Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We See What We Want to See, We Hear What We Want to Hear

Food for thought.

The conservative blogosphere and most conservative commentators and radio hosts are making much about politicians who endorse and confirm well respected generals and state department officials, then immediately repudiate those same general's and official's positions on Iraq and the "surge" of troops currently underway.

And I remain convinced that the vast majority of these same politicians are poll driven stooges who primarily hope to be reelected. If they have a real opinion, they keep them to themselves.

It was interesting to watch Don Imus tear into Hillary Clinton yesterday in the most vitriolic and hateful way because he believes that Hillary is one of the "poll driven" politicos. Imus said that "Hillary is trying to play catch up because the polls are passing her by..."

I'm not ready to cast such a harsh judgment against Hillary, but, in general, Imus is not wrong. But, as usual, I digress.

My point is that many bloggers, politicians and media personalities are extremely guilty of the same blind stubbornness they ascribe to President Bush. They immediately discard any opinion from any source with which they disagree.

So the game being played by most Democrats and a few Republicans is to condemn President Bush for not listening to the military leaders THEN to completely ignore Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus when he pleads for Congressional support for his plan and begs Congress not to pass any resolutions that would embolden or give comfort to the enemy.

And, need I remind you, Patraeus is the General the Congress just unanimously confirmed to lead our military in Iraq.

Now we have former Secretary of State James Baker, only a few weeks ago the darling of the Democrats, author of the Iraq Study Group Report,
endorsing the President's surge of troops.

"James Baker, the co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, on Tuesday endorsed President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, urging the Senate to "give it a chance."

"The president's plan ought to be given a chance," Baker told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Just give it a chance."

"Baker, a former secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, said it was wrong for the Senate to confirm Army Gen. David Petreaus to lead the new Iraq mission at the same time it was moving to pass non-binding resolutions opposing the deployment of at least 21,500 U.S. forces to improve security in Baghdad and Al Anbar Province."

You remember the derogatory stories that littered the blogosphere and dominated the Keith Olbermann show. The stories that spoke of Daddy Bush sending his team in to save his bumbling son, only to have sonny boy repudiate his daddy by refusing to listen to reason.

Curiously, last night I didn't hear Olbermann condemn any of the "stubborn, closed minded" Democrat Senators who absolutely refuse to listen to James Baker today.

So, as a final thought today, I urge all who wander by my journal today to take a few minutes and listen to the commentary by Ted Kopple, formerly of ABC New's Nightline, and now a regular contributor for National Public Radio.

Kopple's commentary is titled
How Honest Is the Debate over Iraq?




Sunday, January 28, 2007

Perhaps I Need to Reconsider....

Perhaps I was just too quick in abandoning my proposed satirical story about John Kerry seeking the Presidency...... of Iran (see my blog entry from earlier today).

Seriously, Senator Kerry is a folk hero in Iran! Here is Today's Iran Daily Newspaper.

Here is a
link to the pdf file of the paper. Kerry is being lauded by the Iranian press for his many comments condemning President Bush's and U.S. policies on everything from global warming to aid to Africa.

Many of Kerry's comments from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland are factually incorrect or are mere political hyperbole. But far be it for Kerry to acknowledge Bush's outstanding leadership in aid to Africa. Praising Bush wouldn't have set well with the audience at the World Economic Forum.

After you bask in the glow of the Kerry article, but sure to read the article in the lower right hand corner of the front page. Iranian leaders are condemning the United Nations for their acknowledgment of the Holocaust and the UN's efforts to condemn individuals or countries who deny the Holocaust ever took place.

And, yes, that is Nancy Pelosi in the upper right hand corner of the paper.

I'm betting Hillary Clinton will make the front page tomorrow after her demand this afternoon that President Bush completely withdraw from Iraq by January, 2009. Talk about handing Iran and Osama bin Laden a gift on a silver platter!

It's the ultimate irony! Iran never had to conquer Iraq or overthrow Saddam Hussen. George Bush did that for them. And now Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and Jack Murtha are going to present them with the country as a token for peace. The Iranians only need to wait two short years.

And to my detractors who would condemn my statements: Show me any plan, any idea or any proposal by any of the above mentioned individuals that would keep Iraq out of al-Qaeda's or Iran's or Turkey's hands.




Sunday Morning Rambling... The Whole Picture

I don't post a Blog Roll on my website. But perhaps I should. I particularly admire the Blog Roll listed over on vigilante's website The Vigil. He labels it "Places I Read and Write" and I like that type of personalization. Plus I greatly admire the fact that vigilante engages in dialog with bloggers of different political perspectives.

Vigilante's list is obviously not an endorsement of ideas. Instead he endorses the reasonable exchange of ideas.

