats are dead wrong in moving to defund it or throw a monkey wrench into troop rotations. You can be convinced that Iraq will not be a stable democracy after we leave but still think that the country is “a key part” in the War on Terror (57%).

In short, when pollsters start treating the American people as if they had a brain and ask a series of questions designed to elicit responses that, when taken together, give a much more nuanced snapshot of how the people actually look at Iraq, the “anti-war mandate” claimed by Democrats in the aftermath of the election dissolves into mush.

Not pro-war by any stretch and certainly indicating that they have zero patience with both an endless continuation of past strategies as well as political gamesmanship by the Democrats, the American people – practical, realistic, and desirous of getting on with the task of meeting our goals and getting the hell out – have proved once again that they actually understand the stakes in Iraq as well as realizing that things are going poorly and that changes are needed if success is to be ours.

Perhaps if we all stopped treating the public as little children who need to be told what to think, what to believe about Iraq, we could get beyond the one dimensional critiques of the war on both sides and work together on a plan consistent with their wishes to get out of Iraq with the goal of leaving an Iraqi government in place that can handle its own security and not be a threat to us or her neighbors. If those goals are achieved, I think it’s pretty clear that the majority of Americans would see our efforts in Iraq as a success. Perhaps not a “victory” in any realistic sense – but far from a defeat and definitely something to build on in the years ahead as Iraq will continue to struggle with instituting democracy.

Support for our war aims in Iraq will endure only as long as the people believe we have a chance of succeeding. The next 6 months will be critical to that perception as the surge currently underway will seek to create conditions for the Iraqi government to work toward political goals that should broaden its base of support and negotiate with the factions to end the cycle of violence that has Baghdad and its environs in its grip. The patience of the American people has worn thin. It’s time for the Iraqi government to do what is necessary so that our troops can start coming home.

The sooner – the better.


In addition to linking to the raw data, James Joyner also has an interesting summary of the poll results:

“The survey shows Americans want to win in Iraq, and that they understand Iraq is the central point in the war against terrorism and they can support a U.S. strategy aimed at achieving victory,” said Neil Newhouse, a partner in POS. “The idea of pulling back from Iraq is not where the majority of Americans are.”

“How Americans view the war does not line up with the partisan messages or actions coming out of Washington,” said Davis Lundy, president of The Moriah Group [the Chattanooga PR firm which commissioned the survey]. “There are still a majority of Americans out there who want to support the President and a focused effort to define and achieve victory.”

“The key group driving public opinion here are what we call the “nose-holders”, said Newhouse. “They don’t believe we should have gone to war or should still be there, but they believe we should stay and do whatever it takes to restore order until the Iraqis can govern and provide security for their own country.”

Both pro and anti war advocates have ignored “nose holders” for far too long. These are the practical and nuanced Americans I wrote about above. They are smarter than most of us and probably have a lot less patience than pro-war supporters believe. They probably voted Democratic in the elections last November. But they will almost certainly punish the Democrats if they go through with their slow bleed the troops strategy – especially if Republicans get off their duff and make the case that this cynical strategy is nothing short of “cut and run” on the sly.

And I will say to my fellow conservatives that we shouldn’t be doing too much crowing about these numbers. While some of these responses give the lie to any “anti-war mandate” claimed by the left in the aftermath of the election, neither do they represent much good news. Clearly, the American people want out of Iraq quickly. As long as progress is made toward that goal, the President will be able to maintain this support. But if things go south with the surge or Maliki proves himself to be even more of an empty suit than he already has, that support will disappear in a heartbeat.

By: Rick Moran at 7:27 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (14)

The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 02/21/2007

I can understand the reaction of many conservatives and GOP activists to the decision by 17 House members and 7 Senators to oppose the surge in Iraq. When the leader of your party and your President is in trouble, your first instinct should be to swallow your disagreements and support him. Loyalty to party and its leader should outweigh many concerns.

Indeed, there were many GOP House and Senate members who have grave misgivings about the President’s plan but supported it anyway. Why couldn’t that handful of lawmakers have seen their way clear to standing with the President when he needed them the most?

Mark Tapscott writes about the remarkable growth of The Victory Caucus, a week old internet phenomena that has as its mission:

  • Deliver the perspectives and news on the war effort which the mainstream media neglects to help the American public understand the nature of our conflict and its true progress.
  • Provide tools and infrastructure to help citizens who are committed to victory organize into a recognized and influential caucus.
  • Identify opportunities for the caucus to act and exert influence on America’s leaders and to directly aid and support the men and women of our military.

Tapscott thinks that VC may eventually have the power to impact elections:

Victory Caucus represents something new – an Internet-based campaign wild card with the power to shape the outcome of an election. These campaign wild cards give voice to a decisive segment of the electorate whose concerns are being ignored and/or attacked in and by the major party candidates and the mainstream media.

Unlike the pre-Internet era that saw the Perot movement slip away, I believe it is now becoming increasingly possible with the Internet to not merely conserve the energy and focus of an independent electoral movement but to grow it over time, maintain its focus and even expand its internal structure and coherence.

That may be, but much hard, slogging work lies ahead for VC to have that kind of an impact. And events themselves might overtake the VC’s strong support for the war and the troops engaged in combat. The Democrat’s bleed the troops strategy resonates within their caucus because it gives the party an opportunity to stop the war while not being blamed for abandoning the troops. As cynical a ploy that Murtha’s strategy represents, it nevertheless has a real chance of succeeding – with or without a united Republican party.

And what would happen in 6 months if the surge fails and, more importantly, the Maliki government fails to make the political changes necessary to begin to unite all the factions in Iraq in order to begin the process of national reconciliation? Even the President has indicated that unless there is progress by the Iraqi government in this area, he would re-evaluate our commitment in Iraq. At that point, I would guess VC would lose some momentum if not some cohesion.

But what makes VC’s agenda so problematic is their stated goal of enforcing party discipline when it comes to votes on the war. Hugh Hewitt:

The growth of the Victory Caucus represents the combination of the internet skills of NZ Bear and the lassitude of Beltway Republicans. If the GOP is awake it will quickly begin recruiting and publicizing the candidates with appeal to the sort of voter represented by the Victory Caucus. They will also announce to the White Flag Republicans that they have made their choice, and they cannot expect the party to order shields up.

The voters involved in the VC want the Republican Party to act as though it believes in the mission in Iraq by identifying new faces and new voices with military experience to challenge the 2006 Democrats in red districts. The opportunity exists to channel the tremendous energy unleashed by the “slow bleed” Democrats, as Mark Steyn calls them. But the GOP’s Comngressional leadership needs to wake up to the fact that the activists are amazed at their inaction and defensiveness.

I fully support the pledge I signed that would deny party funds to those who vote against the surge (and support other measures by the Democrats to undercut our efforts in Iraq). But recruiting primary candidates to run against those who for reasons of conscience (or personal political calculation) choose not to support the President?

