Friday, November 30, 2007

Republicans Report Much Better Mental Health Than Others

Relationship persists even when controlling for other variables

...What a surprise (not)! As they say, "tell me something I don't already know". Look at the stats, its hilarious: Republicans are the most mentally healthy, followed by independent squishy types, and trailing, badly!, are the dumbocrats...T

PRINCETON, NJ -- Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their mental health as excellent, according to data from the last four November Gallup Health and Healthcare polls. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans report having excellent mental health, compared to 43% of independents and 38% of Democrats. This relationship between party identification and reports of excellent mental health persists even within categories of income, age, gender, church attendance, and education.

The basic data -- based on an aggregated sample of more than 4,000 interviews conducted since 2004 -- are straightforward.

...But an analysis of the relationship between party identification and self-reported excellent mental health within various categories of age, gender, church attendance, income, education, and other variables shows that the basic pattern persists regardless of these characteristics. In other words, party identification appears to have an independent effect on mental health even when each of these is controlled for.

...What are the implications of these findings?

Correlation is no proof of causation, of course. The reason the relationship exists between being a Republican and more positive mental health is unknown, and one cannot say whether something about being a Republican causes a person to be more mentally healthy, or whether something about being mentally healthy causes a person to choose to become a Republican (or whether some third variable is responsible for causing both to be parallel).

...But the key finding of the analyses presented here is that being a Republican appears to have an independent relationship on positive mental health above and beyond what can be explained by these types of demographic and lifestyle variables. The exact explanation for this persistent relationship -- as noted -- is unclear.
Click here for full article

Two Hours of Humiliation

Good job CNN (known to all, now and forever, as the Clinton News Network)! I remember one of their reporters in the 90's, commenting live on the Monicagate fiasco, that she "would gladly get down on my knees and service him, for keeping abortion legal!"

Now, this is state of the modern MSM drive-by media, and anyone who disagrees is either hyper partisan, willfully ignorant, or suffers some form of mental disease...T

When the CNN-You Tube debate among Republican presidential candidates began with a guy named Chris Nandor playing a guitar and singing, my wife Barbara exclaimed, "This is humiliating. This is really bad." Of course she was right. And then things got worse. This debate not only was mortifying to the candidates. It also should have been embarrassing to the viewers, especially Republican voters who might have been watching.

I don't know if the folks who put the debate together were purposely trying to make the Republican candidates look bad, but they certainly succeeded. True, the candidates occasionally contributed. For the first few minutes, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney continued their debate over their records on immigration and did so with the kind of intensity that this trivial matter didn't warrant. These are two fine candidates who have only themselves to blame for looking petty.

But it was chiefly the questions and who asked them that made the debate so appalling. By my recollection, there were no questions on health care, the economy, trade, the S-chip children's health care issue, the "surge" in Iraq, the spending showdown between President Bush and Congress, terrorist surveillance, or the performance of the Democratic Congress.

Instead there were questions - ones moderator Anderson Cooper kept insisting had required a lot of time and effort by the questioners - on the Confederate flag, Mars, Giuliani's rooting for the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, whether Ron Paul might run as an independent for president, and the Bible. The best response to these questions was Romney's refusal to discuss what the Confederate flag represents. Fred Thompson discussed it.

The most excruciating episode occurred when Cooper allowed a retired general in the audience to drone on with special pleading in favor of allowing gays in the military. This was a setup. The general had asked a question by video, then suddenly appeared in the crowd and got the mike. The aim here could only have been to make the Republican candidates, all of whom oppose gays in the military, squirm. As it turned out, they didn't appear to. The general turns out to be a Clinton supporter, by the way.

By my count, of the 30-plus questions, there were 6 on immigration, 3 on guns, 2 on abortion, 2 on gays, and one on whether the candidates believe every word in the Bible. These are exactly the issues, in the view of liberals and many in the media, on which Republicans look particularly unattractive. And there were two questions by African Americans premised loosely on the notion that blacks get nothing from Republicans and have no reason to vote for them.

These questions would better be asked of Democrats at one of their presidential debates. After all, the biggest news so far at a Democratic debate was when Hillary Clinton muffed a question about illegal immigrants and drivers' licenses.

