Ladies and gentlemen, we have statistical evidence of the Bob Barr effect! A new poll in the blood-red state of Georgia, where the Libertarian nominee is from, shows a dead heat: McCain 44%, Obama 43%, Barr 6%. Wow!
Now, a major grain of salt is called for here. It’s very early, and I seriously, seriously doubt these numbers will ultimately hold up. But this sort of polling data (see also: close races in Alaska, North Carolina) can’t make the McCain people happy. Indeed, I bet they’re getting some serious heartburn from the combination of: 1) the recent state polling numbers generally, which show a definite Obama bounce in red, blue and purple states alike, and 2) the noises Obama is making (backed with action) about competing in states like Texas and Indiana.
With regard to Georgia and point #2, the real issue is that, in light of Obama’s decision to change his mind and reject public financing — a tactical no-brainer, notwithstanding its dubiousness in principle — he can afford to put his (abundant) money where his mouth is, and at least force McCain to waste precious resources in these states.
P.S. His mom’s white! He’s from America! Heh.
I mentioned yesterday that I noticed a bunch of military helicopters flying over downtown Denver on Monday night, and wondered what the heck was going on. Turns out I wasn’t alone. The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News report that the city police department received numerous calls from members of the public concerned about the aerial activity. Not to worry, folks were told: this was simply “routine” training related to the war on terror, not a response to, or preparation for, any particular threat or crisis.
Here’s some video of the choppers doing their thing:
More detail from the Rocky Mountain News:
The exercise by special ops troops, supported by Denver police SWAT teams and firefighters, is intended to prepare for any terrorism threat in a “realistic urban environment,” said Lt. Steve Ruh, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. …
“It’s all in preparation for anything that could possibly happen with the global war on terrorism,” said Ruh, whose command coordinates all the military branches’ crack commando units - from Army Rangers to Navy SEALS.
The Special Operations Command calls itself the “Tip of the Spear” against the nation’s gravest threats.
Ruh noted that the exercises are conducted in major cities in the U.S., usually at the invitation of the cities, but that doesn’t mean those cities are necessarily possible targets for terrorism.
There was apparently conflicting information at first about whether the location of the training is related to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, but the official line appears to be that it is not. Meanwhile, there was some controversy about whether the proper notifications were made:
“The federal agencies sponsoring the ongoing multi-agency training in Denver agreed to make the proper notifications regarding the exercises to prevent surprise and inconvenience to Denver residents,” [Mayor John] Hickenlooper wrote. “There seems to have been a misunderstanding about the reach and scope of these notifications, and they did not occur in the manner expected by the City.
“Although these exercises are in no way connected to the upcoming Democratic National Convention, Denver officials were well aware that there would be heightened sensitivity to an exercise such as this because of its proximity to the Convention,” the mayor continued. “Denver recognizes that these are our federal partners, and we are fortunate that they have chosen Denver for their training exercises. Should there ever be an emergency here that would require federal assistance, they will be familiar with our City and how best to navigate it.” …
“Advance notice was given to the (Denver) civil authorities. We were here as guests,” Ruh said. “It would be up to (local authorities) to send it out.”
[Denver police Lt. Ron] Saunier said that Defense Department officials asked police to “respond to inquiry only.” So he provided a “very generic statement” Monday to police dispatchers in case the public called.