I have a list of blogs in my bookmarks (favorites) in my web browser. I read each blog in the order I've placed them on the list. And I move blogs up or down the list based upon the value I find in the ideas and concepts the blogger explores. I also place bloggers in the list based my limited view of their intellectual honesty and candor.

Bloggers do drop off the list and new ones are added. And let's be honest, you cannot read more than 5 or 6 blogs on any given day unless you're retired or a professional blogger.

Still my current list contains 16 blogs. And Sunday is the only day I can read them all.

I'm still not going to list my Blog Roll. Regular readers can probably duplicate it because I so often link to, or give a "tip o' the Wizard's Pointy Cap" to bloggers who influence or contribute to my ideas.

But I do start every day with
The Huffington Post. Because over a hundred writers contribute there, I often make it no further. Today's extensive writing about the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland had captured my attention.

Once I made it to
Michelle Malkin's blog (5th on my list, if you must know) I got a different picture of Davos. I discovered there was a massive conservative backlash over John Kerry's remarks.

"So we have a crisis of confidence in the Middle East — in the world, really. I’ve never seen our country as isolated, as much as a sort of international pariah for a number of reasons as it is today."

And, by following link's Michelle had provided, I learned of Kerry's cozy forum relationship with former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

VIOLA! I had the genesis for my own blog entry today. It would be a great "tongue in cheek" satire about how Kerry, who has given up on seeking the U.S. Presidency, was now seeking the Iranian Presidency.

I'm sure it would have been very funny.

But I plowed on down my list of blogs. And near the bottom (15th out of 16 I am ashamed to admit) I came upon an article so unexpected and so important, I had to recommend it to you instead of writing my own rather insignificant piece of nonsense.

So I'd like to send you off to
The Sudanese Thinker and an article written by blogger Drima, not about Darfur and The Sudan, which so correctly demands 99% of all the blog entries there, but instead to a very original discussion about the little covered test of a new Space Weapon by the Chinese.

I'm going to reprint a very small portion below, but I ask you all to link over there immediately and read the full discussion in the blog entry
China the Rising Super Power: “Star Wars” Has Begun

"China has shown it can destroy a satellite in orbit. What could the U.S. do to stop Beijing, if it decided to attack an American orbiter next? Short answer: nothing."

"Many Sudanese are happy about the fact that China has such close relations with Sudan. They love the idea of a broken America and a new Chinese super power filling the vacuum."

"Sure. America is no angel. America is not perfect, America has made mistakes (Iraq anyone?), America has done bad things and it still continues to (Guantanamo anyone?). However America is by far better than China when it comes to freedom, respect for human rights and democracy. I do understand that China isn’t waging any wars… for now though (see, I told you I mistrust and fear what I don’t understand) but China is profiting from its activities in Sudan without caring much about what’s happening in Darfur. It’s doing the same in other places too."

Be sure to read the entire article.

If you're not following your own very diverse reading path, you're likely to miss some of the really important things happening in our world today.

Thanks Drima. I'm moving
The Sudanese Thinker up several places on my reading list.




Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Failure to Plan for Iraq After Saddam's Fall

President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and virtually the entire Bush administration have been rightly condemned for their absolute FAILURE to plan for Iraq after the defeat of Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi army crumbled, Saddam fled into his series of spider holes, and Iraq quickly fell into absolute chaos.

The US troops made no effort to keep the peace, protect Iraq's infrastructure, treasures and people. There were insufficient troops and the troops on the scene were neither trained nor directed to perform police duties.

As time progressed things went from bad to much, much worse. The vacuum created by the near total lack of planning by the so-called coalition of the willing is precisely what allowed al-Qaeda and insurgents from Iran and Syria to gain a foothold in Iraq.

Today's disaster can be directly linked to President Bush's failure to plan for the future of the country his forces so easily conquered. Frankly, it's a failure repeated over and often throughout history. And George Bush needed to learn from history.

So do the Democrats who are now using the Iraqi people and the future of the middle east as pawns for their personal and political gain.

Bush used his huge post 9/11 popularity and overwhelming poll numbers to cover his invasion of Iraq and cover-up his failure to properly plan, study, prepare and execute an intelligent strategy for the future.

Today, Democrats are using the same cover of overwhelming public dissatisfaction for the war to tie the hands of the military and either plunge Iraq into civil war or perhaps give control of Iraq to the same terrorists Bush had hoped to defeat.

Here is a telling editorial from the Washington Post,
Congress's Iraq Quagmire:

"ON TUESDAY nearly every member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warmly endorsed Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, and a number wished him success or "Godspeed" in his mission."