My impression was that Ron Paul, the libertarian, got considerably more attention than he usually does in debates and far more than he deserves as a marginal candidate. At least Paul's harping on the need to keep American troops at home prompted one good exchange. John McCain's response to Paul was that he'd been with the troops on Thanksgiving and their message was, "Let us win. Let us win. Let us win."

Nonetheless, it was a good night for Paul if only because he was treated as a major political figure rather than as the Republican version of Dennis Kucinich. The other candidates, with the exception of Mike Huckabee, were losers. They came off as a bunch of squabbling cousins.

Huckabee, though, knows how to conduct himself in TV debates. He's genial, funny, extremely likable, and not very substantive. He seems to understand that a CNN-You Tube debate is not a serious forum at which serious people discuss serious issues. So he doesn't get worked up, and this posture works.

At the end of the debate, I was left with one question. Why would Republican candidates with a chance of actually winning the presidential nomination subject themselves to two hours of humiliation? I wish the candidates had been asked that. It would have the highlight of the evening.
Click here for full article

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The World Doesn't Hate America, the Left Does

Right on Dennis! We (USA) never made policy only on the condition it pleased the World's other countries before...(Quiz: remember the INF deployment in the 80's?!). Guess when we started? Right - when G.W. Bush became president and decided that allowing us to be bombed, kidnapped and Nuked was no longer a wise option.

Has anyone in the drive-by msm noticed that all the countries that opposed us in Iraq have tossed out their socialist leaders and replaced them with staunchly pro American ones? Sarkozy in France? Merkel in Germany? All of whom fully support our mission of democratization? And who ever started caring what that dictator Putin thinks in the USSR, er, Russia? ;)...T

One of the most widely held beliefs in the contemporary world -- so widely held it is not disputed -- is that, with few exceptions, the world hates America. One of the Democrats' major accusations against the Bush administration is that it has increased hatred of America to unprecedented levels. And in many polls, the United States is held to be among the greatest obstacles to world peace and harmony.

But it is not true that the world hates America. It is the world's left that hates America. However, because the left dominates the world's news media and because most people, understandably, believe what the news media report, many people, including Americans, believe that the world hates America.

That it is the left -- and those influenced by the left-leaning news and entertainment media -- that hates America can be easily shown.

Take Western Europe, which is widely regarded as holding America in contempt, but upon examination only validates our thesis. The French, for example, are regarded as particularly America-hating, but if this were so, how does one explain the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France? Sarkozy loves America and was known to love America when he ran for president. Evidently, it is the left in France -- a left that, like the left in America, dominates the media, arts, universities and unions -- that hates the U.S., not the French.

The same holds true for Spain, Australia, Britain, Latin America and elsewhere. The left in these countries hate the United States while non-leftists, and especially conservatives, in those countries hold America in high regard, if not actually love it.

Take Spain. The prime minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004, Jose Maria Aznar, is a conservative who holds America in the highest regard. He was elected twice, and polls in Spain up to the week before the 2004 election all predicted a third term for Aznar's party (Aznar had promised not to run for a third term). Only the Madrid subway bombings, perpetrated by Muslim terrorists three days before the elections, but which the Aznar government erroneously blamed on Basque separatists, turned the election against the conservative party.

There is another obvious argument against the belief that the world hates America: Many millions of people would rather live in America than in any other country. How does the left explain this? Why would people want to come to a country they loathe? Why don't people want to live in Sweden or France as much as they wish to live in America? Those are rich and free countries, too.

The answer is that most people know there is no country in the world more accepting of strangers as is America. After three generations, people who have emigrated to Germany or France or Sweden do not feel -- and are not regarded as -- fully German, French or Swedish. Yet, anyone of any color from any country is regarded as American the moment he or she identifies as one. The country that the left routinely calls "xenophobic" and "racist" is in fact the least racist and xenophobic country in the world.
Given that it is the left and the institutions it dominates -- universities, media (other than talk radio in America) and unions -- that hate America, two questions remain: Why does the left hate America, and does the American left, too, hate America?

The answer to the first question is that America and especially the most hated parts of America -- conservatives, religious conservatives in particular -- are the greatest obstacles to leftist dominance. American success refutes the socialist ideals of the left; American use of force to vanquish evil refutes the left's pacifist tendencies; America is the last great country that believes in putting some murderers to death, something that is anathema to the left; when America is governed by conservatives, it uses the language of good and evil, language regarded by the left as "Manichean"; most Americans still believe in the Judeo-Christian value system, another target of the left because the left regards all religions as equally valid (or more to the point, equally foolish and dangerous) and regards God-based morality as the moral equivalent of alchemy.