With the nonsensical dance of nonbinding resolutions in the House and Senate over (for now), it is time to focus on more productive activities. Namely: looking forward to 2008, and beginning the task of idenitfying opportunities for victory-oriented candidates to unseat White Flag incumbents.

There is work to be done. First, we need to research the White Flag incumbents we beileve might be beatable. Our starting list should be as follows:

Any White Flag Republican, defined as one of the 17 Representatives who voted for the House resolution, or one of the seven Senators who voted for cloture on the Senate resolution

Any Democrat in a district (or state) that was won by President Bush in both 2000 and 2004. This indicates that the seat may be vulnerable to a (victory-oriented) Republican challenger.

Perhaps it should follow logically that if you deny party funds to an incumbent for his apostasy, it stands to reason that a search for a primary opponent would be the next step. But I think this goes too far and I think it bad politics.

I wholeheartedly agree that the GOP should make a determined effort to recruit candidates to run against Democrats – especially from the class of ‘06 – with Iraq War experience. In fact, I would say that the dismal performance of the party leadership in recruiting quality candidates for open and contested seats was the number one reason for the GOP’s loss in the last election. The fact that the Republicans failed to defeat a single Democratic incumbent proves my point.

But why waste resources on recruiting candidates to run against Republican incumbents? I notice several House members from the “Gang of 17” who are in vulnerable districts where they received 55% of the vote or less in ‘06. Defeating an incumbent in a bruising primary in these districts would make the prospects for a general election victory less than certain and may even guarantee a Democratic pick up.

The Senate, of course, is another story. But incumbents like Coleman and Smith face uphill re-election fights as a result of their past support for the war already. The prospects for success by a primary challenger in the general election would not be good under those circumstances.

Aside from all of the political calculations, there is the question of conscience and how much a representative should be penalized for following the dictates of his inner voice. We constantly complain about spineless politicians. And then when a couple of them stand up for what they truly believe, our first move is to rev up a primary opponent for him? Either we trust the judgement and heartfelt beliefs of our politicians or we encourage them to be as calculating in their votes as we hypocritically criticize them for.

I understand the need for party discipline in this matter. But a representative of the people who either votes to reflect the position of his constituents or out of a duty to his own moral precepts and conscience shouldn’t receive a death sentence. It is not wise politically nor is it right.


VC is highlighted in Politico today along with the story about going after GOP reps who opposed the surge.

By the way, if you haven’t bookmarked Politico you really should. Great “inside politics” articles and some first class writing too.

By: Rick Moran at 6:38 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

Doug Ross @ Journal linked with Party of Gullibility backs Euro Corporations, Iran
CATEGORY: Blogging

Yesterday, The House achieved a significant milestone when some lucky bloke opened the 2,000,000 page on this site since I began to keep track with sitemeter in February of 2005.

Since it seems like only yesterday that I was struggling to get 25 readers a day, I am astonished and humbled at that figure. I would like to thank all of you who are regular readers and those who drop by occasionally, if only to point out the error of my ways. Because yes, a significant number of those pages were not viewed by right wing nuts.

I also achieved another, less distinguished but even more remarkable milestone yesterday. My excellent spam catcher Askimet devoured its 500,000 victim – a spam bot probably trying to sell insurance. This number of spam comments and trackbacks does not include the 5,000 or so that actually made it through – usually by ganging up on the program and attacking it mercilessly, giving me up to 20 spams a minute. But for the most part, Askimet has performed magnificently.

BTW - if anyone has any good ideas how I can reduce that number, I’m open to suggestion.

By: Rick Moran at 11:51 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)


We’ve known for several episodes that what motivates Phillip Bauer more than anything is his drive to “save what he built” – his company, BXJ Technologies. But why? What possible motivation could cause Phillip to become involved in such nefarious activities?

The answer is immortality. Phillip is obsessed with it. Passing his “legacy” on to the next generation – first Graem and now Josh – has caused him to betray everything; his country, Jack, even humanity. He has so wrapped his identity around the company that he founded and built he has reasoned that as long as the company is in existence, he too will live.

A powerful motivation, that. It speaks to the divine in all of us. Most of the world’s great religions posit an afterlife where the immortal soul resides. But this is different. This is something tangible, something in the real world. The concept is so seductive that Phillip has abandoned his morals, his integrity, and even his sons so that perhaps his last thought in this life will be that he will live on, an eternal sentry standing watch over those who run BXJ.

The Greeks were drunk with the idea of immortality as the Iliad clearly shows. Warriors like Achilles and Hector fought knowing full well that their deeds would long outlive them and that songs would be sung of them for a thousand years. More recently, no less a personage than George Washington was bitten by the immortality bug.

Most men settle for their legacy living on through their children. But Washington, from a very young age, knew that the eyes of history would be upon him and realized that by carrying himself as a historical figure, history would indeed treat him kindly. It is impossible to separate what actions Washington took with an eye on the history books and which were the result of his noble character. But given his constant allusions to classical figures to explain many of his actions like the Roman General Fabius who, after saving Rome, retired to his farm rather than take the dictatorship that clearly could have been his, many biographers of Washington believe Washington’s desire to live on through the ages played a large role in shaping decisions in his later life.

This is not to say that Washington was any less virtuous or should be held in any lesser esteem. But it does point up this desire in many men to have their deeds live on after they are gone.

For Phillip Bauer, this obsession has now led to what he must clearly see as his ruin and the ruin of his company. Is this why he spared Jack? With both Josh and Marilyn still alive and knowing the truth about him, perhaps he saw the futility in killing the only son he had left. Knowing the writers, we might never find out why he didn’t kill Jack. But it’s clear that from here on out, Philip’s “legacy” will have to live on through Jack. And because of that, don’t be surprised if Phillip switches from trying to kill his son to joining him in the hunt for Gredenko.


Milo and Marilyn are on the run from Phillip’s thugs when Jack finds the burning van. He calls Bill to tell him the bad news and then races after them. While Milo is not a field agent, like Chloe (who offed a terrorist last year with an M-16) and all CTU agents, he is trained in the deadly arts – or at least he knows which is the business end of a revolver. Taking cover behind some dumpsters in an industrial park because Marilyn is wimping out on him, Milo grimly awaits the coming confrontation with the bad guys.

Phillip’s thugs aren’t too far behind. They arrive in the industrial park and begin the search while one of them calls Phillip at the hotel where he has taken Josh. The last place finisher in this year’s “TV Father of the Year” contest winces upon hearing the news of Jack’s presumed death, saying that there was “nothing that could be done.” He wants Marilyn alive so that she can tell him where Gredenko is.

Realizing the jig is up, Milo tells Marilyn to start running once he begins to shoot. As he bravely steps into the line of fire and begins to let Phillip’s bully boys have it, Marilyn either freezes or panics – probably both – and fails to move as Milo pours fire on to the bad guys. A single burst from an automatic silences Milo as a bullet finds his arm.

