A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Friday, November 03, 2006

Single Issue Voting

In case you've somehow managed to miss the 6.545 million negative campaign ads airing on every single radio, broadcast and cable tv channel, and haven't read a single newspaper or blog entry in the past 3 months, there's an election coming up in just a few days. It may well be the most publicized, nastiest, most expensive election in our history. And Orson Scott Card thinks you should vote Republican because to vote Democrat is to vote to abandon Iraq and surrender in the War on Terror.

He's certainly not alone in this-- Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the National Review and many, many others have been saying, screaming often, the exact same thing-- but his case is somewhat more persuasive. Probably because he is reasonable about it and actually tries to make a solid case rather than just try to scare people into agreeing with him. And he does make a good case for the original invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the need to continue to have a U.S. military presence in both countries.

But the case he makes that it is vital to keep the Republicans in control of both the Executive and Legislative branches of government is far less persuasive. Even if I were to grant OSC his "Bush is a visionary who has done the right things" viewpoint-- and I no longer do-- the fact remains that this Congress has been dreadful, the country is worse for it, and there is much reason to believe that divided government is not only preferable, it is vital to our country's development, reputation and future.

Card's analysis also fails to account the Republicans, specifically Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, but the Republicans as a whole, with the many failures that have occurred in the War on Terror, both on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, but even more so in the PR theater of this war. Because perception is a very, very important part of this battle. And with our embrace of torture and our insufficient troop strength to maintain long-term order, we are playing right into the extremists/terrorists hands.

OSC actually refers to Bush as a "wise and moderate politician" and I nearly choked. He is neither. And he needs an antagonistic legislative branch to curb his many executive branch power grabs, and to hold him accountable for the many failures that needn't have occured in Iraq, the broader War on Terror, and a variety of other areas where Bush held loyalty to be more valuable than capability or integrity.

Democratic control of one or both branches of Congress won't be the Death of All We Hold Precious. Please. If control switches, it won't be a big enough swing to give the Democrats veto-override power. The President will still be the Commander-in-Chief, and all of Bush's appointments will still be in their respective positions.

What will happen is that Bush will actually have to explain himself, and his efforts to expand Executive power will actually have to be justified. He will no longer be able to spend like a drunken sailor, and there will have to be more oversight of the various national security programs begun or expanded during Bush's time in office. Bush will actually have to try and be the uniter, not divider, that he claimed to be back in 2000.

In theory, one party control of the Executive and Legislative Branches of our government is the best way to get something accomplished. Of course, in theory, Communism is the best form of government available to mankind, and the United Nations is the single best way to unify and harmonize all the divergent interests and people of the Earth. In practice, Communism is close to the worst form of government available to mankind, and the UN is at best ineffectual and at worst an impediment to global peace and prosperity.

And, in practice, divided government is the best way to actually get limited, centrist policy with informed debate and compromise from all of the divergent interests represented in D.C.

Having said all this, I will still write-in people I think will actually do a good job next Tuesday, but since I think it's unlikely that any of my write-ins will actually win office, I am hopeful that the Democrats regain control of at least one house in Congress. Locally, I will continue to hope for the incumbent to lose in all but a handful of elections.

The one issue I will vote on is Wisconsin's referendum on gay marriage. The Republican controlled congress of our state wants to write discrimination into the state's constitution by banning gay marriage in the constitution. I don't know that I could possibly be more against this measure than I am. It is simply reprehensible.

On everything else... vote the bums out if you don't write the bums in!

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Comments:
There is so much good that we are doing in Iraq that will come to an end if the U.S. is forced to withdraw early from Iraq. While I don't think that the Democrats will have a large enough majority to pass an actual vote calling for our retreat from Iraq if they do gain control of the House and/or Senate, I do think that they will try to cut funding to our efforts in Iraq if they get control of the House and its committees. That lack of funding would force a withdrawal, or halt any of our worthwhile projects.

Consider these achievements:

14,000 formerly out-of-school youth are enrolled in an MoEd-endorsed Accelerated Learning Program.

The USG has rehabilitated 32% of Iraq’s schools, for a total of 4,544 schools.

More than 8.7 million revised math and science textbooks and three million supply kits have been provided to students nationwide.