It makes perfect sense that the left around the world loathes America. The final question, then, is whether this loathing of America is characteristic of the American left as well. The answer is that the American left hates the America that believes in American exceptionalism, is prepared to use force to fight what it deems as dangerous evil, affirms the Judeo-Christian value system, believes in the death penalty, supports male-female marriage, rejects big government, wants lower taxes, prefers free market to governmental solutions, etc. The American left, like the rest of the world's left, loathes that America.

So what America does the American left love? That is for those on the left to answer. But given their beliefs that America was founded by racists and slaveholders, that it is an imperialist nation, that 35 million Americans go hungry, that it invades countries for corporate profits, and that it is largely racist and xenophobic, it is a fair question.
Click here for full article

Monday, November 26, 2007

Iraq’s Savage Ironies - Adaptability, self-critique, and persistence will prevail

Excellent overview of the effect that victory in Iraq has had on our traditional and future global security aliances. Also how the press (the MSM drive-by version), got it all wrong from the start. Note that Europe is now pro american (more so than before the Iraq war), that Iraq is not just won, but that Al Queda is resoundingly defeated, and most importantly, humiliated and now detested by the Arab "street".

"it was not the American military that was ruined fighting an unpopular war in the heart of the ancient caliphate, but most likely al Qaeda who has lost thousands, (and, far more importantly, completely destroyed its Pan-Arabic mystique of religious purity).

The more the jihadists fought, the more they were killed by the U.S. military — while kidnapping, murdering, stealing, mutilating, raping, and outraging Iraqi civilians. Nothing is worse in the Arab world than to be seen as weak and cruel, and al Qaeda proved, eventually, to be both on Al-Jazeera"


The war in Iraq — as all wars — is fraught with savage ironies. In the build-up to the invasion, anti-Americanism in Europe reached a near frenzy. It was whipped up by French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and evoked warnings of an eternal split in the Atlantic Alliance. If Iraq had proved a catalyst for this expression of near hatred — fueled by long-standing angers and envies — it soon, however, proved to be a catharsis as well.

Both leaders overplayed their hands when the U.S. had already begun downsizing its NATO deployments in Germany. Elsewhere, Europeans started to have second thoughts about alienating America at a time of rising Russian belligerency, and suffered from increased worry over radical Islamic terrorists, at home and abroad.

The result is that their successors, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, are staunchly pro-American in ways their previous governments were not, even well before the Iraq War. And given the increased jihadist threats to Europe, worries about Iran, and the consistency of the U.S. effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, these governments may well have learned — in a way they did not anticipate in 2003 — that there really is no other ally like a steadfast United States, in these unstable times.

European youth can print all the anti-war leaflets they wish with splashy photos from Abu Ghraib — but their leaders quietly understand not only that the United States did not quit Iraq in defeat, but that it also may be winning an unforeseen victory there. Moreover, they see that this victory has repercussions for the security of their own countries — and this will require readjustments to the easy anti-Americanism of the past.

The post-war occupation was supposed to be difficult, but few envisioned a bloody four-year struggle. Instead, after the fall of Saddam, al Qaeda chose to escalate its war against the West by sending thousands of jihadists into the new battleground of Iraq — in part, to aid the Sunni and ex-Baathist insurgencies in their wars against the U.S., and the Shiites. The violence that ensued left tens of thousands dead, and resulted in nearly 4,000 American battle fatalities. We spent nearly a trillion dollars, as public support dropped from a 70-percent approval of the war to less than 40-percent.

Yet it was not the American military that was ruined fighting an unpopular war in the heart of the ancient caliphate, but most likely al Qaeda who has lost thousands, (and, far more importantly, completely destroyed its Pan-Arabic mystique of religious purity).

The more the jihadists fought, the more they were killed by the U.S. military — while kidnapping, murdering, stealing, mutilating, raping, and outraging Iraqi civilians. Nothing is worse in the Arab world than to be seen as weak and cruel, and al Qaeda proved, eventually, to be both on Al-Jazeera.

