Friday, September 14, 2007

The Bush Iraq Policy is the Only Cautious and Responsible Course, For Now.

In last night’s Presidential address on Iraq, I think the President proposed the right course of action and established a correct and cautious policy. He promised a reduction to pre-surge troop levels by next summer and promised further reductions as the situation improves.

It appears he has turned a corner. No more bravado about “staying the course” and “leaving when the job is done”. He appears to be listening to General Petreaus and accepting reality.

I watched hours of the General Petraeus congressional hearings. I was impressed by his honest, sober, realistic, and clear reports. He was guardedly optimistic but did not sugar coat things. He impressed me as someone who will not “spin” the facts but will tell the truth and give an honest assessment no matter where it leads.

While many Democrats are going to oppose Bush and try to push for an immediate pullout, it looks like Bush will prevail. As Pat Buchanan said in a recent article, "Bush is winning today because he has jettisoned the jabber about global democracy, and argues that a U.S. withdrawal risks a strategic disaster, national humiliation, massacre of our friends, and triumph for Al-Qaeda."

It seems obvious to all but the most extreme anti-Bush war critics that the surge produced positive results. The surge achieved a reduction in violence and a weakening of Al Qaeda. Not only is General Petraeus reporting this but so also are many independent observers including scholars from the liberal Brookings Institute.

The military successes however, are not achieving the objective the surge was supposed to achieve. The surge was supposed to give the Iraqi politicians breathing room in which they could achieve political reconciliation and make progress on building a nation. Of the eighteen benchmarks established to measure Iraqi progress, the Iraqis achieved only one. Iraq seems to have a lot of petty politician who lust after power but few statesmen. General Petraeus has said we cannot win a military victory without a political settlement.

We can’t defeat the enemy militarily, because the when we talk about fighting “the enemy” in Iraq the terminology does not fit the reality. The enemy is not a single military force or ideology or movement, but numerous factions vying for power. In the South of Iraq alone there are three separate Shiite factions fighting each other for control of the region. We may be able to keep events from spinning out of control but we cannot forever police the country. If the Iraqis do not want a nation, it will be hard to impose it.

I am disgusted about the lies and deceit that put us in Iraq, but we must now deal with the reality we are facing. How we got in Iraq is now less important than how we get out. As reckless as it was to go into Iraq, and as badly as the post invasion administration of Iraq was handled, to just pull out now would be more reckless than the initiation of this war in the first place.

Unfortunately, we broke it; we own it. We must figure a way out of Iraq that does not lead to a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a Kurdish-Turkish war, genocide, ethnic cleansing and a destabilization of the entire Mid East.

If by March, when the next report is to be made to congress, if the situation is not better then than it is now, it may be time to move toward a partitioning of the country as advocated by Joe Biden or another alternative strategy. Just leaving is not a strategy. For now, I think the Bush policy is the best course of action and the only cautious and responsible thing to do.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

More Tennesseans fall behind on mortgages

Credit counselors blame easy loans, creative financing
Staff writer, The Tennessean
Monday, 09/10/07
(I am prominently quoted in this article-Rod)
LaToya Tramill's hopes of homeownership have turned into heartache.
She has fallen behind on the mortgage payments for a $102,000 house she bought in Antioch last year, and her lender is threatening foreclosure.
And even if she fights to keep the home, her adjustable-rate mortgage will reset next year and she worries she won't be able to afford the higher monthly payments.
Tramill is one of a growing number of homeowners in Tennessee and across the nation falling behind on their mortgages. After years of easy credit and creative lending arrangements, many homeowners ended up in homes they now cannot afford. (to continue: More Tennesseans... )

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Insights on the Ron Paul Straw Poll Victories From a Political Dirty Trickster

Ron Paul is winning almost every Republican straw poll in the Nation if the Paulist are telling the truth and I have google-researched enough of their claims to believe it is true.

The Paulist are sure to let you know of Ron Paul’s every success. The Republican-leaning groups to which I belong and the Republican-leaning blogs I read are clogged with stories of his victories. According to the Paulist, the only reason he is not better known by the pubic or doing better in the National polls is that there is some sort of corporate media and Neocon conspiracy to keep people from learning what a knight in shinning armor Ron Paul really is.

Below is an example of a story that was recently circulated:

Wedneday Sept. 5, 2007

Maryland GOP Presidential Straw Poll Is A Big Success, Grassroots Candidate Wins Surprise Upset
ANNAPOLIS— After eleven days of presidential straw poll ballots cast at the Maryland Republican Party’s State Fair booth, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) was announced last night as the winner.
The Maryland Republican Party’s first-ever presidential straw poll at the State Fair resulted in nearly 1,000 Marylanders casting a vote for their favorite Republican candidate for president. The straw poll was open to all voting age adults regardless of party affiliation, and the voter had to be present at the booth. The campaigns of all nine presidential candidates appearing on the ballot were invited to have a representative at the State Fair booth at all times. While most Campaigns did not have a representative present, the Ron Paul campaign had full representation for all eleven days. (to continue:
>Maryland GOP )

Notice a couple things about this story: only a thousand votes were cast and “most campaigns did not have a representative present, the Ron Paul Campaign had full representation for all eleven days.

Now: My confession.
In the mid 70’s I was a college student at East Tennessee State University. Watergate had occurred and it was the during the last days of The Vietnam war and being a leftist was in style. Our campus however was relatively quite and apathetic but most students were products of the era and were certainly more liberal than conservative. There were a couple leftist organizations on campus but they were, for the most part, inactive.

At the time, I chaired a small Young Americans for Freedom chapter. To tell the truth, we barely got the twelve members we needed to get a charter. Myself and one other guy were the only really active members and there were two other occasionally active members. The others just joined but never participated.

In 1976, Reagan was challenging President Ford for the Republican nomination. Our YAF chapter approached the campus Young Democrats and the College Republicans with the idea of holding a mock election on campus. Both groups liked the idea and we jointly approached the student council with the idea. They bought it and we had an officially student body sanctioned, university endorsed, mock election conducted by the Student Council.
The day of the elections while the Student Government officials manned the polling place, I and the two other YAF members worked the sidewalk outside the student union center. We would approach students with clipboard in hand, wearing no political buttons or identification, and say we were conducting a poll.

We would ask, "If the election where held today in which party primary would you vote. If they told us the Republican primary, we would then read off the list of candidates and ask for whom they would vote. If they replied “Reagan”, we then asked them if they knew about the mock election taking place. Most did not. We would then direct them where to go vote. If they named another candidate we thanked them for participation in our poll. We also decided to let Carter win the Democratic primary.

After the polls closed and the votes were counted, the result was approximately three times as many Republicans voted as Democrats and Regan won by a landslide. Also, Carter handily beat the more liberal candidates in the Democratic primary.

We already had our press releases made up, We filled in the numbers, delivered and mailed the press release to area newspapers and the next day about 6 newspapers in the region carried the news of Reagan’s landslide victory in a mock election at ETSU. This did not just happen. Basically two motivated activities planned it and made it happen.

I was very proud of this "dirty trick" but learned not to trust mock elections or straw polls.

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