Today, the Iraqi Air Force consists of more than 800 members, and like all Iraqi forces, is being rebuilt as part of the overall program to build a new Iraqi defense force.

Women comprise 25% of the Iraqi Parliament, which is the highest proportion in the Arab world and one of the largest percentages worldwide.

In the period between March 2005 and March 2006, the Iraqi Security Forces almost doubled in size.

Since 2003, 258 Border facilities, 309 police stations, 14 academies and branch schools, 26 unit headquarters, and 67 fire stations have been built or rehabilitated.

As of February 2006, Iraq has 28,000 trained security forces protecting its border and population.

More than 250,000 ISF members patrol the streets and neighborhoods of their country.

There are now six police academies in Iraq and one in Jordan, training 3,500 Iraqi police every 10 weeks. Today the vast majority of Iraqi police and army recruits are trained by Iraqis, not Americans.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides training on industrial equipment enabling Iraqis to operate and maintain equipment and power systems throughout the country.

This year’s aerial crop spraying operation is the first large-scale aerial pest control program undertaken in Iraq since the overthrow of the Saddam regime.

20 - 30 vessels per week dock at Iraq’s Umm Qasr port.

Approximately 12 passenger carriers are approved to fly into Iraq.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has distributed nearly $33 million worth of equipment to the Ministry of Electricity, including cranes, trucks, transformers, cable, computers, software, safety equipment, towers and other equipment. The USACE program has also provided extensive training on the equipment to enable the MOE personnel to operate and maintain both the equipment and power systems throughout the country.

There were virtually no cell phone subscribers during Saddam Hussein's reign. Today, there are more than 5 million.
Approximately 90,000 residents in Abu Ghraib town in Baghdad Province receive piped drinking water from a project funded by the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP).

In March, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of the $118 million new power generation plant in Basra province. The new plant will provide power to about 1.5 million residents.

Nineteen large potable water treatment plants have been rehabilitated or constructed, including a 227,000 cubic meter expansion of the Shark Dijayl Water Treatment Plant in Baghdad.

During Saddam’s rule, Internet access was limited and censored. Today, Iraqis are flocking to an uncensored Internet in Iraq, with over 2,000 Internet cafes serving them.

Since 2003, 33,384 new Iraqi businesses have been registered.

The Iraq Stock Exchange reopened under the new streamed-lined securities law resulting in an increase in companies listed from 10 initially to 87.

The International Monetary Fund estimates GDP grew by 2.6% in 2005, and is expected to grow by 10.4% in 2006, adjusted for inflation.

More than $33 million of new medical equipment has been distributed to the Iraqi Ministry of Health to replace dangerously outdated instruments in hospitals and clinics throughout Iraq.

Regular immunization campaigns and national immunization days aimed at children under age five and pregnant women have resulted in over 5 million children and 700,000 pregnant women being vaccinated against communicable diseases, including polio. Ninety-eight percent of Iraqi children under five have been vaccinated for polio, and Malaria cases have dropped from 1,043 to 86.

Since March 2003, over 150 primary care clinics have been rehabilitated, and 600 medical equipment sets have been delivered to clinics throughout Iraq. There are 142 model Primary Healthcare Centers being constructed in Iraq that will facilitate transformation to a family medicine model of care.

Before March 2003, only 5.5 million of Iraq’s 25 million citizens had access to a safe and stable water supply. Today nineteen potable water treatment facilities have been built or rehabilitated, providing a standard level of service to about 2.7 million more Iraqis.

11,400 trained staff at over 2,000 community child care units nationwide screen for and manage malnutrition. They provide monthly rations of high protein biscuits to malnourished children under five and pregnant and lactating mothers.

The upgrade of the Sweet Water canal has resulted in 1.75 million Basrah citizens gaining access to fresh drinking water.

USAID offered hygiene education in 40 settlements in the Diyala and Sulaymaniyah provinces. USAID supported training sessions for community members, teachers, water station caretakers, and religious leaders that aim to promote hygiene practices and prevent disease and water contamination.