Taking Marilyn away and lining up to execute the geek-turned warrior Milo, the thugs are surprised when Jack shows up and wastes two of them. The fact that he had to use three shots to bring down the pair of them is ample evidence that poor Jack is out of practice and must get himself involved in more firefights in order to sharpen his eye.

The third thug threatens to kill Marilyn unless Jack drops his gun. Silly bad guy! Jack rarely follows orders from anyone least of all a brute holding a gun to the head of an innocent civilian. Jack also realizes that whoever is behind this needs Marilyn or the thug would have killed her already. The bad guy surrenders meekly.

Handcuffing the terrorist after checking to make sure Milo’s wound isn’t serious, Jack turns his attention to the former love of his life who betrayed he and his men. He grabs her by the throat and starts firing questions at her. The woman is too scared to try and lie so she spills the whole story; it’s Phillip who is behind everything. He has Josh and she had no choice but to do as he said. She also reveals the real address of Gredenko’s hideout, having noticed it when they drove by earlier.

The news appears to hit Jack pretty hard. But you can almost see the tumblers clicking into place. It all makes sense now. And Jack knows exactly what must be done. Like all great heroes, he must face his nemesis alone. He calls Bill and tells him to “trust him,” that it was now “personal” and that he would handle it. Before Bill can sputter out his objections, Jack has hung up and is setting a trap for his father.

Meanwhile, back at CTU Morris is on a “dry drunk.” Alcoholics don’t change once they stop drinking. The personality traits that made one susceptible to alcohol addiction in the first place never go away. Usually, it takes a few drinks for the self pitying, weepy drunk we’re all familiar with to emerge. But even for those alcoholics who have been sober for years, those same traits emerge – usually in times of stress.

Morris is on a full blown self-pitying jag. Chloe threatens to relieve him but he counters by saying all he needs is a little walk. When told of Milo’s heroics, Morris whines about “rubbing salt” into his wounded psyche. It is at this point that all alcoholics are in greatest danger of relapsing and going on a binge. In Morris’ case, he is torturing himself for arming the bomb and, more importantly, for not living up to the CTU Code of Heroic Conduct and seeking death rather than dishonor. Chloe tells him to call either the staff psychologist or his AA sponsor. Good advice not heeded.

Jack lays his trap for Phillip, making the thug call his dad and tell him that Marilyn won’t cooperate unless she sees her son. He has Marilyn insist on it or she won’t tell him where Gredenko is. Despite threats against her son’s life, Marilyn holds firm in her demand to see Josh. Reluctantly, Philip tells his bully boy to bring Marilyn to the hotel where he is staying.

Josh, overhearing the part about him getting killed, proves himself a smart kid and tries to sneak out “for a soda.” Phillip isn’t buying it and, showing the young man his gun, says darkly “No one’s life is worth the destruction of everything I’ve built.”

Welcome to the real Bauer family, kid.

Back in the bowels of the White House, Lennox meets with Reed and gives him the President’s itinerary for the Assad speech. He is told to get clearance for a man who will actually carry out the assassination. Protesting that his direct involvement will point the finger at him, Reed assures him that he won’t even be investigated, that blame will fall on Assad.

Clearly having second thoughts, Tom meets with the President and finds out that yes, his advice is still sought and desired by Palmer. This more than anything may have been the tipping point in Lennox’s inner struggles about the plot. The fact that the bureaucrat was still atop the food chain evidently matters more to him than getting rid of a President.

A short scene with Gredenko sheds no light on the mystery shipment coming from Vegas, only that because they only have three bombs left, the plan must be altered.

I have a very, very, bad feeling about whatever Gredenko’s ultimate plan might be.

Morris goes into a convenience store to get a snack (Good to see that 7-11 will still be open in the event of a catastrophic attack on America.) Seeing the booze behind the counter, he decides to turn his dry drunk into a wet one and buys some single malt whiskey -as good a choice as any if you’re going to fall off the wagon. He also buys some breath mints which no drunk in their right mind would do. Everyone knows that if you want to hide the fact that you drink, it’s best that you use Vodka which leaves no tell tale alcohol breath to betray you. All breath mints will do for Morris is make his breath smell like wintergreen whiskey.

Hating himself for his weakness, Morris takes several healthy gulps only to spit it out and force himself to upchuck the rest. Morris is in hell but he realizes that liquor won’t help him out of it. Chloe calls and orders him return. Morris can do nothing accept stagger back to work almost as if he had been on a two day binge.

Jack arrives at the Phillip’s hotel and readies Marilyn for the confrontation by offering her a sign of his true love and devotion – he gives her the only bullet proof vest that he has. The looks exchanged between these two former lovers tells me that poor Audrey has cause to be jealous.

After his meeting with the President, Tom meets with Reed to assure him that he’s working on getting clearance for the assassin. When his young assistant leaves, Lennox immediately calls the Secret Service and asks to meet with the agent in charge. But putting yourself on the side of the angels is not always the best move for your health. Upon leaving, he is attacked by Reed who never trusted him in the first place. After beating Lennox into submission, Reed calls the secret service to cancel his meeting with the agent in charge.

As the TAC team prepares to assault the house where Redenko is hiding, CTU gears up by having Chloe get them the satellite uplink. But Chloe, seeing how shaky Morris is knows the symptoms and, using a trumped up excuse about “resetting the backup” to the satellite uplink, pulls Morris out in to the hall and confronts her former husband.

She smells the whiskey immediately and upbraids him for letting her down, threatening to go to Buchanan. But Morris may have passed the crisis. He begs her to give him another chance and promises never to do it again. Chloe relents and they make it back to the conference room just in time.

I am more convinced than ever that Morris now must die. He will die heroically and redeem his cowardly actions in enabling Fayed to set off the bomb. The Gods demand it. And besides, for a show known to kill off regulars on a consistent basis, only dearly departed Curtis has exited so far. Some dead pools I’ve seen have Morris at the top of the list of the soon to be ex-24 regulars..

At Gredenko’s the TAC team moves in and finds the place empty. As Bill sends him the bad news via text message, Jack is moving toward Phillip’s room with the cooperating thug and Marilyn. Pushing their way in, they find the room empty. Just then, the phone rings. It’s Phillip who, smelling a trap, vacated the room with Josh and now has Jack right where he wants him. (“Even when you were young, I learned never to underestimate you.”)

His son tries to convince him that he only has one play left – give himself up, tell CTU everything he knows about the nukes, and hope for immunity. Given the number of bloodthirsty terrorists the US government has given this same deal to over the last few years, one wonders why Phillip doesn’t jump at the chance. Jack is right. His company is gone. All he has left is what remains of his family.

But Phillip will have none of it. When Jack suggests a prisoner exchange – Josh for Jack – Phillip agrees as long as Jack comes alone and unarmed. Perhaps realizing what he’s in for, Jack says goodbye to Marilyn in the stairwell next to where the exchange will take place. The moment is one more indication that Jack may have already forgotten about Audrey who has been pining away for two years while he sat rotting in a Chinese jail.