"Yesterday some of the same senators voted for a resolution that opposes the increase of troops for Gen. Petraeus's command -- even though the general testified that he could not accomplish his mission without the additional forces and hinted that such a resolution could encourage the enemy."

"Such is the muddle of Congress on Iraq: A majority may soon go on record opposing the new offensive in Baghdad even while encouraging the commander who leads it."

Ninety percent of the strong heartfelt convictions being expressed on the floors of Congress today are simply poll driven drivel.

How else can you explain the speeches given in support of President Bush during the run up to the Iraq invasion?

Now we see the same impassioned speeches against the President.
This is not "cut and run." This is "duck and cover."

I'm not saying we must stay in Iraq. I'm saying we must understand and be willing to accept and support the consequences of the decisions we make.

Cartoon courtesy of Cox and Forkum, from their article
Losing Strategy.

A tip of the Wizard's pointy cap to Bill Gnade of Contratimes for pointing me to the Washington Post editorial quoted above.




Save the Cheerleader.... Part Deux

Let's take a look back at the Wizard's crystal ball predictions heading into the State of the Union address. And it looks like the Wizard was wrong not once, but twice!

First, NBC's Heroes did beat Fox's 24 in the overnight ratings! It was a stunning upset!
Mike McDaniel, writing for the Houston Chronicle said:

Confounding odds makers but delighting the networks, NBC's Heroes won Round 1 of a ratings showdown between network heavyweights, edging past Fox's 24 to draw the largest audience, ages 18-49, during the 8 p.m. hour Monday.

According to overnight 18-49 ratings, Heroes finished first with a 6.5 rating, followed by 24's 5.4.

In total viewers, the contest was much closer, with NBC grabbing 14.8 million viewers for the hour and Fox taking 14.4 million.

And the Wizard was also wrong about the President's reception at the State of the Union address. The Congress was polite, attentive and respectful. There were numerous breaks for applause and Nancy Pelosi was certainly gracious during the speech. Naturally the folks over at Fox News were counting:

"While early analysis suggests President Bush delivered a flat State of the Union address Tuesday night that received only muted response, several lines in the 52-minute speech won the president enthusiastic applause."

"Still, FOX News transcribers recorded 54 applause breaks, although not all those pauses were the result of bipartisan cheering for the president. That compares to 76 in 2002 and and 77 in 2003, though both of those speeches were longer."

Beyond those two errors, the Wizard was right. Not that is took any kind of crystal ball to predict the President's proposals would fall on deaf ears. Nor did it require great insight to predict that the President's pleas for support and time to prove out his new Iraq strategy would be nearly universally rejected.

In less than 24 hours, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
strongly rebuked the President by voting overwhelmingly (12 to 9) for a resolution against the President's proposed "surge" in U.S. troops in Iraq.

"The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday passed 12-9 a resolution that dismissed Bush's plans to increase troops in Iraq as "not in the national interest." The vote on the nonbinding measure was largely along party lines, with Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska being the sole Republican on the committee offering his support."

Although Hagel was the only Republican actually voting for this resolution, most Republicans rebuked the President in their comments, but refused to support this particular resolution.

Faced with overwhelming public disapproval of the President and the occupation of Iraq, Senators were all seeking a safe spot, distancing themselves from the President.

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri quietly began planning their victory celebrations in Iraq. They recognize that there is still a long way to go, but time is firmly on their side.

It is absolutely critical that they foil the President's plan to quell violence in Bagdad. But they only need to keep up the effort for a few months. A suicide bomber here, an IED there and victory is at hand.

Other than tying the hands of the Commander and Chief of the US military, none of the opposition in the United States, neither Democrats or Republicans, have offered ever a glimmer of an idea of how to prevent Iraq from becoming a totalitarian radical Islamic militant state.

And, as the United Nations and the supposed US allies quickly march away from Afghanistan, victory for al-Qaida and the Taliban there is clearly visible in the not to distant future. In a
Bloomberg report, Caroline Alexander explains:

"An estimated 15,000 Taliban fighters are preparing for battle, counting on guerrilla-like techniques adopted last year. Meanwhile, NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels tomorrow divided over the campaign, with France and Germany refusing to deploy soldiers to Taliban strongholds in the south and east, and forces still short of helicopters and transport planes a year after asking their governments for more."

"This is going to make it more difficult to take objectives and hold them," Bastian Giegerich, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said in an interview. "It's going to be another difficult spring."

"Losing Afghanistan to the Taliban might restore the Central Asian nation as a training ground for terrorists with "devastating" consequences for international security, British Prime Minister Tony Blair says."