You would rarely (if ever) hear about those on a CNN broadcast, but you can watch video of enemy snipers shooting our troops. You could rarely (if ever) find information like that in the New York Times, but you can read all about classified programs that were leaked to their reporters. Why would we possibly be losing the PR battle?

Reading the alternative media can be more scary, though. I read this earlier today. An excerpt is below.

Many Democratic politicians and some from the Republican Party have stated a withdrawal from Iraq would end the insurgency there.

In a recent interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, stated, "The jihadists (are) in Iraq. But that doesn't mean we stay there. They'll stay there as long as we're there."

Pelosi would become House speaker if the Democrats win the majority of seats in next week's elections.

WND read Pelosi's remarks to the terror leaders, who unanimously rejected her contention an American withdrawal would end the insurgency.

Islamic Jihad's [Muhammad] Saadi, laughing, stated, "There is no chance that the resistance will stop."

He said an American withdrawal from Iraq would "prove the resistance is the most important tool and that this tool works. The victory of the Iraqi revolution will mark an important step in the history of the region and in the attitude regarding the United States."

Jihad Jaara [the infamous leader of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity] said an American withdrawal would "mark the beginning of the collapse of this tyrant empire (America)."

"Therefore, a victory in Iraq would be a greater defeat for America than in Vietnam."

Jaara said vacating Iraq would also "reinforce Palestinian resistance organizations, especially from the moral point of view. But we also learn from these (insurgency) movements militarily. We look and learn from them."

Hamas' Abu Abdullah argued a withdrawal from Iraq would "convince those among the Palestinians who still have doubts in the efficiency of the resistance."

"The victory of the resistance in Iraq would prove once more that when the will and the faith are applied victory is not only a slogan. We saw that in Lebanon (during Israel's confrontation against Hezbollah there in July and August); we saw it in Gaza (after Israel withdrew from the territory last summer) and we will see it everywhere there is occupation," Abdullah said.


I'm afraid that the suggestion by leading Democrats for an early withdrawal from Iraq would hurt the U.S. and encourage our enemies, and that is what will drive my vote on Tuesday.
 
The New York Times ran a story in today's edition regarding Iraqi documents that were captured during the current conflict and were subsequently put on a U.S. government website. Instead of praising the feds for full disclosure, freedom of information, and the like, the NYT complained that documents detailing the construction of nuclear weapons were amongst those on the government website.

A senior U.S. intelligence official who deals routinely with atomic issues said the documents showed "where the Iraqis failed and how to get around the failures." The documents, he added, could perhaps help Iran or other nations making a serious effort to develop nuclear arms, but probably not terrorists or poorly equipped states. He called the papers "a road map that helps you get from point A to point B, but only if you already have a car."

If the concern is that the availability of this information could assist Iran in acquiring a functional nuclear weapon, shouldn't there be just as much concern that this same documentation was in the hands of Saddam's own scientists prior to the war? Short of the fissile material, Saddam's regime had what the NYT is afraid of Iran getting.

And let's consider what the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq reported in their Intelligence Community Analysis of Iraq's Nuclear Program.

If Iraq acquired a significant quantity of fissile material through foreign assistance, it could have a crude nuclear weapon within a year.

U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had this to say in a statement issued today regarding this.

"With respect to the possibility that documents may have been released that should not have been released, I have always been clear that the Director of National Intelligence should take whatever steps necessary to withhold sensitive documents. In fact, as of today the DNI had withheld 59 percent of the documents that it had reviewed, and has become more risk-averse over time. If the DNI believes that the documents that were released were in the safe 40 percent, imagine what the 60 percent being withheld must contain.

"That said, it is also important to emphasize that the IAEA, contrary to its assertions, never raised any concerns about this material with the United States Government before going to the press. Similarly, the DNI's office has informed me that no agency of the U.S. Government had raised any issues about the potential or actual release of these documents before yesterday. If there were such problems, they would have been better addressed through the appropriate channels rather than the press.

"These documents also raise several additional issues of interest. First, it is extraordinary that the New York Times now acknowledges that the captured documents demonstrate that '[Saddam] Hussein's scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.' This only reinforces the value of these documents in understanding the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime. Only 1 percent of the estimated 120 million pages of captured documents have been reviewed, and we must continue working to promptly understand these materials. If there is concern about Saddam's nuclear program, there should be similar concern about potential connections between Saddam and al-Qaeda suggested in the documents."