The exchange for Josh goes smoothly and Jack is left alone with is father. Phillip explains that Gredenko had him over a barrel, that he was blackmailing him with the knowledge of the Palmer plot from last year. He insists he was trying to stop Gredenko and that he didn’t know about the nukes until Valencia started to glow in the dark.

Jack isn’t buying it:

JACK: You want to lie to yourself you go ahead but stop lying to me. You let all of this happen just so you could cover up what you did.

PHILLIP: (Shaking his head ruefully) You had all the smarts Graem never had. You would have handled Gredenko before all of this got out of control. Ya know. . .none of this would have happened if you hadn’t turned you back on me. So that you could become – what – a “civil servant?”

It is clear that Phillip never understood his own son, only projecting his own values and desires on to a young Jack rather than realize that Jack’s calling was of a different kind, in a different direction. He tells Jack to get on his knees.

As Phillip prepares to kill his own son, Jack apologizes for letting his father believe all these years that he had turned his back on the family when he only wanted to live his own life by his own lights. As Jack braces himself for death, the bullet he was expecting to feel never arrives. Looking behind him, he sees that Phillip has left. Jack races out the door onto the roof only to find a palm pilot with a message to call an unfamiliar number.

When Jack calls and identifies himself, the voice at the other end is a familiar one, full of oily assurances and nauseating self importance. It is Charles Logan Ex President, ex plotter against the people of the United States, and former would be killer of Jack Bauer. Sporting a full beard (as if facial hair somehow gives him a backbone), he offers to help find Gredenko. But Jack must pay him a visit first.

And so the plot threads from two seasons are starting to merge. And one gets the feeling that Jack is going to find out more about his father from Logan than he wants to know or will be able to bear knowing.


Jack keeps his hand in by wasting two thugs, saving Milo in the process.


SHOW: 367

By: Rick Moran at 10:13 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)

Midwest Prognosticator linked with Best 24 Recap on the Web
CATEGORY: War on Terror

When I wrote back in September about Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s “Faustian Bargain” with the tribes of North Waziristan, counterterrorism experts predicted disaster. I summarized their concerns for The American Thinker:

In effect, the Taliban has carved out an independent enclave in ‘The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan,’ a safe haven for al—Qaeda terrorists, and a base of operations secure from interference by the Pakistani military to better carry out their murderous raids across the border into Afghanistan. They have already established their own harsh brand of Sharia law in the area and allowed training camps for various extremist groups to be set up. And most importantly, they have humiliated the government and weakened Musharraf’s tenuous hold on power.

More ominously, another country now has a terrorist state within a state operating virtually free of the control of the central government but with one potentially catastrophic difference:

This nation has at least 60 nuclear weapons that could potentially fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.

Now the New York Times is reporting that the worst fears of the experts have been realized and al-Qaeda has regained much of its strength, using Waziristan as a safe harbor to rest, refit, and plan their next moves:

Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.

Musharraf has been trying to to do the impossible since 9/11. He has been trying to appease radicals, his base in the military and Pashtun tribe, and the United States – all without getting assassinated. He is dealing with an incipient revolt in Boluchistan, a stagnant economy, a push among the people for free elections, pressure from the military to give up his Chief of Staff position, a shadowy intelligence service that created and nurtures the Taliban, agitation from religious political parties to distance himself from the United States, and a restive, radical, anti-American population who is plenty angry at the Pakistani President for helping the US in the War on Terror.

And that help has not been insignificant. For all of Musharaffs trimming and outright lies to us about how well he is fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the fact is he has done the best he can in impossible circumstances. At our insistence, he went into Waziristan in the first place looking to battle the Taliban and al-Qaeda only to get bogged down and watch as his military suffered regular casualties without making much headway in the mountainous, nearly impassable country. The treaty that led to the current catastrophic situation was a necessity – at least from Musharraf’s point of view. His fragile hold on power is dependent on his enemies not being able to coalesce in opposition to him. And his military moves against the northern tribes was extremely unpopular.

Just recently, he has bombed the camps in the northern territories, once again at the insistence of the United States:

Al Qaeda is fighting back against the Pakistani tactic of bombing terrorist camps along the Afghan border. In the last few weeks, terrorists bomb attacks have killed over a hundred people. Police have also prevented several additional bombings, capturing bomb making materials and documents proving the al Qaeda connection. Some of the captured bombers were actually preparing for attacks on Shia religious festivals next month, but most were revenge hits ordered up by al Qaeda.

Pakistan is in a tough position. With most of the population either enthusiastic, or supportive, of Islamic radicalism, it’s difficult for the government to declare open war on the tribes providing bases for the Taliban and al Qaeda along the Afghan border. Officers have already reported that up to a third of their troops might be “unreliable” if there were sustained military operations in the tribal territory. Yet, if the government does not go after these bases, the people in them have vowed to continue building their strength until they can topple the government. Such a headache.

Our leverage over Musharraf is simple; $2 billion in direct aid every year since 2002 and help in restructuring Pakistan’s massive debt burden. Beyond that, Musharraf knows what will happen if Pakistan becomes another base for al-Qaeda terrorists to strike western interests with impunity. For the moment, the US and NATO is obeying Musharraf’s absolute restriction on “hot pursuit” of Taliban fighters who have infiltrated into Afghanistan and move effortlessly back across the border into Pakistan. But Musharraf cannot be insensitive to the fact that the patience of the US is wearing thin and that taking matters into our own hands is an option that is not off the table.

Musharraf has also banned air operations against the Taliban (although he has relented on a few occasions when a high value AQ target was sighted) and denied entry even by Special Forces – although there have been hints that he has simply turned the other way with regards to both American and French Special Operations that have been run in the northern Afghan-Pakistani border area.

Ed Morrissey sums up our dilemma with Musharraf pretty well:

Western intelligence and military agencies are unsure how to proceed. American military strikes on these bases will violate Pakistani sovereignty, but Musharraf has not been willing to take on the task himself. The West cannot allow AQ to operate so easily, and the Bush doctrine certainly would apply here. However, if people thought Iraq was such a “meatgrinder”, as one CQ commenter recently put it (and later retracted), it would be a walk in the park compared to an invasion of Waziristan and an occupation of that region. It would almost certainly pull down the Musharraf government in Islamabad, and its replacement would almost certainly be Islamist. Its army and intelligence services would immediately begin to attack American positions in the mountainous country, and we would then be at open war with a nuclear power. Plus, the lines of communication would make it difficult to resupply our troops even if that war went reasonably well; we could not hope to hold Waziristan for a significant period of time.

Besides, given the nature of AQ, even targeted American strikes could not guarantee that they could be “surgical”, ie, not create collateral damage to civilian populations. We also could not be sure that we had destroyed the core AQ targets, although the camps would be enough for now. Escalation of the war in Afghanistan would have to get NATO’s buy-in, and it would open up the White House to more attacks from Congress, including another defunding threat.