While Tony Blair clearly understands the magnitude of the problem, it is unlikely he can gain support in Parliament or from the British public to send a promised 1,000 additional combat troops to Afghanistan. In fact, most NATO countries will not even allow their very few committed troops to be stationed in combat areas.

Although Democrats today support a surge in troops in Afghanistan, al-Qaida understands that continuous guerrilla war should quickly fatigue the American public.

I'll discuss in detail the huge failures of President Bush and the gigantic and virtually continuous victories of Al-Qaida in another article shortly. It is the stuff of legend.

What does all this mean? Well, let's not panic. There are
many progressives who I greatly respect who feel a positive outcome is possible, even likely.

But let's not deny that the United State's strategy as begun by George Bush and now being ended by the U.S. Congress has, in the long term, helped al-Qaida.




Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Save the Cheerleader... Save the World

Not even Hiro and the Heroes can save President Bush's State of the Union address tonight.

While it's possible, even likely, the the Heroes of NBC's hit graphic novel drama can save New York from destruction in three weeks, Bush's destruction tonight is assured and not even Jack Bauer can rescue the President this time.

If you want suspense, you'll need to watch the television network ratings to see if Claire the cheerleader (actress Hayden Panettierre, pictured on the right) and the Heroes stand a chance against the juggernaut of FOX's 24.

Don't waste your time waiting for the Democrat's response to Bush's initiatives or the instant poll numbers that the news networks will deliver late this evening. There is no suspense there. Neither the Democrats nor the public will be endorsing the President.

Bush's popularity will continue to plummet. Republicans are deserting the sinking Bush ship like rats. Fearing their fate in the upcoming election cycle, Republicans are joining the Democrats in seeing who can condemn the President's handling of Iraq the most.

Even Al-Qaida number 2 man Ayman al-Zawahri couldn't resist piling on. He
mocked President Bush in a video released yesterday. "I ask him, why send 20,000 (troops) only — why not send 50 or 100 thousand? Aren't you aware that the dogs of Iraq are pining for your troops' dead bodies?"

Rumor has it the al-Zawahri may join Hillary Clinton and issue another video today announcing he is filing the paperwork to form an exploratory committee for 2008. He could teach Hillary a thing or two about videos on the web.

Of course, since George Soros is backing Barack Obama, al-Zawahri's candidacy is considered by many to be a long shot.

Still, tonight's polls may show al-Zawahri is more popular that President Bush. Preliminary poll numbers seen to indicate he is behind Clinton, Obama and Edwards for 2008, but running slightly ahead of Bill Richardson. It just may be too soon for a Hispanic to win the Presidency.

But back to President Bush and the State of the Union address. The Pelosi and Reid promised bipartisanship didn't last 15 minutes into the first 100 hours. I suspect the reception of the speech tonight will be ugly. I frankly expect it to resemble British Parliament and not the usual, cordial reception the President receives for a State of the Union address.

Pundits love to count the number of times the Senators and Congresspersons applaud. Tim Russert can leave his shoes and socks on tonight. It will be a small number.

Politicians can read polls and tea leaves and they can see the President is is worse than a lame duck, he is a dead duck.

They come tonight not to praise Ceasar, but to bury him.

The ramifications for the war in Iraq are profound. The insurgents have won, just as I have long believed they would. The battle for Iraq is over.

Oh, the killing will continue. The body count will pile up. As the US troops become disengaged, the sectarian violence will escalate.

The only question now is when will the Democrats and defecting Republicans pull the plug on funding and force the President's hand.

Will Bush read the tea leaves himself? Or will Congress pour him a cup of hemlock?

Can the Heroes beat Jack Bauer?




Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Case for Impeachment

As the new year begins and tensions over the situation in Iraq and the middle east mount, there is increasing talk of Impeachment. Lawmakers are growing increasingly wary of the President's isolation. His policies are more and more out of sync with the national mood.

Today many political leaders from all parts of the political spectrum openly question his plans and policies, his intelligence, his unwillingness to compromise and his general leadership of the country.

The blogosphere has been full of talk of impeachment for a long time. But now the discussion is more open and it's quickly moving to the main stream media.

An in depth report this morning on National Public Radio by Gareth Smyth of The Financial Times and NPR's Renee Montagne shows how real this discussion has become.

Below are a few of the comments and the points made in this excellent analysis. The transcription of the audio report is mine and I freely admit this is an abridged transcription. A link to the full audio report is at the bottom of this discussion.

Renee Montagne: "How serious has the opposition to [the president] become?"

Gareth Smyth: "...the opinion makers are becoming increasingly concerned with George Bush's new strategy on Iraq, which very much sounds like a new strategy on Iran.... and the US seizure of the Iranian employees, perhaps diplomats and perhaps not, in northern Iraq..... and at the US military deployment in the Persian Gulf....."