But the official statements were not enough to satisfy some commenters on the Rocky Mountain News website, where the phrase “martial law” appears repeatedly. For example:
This is done to make citizens accustomed to military hardware, and martial law easier to accept. Don’t accept it, Posse Commititus puts citizen protection under police authority. Blending police and military is what tin pot dictators do to control their population. …
just wait until the convention starts, the military, and the local police will be trying out all kinds of toys on the protestors. personally, I cant wait to watch it all unfold on CNN. …
The military is for wars, domestic protection is up to the police. Bringing the military onto our soil to do the cops’ job is martial law, AKA lost liberty …
This is just great…we now accept the military in our cities…the more we accept this the easier it will be for our government to imprison anyone it deems a “terrorist.” We need to fight back NOW …
[T]he Constitution deems a standing military a threat to freedom…what we need in this country is a militia and for everyone to own a gun…I dont need protection from the big bad terrorists and I don’t need blackhawk helicopters flying over our cities…let everyone in this country own a gun with absolutely no restrictions and then we don’t need any protection from anybody …
[T]he first Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed in September 2001 declaring the War on Terror as a war on American soil, the PATRIOT ACT, The Military Authorizations Act, all written to erode our Bill of Rights. These all pave the road to Martial law and suspension of our government. We stand today one national emergency from this possibility. Why do we accept this? …
The oath of the military is to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I just hope impending martial law triggers memory of this oath among the current servicemen. I love my country and our constitution, loyal to that document and the people, I work to better it by denouncing the current direction we are headed. …
Are you ready for martial law? … We are opening a Pandora’s box here. It’s fun to play with the hardware…but actually using it domestically is another thing…
We are prepping you for MARTIAL LAW. What are you doing reading anyways, you should be watching the sports games like all the other mindless sheeple who have given up their liberty and freedom for a FALSE Security and who revel in being lied to. Franklin said that YOU deserve neither. So go and vote, doesnt matter to us in the CFR and bildaberg group who OWN both political parties! None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. Go back to sleep sheeple and dont google CFR or Bildaberg group, its better not to know who controls/owns you! If a nation expects to be ignorant and free it expects what never was and never will be!
Et cetera, et cetera.
(Hat tip: Marty.)
Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days. I haven’t moved up the date of my blog retirement, I promise. :) I’ve just been super-busy in Denver. And speaking of Denver, here’s a cool photo of the D&F clock tower and the Moon last night:
During a previous trip to Denver, it became something of a running joke among Becky, the SHA girls and myself that I was constantly taking pictures of the clock tower. But I think that one’s actually pretty neat!
The Moon and clouds weren’t the only things in the sky over Denver last night. All evening long, a pair of military helicopters was circling over downtown. They were making a lot of noise, but at some points their lights appeared to be off, as if they were operating in some sort of (admittedly rather ineffective) stealth mode. I have no idea what that was all about ("we’re being invaded by Utah," I hypothesized at one point), but it was a little creepy.
Oh, and speaking of, uh, security and stuff: I’m now at the airport waiting for my flight back to Phoenix. This will be my third of four flights in less than a week (Nashville to Phoenix, Phoenix to Denver, Denver to Phoenix, Phoenix to Nashville). So I’ve been spending a lot of time in airports, and I have a question. It’s now been almost two years since the implementation of the "new" security measures involving liquids and gels. Yet all the signs and announcements still talk about these as temporary steps, due to "increased" security. At what point will we end this charade, and acknowledge that these measures are here to stay permanently, or at least indefinitely?
So it turns out, despite what the Bush administration and their supporters would have you believe, that many of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay had little or no ties to terrorism. In fact, some were working FOR the U.S. Certainly makes me feel safer knowing the government is locking up our allies for years without a chance to defend themselves.
After all the blood and blunders, people are right to be sceptical when good news is announced from Iraq. Yet it is now plain that over the past several months, while Americans have been distracted by their presidential primaries, many things in Iraq have at long last started to go right.
This improvement goes beyond the fall in killing that followed General David Petraeus’s Ã¢â‚¬Å“surgeÃ¢â‚¬Â. Iraq’s government has gained in stature and confidence. Thanks to soaring oil prices it is flush with money. It is standing up to Iraq’s assorted militias and asserting its independence from both America and Iran. The overlapping warsÃ¢â‚¬â€Sunni against American, Sunni against Shia and Shia against ShiaÃ¢â‚¬â€that harrowed Iraq after the invasion of 2003 have abated. The country no longer looks in imminent danger of flying apart or falling into everlasting anarchy. In September 2007 this newspaper supported the surge not because we had faith in Iraq but only in the desperate hope that the surge might stop what was already a bloodbath from becoming even worse (see article). The situation now is different: Iraq is still a mess, but something approaching a normal future for its people is beginning to look achievable.
