Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sept 11

It's almost already become a cliche. I know that I am tired of being asked, "where were you on Sept. 11th?" Ok, not very many people ask me, and I don't ask anyone, but I do remember that day very well. In terms of significance and importance to American politics and history, it is on par with Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, etc. It is a watershed moment. A moment that you can point to and say, "everything changed after that."

I was woken up by my girlfriend. She called telling me to turn on the TV. The first tower had already been hit a tower. I turned the television on just in time to see the second jet hit the tower. I remember when the towers collapsed. I don't really remember what I thought or felt at that time. It was shocking, but we should have expected it. I was amazed then at how fast they were able to credit the attack to Osama bin Laden. I was also amazed at how fast they were able to get pictures of the suspected terrorists (they all perished unfortunately and were not able to stand trial) on television.

Arrogance is a word used to describe someone or something who is so caught up with themselves that they do not pay attention to the world around them. Arrogance is what allows all of us to think that something like that could never happen here, even though it had in 1993. How long did we think that we would stay shrouded, untouchable to the rest of the world? Aside from one attack during WWII when was the last time that we were attacked from the outside? 1812?

In hindsight I wish that we would have been reborn on Sept. 11th ever more vigilant, more fervent citizens of our Republic. Instead we became even more gullible. We became more susceptible to accusations and threats. We bought the Iraq war hook, line, and sinker because we were all told that Saddam could empower more terror attacks.

Another cliche is that a citizen is the most important "office" that anyone can hold in a democracy. I am sorry to say that this is little more than something that is told to civics classes. It is still my hope that citizens take their responsibility seriously, but it is a lot easier to swallow the dreck that is put on the cable news than to think for yourself.

Farenheit 9/11 and Loose Change have both examined the ties, or motivation, that the powers that be had in allowing, or planning, an attack on our own citizens. It's tough to call any of it "proof." They are some rather unique coincidences, but I fear that we will never know the truth. Even faced by the truth it is doubtful that the public would accept it anyway.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Shia in Iraq

The Economist commented on the British withdrawal in Basra.
The departure of UK forces from Basra Palace, their last base within Basra city limits, is likely to precipitate a free-for-all among rival local groupings for control in Iraq's second city. Although violent confrontations between the various powers in the area have been taking place for some time, the withdrawal of the British—claimed as a victory for Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army—will allow these Iraqi groupings to concentrate solely on each other. However, the Shia dynamic is extremely complex, and alliances and rivalries differ not only at the national and local level, but can also vary from governorate to governorate.

Fearing Shia chaos in Iraq

With the British leaving who fills their role? Muqtada al-Sadr?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Iraq revisited

The General Accounting Office, the *ahem* non-partisan branch of Congress, has released a study of 18 benchmarks that are being used to grade the progress in Iraq. Three of the benchmarks are currently being met.

1. Committees established that support political, media, and economic aspects of the security plan.

2. Thirty-two of 34 planned joint security stations are established in Baghdad.

3. Rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi Legislature are protected.

Not bad. Those are important first steps. Four have been partially met.

1. Law passed on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions, to be implemented in 2008.

2. Three Iraqi brigades to support operations are trained, but effectiveness is limited.

3. Security forces are established, but militias have infiltrated them.

4. $10 billion in Iraqi revenue has been allocated, but is unlikely to be spent on reconstruction projects.

Ok, so the rubber isn't hitting the road, but maybe it just needs a little bit of a tune-up.

11 of those benchmarks are not being met. Not sure about my math, but I'm pretty sure that those marks won't get you a "C" in college, not even at Yale.
1. Establish a Constitutional Review Committee.

2. Provide de-Ba'athification legislation.

3. Ensure equitable distribution of oil revenues.

4. Establish an Independent High Electoral Commission, provincial elections law, provincial council authorities, and a date for provincial elections.

5. Establish amnesty legislation.

6. Create a militia disarmament program.

7. Increase the number of Iraqi security units capable of operating independently.

8. Stop Iraq's political authorities from undermining Iraqi security forces.

9. Have Iraqi commanders make tactical and operational decisions in the pursuit of extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shi'ite militias.

10. Have Iraqi security forces provide even-handed enforcement of the law.

11. Reduce the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminate militia control of local security.

Ok, this isn't exactly news. This has been the problem the whole time. Iraq needs to stand on its own, the question is whether or not we can give them the help that they need? Speaking of benchmarks, doesn't anyone care if children can get to school safely or that citizens of Iraq can get a fair trial?

That seems to be the obvious question. What happens if we leave? Do Iran and Syria gain more influence in Iraq if we leave? Does that further destabilize the region?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Former Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn Dies

Jennifer Dunn passed away today in Alexandria, VA. The former Congresswoman had an embolism that proved to be fatal. Jennifer Dunn in so many way personified the so-called "Reagan revolution" and provided a rather striking contrast for the parade of these "so-called" white men that must be mass produced at the Republican party factory candidate factory. In the other Washington (you know, where Maria Cantwell makes swimsuit team, imagine 20 years ago) Dunn must have really stood out.

Dunn was beautiful and successful woman and she became the FIRST woman to chair the state republican party and later the FIRST to hold a Republican leadership post in Congress. Dunn, and her image, still represents a rather prickly problem for Democrats. If there is an anti-Hillary it would probably look like be Jennifer Dunn. 2004 showed how dependent the Democrats are on voting women. The only problem is that suburban moms feel safer leaving their kids with Dubya than John Kerry. Women like Jennifer Dunn take offense at Hillary. They bristle when they hear Hillary dismiss trivial pursuits like baking cookies for children as beneath her. They whisper in the beauty salon, "can you believe it?" "if she was giving Bill what he wanted." "well, can't say that I blame the girl."

Oh the humanity.

The Democrats are lucky that she didn't have ambitions for the Senate (hands down the best candidate that could have run against Murray or Cantwell) or (who knows) the Presidency, she would be formidable. She had charisma, empathy, and remained likable, which are all of Hillary's weakest points. If not for catching her husband's spotlight she would not be where she is. All you can do is give her credit for keeping the audience's attention after the star left the stage.

The PI ran a side piece on the wikipedia and how quickly it responds to, and apparently leads, the news cycle. It took less than 10 minutes after they pronounced Dunn dead for her entry to be updated. Don't believe me? Read about it the PI.

Oh, and her former Congressional seat is squarely in the crosshairs of the state Democratic Party once again. It looks like Rep. Dave Reichert vs. Darcy Burner (again). Will her spectre influence the outcome of the race? Tune in next week . . .

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Conservative Christian Quote

While reading up on the Larry Craig thing at the Christian Science Monitor, I ran into this nifty line from Gary Bauer:
If my choice is between being governed by hypocrites and being governed by people who will be very consistent in what they put through – same-sex marriage, condoms, and birth control pills in the schools, etc., etc. – that would be a horrible choice, but I'd still go with politicians who are willing to vote for the correct things.
Let me get this straight. Gary Bauer is saying that he would rather be governed by hypocrites than by people who are highly consistent because he disagrees with the idea of educating teenagers about sex.