"That sense of crisis over the international situation has led many people here to believe that [the government] can no longer afford the luxury of a President who puts rhetoric above the national interest."

Renee Montagne: "Are conservatives and fundamentalists part of this opposition?"

Gareth Smyth: "There are a minority of reformers who are critical of the President and this is where the talk of impeachement has begun."

"The President, since he has been elected has failed to build political bridges, even to people who you would consider to be his allies. Traditional conservatives and even fundamentalists.... criticism is coming from these corners as well."

Renee Montagne: "You also mention the economy is a problem?"

Gareth Smyth: "The most common charge you hear is that the economy is being mismanaged. The president has brought in new managers with very little experience. Now lack of experience and failure to build bridges is not a particularly good way to run any country."

Renee Montagne: "Just recently we saw protests at universities. Does this reflect a growing unease among younger people?"

Gareth Smyth: "There is an anti-intellectual tone in many of [the President's] pronouncements, which obviously doesn't go down well in many universities."

Smyth and Montagne conclude that the situation is very serious and has gotten to the state where much of the Iranian Parliament and the Iranian public have lost faith in President Ahmadinejad.

Link to the full NPR report HERE.

Perhaps the U.S. experience and our frustration with George Bush is not as unique as we all would like to think.




Friday, January 12, 2007

Binary Choices

A society with a billion dollar fast food industry is always short on time.

Michael, in a reply to Bill Roggio's article, Iraq: The Greatest Enemy is Time

Iraq is not simple. The war on terror is not simple. And no matter how hard our fellow bloggers and television pundits and Washington politicians try to KISS us off ("Keep It Simple, Stupid"), the real issues are complex and the solutions difficult.

Bill Roggio said it best in his really superb article Iraq: The Greatest Enemy is Time, originally published in Die Weltwoche, but thoughtfully translated into English and reprinted in his blog by the author himself.

As President Bush unveiled his new vision to move forward on Iraq, the political debate in the United States has continuously degenerated into a simple, binary choice of withdrawal to prevent further American casualties, or surge more troops to attempt to restore order in Baghdad.

I would be hard pressed to be more disgusted with the level of political posturing in Washington over the last two day. Democrats, nearly all of whom are running fro President, have pontificated endlessly in front of their supposed "witnesses," while barely able to put together an intelligent sentence, let alone a reasonable question.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has now assured us that the Democrats don't need to come up with any ideas at all. "That's the President's job," he assured television reporters today.

I feel so much better now understanding his only responsibility is to insult the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. I am quite certain it is the only job for which Mr. Reid is qualified.

So we have President Bush's reasonably well laid out plan for the next several months in Iraq. In 22 minutes on national television Bush was pretty clear. And further details and specifics have come over the last two days.

And we have the Democrat's alternative of attacking the President for the next six months. Hold hearings. Attack and insult witnesses. Hold meaningless straw votes. Talk vaguely about some sort of troop withdrawal.

And the key Democrat strategy, of course, will be to distance themselves from real and very brave leaders like John Murtha and Edward Kennedy, who have specific plans and proposals and aren't afraid to state them.

The real situation in Iraq demands more. Bill Roggio's thoughtful article about a possible future for Iraq was developed after he spent two months embedded with the US troops in the Anbar Provence.

After spending two months out of the last 12 in the land between the two rivers, one thing I've learned is nothing is simple about Iraq, and there are no easy solutions to the vast array of problems. But despite the constant media portrayal of Iraq as a hopelessly violent nation, Iraq is not a nation without hope.

The average life of an insurgency is about nine years. In Iraq, the insurgents and al-Qaeda hope to wear down the will of the American government and people, and precipitate a premature withdrawal.

Roggio is not unbiased. Those who have read his blog, articles or seen or heard him, know he is a hawk in the war on terror. He sees a real threat. And he believes in real solutions.

But he is knowledgeable and he researches and studies his subject with discipline. His opinions must not be dismissed out of hand.

When I talk to American troops about Iraq, their greatest concern isn't for their safety, but they are worried the American public has given up on the war before they can complete their mission. They watch the news - CNN, MSNBC and FOX News are beamed into the mess halls, some even possess satellite dishes with access to BBC World, Al Jazeera and hundreds of programs at their fingertips. Internet is readily available in many areas. I surfed the web in the center of Fallujah on wireless Internet.

American troops watch the news and follow the debate in real time. They will tell you the war they see on television isn't the war they are fighting. To the troops, the war as portrayed on television is oversimplified and digested into sound bites. The soldiers are portrayed as victims and the violence is grossly exaggerated.