After Iraq, the al Qaedists’ reputation has become more akin to the Cosa Nostra, than to romantic Holy Warriors. It was not our intention in going to Iraq to cripple and discredit al Qaeda per se, in some third-party theater; but once the jihadists upped the ante, they also raised the stakes of being defeated with global implications to follow. Polls in the Arab world show a decline in support for suicide bombing, and a radical change of heart about bin Laden.

We made all sorts of mistakes in the immediate aftermath of the war. Pundits still bicker over whether we should have disbanded the Baathist army — or whether there was anything much left to disband. And by openly allying ourselves with the once-despised Shiites, we alienated the powerful Sunni elite minority that not only had run the country, but alone in Iraq, knew how to administer the infrastructure of a modern state.

All that being said, it is difficult to see how we could have immediately reconciled with the Sunnis, given their past alliances with Saddam, and their furor at the results of our one-man/one-vote policy of democratization. It was as if the British had landed at Mobile in 1859, declared slavery over, and expected the Southern white population to join in such a foreign-inspired multi-racial reconstruction.

Yet four years later, the Sunni insurgency is largely over — but largely over only because it has been defeated by the U.S. military. Tribal sheiks feel that they have restored the honor that was lost in Saddam’s three-week rout, by fighting the Americans tooth-and-nail for four years. That said, they now have learned that resistance brought them nothing but defeat and, if it continues, abject humiliation.

So there is a sort of tragic irony here too. It may well be that the Sunni tribes have learned, only through their failed insurgency, that they cannot defeat the U.S. military; that their Sunni al Qaeda allies were far worse than we are; that the Shiite government is not going away; and that the United States is an honest broker of sorts that is advancing their interests with the Shiite majority.

The unexpected result of all this is that it is only now — after the Sunnis have fought, lost, and learned the futility of continued resistance — that there a better chance for a lasting stability. It is impossible to imagine that the Southern Plantationists in 1860 would have been willing to reconcile with the North, or that Germans would have come to their senses and rejected Hitler in 1939. If the old dictum remains valid, that a war’s reconstruction and reconciliation come after, not before, the defeat of an enemy, then it may well be that the Sunnis had to learn the hard truth, the hard way, about the perversity of al Qaeda, the military superiority of the United States, and the permanence of the Iraqi constitutional government.

It is sometimes said that someone must be culpable for not finding a David Petraeus and his team of brilliant colonels earlier in the conflict. I wish it were that easy.

But such a conjecture is like saying Lincoln should have known of a Grant or Sherman at the war’s outset; or that earlier Union generals, even in error and blunder, did not attrite the enemy and provide both experience (even if by negative example), and some military advantage when Grant and Sherman finally emerged to positions of real influence; or that a Grant and Sherman did not themselves learn the necessary, prerequisite skills for their prominent command in 1864-5, while in obscurity during 1861-2.

The emergence of a Patton, LeMay, or Ridgway is usually through a process of distillation, where a military learns only from its mistakes, and only slowly sorts out the right people for the right job at the right moment. We should also remember that we did not suddenly discover the proper strategy for Iraq. We learned it only through the heroic sacrifices of thousands of lost Americans who took a heavy toll on the enemy all through 2003-6, and, in four years of trial and error, provided the lethal experience of what would and what would not work.

The war’s savage irony even extends to the reconstruction. Iraq by now was supposed to be pumping over 3 million barrels a day during the post-Saddam reconstruction. But due to vandalism, insurgent attacks, corruption, and neglect, the oil industry rarely currently sustains over 2.2. million barrels produced per day — despite a capacity to pump 3 million, and a potential some day to produce perhaps over six million per day.

Yet, because oil prices, in unforeseen fashion, have more than quadrupled since the war, Iraq finds itself with more petroleum revenues than ever before. Its total oil annual worth may reach $70 billion at the present price in the upcoming year, even without much of a change in production levels.

Electricity production has hit 5,000 megawatts per day and is climbing steadily, but consumption has skyrocketed from prewar levels. If Iraqis would consume electricity at prewar levels, they would probably now have power almost 24-hours per day. What the coalition and the Iraqi ministries are trying to do, then, is, at a time of war, protect and restore electrical service, but at the same time increase it threefold to meet increased demand brought on by millions of imported electrical appliances.