This is certainly a large step towards validating the concerns about Iraq prior to the war. It also begs the question of how the U.S. and the world should handle Iran. Iran most certainly has the documentation regarding the construction of a nuclear weapon (obtained most likely from Pakistan, not a U.S. government website), but what about their ability to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon with their existing reactors and centrifuges?

In regards to the Democrats who believe that the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, and/or the Democrats who believe that the President lied about Iraq's prewar threats; what do those individuals think of this new information, and how do those individuals think that we should handle an Iran that is quite possibly on the verge of nuclear weapons?

This doesn't seem like a single issue, but if it is, it is too complex to wave off as only one of many.
 
From Doug Ross' blog, here are some more items that were amongst the Iraqi documents that the NYT referenced yesterday.

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Starting in 1994 -- and lasting at least until 1997, but probably longer -- Saddam Hussein's Intelligence Services had multiple, direct contacts with Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.

And, just four days after 9/11, Hussein's Intelligence personnel issued written warnings that their connections to Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda might be discovered by the U.S.!

In 2003, an Iraqi government memo testified that a convoy of fifty (50) tractor-trailers entered Syria just before the invasion. What cargo would have been shipped into Iraq just before the invasion (for which each driver was paid $200, a very generous sum in 2003 Iraqi terms)?

Also in 2003, another official memo describes where chemical weapons and delivery systems (missiles) were hidden to prevent their destruction in the invasion.

In 2002, Hussein's government was actively manufacturing the bioweapon ricin.

Also in 2002, Iraqi Intelligence Forces were actively engaged in the design of bioweapon delivery schemes, including the use of airplanes to spread toxic materials.

In 2001, Hussein issued written orders ordered mass grave sites to be tested for radiation. What exactly about these graves would require testing for radiation?

In 2001, Hussein's government actively recruited suicide bombers to attack American interests either in the U.S. or abroad.

In 1999, Uday Hussein ordered a series of assassinations in London, Iran, and Iraq.
 
Of course, there is the economy, too. Since the tax cuts on 28 May 2003:

- The Dow Jones Industrials have gone up over 3,000 points.
- Unemployment has dropped steadily.
- The deficit is at its lowest level since 2002.
- Revenues in 2006 grew by 12%.

Considering the outlays required due to the September 11th attacks and Hurricane Katrina, that is impressive. Deficit reduction is ahead of schedule, gas prices (gasoline and natural gas) continue to fall with the return of refining capabilities that were hampered by Katrina, and deficit spending in 2006 was 22% less than in 2005.

You're probably right, though. We should get the Democrats into the legislature so that they can allow the tax cuts to expire and create even more gridlock on the federal budget. That sounds absolutely vital to our country's development, reputation and future.
 
From Mohammed at ITM:

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What will happen if the MNF are withdrawn prematurely before the job is done?

Perhaps the lesson from the recent troubles in Amara when militias took over large parts of the city gives a clear answer and offers Iraqis and the allies a forecast of what the future holds for us should we make the wrong decisions.

I think the decision to announce a phased withdrawal of troops (which is now dubbed as a phased handover of security responsibility) was made without putting in consideration the developments on the ground. And I think pressures on the American and British governments accelerated the process in a reactionary protective manner rather than a rational pragmatic one.

I suspect the allies and the Iraqi government were fully aware of that time bomb called militias but they turned their backs on this fact and acted as if the mission is moving forward smoothly without any disruptions. It is easy to do it on paper…It takes no more than a small celebratory ceremony…lower this flag, fly the other one and invite officials, generals and journalists to publicize the meaningless event. But at the same time the other camp represented by the militias was watching cheerfully and celebrating their riddance of an obstacle that was preventing them from taking over cities like Amara.

What happened in Amara for example was not unexpected and it should be a lesson for those who keep saying that the problem is in the "occupation" and that when foreign presence ends the country would live in peace and stability. But what took place on the ground reveals and confirms once again who is really responsible for disrupting peace and creating chaos. And it's also a warning signal to the leaders of the coaltion of what might happen if troops are withdrawn before the job is done or if the job is done incorrectly.