From my own experiences with two months in Iraq out of a year, I had not personally witnessed an ambush, a roadside bombing or other attack. The closest action I saw were some poorly aimed mortar attacks in Fallujah, or a near by patrol getting hit (the bullets and RPGs never made contact). And this is in Anbar province, the most dangerous region in Iraq. I make it a point to accompany the troops on foot and mounted patrols on daily basis.

We can not and should not dismiss the fact that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was miscalculated and grossly mishandled. It's possible, even likely, that it should never have even occurred in the first place. Nothing that I write here or that Bill Roggio writes should be seen as a vindication or even an exoneration of George Bush and his team.

But is walking away, hat (and troops) in hand even a remotely acceptable answer to the mess we are in?

Senator John McCain went on his own offensive today against the grandstanding Democrats. The quotes below are from
the Associated Press article here:

"I believe that together these moves will give the Iraqis and Americans the best chance of success," said McCain, R-Ariz., a leading presidential contender for 2008.

McCain also took a shot at Democrats who say the United States must bring some troops home within four to six months.

"I believe these individuals ... have a responsibility to tell us what they believe are the consequences of withdrawal in Iraq," he said. "If we walk away from Iraq, we'll be back, possibly in the context of a wider war in the world's most volatile region."

What are the costs of withdrawal? How many Iraqi's are we willing to sacrifice?

Let's return to Roggio's article.

The nature of the insurgency in Iraq is complex, and cannot be simply framed as a sectarian war or a war against "U.S. occupation." The insurgency is designed to destroy any semblance of a democratically elected Iraqi government, and is directed at the developing Iraqi security forces, the Iraqi government and institutions, U.S. and Coalition forces, and against sectarian targets.
In Anbar province, where I embedded in the city of Fallujah last December, sectarian violence is virtually non-existent. In fact, Sunni tribes have rallied to protect their Shia neighbors numerous times in the past and drove of al-Qaeda attempts to 'cleanse' the region of Shia. Al-Qaeda blood ran in the streets the few times they tried to purge the Shia from Ramadi.

In Fallujah, Ramadi and greater Anbar province, Al-Qaeda in Iraq the most dominant insurgent organization. Al-Qaeda focuses its attacks on Iraqi government security forces, government institutions, as well as U.S. Army and Marine units operating in the region. Their ability to fund the insurgency in the impoverished province is their greatest weapon. Unemployed Sunnis are a paid well (as much of $1,000 according to a military intelligence source) to attack Iraqi and Coalition forces. While there is a large volume of insurgent attacks, the large majority of attacks fail.

Inside Fallujah, there is no U.S. Marine or Army presence, save the members of the Police and Military Transition Teams – small, 15 to 20 man teams that are embedded within the police and Army units. I embedded as a reporter with both the Police and Military Transition Teams in Fallujah. The Marines in these teams take great risk in dong their daily job. They live, eat and sleep with their Iraqi counterparts, and are wholly dependent on them for security. Their American backup is stationed outside the city limits.

As brave as the American Marines are, their Iraqi counterparts outshine them. The police, who are local to the city, are specifically targeted by insurgents. Since the late summer, 21 Iraqi police were murdered by insurgents. Their families are regularly threatened with violence. Several police officers told me how that while they were home they would sit with their backs to the door, AK-47 in hand, as they feared their homes would be stormed and their families would be killed.

This is quite a different picture than we see in our national media.

Can this Iraqi force develop and grow? Is there a future for the elected Iraqi government? Will threats of scheduled troop pullouts help the fledgling Iraqi police and military?

The [Iraqi] police and soldiers do their jobs with very little resources. Some haven't been paid in a year. Supplies and equipment such as helmets, bullet proof vests, uniforms and batteries are in high demand demand, as the Iraqi Army logistical system is broken. The police just received armor Humvees to patrol the city, and have been up-armoring their pickup trucks with scrap armor kits. Despite these problems, morale and fighting spirit are not an issue. In fact, the police and Army believe that, if given the right equipment, they can defeat the insurgents without U.S. help.

Nationwide, the Iraqi Army and Police clearly are not ready to fight the insurgents and militias on their own. Baghdad and Ramadi are clearly two cities where the police and Army would collapse without U.S. backing. But the police and soldiers in Fallujah believe they can. Pride, courage and fighting spirit are certainly traits these soldiers do not lack.

They will need time to develop the capacity to fight on their own, and time is the one commodity the West seems to be short of.

From the very day the Coalition invaded Iraq I have said that we cannot win. We have superior fighting force. We have vastly superior weapons and logistical supply lines. We have talent and military knowledge. And we have great soldiers.