Nothing is for certain in any war — as the savage ironies of Iraq have shown the last four years. Few envisioned the initial brilliant three-week war, and the utter and rapid defeat of Saddam. Fewer foresaw the ensuing bloody four-year occupation. And the fewest of all anticipated that out of that mess, the present chance at stability and a real reconciliation under a constitutional framework could come.

The lessons are only the eternal ones: that wars won’t be fought as believed and won’t end as planned, but that adaptability, self-critique, and persistence, in an effort believed to be both right and necessary, will eventually prevail.
Click here for full article

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's true: Iraq is a quagmire

But the Real Story is Not Something You Have Heard

We've won in Iraq, and this is an accomplishment for the ages - it was really inevitable all along, supposing we kept the Drive-Bye-MSM and the democrat defeatists from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. This will transform the entire Middle East - mark my words...T

We're floundering in a quagmire in Iraq. Our strategy is flawed, and it's too late to change it. Our resources have been squandered, our best people killed, we're hated by the natives and our reputation around the world is circling the drain. We must withdraw.

No, I'm not channeling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. I'm channeling Osama bin Laden, for whom the war in Iraq has been a catastrophe. Al-Qaida had little presence in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. But once he was toppled, al-Qaida's chieftains decided to make Iraq the central front in the global jihad against the Great Satan.

"The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this third world war, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation," Osama bin Laden said in an audiotape posted on Islamic Web sites in December 2004. "It is raging in the land of the Two Rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate."

Jihadis, money and weapons were poured into Iraq. All for naught. Al-Qaida has been driven from every neighborhood in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, the U.S. commander there, said Nov. 7. This follows the expulsion of al-Qaida from two previous "capitals" of its Islamic Republic of Iraq, Ramadi and Baquba.

Al-Qaida is evacuating populated areas and is trying to establish hideouts in the Hamrin mountains in northern Iraq, with U.S. and Iraqi security forces, and former insurgent allies who have turned on them, in hot pursuit. Forty-five al-Qaida leaders were killed or captured in October alone.

Al-Qaida's support in the Muslim world has plummeted, partly because of the terror group's lack of success in Iraq, more because al-Qaida's attacks have mostly killed Muslim civilians.

"Iraq has proved to be the graveyard, not just of many al-Qaida operatives, but of the organization's reputation as a defender of Islam," said StrategyPage.

Canadian columnist David Warren speculated some years ago that enticing al-Qaida to fight there was one of the reasons why President Bush decided to invade Iraq. The administration has made so many egregious mistakes that I doubt the "flypaper" strategy was deliberate. But it has worked out that way. It may have been a mistake for the United States to go to war in Iraq. But it's pretty clear now it was a blunder for al-Qaida to have done so.

You may not be aware of the calamities that have befallen al-Qaida, because our news media have paid scant attention to them.

"The situation has changed so unmistakably and so swiftly that we should be reading proud headlines daily," said Ralph Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel. "Where are they?"

Richard Benedetto was for many years the White House correspondent for USA Today. Now retired, he teaches journalism at American University in Washington, D.C.

When U.S. troop deaths hit a monthly high in April, that was front-page news in most major newspapers, Mr. Benedetto noted. But when U.S. troop deaths fell in October to their lowest levels in 17 months, that news was buried on page A-14 of The Washington Post and mentioned on Page A-12 in The New York Times. (The Post-Gazette put the story on the front page.)

"I asked the class if burying or ignoring the story indicated an anti-war bias on the part of the editors or their papers," Mr. Benedetto said. "While some students said yes ... most attributed the decision to poor news judgment. They were being generous."

Mr. Peters suspects the paucity of news coverage from Iraq these days is because "things are going annoyingly well."

Rich Lowry agrees. "The United States may be the only country in world history that reverse-propagandizes itself, magnifying its setbacks and ignoring its successes so that nothing can disturb what Sen. Joe Lieberman calls the 'narrative of defeat,' " he wrote in National Review.

If what Mr. Peters, Mr. Benedetto and Mr. Lowry suspect is true, it must have pained The Associated Press to see a correspondent write Wednesday: "The trend toward better security is indisputable." It'll be interesting to see which newspapers run the AP story, and where in the paper they place it.