There would be utter mess and death and all the blood and treasure that were spent would be wasted. Even worse, the world will have to face a new additional body of extremism and Iraq will be a threat to stability instead of an example of democracy and liberty.


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If the Democrats take control of the House or the Senate, let's hope that the "new direction" that they keep touting (but have yet to truly define) is not the premature withdrawal from Iraq. If it is, and if they can cause such a withdrawal to happen, how many more Amaras will take place, and what will the world need to face down the road because of it?
 
On 4 November, an Army veteran and milblogger who goes by Blackfive put out a request for emails from members of the military in OEF and OIF. He will be on BBC radio tonight, and he is looking for what troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan think about the elections so that he can best represent them on the BBC. Here are four responses that he put up on his blog this morning that he says are typical of the responses he has received so far.

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From a US Army Infantry Sergeant First Class in Iraq:

...First, the obvious, is the fact that when the enemy's propaganda matches the talking points of a political party, there is something wrong. The fact that so many, especially those in positions to influence voters (think MSM here), have no problem using enemy propaganda or will gleefully cover enemy activities while glossing over the hard, diligent work of their own military should be a giant red flag waving in the face of voters. I am dismayed that any campaign races are even slightly close when one of the candidates presents a position even mildly against the war. Further dismay comes when I see that too many people just don't understand what is at stake in this war.

Out here, in the day-to-day grind, the majority Soldiers aren't paying much attention to the election mayhem back home. We have jobs to do, we have missions to accomplish, there are people who need our help and protection. My commander has stated that the increased number of attacks in October had everything to do with the US elections and nothing to do with tactical battlefield gains. I have no doubt that he is absolutely correct...


From a Marine Sergeant on his second tour Iraq:

...People in the US who want to support the troops, who believe we are engaged in a war, and who recognize the long term consequences of failure need to look past all other issues and vote Republican. Democrats have no policy and can not be trusted. But, even worse, they display no apparent understanding of the dangers to our western civilization presented by the enemy. Their actions since 2001 indicate they are willing to sacrifice the safety and integrity of the USA in the future for short term political gains today.

Ironically, I say this, not as a Republican - (I am Libertarian) - but as a person who recognizes that islamicist fundamentalism is the single greatest threat to our western society in the modern era. I say this as an atheist. I say this as someone who is apalled by the anti-science bias of the Republican party. I say this as someone who doesn't give 2 shits about abortion, suppressing gay-rights, or activist judges. So, as you can tell, the majority of Republican issues are anathema to me, and I still fervently hope they retain control of the Govt...


From another US Army soldier in Iraq:

...If the Democrats gain even a squeaker majority in the House, I strongly believe we will suffer greatly for it. The Jihadists here have been pulling out all the stops here just to affect the election. A Democrat victory in congress will validate their tactics, and spur them to push harder.

Furthermore, a Democrat Majority will have 3 main goals that will be relevant here. 1)They will throw about investigations and subpoenas like a fire truck throwing candy in a parade. It will be virtually impossible for the executive branch to get any real work done. 2) They will begin impeachment proceedings which, while going nowhere, will further embolden our enemies. 3) They will cut funding to the war in Iraq, in a childish show of control over a Commander in Chief.

If the Republicans win, me and my fellows here will be allowed to continue doing our jobs. In time, all the hard work here will show, and we will win...


This last one is from a pal of mine [Note: This is Blackfive's pal] - a Marine company commander in Iraq:

Will the election make much a difference in the troops eyes? I don't think so.

On the one hand you have the GOP and I don't care what anyone else says, I think even the troops that support this thing from the political perspective know that it has been manged poorly. The President always says he gives the Generals what they want, but it seems to me and others that I have talked to that he sort of manges to put it in such a way that Generals know that more troops simply won't happen. Everyone I have talked to here in MNF-W characterized this as an "economy of force" operation; i.e. we really need more ground pounders to get it done. So although like most Soldiers I know we tend to be conservative, there is not a lot of love lost for the ruling party, they want victory and they want it on the cheap.