We can't win because we lack the patience and persistence to win. Our will was strong on day one. But we like six day wars. We want everybody home on Sundays.

There are dozens (perhaps hundreds or hundreds of thousands) of reasons why President Bush should not have embarked on this folly. For a man who so adamantly campaigned against the concept of nation building back in the fall of 1999, Bush began one of the toughest projects ever attempted.

But, having embarked on this tragic adventure, our problem today is that Al-Qaeda or Syria or Iran (or the Shi'ites or perhaps even the Sunni's) have the ultimate weapon we lack. Time.




I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Much of the "conservative" blogosphere and virtually all "conservative" radio talk show zealots are all talking about the nasty attack on the Yale a capella singing group The Baker's Dozen in San Francisco this past New Year's Eve.

This hits especially close to home for me because our radio station,
WiZARD RADIO, plays the music of The Baker's Dozen and many of the other fine and talented college a capella groups. In fact, for the past three years WiZARD RADIO has done special March Madness programming each spring showcasing the nation's finest college a capella groups.

The reason for conservative outrage is that the group was taunted and then physically attacked after performing in sports coats and ties and singing The Star Spangled Banner.

That conservatives would jump to this conclusion isn't without merit.
San Francisco has been the center of outrageous liberal behavior over the last several years. The city council and mayor, in particular, have set a tone that might seem to foster an anti-military, anti-conservative morality, and even "anti-preppy" atmosphere.

Whether it's forcing ROTC out of city schools or attempting to illegally sanction gay marriage, San Francisco is on the forefront of liberal values and causes. It might seem safe to assume that the mayor and city council actually reflect the views of the San Francisco population.

But the truth of this story is much darker and more sinister. This is much more likely to be an anti-gay hate crime.

Here's a portion of a report by San Francisco Chronicle columnists Matier and Ross,
New Year's nightmare for visiting Yale singers

The 16 singers showed up late to the party wearing preppy sport jackets and ties, and launched into "The Star-Spangled Banner."

A couple of uninvited guests started mocking them, and allegedly the words "faggot" and "homo" were tossed -- and so were a couple of punches.

The loud noise drew relatives from next door, who promptly ordered the house cleared.

The Yale kids, most of whom were staying with a family a block away, began heading home.

But witnesses said one of the uninvited guests -- who happens to be the son of a prominent Pacific Heights family -- pulled out his cell phone and said, "I'm 20 deep. My boys are coming."

According to Rapagnani and others, the Yale kids barely made it around the corner when they were intercepted by a van full of young men.

"They were surrounded, then tripped -- and when they were on the ground, they were kicked," Rapagnani said.

According to police reports, the cops arrived about 12:40 a.m. to find 20 people fighting in the street.

To the police, who were out in force to keep a lid on New Year's, it looked like just another drunken brawl.

But according to Rapagnani, "This was not a fight -- it was an attack."

Four of the alleged assailants were detained at the scene, then released after the cops took their names.

Meanwhile, Sharyar Aziz Jr. was taken by paramedics to San Francisco General Hospital, and later had to undergo reconstructive surgery in New York for a broken jaw that will remain wired shut for eight weeks.

Another unidentified Yale student sought treatment for a concussion, and a third for a swollen ankle and other abrasions.

Yale Dean Peter Salovey told the school paper that he was "shocked and appalled" by the incident, which has yet to yield an arrest.

Bruce, the superb blogger over at Gay Patriot summed it up:

Of course, I naturally assumed the attack on these boys was because they dared sing our National Anthem in the City by the Bay.

Ah, but no.... it appears those tolerant folks in the Bluest of Blue America... went after the guys in a gay-bashing rage.... in San Francisco!

Great, just great.! I actually have to be in San Fran in less than two weeks for work. I guess I better not wear a tie, look cleaned up, or sing the National Anthem. Maybe I'll attend all of my business functions dressed as a homeless bum. Heck, I might get a San Fran taxpayer-funded stipend out of it!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The System is (in the process of) Working

President Bush outlined his long awaited new tactics for the OCCUPATION of Iraq (and the largely coincidental war on terror) last night in a prime time television address. I thought his speech was well written and moderately well presented.

More importantly, I thought his strategy was well thought out and has the potential for some measure of success. Since, in the short term at least, he has the power to implement these tactics, I hope and pray for great success.

As I pointed out in a reply to comments to an earlier blog entry, peace and security are critical for the ultimate implementation of democracy and freedom. Bush's new tactics are an to attempt to provide security for the average Iraqi citizen and, therefore, could possibly be the key to ultimate success.

If you detect a tremor of doubt in my above statements, you are correct. I'm not at all certain that Bush's tactics will work. His tactics have been horribly wrong so far!