Allah adds this:

The stupider, more reactionary types among the nutroots will try to blame this on Chimpy’s Iraq gambit, but one has nothing to do with the other. The issue here is Pakistani sovereignty, not troop levels, and in any case there aren’t enough men and women in the U.S. military to occupy a country of 160+ million people with nuclear weapons and a jihadist power base that’s the envy of the Wahhabist world. We might have enough troops to invade and occupy the tribal areas if Musharraf was willing to cut a deal on that, but (a) what could we possibly offer him to get him to effectively cede territory, (b) how could he hope to survive the irredentist backlash among Pakistanis, and© if you think 3,000 dead in Iraq is bad, what would the numbers look like with U.S. troops fighting Iwo-style cave-clearing warfare in the mountains of Waziristan with jihadis from every shinolahole in the Middle East streaming in as reinforcements?

Truly, remarkably, ignorant is the reaction from much of the left. Bush has been blamed for Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and a variety of societal ills that the rational among us recognize as not being the responsibility of government. But the delusion that the United States government – run by anyone – should be able to find a way to help Musharraf or mitigate his problems is beyond stupid.

Pakistan is a sovereign country. Those anti-American feelings among the population were there long before Bush took office. And the fiercely independent tribesmen in the north have been fighting the central government in Pakistan since the partition with India 60 years ago. The Taliban, as I mention above, was created by the ISI who has a vested interest in seeing that they survive. Musharraf himself was a big Taliban booster until 9/11. And Pakistan has always taken a proprietary interest in what happens in Afghanistan, seeing that country as part of their sphere of influence.

Taking all that together, only a monumental idiot would blame President Bush for the state of affairs in Pakistan. Here’s one:

So while our Great Decider Bush was busy deciding whether he wanted Osama dead or alive, or didn’t care about him anymore, the real terrorists weren’t waiting around to for his final answer. And now we have a hell of bigger problem. Musharraf’s government is holding on by a thread as it is. He can hardly afford to rile up the Islamic extremists without risking a major coup. The US can hardly go in and start bombing the place willy nilly without triggering the same reaction and possibly riling up a bunch of countries in the region whom we are sure possess nuclear weapons. Not to mention the inevitable civilian deaths in such a strategy would really get the people in terrorist recruiting country even more energized.

It surely would have been better if Bush had finished the first war he started before he expanded the front all over the globe. It couldn’t be anymore screwed up if he did it deliberately. Makes you wonder if creating international chaos wasn’t the goal from the beginning.

“Finished the first war…?” Who, pray tell, would we have been fighting? Goats? Sheep perhaps?

The Taliban had been driven out of Afghanistan. And the sovereign country of Pakistan refused to allow us entry to finish them off. Of course, if we had violated Pakistan’s sovereignty and gone in anyway, Mr. Impolitic would have had apoplexy. Nor does our deranged lefty cousin say anything about the responsibility of the Pakistanis in the aftermath of the War in Afghanistan. We had been assured by Musharraf that the Taliban would be held in check and that al-Qaeda would be dealt with. Given the circumstances and the alternatives, we had very little choice but to believe him.

No, I blame Bush for much of the debacle in Iraq as well as the fact that there are still too many soft targets here in this country. But I cannot stand by and watch truly ignorant, reflexive, bashing of President Bush over a situation that is not his or the government’s fault. The problem of Pakistan is one of geography. It is one of sovereignty. It is one of history that occurred long before George Bush became President. It is about radical politics that Iraq has only marginally affected – that, in fact, our invasion of Afghanistan (you know, the one that our super patriotic liberals say they supported) roiled the streets of Pakistan far more than anything that happened in Iraq.

None of this matters. The left is in a comfort zone when blaming Bush and I daresay they will continue to do so long after his term of office is over.

By: Rick Moran at 1:10 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

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Britney Spears new look.

Yes she has a gazillion dollars. And yes she’s one of the most famous people on the planet. But from what I can tell of Britney Spears, she is also a human being in great pain and in danger of falling down a deep, dark hole from which it is very difficult to see the light.

First, the story - if you’ve been hiding in a cave the last day or so:

Britney Spears checked into a rehab facility and then abruptly checked out, a source confirms to PEOPLE. And then on Friday, she returned to Southern California – and she shaved her head completely bald.

Video of the newly bald Spears, 25, was captured at a Sherman Oaks, Calif., tattoo parlor by KABC-TV in Los Angeles and posted on its website.

The pop star checked herself into Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Centre in Antigua “two or three days ago” but left after just one day and headed to Florida, the source tells PEOPLE.

TV’s Extra first reported that the singer had entered a treatment facility. later reported that she checked out less than 24 hours later.

That’s from the MSCM (Mainstreatm Celebrity Media) publication People Magazine. This “report” is from a site with even less credibility but, judging by Spears’ actions, rings true:

Britney went to a hair salon on Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley. Apparently she had called someone from the salon, which was closed, to come back and open the doors just for her. Our photographers say she was crying in the car for 10 minutes before she went inside – you can even see the wet tear stains on her sweatshirt. She then went inside and did the deed herself – picking up the shears and shaving her head.

Despite what Drudge and others are referring to as a “cry for help,” I can tell you that Spears’ actions are no such thing. I have been in the dark place that Spears now finds herself. I have been where she is – looking up the huge mountain she must climb to get her life back from addiction and saying to yourself, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard.” To be told on that first day of rehab how the journey she will embark on is one she will travel the rest of her life, that she will have to fight the demons that now possess her every day forever is the hardest thing anyone can ever hear. The feeling of utter and complete helplessness that engulfs you when you realize exactly what you are giving up, what you are asking of yourself is too much for most people.

That’s why recidivism rates top 70% for most substance abusers who have gone through rehab after two years. For cocaine, it is more than 90%. For Alcohol, slightly less than 60%. The problem isn’t that the programs aren’t good. The problem is one of the patient not being ready to change. And for that to happen, most addiction experts agree that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the patient must first hit rock, solid, bottom. Only when in the depths of despair and bereft of hope will the patient finally come to realize that rehabilitation is the only road to salvation and begin to make an effort to do the things necessary to free themselves.

Spears’ flight from rehab is the classic first impulse of the addicted. The feeling of panic is real, almost irresistible. You realize they want to take away everything that is familiar and comfortable – how you feel when you take that first hit or gulp or shot or even how you feel when you get up in the morning regretting the night before. Indeed, subconsciously that is the nub of the matter. You have been feeling bad for so long that it’s like a comfy old shoe. Dragging it out of its little box and looking at it in the mirror, glorying in it, revelling in it, is so much a part of your self identification that you dread having to put the box away forever.

Hence, the haircut. She doesn’t like what’s staring back at her when she gazes into the mirror. The cirumstances call for desperate reasoning: Maybe if she changes the person in the glass, the rest of her will change as well and she can go on carrying whatever monkey has jumped on her back. That’s the important thing. Maybe she can fool herself into believing she has changed simply by shaving her head.

Awesome denial.