"We've won the war in the real Iraq, but few people in America are familiar with anything other than its make-believe version," said the Mudville Gazette's "Greyhawk," a soldier currently serving his second tour in Iraq.
Click here for full article

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hillary Backs Spitzer Dropping Illegal Alien License Plan

OK, Hillary can now say, perhaps, "I was for licences for illegals before I was against it!" , as Kerry did. She just issued a statement supporting licences for illegals last week, after all. What a craven hypocrite...T

Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton today said she supports New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s decision to drop his plan to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens as vigorously as she had backed his effort to issue such licenses in the first place.

“I support what governors are trying to do to address illegal immigration,” said Sen. Clinton, “whether they’re taking action to change the system, like Gov. Spitzer was, or caving to political pressure to maintain the broken system, like Gov. Spitzer did today. I think it makes a lot of sense, and simply highlights the failure of George Bush to take Spitzer-like leadership on immigration.”

Asked whether her statement means that states should not issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, Sen. Clinton denied it and accused a reporter of trying to “play gotcha.” “I didn’t say he shouldn’t do it, nor that he should,” said Sen. Clinton, “I only said I recognize that whatever he does I can understand because George Bush makes us all do irrational things.”
Click here for full article

Iraqi thoughts

VDH summarises the situation on the ground in Iraq - and the geopolitical fallout, very well here. I've always said, even at the height of the insurgency, and will say again now: The quickest victory, with the fewest casualties, in the history of warfare!

There is a terrific book, that puts this all in perspective, by Norman Podhoretz - "World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism" (he describes WWIII as the Cold War, ending when the Berlin wall fell)...T

The New Iraqi Debate

Now that the Democrats suspect that the U.S. is not only not losing Iraq, but may well “win”—victory being defined by stabilizing the country with a radical cessation of violence—expect the critique suddenly to morph as well.

We will soon hear that the war, while granted that it may be winnable, was not worth the commensurate cost, from liberal critics who have embraced much of the realist and neo-isolationist creed of the past (at least apart from Darfur). That is a legitimate debate—as long as opponents accept that it is a fallback position, and Harry Reid was mistaken when he announced the war “lost”.

Also expect Democrats to find ways to exaggerate the aggregate costs (like counting the rise from 20-100 dollars a barrel for oil entirely due to the Iraqi war without notice of the new Chinese/Indian demand, unrest in Africa, and declining production from the UK to the US), while Republicans will claim that Iraq is part of a larger existential war against Islamic extremism. How to resolve the dispute?

It depends on whether Iraq is stable—and the effect it has on Lebanon, Iran, Syria, the Palestinians, etc. I know such thinking is now dubbed “Neocon” warmongering and worse, but should the constitutional government in Iraq encourage reform in the region, then it would be impossible to compute all the multifarious ways in which that would contribute to world stability and US security. We’ll see, and 2008 for a variety of reasons will be interesting to say the least.

Iraqi Turn-about

I posted this thought the other day on NRO about the radical change in Iraq. There are three sub-texts rarely discussed—at least publicly—about the so-called Anbar awakening. First, oil is now $98 a barrel. Even with oil production still not quite at 2003 levels, the Iraqi government is raking in an enormous amount of cash—the equivalent of Iraq pumping about 7-8 million barrels per day at the 2002-3 price. Even if oil production were to stay flat (and some think it may climb to over 3 million b. a day by next year), Iraq might earn per annum well over $70 billion from oil alone at the present price. And for all the inefficiency and corruption, the money is starting to permeate Iraq, as any can attest from the storefronts stuffed with consumer goods and the astronomical climb in Iraqi demand for electricity. And Iraq is not the Saudi desert, but has the richest and best irrigated land in the Middle East, with an ideal commercially-strategic location, all suggesting that without Saddam’s wastrels, the country could very rapidly turn things around.

Second, the US military has eliminated a large number of terrorists, insurgents and general terrorists since 2003. Given the noxious fumes of Vietnam-era “body-counts” we don’t mention this. But many of the sheiks suffered horrendous losses among their tribes to the US in the past four years that led to some demoralization and the simple absence of their more skilled and veteran fighters. So, when they weighed the odds—increasing oil-generated wealth on the one hand versus being mowed down by the US on the other—the choice was to join us.

Third, for all the criticism of the Shiite government, it continued to function despite hourly threats and constant assassinations, both from Iranian-backed extremists and Sunni-backed Al-Qaedists. It has been a congressional pastime to trash the Iraqis, but few people in the world have so braved daily mayhem and still clung to a constitutional government process, however sometimes exasperating.