But whatever the sins of the GOP are they pale in comparison to the Dems. John Kerry's latest gaff only reinforces what I think many of us know to be the truth; the Dems and the Left in America have nothing but disdain for those of us in uniform. That is unkindest cut of all, they show their lack of respect and then claim to care about us; veterans and military service members by and large do not want to adopt a victim mentality, and that is what the overreaching programs of the Dems appeal too. The Dems don't get and will never get those of us that serve.

So given the binary system we have, I would say that most would rather see the GOP remain in control, but the next patrol looms closer than election results.

Last note: it seems the Kerry apologists have no idea the nerve that was struck by that comment. I walking around the MEF HQ the day that came out and peopel were talking about it in every office. It made quite an impression.


----------

I found it interesting that the Marines were not really in support of the Republicans as much as they were against the Democrats, and also that one of them was a self-proclaimed Libertarian.

Also from Blackfive, here is a post he put up on Friday regarding the desire of some to vote to punish the President or Republicans in general.

Food for thought on the day before the mid-terms.
 
OSC is a bit of a whack-a-doo, outside of his SF writing.

But knowing how hard it will be taken around these parts that Jim Doyle survived the Republican attack, I thought I'd just cheer you folks up with this bit of news:

Genesis is reuniting for a tour and potentially some new music.

Now, it's the recent, three man group; Gabriel is hinky about getting back together, but it will of course include Chester and Daryl

The first shows are in Europe next summer, with a US tour to follow. 5.1 releases of every album are also scheduled for next year.

Summer 2007. Sounds like a great time to take the family to Germany, hey?
 
Thanks for all the links Mojo. Interesting reading. Please understand, I am not against the War on Terror or the War in Iraq. I'm against the way Rumsfeld and the President have botched both of those wars-- to Iraq's detriment and ours as well.

And the one thing Bush actually did right-- in a a conservative sense-- was to cut taxes. But you can't just cut taxes and not cut spending-- much less increase it. Spending has skyrocketed under Bush, even without the War, and split gov't should reign in that profligate spending.

Time will tell.

And tc-- OSC is most definitely not a whack-a-doo. You might disagree with him, I do from time to time, but his arguments are well-thought out, rational and explained clearly. Disagree with him if you wish, but lets keep the name calling out of it, eh?

Germany? Nah, that isn't gonna happen. But if they come anywhere near Milwaukee I'm in. It'd be fun if Pete joined in, but I'm happy enough with Phil, Tony and Mike.
 
Hey,nice blog!!! I found a place where you can make an extra $800 or more a month. I do it part time and make a lot more than that. It is definitely worth a visit! You can do it in your spare time and make good cash. Make Extra Cash
 
Nick, I'm not saying that you are against the War on Terror. However, you did say that:

Card's analysis also fails to account the Republicans, specifically Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, but the Republicans as a whole, with the many failures that have occurred in the War on Terror, both on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, but even more so in the PR theater of this war. Because perception is a very, very important part of this battle.

How do you battle the negative perception of the war that is created in the MSM? Hold a press conference, and the majority of the American public will turn on Comedy Central or ESPN (they'll get the sound bite highlights from the MSM later). Put facts out on government websites, and the American public will go to the MSM websites for a summary (those government documents are so dry and boring, after all).

We are not losing the PR war because the administration isn't putting the information out there, we're losing the PR war because that information isn't getting to the American public through the normal channels. The MSM, out of fear for their "journalistic integrity," won't broadcast the good news because that would just be flag-waving and disseminating U.S. propaganda. Of course, in an attempt to tell the whole story, the MSM has no problem showing terrorist propaganda of snipers killing our troops, or publishing classified information that hurts intelligence gathering that could save American lives. Sure, you need to show the whole picture, warts and all, but it really seems like all that is being shown to the American people is just a zoomed-in image of the warts.

What would you suggest be done to win the PR battle? What should we be focusing on, if not the many successes in Iraq and elsewhere? How do we get the whole picture to the American public?

And speaking of losing the PR battle, consider these two items:

"The American people have put their feet on the right path by … realizing their president's betrayal in supporting Israel," the terror leader [Abu Ayyub al-Masri AKA Abu Hamza al-Muhajir] said. "So they voted for something reasonable in the last elections."