In the meantime, all of us gawk away and watch as a young woman falls into the pit. For those who dismiss Ms. Spears ordeal by saying “she can afford it” or “serves her right” or some other stupidity, you are probably one of those whose empathy meter barely wiggles when you see an injured doe by the side of the road writhing in agony or shut your ears to the pathetic mewlings of a lost kitten. Nothing can be done for you. The part of your soul that registers human has been compromised to the point that only when something bad happens to you or to one of your loved ones does the arrow on the meter jump to levels where most of the rest of us are familiar.

I include in this group the gaping, scrambling subset of the MSM that makes a living as our eyes and ears to the world of celebrity. It is our national guilty pleasure, this obsession with the rich, the beautiful, the oh so sad and lonely creatures whose private lives and public personae have merged so seamlessly that it is impossible to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. To say that this phenomena has never been seen before in the history of civilization is a given. More problematic is how this obsession affects our politics, our culture, and our daily lives.

We are drenched in celebrity, drunk with it really. And the louder we complain about it, the more obsessed we become. This is what drives the “weevils” of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff – the writhing mass of photographers and reporters who hung on every word and with popping bulbs and clicking cameras, catalogued every action of the Mercury astronauts for the American public.

And their handsome, photogenic boss – President John F. Kennedy – did nothing to discourage the weevils from giving he and his family the same treatment. If the celebrity culture has a granddaddy, it was JFK who rightly believed he could capture the American people’s obsession with Hollywood stars and graft it on to the White House, using it to his own political advantage. The marriage of Hollywood and politics began with Kennedy and each heightened our awareness of the other until today, especially for the Democratic party, the two are hard to tell apart. Politics imbued celebrity with an importance far beyond its true impact on our national life while celebrity made politics more interesting.

A symbiotic relationship that no one knows where it will end up taking us.

The weevils will not leave Ms. Spears alone to suffer in private. They will continue to hound her, to give us all front row seats at her self destruction. I may be old fashioned but somehow, that doesn’t seem right. And I hate to be a stick in the mud but don’t you think this is one aspect of Ms. Spears’ celebrity that we can afford to miss? Will it kill us if we’re not in on Spears drama as she tumbles toward rock bottom?

Maybe we should just let her be. Heresy I’m sure. But in the words of the old Joe South hit

Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes
And before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes.

Words that Ms. Spears’ would grant all of us heed. Words of wisdom we can all walk to and live by.


The inimitable Jim Rose:

Only in America can a celebrity’s complete meltdown be televised from start to finish.


And I see where the salon that hosted Ms. Spears scalping party is selling her hair on Ebay.

An event for the multiverse.

Allah: Spears – Judy Garland comparison?

I know what he’s getting at but consider:

1. Spears nice little voice vs. Garland’s shattering vibrato.

2. Spears wiggles and thrusts on stage vs.Garlands enormous presence.

3. Spears best known songs vs. Garlands classics.

4. Spears “acting” vs. Garlands Academy Award nominations for her towering performances in A Star is Born (1954) and Judgement at Nuremberg (1961).

5. Spears flashing vs Garland…are you kidding?

Am I hitting this too hard?

Even Garland’s dissolution was more spectacular but perhaps less public. So perhaps both our points are valid after all.

By: Rick Moran at 10:12 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

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I got an earful from some of my friends on the left for taking Representative John Murtha and the Democrats to task for their moral cowardice in not directly trying to defund the war but rather slink in the shadows and attempt to sabotage deployments and readiness. Some of the emails I got tried to explain that Murtha’s strategy of strangling the Defense Department by mandating shorter tours and longer periods at home between deployments as well as going so far as to require troops to train with all their equipment (despite the fact that the troop’s equipment is either already in theater or is shipped to Iraq ahead of time) represents a “realistic” approach to the problem of defunding the war.

They point out that an up or down vote wouldn’t pass because Democrats don’t want to be saddled with the inevitable Republican charge of undermining the troops in a time of war. One commenter went so far as to explain that the American people wouldn’t understand the “nuances” of defunding the war so Murtha’s “brilliant” plan not only accomplished the task of ending the war but also left Democrats blameless!

Well, I’m glad we cleared up those points about moral cowardice, aren’t you?

Today, I was gratified to see that the Washington Post mirrors my thoughts on Murtha and his “slow bleed the troops” plan:

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-Pa.) has a message for anyone who spent the week following the House of Representatives’ marathon debate on Iraq: You’ve been distracted by a sideshow. “We have to be careful that people don’t think this is the vote,” the 74-year-old congressman said of the House’s 246-182 decision in favor of a resolution disapproving of President Bush’s troop surge. “The real vote will come on the legislation we’re putting together.” That would be Mr. Murtha’s plan to “stop the surge” and “force a redeployment” of U.S. forces from Iraq while ducking the responsibility that should come with such a radical step…

Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to “stop the surge.” So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill—an action Congress is clearly empowered to take—rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. “What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with,” he said.

Is Murtha in complete control of his faculties? This brazen admission of political and moral turpitude points up how truly cynical the Pennsylvania Congressman and his partners in this calumnious plan have become. Not only that, Murtha is also apparently woefully ignorant of what is going on in Iraq and some of his statements call into question whether the 74 year old is mentally sharp enough to occupy a position of leadership in the Democratic party:

Mr. Murtha’s cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq “would be more stable with us out of there,” in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce “massive civilian casualties.” He says he wants to force the administration to “bulldoze” the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to “get our troops out of the Green Zone” because “they are living in Saddam Hussein’s palace”; could he be unaware that the zone’s primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?

It would be nice to believe that Mr. Murtha does not represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party or the thinking of its leadership. Yet when asked about Mr. Murtha’s remarks Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered her support. Does Ms. Pelosi really believe that the debate she orchestrated this week was not “the real vote”? If the answer is yes, she is maneuvering her party in a way that can only do it harm.

Couple these bizarre statements with Murtha’s weird contention that we should redeploy the troops in Iraq to Okinawa and a troubling picture is emerging of a man who may not be as sharp as he was a decade ago when he was known rightly as a strong proponent of military preparedness and a champion of veterans benefits.

But the Democrats need Murtha for those very reasons – even if his mental acuity is not as it once was. That’s because there’s no one else in their caucus with the national security credentials to lead the retreat from Iraq. As the public face for surrender to the terrorists, the Democrats need Murtha as a front man to reassure the public that running away and leaving the people in Iraq – especially the Sunnis – to the tender mercies of the death squads, criminals, thugs, kidnappers, beheaders, and al-Qaeda terrorists who would be unencumbered in carrying out their massacres isn’t solely the product of left wing loons. In effect, Murtha mainstreams defeat and is therefore necessary to the Democrat’s plan to leave Iraq before the Iraqi government is ready to stand on its own.

Yes, it’s a low blow to call into question Murtha’s mental state. But considering the stakes and considering the statements he’s made above as well as his appearances on Meet the Press and other talk shows which have shown a sometimes confused and incoherent man, I believe it’s a painful but legitimate question to ask. I say painful because I always liked and admired Mr. Murtha. At a time when precious few Democrats were standing up for Ronald Reagan’s defense build up, he was a tireless proponent of strengthening our national defense while the rest of his caucus stood four square against increasing defense spending.