I’m not suggesting that the repugnance of al Qaeda, concern that the US pressure the Shiite government to help Sunnis, or machinations about the future did not play a role in bringing the Sunni tribes to our sides. But the notion that life could be pretty good with oil wealth and without US bullets—coupled with the acknowledgment that the elected government wasn’t going to quit or flee—played a large role in turning things around.
Click here for full article

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Watershed Moment on Immigration

Finally a clear articulation of this issue, with which I fully agree...T

October 2007 may turn out to be the month that immigration became a key issue in presidential politics. It hasn't been, at least in my lifetime.

The Immigration Act of 1965, which turned out to open up America to mass immigration after four decades of restrictive laws, wasn't one of the Great Society issues Lyndon Johnson emphasized in 1964. The Immigration Act of 1986, which legalized millions of illegal immigrants but whose border and workplace provisions have never been effectively enforced, was a bipartisan measure unmentioned in the debates between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale.

There was no perceptible difference on immigration between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. Both favored a comprehensive bill with legalization and guest-worker provisions. John Kerry in 2006 and 2007 voted for immigration bills along the lines supported by Bush.

Now, things look different. In the Democratic debate on Oct. 30, Tim Russert demanded to know whether Hillary Clinton supported New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's policy of issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. The forthright answer: yes and no. A clarifying statement by the Clinton campaign later in the week did not much clarify things: a hedged yes. It was one of several issues on which Clinton seemed to take calculating and ambiguous non-positions. But it is one that may have major reverberations in the presidential campaign -- and in congressional races, as well.

The reason is that the Democrats -- and Bush -- are out of line with public opinion on the issue. That became clear as the Senate debated a comprehensive immigration bill in May and June. Most Republicans and many Democrats, in the Senate and among the public, turned against the bill. Supporters of the bill tended to ascribe that to something like racism: They just don't like having so many Mexicans around.

But if you listened to the opponents, you heard something else. They want the current law to be enforced. It bothers them that we have something like 12 million illegal immigrants in our country. It bothers them that most of the southern border is unfenced and unpatrolled. It bothers them that illegal immigrants routinely use forged documents to get jobs -- or are given jobs with no documents at all.

You don't have to be a racist to be bothered by such things. You just have to be a citizen who thinks that massive failure to enforce the law is corrosive to society.

That was apparent to me as I listened to a focus group of Republican voters in suburban Richmond, Va., conducted by Peter Hart for the Annenberg School of Communications. One voter after another complained that the immigration laws were not being enforced. None of them made any derogatory remarks about Latino immigrants -- two said they admired how hard they work. They don't want to see Latinos banished from this country. They want the immigrants here to be legally here.

Which leaves Democratic politicians and political candidates out on a pretty flimsy limb. Most of them reflexively back a comprehensive bill, and some of them (like Bush and a number of Republicans backing such a bill) have dismissed opponents as racists.

Most Democrats have also been backing bills extending various benefits to illegal immigrants, like the Dream Act for college education for illegals brought over as children. There are appealing arguments for such bills. But most voters reject them. And most voters certainly reject driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. That was one of the issues that led to the recall of Gov. Gray Davis in California in 2003.

The Republican presidential candidates have taken note. Only John McCain, a longtime backer of a comprehensive bill, stands apart, and he concedes that voters are demanding tougher enforcement. In the special congressional election in Massachusetts on Oct. 5, the Republican was able to hold the Democrat to 51 percent by stressing immigration as one of his two top issues.

Other Republicans are likely to echo that theme next fall. And the Democratic presidential nominee (unless Chris Dodd gets the nod) is going to have to explain why she or he believes it's a good idea to give illegal immigrants driver's licenses.

The last several Democratic nominees could have said that they're just taking the same position as their Republican opponent. The 2008 nominee won't be able to say the same of hers or his (unless McCain gets the nod).

"The centrality of illegal immigration to the current discontent about the direction of the country may be taking us back again to a welfare moment," write the shrewd Democratic strategists James Carville and Stanley Greenberg. Yup.
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Friday, November 02, 2007

Breck Girl Ad Slams Mrs. Clinton

This is the kind of add we need to do in the general election, as Rush said today...T