The article proceeds to explain the improvements in greater detail, and then concludes:
In highlighting the improved conditions in Iraq we do not mean to justify The Economist’s support of the invasion of 2003 (see article). Too many lives have been shattered for that. History will still record that the invasion and occupation have been a debacle. Iraqis even now live under daily threat of violent death: hundreds are killed each month. They remain woefully short of the necessities of life, such as jobs, clean water and electricity. Iraq’s government is gaining confidence faster than competence. It is still fractious, and in many places corrupt.
Nor does it follow that a turn for the better necessarily validates John McCain’s insistence on America staying indefinitely. A safer Iraq might make Barack Obama’s plan to pull out most American troops within 16 months more feasible, though at the moment a precipitate withdrawal looks foolish. But to guard the fragile improvements, the key for America must be flexibility. Both candidates have to keep their options open. If America’s next president gets Iraq wrong because he has boxed himself in during the campaign, all the recent gains may be squandered and Iraq will slide swiftly back into misery and despair. That would be to fail twice over.
Again with the Uprising, begob:
At the major ballot-counting center in Dublin, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan struggled to speak to reporters as anti-treaty activists jubilantly drowned him out with songs and chants of “No!” He eventually gave up and walked out, as one activist waved a sign reading “No to foreign rule” over his head.
Just rebel to the core, is all :}. OK here’s the deal ~ or rather, the No-deal (emphases added; and, Hat tip: sister-in-law
Paddy Patty Ash :) ~~
Ireland’s voters have rejected the European Union reform treaty, a blueprint for modernizing the 27-nation bloc that cannot become law without Irish approval, electoral officials said Friday.
In a major blow to the EU, 53.4 percent of Irish voters said no to the treaty. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen now will join other EU leaders at a summit next week to try to negotiate a new way forward.
Anti-treaty groups from the far left and right mobilized “no” voters by claiming that the treaty would empower EU chiefs in Brussels, Belgium, to force Ireland to change core policies Ã¢â‚¬â€ including its low business tax rates, its military neutrality and its ban on abortion.
Among such “far left” groups was (naturally :) Sinn FÃƒÂ©in (whose name is translatable to English as, appropriately enough, “Ourselves Alone” :). The treaty rejection is not only a blow to the EU’s grand plan :> but also a shillelagh upside the heads of the Republic’s mainstream political parties, all of which advocated a Yes vote ~ and perhaps especially a whack across the kneecaps of Fianna FÃƒÂ¡il’s Brian Cowen, who has replaced the formerly unsinkable (and Always incomparable :) Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach.
More after the break.
You know those "House Divided" license plates — they’re really popular here in the South — for families in which the spouses root for rival schools? Well, the governor and first lady of California have something similar going on, except it relates to politics rather than sports, and it’s on their house instead of their car:
(As for those license plates, I need a customized USC/Notre Dame version that says "A Man Divided." Heh. Okay, not really, but it’d look cool, anyway…)
InstaPundit’s tongue-in-cheek take: “Since it’s generally thought that men are disproportionate consumers of porn because of their gender, and because, hormonally, they’re driven to favor visual stimuli, then obviously punishing porn consumption constitutes sex discrimination, and is probably unconstitutional. Plus, research establishes that porn is good for America. You don’t hate America, do you?” Heh.
Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War, and Frederick Kagan, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, claim in the WSJ:
America is very close to succeeding in Iraq. The "near-strategic
defeat" of al Qaeda in Iraq described by CIA Director Michael Hayden
last month in the Washington Post has been followed by the victory of
the Iraqi government’s security forces over illegal Shiite militias,
including Iranian-backed Special Groups. The enemies of Iraq and
America now cling desperately to their last bastions, while the
political process builds momentum.
These tremendous gains remain fragile and could be lost to skillful
enemy action, or errors in Baghdad or Washington. But where the U.S.
was unequivocally losing in Iraq at the end of 2006, we are just as
unequivocally winning today.