It's not just Democrats who are happy about this week's election results. Turns out the supreme leader of Iran is thrilled, as well -- calling it a "landmark victory" for his country.

Our enemies think that voting in a Democratic majority in the House and Senate is a good thing. Our enemies feel that we have finally taken a step in the right direction. Of course, these very enemies follow the same extreme ideology that sent its followers (just to name a few events) to drive a vehicle bomb into our Marine barracks in Lebanon, to bomb the WTC in 1993, to bomb our embassies in Africa, to bomb the Khobar Towers, to attack the USS Cole, and to fly passenger jets into the WTC and Pentagon.

And this Sunday we had Sen. Levin on ABC's "This Week," and Sen. Reid on NBC's "Meet the Press," calling for a phased withdrawal or redeployment from Iraq that should start within the next several months. If our enemies thought that a Democratic sweep of the House and Senate was a victory, what do you think that they will think of our withdrawal/redeployment of troops out of Iraq? I think that they'll find that to be a big ol' win.

This should definitely help our country's development, reputation and future.

Yep. Go team. All Bushilter's/McHalliburton's fault, anyway.
 
It's hard to win the PR war when the MSM devotes 24/7 attention to Abu Ghraib for weeks on end, with additional coverage every time an aspect of the case once again hit the wires, but no similar attention to the actions of our enemies. Again, I understand the concept of reporting the good and the bad, but it can't just be good about our enemy and bad about us.

Did you see any extensive coverage in the MSM, coverage anywhere close to their coverage of Abu Ghraib, about the following sentences carried out by Iran? Again, how do we win the PR war when we focus on the isolated bad actions of a few U.S. service members, yet we won't equally cover the repeated atrocities of just one of our enemies?


Iran 'must stop youth executions'
By Steven Eke - BBC News
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July 2005, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK

A US-based human rights organisation has called on Iran to end the execution of juvenile offenders.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Iran was in breach of international agreements it had signed up to.

The call follows last week's public hanging of two youths convicted of still unclear sexual offences.

Iran insists the youths were convicted of raping a younger boy. However gay rights organisations say the youths were executed for being homosexual.


OR


MORE WOMEN ON DEATH ROW IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
By Safa Haeri
Posted Sunday, December 19, 2004

TEHRAN, 19 Dec. (IPS) The Islamic Republic is increasing brutal treatment of women in Iran despite calls from the European Union and international human rights organisations to pay more attention to the appalling human rights situation.

The Islam-based Judiciary, a power that like all other important organs of the regime is directly controlled by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, has ordered the death of at least four women in the last six months, all of them on charges of prostitution or “attitude contrary to the “Charia’a”, or Islamic laws.

Hajjiyeh Esma’ilvand, a thirty years-old woman from the northern city of Jolfa, on the borders with neighbouring Azerbaijan, is the latest victim of Islamic laws, was sentenced to death on accusation of having a sexual relationship with an Azeri man.

Hajjiyeh Esma’ilvand, a thirty years-old woman is the latest victim of Islamic laws, being sentenced to stoning.
"Her (death) sentence is approved by the Supreme Court, but there are no orders to carry out the sentence. We do not yet know if it is by stoning or hanging", the British news agency Reuters quoted an official as having confirmed.


OR


Iranian thief loses his fingers
Sunday, October 17, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Oct 17 (IranMania) - An Iranian man convicted of a series of robberies has had four fingers on his right hand amputated in public, the Jomhuri Eslami newspaper reported Saturday.

The man, who was only identified as Hamid H., was reportedly caught by locals in the southwestern city of Ahvaz while he was out on a burglary in September 2003.

The judicial amputation took place on Thursday morning, the paper said without giving any further details.

In Iran, thieves are usually only sentenced to amputations if they repeatedly offend.


OR


Girl, 16, hanged in public in Iran
Iran Focus
Fri. 20 Aug 2004

On Sunday, August 15, a 16-year-old girl in the town of Neka, northern Iran, was executed. Ateqeh Sahaleh was hanged in public on Simetry Street off Rah Ahan Street at the city center.

The sentence was issued by the head of Neka’s Justice Department and subsequently upheld by the mullahs’ Supreme Court and carried out with the approval of Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Shahroudi.