Of much greater interest to me this week was the
impassioned speech by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) who insists that Congress MUST step up to the plate and bring Bush to heel. He sees his role is to turn the surge of troops around into a planned and programmed reduction of forces.

Kennedy's speech was played and replayed on all cable and network channels and I'm willing to bet more people saw Senator Kennedy than bothered to watch President Bush last night.

Thankfully more people were exposed to the eloquent and impassioned Kennedy than the largely uninspiring Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) who gave the
"official" Democrat response to Bush's speech last night. Durbin.... Pelosi..... Reed...... This team is never going to the Super Bowl of political discourse, but I digress.

The key is that Congress is set to act! Those who always "claim" they want a lively, full, in depth and detailed debate of the issues should be thrilled! Over the last five days we've seen our finest leaders present facts, plans and issues to the press, Congress and, ultimately, the American public.

President Bush's presentation last night was clear, clean, logical and detailed. Senator Kennedy (and many, many others) have been equally clear, impassioned, and thoughtful in their discussion.

Right now it's clear that Kennedy and his forces are winning the hearts and minds of the American public and they are making inroads in Congress.

But the Democratic Process will continue. And while many, including some of the most impassioned readers and comment contributors here, will decry the Bush's short term ability to wage further war on the Iraqi people, the fact is that our system is working.

Here we have the ability and the forum to debate ideas and strategies and tactics. And we have the ultimate ability to allow the winners of these debates to enforce their will, even overturning the President on occasion.

That may happen sooner rather than later.

Compare all that is happening here to the story on
National Public Radio yesterday (Wednesday, January 10, 2007), by Benjamin Tupper.

Listen as an embedded U.S. Army National Guard Captain in the Afghan National Army recounts hearing a midnight transmission over the military radio: men from his group involved in a pitched battle. Ultimately, one of his Afghan comrades is isolated and his throat is slashed.

I'm not at all certain that the ideas of the Taliban could stand up to debate in the arena of public opinion. They must resort to terror to ultimately control the populace. On the other hand, such debate isn't even possible today in Afghanistan.

Public debate and discourse like that practiced (to perfection) by Senator Kennedy isn't possible in huge sections of the world today.

Again, I urge you to listen to this report about the
plight of women in Afghanistan on National Public Radio yesterday by Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson. Seeking to escape cultural oppression and economic hardship, an alarming number of Afghan women are taking their own lives.

I pray that someday these women will have a Senator Kennedy to help them.




Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Boise State is Number One

In case you've somehow missed the biggest sports story of this century, you should hop over to CBS Sportsline and read Dennis Dodd's superb story, "Fiesta finish a legend with rag-tag roots."

If you missed watching the Fiesta Bowl, you may have missed the greatest college football game in the entire history of the sport.

Dennis Dodd is one great sport's columnist, but the Boise State story almost writes itself.

"There were a lot of people rooting for us," [WAC Commissioner Karl] Benson said.

Only the entire nation, minus the state of Oklahoma. Everything changed because just about everything you know about college football is now subject to review. Benson's WAC headliner, Boise State, belongs in the big time after Monday's shocking Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma.

With a coach who makes about one-seventh of what Alabama is offering Nick Saban.

With a stadium that would be considered a seating expansion in the SEC.

With the play-calling chutzpah of an 11-year old PlayStation 2 vet jacked up on Mountain Dew.

Boise State ends the season with a perfect 13-0 record.

Now there may be a few folks who will tell you that next Monday Number 1 Ohio State will play Number 2 Florida for the National Championship. That just isn't true.

And it doesn't matter a hill of beans who the AP or the coaches vote into the Number One spot in the polls next Tuesday.

In the hearts and minds of every sports fan who ever cheered for an underdog, Boise State has already won. And nothing that happens this next week can diminish their glory.

On a side note I want to mention something you've probably already noticed. For the next few weeks, The Wizard, fkap Journal will be hosted on blogspot.

We have, for well over a year, used the software and simply hosted the resulting pages on our own website. But recently we've had numerous and painful difficulties uploaded and maintaining the journal on the Earthlink servers, which have housed the wizardfkap url since its inception.

Therefore we are moving onto servers we own and operate. This is actually the second to the last of our wide empire of websites to make the move. We've owned, operated and even leased space out on our servers for years.

At the same time we are cleaning up the over 10 years of history in The Wizard,fkap. Nothing will be lost, but most of it will be more accessible. We hope to complete the project in a few weeks.

We URGE YOU to NOT move any bookmarks, since once we leave blogspot there will be no trail for you to follow. Continue to link directly to and let the redirect take you here. That way you'll still find us after the move is complete.