(Hat tip: Youngblai.) I have no idea whether the Kagans are correct, but in general, the problem with claims like theirs is one of credibility: back in 2006, most folks on the Right did not contemporaneously admit that we were "unequivocally losing in Iraq," so it’s hard to know how much credence to lend to their claims now. (Honest query: I’d be curious if somebody can find an example of the Kagans bucking this trend back in ‘06, and forthrightly admitting then that we were losing. Maybe they did; I have no idea. But many conservatives — and administration officials — didn’t.)
Listening to a hawkish conservative who always claimed we were winning say, "we were losing then, but we’re winning now," is sort of like listening to a far-left liberal who opposed the war in Afghanistan say, "we should have stayed out of Iraq and focused on Afghanistan." Maybe they’re right, but they have no credibility saying it!
Actually, though, the former example is arguably worse than the latter one, because whereas a lefty who rallies ’round a war he opposed is making a self-contradicting statement of opinion, a hawk who rewrites the war’s history is making a self-contradicting statement of fact. And, as the saying goes, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but nobody’s entitled to their own facts.
That’s what makes this Iraq debate so frustrating for someone like me — someone who is by no means an expert on what’s happening in Iraq, but who wants to support the right course of action based on sound
reasoning and properly understood facts. Both sides are so committed to their ideological preconceptions that it’s seemingly impossible for them to agree on what the facts are. The Left will claim we’re losing, or are inevitably bound to lose, and must therefore get out, whether that’s factually true or not; and the Right will claim that we’re winning, and can succeed if only we keep at it for a little longer, and must therefore stay the course, whether that’s factually true or not.
For many on both sides, I think, it’s past the point of being dishonest: they’re so committed to their argument that they convince themselves to honestly believe their version of reality. One of the reasons I’m undecided between Obama and McCain is because I feel like I’m choosing between these two camps, both of which have ideological blinders on, which is not exactly an appealing choice — and meanwhile, I don’t have the requisite information to decide whose preconceptions are closer to the truth, largely because I don’t trust either side to present that information accurately! Nor do I trust the liberal media, or the conservative media, or the right-blogosphere, or the left-blogosphere. On this issue, it seems like everybody has an agenda.
What are the actual facts? Are we winning or losing? Is there a reasonable hope of genuine success in building a reasonably stable and at least somewhat democratic Iraq, or are we just wasting our time on a quixotic and unsustainable effort to do so, and suffering needless losses in the process? If we leave, will things get better or worse — and if worse, how much worse? The "facts on the ground" that would help answer these questions are absolutely essential pieces of information for any rational decision-maker, yet they get lost in the fog of war — and, perhaps more pertinently, of politics. Argh.
Back in the long-ago dark ages of late 2007, when it appeared that Hillary Clinton was the inevitable Democratic nominee, there was much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over the notion that the 2008 election — and a potential Clinton Administration — was going to turn into a re-hash of the 1990s.
Now, with Barack Obama the nominee, it appears we’re going to re-hash the 1970s instead:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Senator Obama says that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m running for BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s third term," McCain
said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Seems to me
heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s running for Jimmy CarterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second.Ã¢â‚¬Â
TPM’s Greg Sargent says we can "expect more evocations of Carter. Lots more." Politico’s Jonathan Martin seems to agree, writing that Carter is one of the few "convenient and resonant Democratic bogeymen" available.
P.S. On an unrelated note, John McCain wants to veto beer!
Last week, I confessed that, although the rational side of my brain is undecided between Barack Obama and John McCain, the “portion of my brain that views politics as a sport can’t help ‘rooting’ for Obama” because he is “the scrappy mid-major going up against the staid, boring, established program; he’s Boise State against Oklahoma (’They said this day would never come: a WAC team in a BCS bowl! Yes, we can!’), he’s Appalachian State against Michigan… or, as McCain might prefer to say, he’s Hawaii against Georgia.”