In her summary trial, the teenage victim did not have any lawyer and efforts by her family to recruit a lawyer was to no avail. Ateqeh personally defended herself. She told the religious judge, Haji Rezaii, that he should punish the main perpetrators of moral corruption not the victims.

The judge personally pursued Ateqeh’s death sentence, beyond all normal procedures and finally gained the approval of the Supreme Court. After her execution Rezai said her punishment was not execution but he had her executed for her “sharp tongue”.


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Amputation of a man's hand and foot for theft
Thursday, August 15, 2002 - 2002 IranMania.com

TEHRAN, Aug 15 (AFP) - A man convicted of stealing a car was condemned to amputation of his right hand and left foot by a revolutionary court in southern city of Shiraz, the Khabar newspaper said Thursday.

The thief, identified only as Ruhollah, was wearing make-up and women's dress to pass for a prostitute, together with his cousin, to rob his clients.

Ruhollah was also convicted of carrying a knife, using a firearm and disturbing the peace.

The court condemned his cousin to three years in prison as well as giving him a five-year suspended jail term.

Iran applies a strict Islamic judicial code, with punishments including amputation and stoning to death. Executions are frequent.


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Thief has fingers amputated in Iran

TEHRAN, June 28 (AFP) - A convicted thief has had the fingers of one hand cut off in public in the town of Najafabad in central Iran, Kayhan newspaper reported Sunday.

Mohammad-Reza Ghahremani, originally from Abadan in the southwest of the country, was convicted of 13 counts of theft, the newspaper said.

He had the fingers cut off on one hand, in accordance with Sharia, or Islamic law, in Iran, in a public punishment which followed Friday prayers, Kayhan said.
 
Regarding spending, I agree that there has been an unnecessary increase in spending. A big part of that is the Medicare drug benefit and, while some sort of Medicare drug program has been promised by the feds for years, the cost of any such program was going to be a hit against those who finally passed it. Another big hit is the earmark spending in Congress (by both Republicans and Democrats), and that spending isn't always easy to veto by a President because it is usually attached to other necessary legislation that would otherwise be held-up in order to uphold the principal of reduced spending ("Sorry about not having education money and needed funds for our troops, everybody. On the upside, Ted Stevens' pet project didn't go through.").

Besides that, though, much of the entitlement spending in the federal budget (and entitlement spending is the largest part of the federal budget) is mandated by statute to increase for cost of living anually. I don't have a problem killing some of that, but I can't see any Congress, Republican or Democrat, cutting existing entitlement spending and giving that block of votes to the opposition. That increase is not Bush's fault.

Further, Bush took office with an economy going into recession, tropical storm Allison hitting in just under five months from his taking office (41 dead and $5 billion in damage), and the September 11th attacks occurring in just under eight months from his inauguration. Add to that hurricane Isabel in 2003 (50 dead and $3.7 billion in damage); hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne hitting Florida within a period of six weeks in 2004 (167 dead and over $35 billion in damage - and a FEMA headed by Brown); and hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and Zeta in 2005 (approximately 1,950 dead and at least $118 billion in damage).

Considering all of that, and not even counting the war, it is pretty amazing that since 28 May 2003 we have had tax cuts for ALL Americans, the Dow Jones Industrials have gone up over 3,000 points, unemployment has dropped steadily, the deficit is at its lowest level since 2002 (and deficit reduction is ahead of schedule), revenues in 2006 grew by 12%, and deficit spending in 2006 was 22% less than in 2005.

I would have been all for telling Naggin to go jump in the 9th Ward, but, while that may have saved the feds a lot of money, it probably would not have been politically expedient.

You're right, spending is a huge issue. Mandatory spending increases will still continue, however, and I don't believe that a split government will reign in unnecessary spending. Unless Bush starts vetoing all bills with earmarks, and explaining why the education bill wasn't passed in a press conference that no one will listen to (but the MSM will run as Bush starving inner city school children), then federal spending will continue to increase regardless of the party in charge.

Luckily, though, we do have a majority in both the House and the Senate that has said that it would be a good thing to repeal the tax cuts. At least we have that going for us.
 
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