That was then. This is now. And Murtha, for whatever reason, has started down a road that I believe is a gigantic mistake. And the means by which he seeks to achieve his goal is so underhanded, so morally reprehensible that it does a huge disservice to his past standing as a passionate advocate for American security.

I sincerely hope the Republicans can torpedo this plan before it can be implemented. And I hope that Murtha and the Democrats can be convinced to schedule an up or down vote to defund the war. Win or lose, at least that would be a principled way to achieve their aims rather than sneaking around in the dead of night, stabbing the military in the back.


Ed Morrissey:

Has John Murtha ever been anything more than incoherent on Iraq? He talks loudly but says next to nothing other than reiterate the need to declare defeat and bug out of Iraq. He can’t even get his facts straight despite having spent the better part of two years making himself the leading Democratic voice on the war. Even the Washington Post can’t help but notice that this Emperor has no clothes.

Despite this, Pelosi insists on following his leadership on Iraq policy. The Democrats have made the case yet again why they cannot be trusted with national security. They use bad information, faulty logic, and underhanded tactics to exploit it for partisan political purposes. John Murtha represents everything that is wrong with the Democrats on this debate. They are ill-informed and incoherent, unable to formulate a plan for victory but willing to sabotage American efforts anyway.

It’s going to be a long two years.

Got that right, dog.

Dan Riehl:

If the Washington Post is willing to call BS on the Democrats in the House, it should be heeded as a strong warning. This will be worse than the way they McGovern-ed themselves in ‘68. At least then they took a principled stand. What they are about today is far from that. Ultimately, they could easily be exposed for the shallow, power happy mob that they are.

Agreed – if the Republicans have the balls to call them out on their cowardice.

A. Jacksonian (Founder and sole member of the Jacksonian party) has some thoughts on Murtha circa 1994.

UPDATE: 2/18

Britt Hume of Fox News notices the same thing I did about Murtha’s diminished capacity:

HUME: That sound bite from John Murtha suggests that it’s time a few things be said about him. Even the “Washington Post” noted he didn’t seem particularly well informed about what’s going on over there, to say the least. Look, this man has tremendous cachet among House Democrats, but he is not — this guy is long past the day when he had anything but the foggiest awareness of what the heck is going on in the world.

Allah has the video.

By: Rick Moran at 12:39 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (24)

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In what observers are calling a “victory that will bring the buffalo back,” the University of Illinois has dropped Chief Illiniwek as its official mascot and replaced the white-boy-dressed-up-idiotically-like-a-Native-American with the more dignified “Soy Boy.”

The University of Illinois will drop its 81-year-old American Indian mascot, Chief Illiniwek, following the last men’s basketball home game of the season on Wednesday, officials said.

The move makes the school eligible to host postseason NCAA championship events.

The NCAA in 2005 deemed Illiniwek—portrayed by buckskin-clad students who dance at home football and basketball games and other athletic events—an offensive use of American Indian imagery and barred the university from hosting postseason events.

American Indian groups and others have complained for years that the mascot, used since 1926, is demeaning. Supporters of the mascot say it honors the contributions of American Indians to Illinois.

Rumors are flying that the next target of the multiculturalists will be changing the name of the state itself. “Illinois” is a white man’s bastardization of the Native American confederation known as “Illini” which included the Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Moingwena, Peoria and Tamaroa Indian tribes. Acceptable alternatives to “Illinois” would be “Soyland,” “Cornhole,” “Flatland,” and “Mostly White.”

As for the team nickname, the Culture Police are accepting for now the rather lame explanation given by the Board:

Illinois still will be able to use the name Illini because it’s short for Illinois and the school can use the term Fighting Illini, because it’s considered a reference to the team’s competitive spirit, school officials said.

The new mascot will be “Soy Boy” in reference to the state’s #1 crop. However, there may be trouble brewing already. Vegetarian groups are said to be up in arms about the insensitive portrayal of the soybean and its use as an irreverent symbol relating to athletic events. Anna Moonbeam, President of People for the Ethical Treatment and Worship of Plants, has threatened a lawsuit against the University unless a ceremony is performed before each appearance of the plant with “appropriate chanting and the burning of dill weed.”

In other news, under pressure from various Irish groups in the United States (and following threats by the IRA), the University of Notre Dame is preparing to drop the “Fighting Leprechaun” as its mascot and replace it with “The Golden Domer.” The news drew immediate fire from People United Against Laughing At Bald Men who objected to the new mascot’s polished noggin…


John Avarosis is under attack for bemoaning the loss of tradition at Illinois.

I give him about 15 more minutes before he does a 180 and apologize for being so politically incorrect.

By: Rick Moran at 4:19 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8) linked with Goodbye Chief Illini - Welcome Soy Boy!

I always knew politics in Texas was, well, different than other states. Larger than life characters pepper the history of of the Lone Star State, their peccadillos and peculiarities the stuff of legend.

But reading about what was in a memo that the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee passed around to his fellow lawmakers; a memo that highlighted a group that posits, shall we say, an alternate view of cosmology as well as a counterintuitive reason why this alternate view has been suppressed, takes the adjective “colorful” to a whole new cosmic plane:

It’s not surprising that the earth doesn’t move for Warren Chisum, and maybe it’s not surprising that he blames a Jewish conspiracy for it.

Still, it’s enough to set the world a-spinning that the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the most powerful committee in the House, distributed to legislators a memo pitching crazed wingers who believe the earth stands still—doesn’t spin on its axis or revolve around the Sun— that Copernicus was part of a Jewish conspiracy to undermine the Old Testament. That would be the same Old Testament that was written by the folks Chisum’s friends say are conspiring to undermine it.

Indeed, I had to check my calendar to make sure I wasn’t living in the 14th century. After reassuring myself that in fact, the year was 2007, I clicked on this link and couldn’t stop laughing:

“An electromagnet and computerized sensor hidden in its display stand cause the Earth to levitate motionlessly in the air.”

Could God have engineered something like that for the real Earth?

Um…I suppose so. If God were a jokester.

The Earth is not rotating…nor is it going around the sun. The universe is not one ten trillionth the size we are told. Today’s cosmology fulfills an anti-Bible religious plan disguised as “science”.

The whole scheme from Copernicanism to Big Bangism is a factless lie. Those lies have planted the Truth-killing virus of evolutionism in every aspect of man’s “knowledge” about the Universe, the Earth, and Himself.

Do you think we should tell these folks to stop using telephones and watching TV? You see, most communications are relayed through space satellites that are in geosynchronous orbit above the earth. That means that the satellite is in an orbit about 26,000 miles above the earth travelling at orbital velocity of about 17,500 MPH. This positioning allows the satellite to maintain a nearly constant spot above the earth. It sort of puts the kibosh on the idea of a fixed earth in that the satellite sure is in a hurry going absolutely nowhere if the earth indeed didn’t rotate.