Now, Ben Smith uses a college-football metaphor, saying that Obama’s 50-state, expand-the-map strategy is the political equivalent of the “spread offense.”
If so, Obama’s definitely going to win Michigan. :)
Crispin Sartwell, a self-described anarchist and a professor of philosophy at a small liberal-arts college in Pennsylvania, speaks the truth about academia:
Within the academy, conservatives really are an oppressed minority. At the University of Colorado, for instance, one professor found that, of 800 or so on the faculty, only 32 are registered Republicans. This strikes me as high, and I assume they all teach business or physical education. … [B]ecause there’s a consensus, there is precious little self-examination; a slant that we all share becomes invisible.
Academic consensus is a particularly irritating variety of groupthink. First of all, the fact that everyone agrees and everyone has a doctorate leads to the occasionally explicit idea that all intelligent people think the same thing Ã¢â‚¬â€ that no one could disagree with, say, Obama-ism, without being an idiot.
That the American professoriate is near-unanimous for Barack Obama is a problem on many levels, but certainly pedagogically. Ideological uniformity does a disservice to students and makes a mockery of the pious commitment of these professors simply to convey knowledge. Professors are as herd-like in their opinions as other groups that demographers like to identify Ã¢â‚¬â€ "working-class white men," for example. Indeed, surely more so. …
That this smog of consensus is incompatible with the supposedly high-minded educational mission of colleges and universities is obvious. But academics are massively self-deceived about this, which makes it all the more disgusting and effective.
(Hat tip: my dad.)
Having shocked y’all Friday morning by announcing that I’m retiring the blog on July 20, I figure Monday morning is a good time for yet another shocker. Would a three-page manifesto to Irish Trojan favorite son Joe Lieberman, lambasting him for dishonest and unworthy campaign rhetoric, do the trick?
I sent the letter Friday afternoon to Joe’s D.C. office, and now I’m reprinting it on the blog. I don’t mean to grandstand about this, but having been so vocal in defense of Lieberman, I figure I owe y’all an update on where I stand now. (In point of fact, my sentiments shouldn’t be too shocking; I alluded to my growing disillusionment with Lieberman last month.)
It’s important to emphasize that I have no problem whatsoever with Lieberman endorsing McCain and arguing against Obama’s candidacy; it’s the way he’s been opposing Obama that bothers me, not the mere fact that he’s doing so at all. I object to such things as his role in spreading the Obama’s-a-Marxist and Hamas-loves-Obama memes, his implication that Democrats are not "pro-American," and several other specific statements he’s made recently. Anyway, here’s the money quote:
What happened to your 2006 message, promising a less hyper-partisan brand of politics? Based on your recent statements, it appears you have completely abandoned the premise that Democrats and Republicans have honest disagreements on the issues. Instead of substantively engaging important topics of legitimate debate and disagreement, you have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to vilify and caricature the Democratic Party …
I am deeply disappointed that you have sunk to these lows, and having been such a vocal advocate on your behalf, I must admit that I am somewhat embarrassed. It is becoming more and more difficult to defend you against your critics in the blogosphere, who increasingly feel that they were Ã¢â‚¬Å“right all alongÃ¢â‚¬Â about you.
On reflection, "completely abandoned the premise" is probably a bit much. But it gets the message across, anyway. Joe needs to tone down his rhetoric, or folks like me who once greatly admired him will increasingly come to view him as just another typical politician.
Read the whole thing after the jump.
Hillary Clinton will formally withdraw/suspend and endorse Obama shortly at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. If you aren’t near a TV, you can watch the event streamed live on CNN, MSNBC and C-SPAN.
UPDATE: A fine speech so far by Hillary; I have no complaints about it. But I have to quote the funny comment by Barb, who we’re watching it with (she’s visiting for the weekend from Buffalo). Barb finished one of Hillary’s sentences for her:
Hillary: “The Democratic Party is a family…”
Barb: “…and I’m the kooky aunt who nobody likes, but you have to invite over for Christmas anyway.”