And perhaps it best that we not wonder about how the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. I’m afraid of the answer these folks might give.

These people are even loonier than their cousins in the creationist movement. I’ve heard creationists talk about the universe being 6,000 years old which by definition, would make the cosmos a considerably smaller place than it is for the rest of us. But a non-rotating earth? A non solar orbiting planet? Truly, remarkably dumb. Do these folks realize that we’ve actually been up there to see for ourselves, that we’ve sent thousands of satellites into orbit while hurling dozens toward the sun and the planets? What kind of trickery do they think is at work?

As far as what should be done with Mr. Chisum, I think if everyone in the country pointed their finger at him and laughed, that might approach a punishment that befits his stupidity. Calling for him to resign would only make him a martyr. Directing ridicule and scorn in his direction would be more effective in countering his bizarre beliefs.


Joshua Marshall fleshes out the whole rancid story, including tracing the memo I linked above back to a Georgia House member with peculiar beliefs.

By: Rick Moran at 8:32 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

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David Broder is:

It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don’t be astonished if that is the case.

Like President Bill Clinton after the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, Bush has gone through a period of wrenching adjustment to his reduced status. But just as Clinton did in the winter of 1995, Bush now shows signs of renewed energy and is regaining the initiative on several fronts.

More important, he is demonstrating political smarts that even his critics have to acknowledge.

His critics will never acknowledge anything positive about this President so we can safely throw that last sentence in the wastebasket – along with most of this piece.

Broder is an old Washington hand who knows all the right people, attends all the right parties, and is an expert at the Washington rumor and gossip mills. He’s made a good living telling us what the high and mighty really think about each other as well as offering some excellent “inside politics” insights into how personalities and issues interact in our capitol city and how this affects the way things get done.

But he’s reaching here:

When Bush faced reporters on Wednesday morning, he knew that virtually all those in the Democratic majority would be joined by a significant minority of Republicans in voting today to decry the “surge” strategy.

He did three things to diminish the impact of that impending defeat.

First, he argued that the House was at odds with the Senate, which had within the past month unanimously confirmed Gen. David H. Petraeus as the new commander in Iraq—the man Bush said was the author of the surge strategy and the man who could make it work. Bush has made Petraeus his blocking back in this debate—replacing Vice President Cheney, whose credibility is much lower.

Second, he minimized the stakes in the House debate by endorsing the good motives of his critics, rejecting the notion that their actions would damage U.S. troops’ morale or embolden the enemy—all by way of saying that the House vote was no big deal.

And third, by contrasting today’s vote on a nonbinding resolution with the pending vote on funding the war in Iraq, he shifted the battleground to a fight he is likely to win—and put the Democrats on the defensive. Much of their own core constituency wants them to go beyond nonbinding resolutions and use the power of the purse to force Bush to reduce the American commitment in Iraq.

Where the non-binding resolution will have no teeth, Bush himself will have little influence over the “slow bleed the troops” strategy that leaked on Politico yesterday. House Democrats are in dead earnest to undermine the President’s surge plan. Just because they don’t have the moral character or political guts to call for an up and down vote on funding the war doesn’t mean Bush has trapped them in the slightest. They will get both their resolution going on record against the surge and an end to the war on their terms regardless of what Bush says or does.

Jeralyn Merritt recognizes this:

Sure the Dems support with the base is going to suffer if that happens. But more than that, Dems will join Bush in being blamed on Iraq if that happens. The Dems must see that a position on Iraq can not be avoided. And the choices are binary – in or out. Vote funding for the war and the Iraq Debacle becomes your Debacle too. Vote against it and it does not. It is that simple.

It is “cut and run” all over again. In 2006, the Dems were smart enough not to bite on Rove’s gambit. I smell them biting this time, and taking the Iraq Debacle on their shoulders. Incredibly stupid politically as well as being bad policy.

And when that happens, Bush will look better relatively in comparison. Call it an Einstein Bounce.

I disagree with Ms. Merritt in that I don’t think the Democrats will “bite” this time. Murtha and his “slow bleed the troops” strategy will give a nice cover to even those Democrats who might be wary of voting to cut off funding directly for the war. That’s the genius of Murtha’s cowardly proposals. While his party believes the war is lost and our men and women should be “redeployed,” Murtha and the Democrats are perfectly content to allow our soldiers to bleed in the field while they stay politically safe by gradually undermining the ability of the Pentagon to carry out the orders of the Commander in Chief rather than advocate an up or down vote to defund the war immediately.

Republicans will gripe about it but in the end, Democrats will probably get a sizable number of them to vote for at least some elements of the Murtha plan. So much for a Bush “comeback.”

And that makes the rest of Broder’s musings ironic in the extreme:

In other respects, too, Bush has been impressive in recent days.

He has been far more accessible—and responsive—to the media and public, holding any number of one-on-one interviews, both on and off the record, leading up to Wednesday’s televised news conference. And he has been more candid in his responses than in the past.

While forcefully making his points, he has depersonalized the differences with his critics and opponents. He has not only vouched for the good intentions of congressional Democrats, he has visited them on their home ground, given them opportunities to question him face to face, and repeatedly outlined areas—aside from Iraq—where he says they could work together on legislation: immigration, energy, education, health care, the budget.

With the public eager for some bipartisan progress on all these fronts, Bush is signaling that he, at least, is ready to try.

The question that echoes through everyone’s mind is what the hell took so long? Why did it take a massive defeat at the polls for Bush to reach out and attempt a little bi-partisanship?

If he had tried from the beginning of the War in Iraq to make the Democrats partners rather than playing political games with the AUMF vote (Authorization to Use Military Force) and then rejecting the advice of wise Democrats on war policy for three years, I daresay we wouldn’t find ourselves in this mess today. I know I’m going somewhat against the grain here when it comes to how my conservative friends view the history of the last few years but for every slight, every insult, every bric-a-brac thrown at the President, there has been one returned. It takes two parties to poison the political atmosphere – just like it takes two parties to fashion bi-partisan consensus. And now, in this country’s hour of need in Iraq, when we desperately need a bi-partisan consensus in order to avoid catastrophe, it is impossible to find.

Instead, we have one side trying to undermine the other – Democrats seeking to undermine the President’s plan while Republicans seeking to make Democrats partners in defeat; an Alfonse and Gaston dance that if the stakes weren’t so unbelievably high, it would be fodder worthy of a Shakespearean comedy – or perhaps tragedy. For in the end, there are 150,000 men and women in Iraq who will be doing Murtha’s “slow bleed” while surging in futility unless the Iraqi government can find a way to bring all the factions together to live in peace.

I frankly don’t care if Bush gets a “bounce” for being clever about placing the onus of defunding the troops on the Democrats. He shouldn’t care either. What they should all care about is salvaging something from this debacle short of a humanitarian and strategic disaster.

And that, gentle readers, would give a bounce to everyone.

By: Rick Moran at 7:34 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

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