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Archive for August, 2007

The AP is reporting that Sen. Larry Craig will resign tomorrow. My initial reaction is simple. Good riddance. He’s disgraced himself by putting himself in an untenable position.

The announcement follows by just five days the disclosure that he had pleaded guilty Aug. 1 to a reduced misdemeanor charge arising out of his arrest June 11 at the Minneapolis airport.

The three-term Republican senator had maintained that he did nothing wrong except for making the guilty plea without consulting a lawyer. But he found almost no support among Republicans in his home state or Washington.

What type of defense is that? Now he’s claiming that his only mistake was in not consulting a lawyer before pleading guilty? If he wasn’t guilty, that should’ve been his first move. That move should’ve been a total no-brainer. The only thing more insulting is his claim that he was entrapped.

As the audiotape clearly shows, Craig initiated the contact. It isn’t entrapment when the criminal makes the first move.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter appeared Friday to have already settled on a successor: Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, according to several Republicans familiar with internal deliberations.

This is the best option under the circumstances for Republicans. They won’t have to run a primary challenger against a sitting senator, thereby saving the party alot of money. They also sweep this story out of the news. I’d be surprised if it had legs beyond Labor Day.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

There’s surely much weeping and gnashing of teeth in the DFL caucus today. Gov. Pawlenty has unilaterally started the flow of emergency relief to flood victims:

With agreement on a special legislative session still elusive, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has unilaterally opened the state’s coffers to aid flood recovery in southeastern Minnesota, one of the emergencies a session would likely deal with.

With that action and his announcement that his staff has set up a new one-stop flood recovery website, Pawlenty continued to announce initiatives that suggest progress is underway, special session or no. And DFLers continued blasting him for not yet calling one.

The DFL should look itself in the mirror sometime. Their pattern of overreaching has been consistent since the start of the legislative session opened in January. Gov. Pawlenty’s initial statements after the bridge collapse more than met the DFL halfway. That wasn’t good enough for the DFL.

In fact, the DFL’s actions remind me of an old saying about Middle East politics, which reads “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The DFL had a perfectly opportunity to look moderate and reasonable. They didn’t take that opportunity, which is leading them to whine about Gov. Pawlenty. Minnesotans are smart enough to know that they should ignore the DFL’s whining.

In a letter delivered to Pawlenty on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher indicated they want to revisit the tax bill that Pawlenty vetoed earlier this year and the broad transportation bill he also vetoed.

Gov. Pawlenty won’t call a special session just so the DFL can refight the battles it lost last session. That won’t change even if Pogemiller and Kelliher hold their breath till they turn every color in the rainbow.

In their letter, Pogemiller and Kelliher told Pawlenty they “are getting a mixed message; on the one hand, you tell us you cannot call a special session until we have agreement on the bills, and on the other hand, your staff only give us broad, generalized ideas about your proposed agenda.” Headway toward a special session, they wrote, “is slow.”

As a public service, I’ll explain Gov. Pawlenty’s actions to Kelliher, Pogemiller and the DFL leadership. Governors set the parameters of a debate. They do that because they’re the leaders in times of crisis. Obviously, the DFL wants a freewheeling special session which would be nothing more than a do over of the last session. At the end of the day, that won’t fly. That limits the DFL’s options. Either they agree to Gov. Pawlenty’s terms or they can whine about Gov. Pawlenty, in which case there won’t be a special session.

In an e-mail, party chair Brian Melendez decried Pawlenty’s “dithering” and “stubbornness [that] is blocking our constitutional processes from working for the public good.” A few hours later, Pawlenty’s office announced the creation of www.minnesotarecovers.org, a website in which homeowners, farmers and business owners can obtain information from local, state and federal government on assistance, cleanup and other flood-related topics.

Don’t look now but Gov. Pawlenty just demolished Mr. Melendez’ arguments. The Governor’s staff creating a website that lets flood victims apply for local, state and federal assistance doesn’t just give Gov. Pawlenty a nice bargaining chip. It totally undercuts the DFL. I’d bet the proverbial ranch that flood victims won’t give a tinker’s damn whether Gov. Pawlenty blocked the “constitutional processes from working for the public good” as long as they’re able to get the help they need.

A quick examination of the DFL website gives us a great insight into the DFL’s intellectual bankruptcy:

“The governor has exclusive constitutional powers at the front end and the back end of a special session, to call it and sign or veto legislation. But during the session, the governor isn’t the only player, the people’s elected legislators also have a constitutional duty to pass the laws that the people’s interests require,” said Minnesota DFL Chair Brian Melendez. “Minnesota is a constitutional democracy, not a dictatorship, but Governor Pawlenty’s stubbornness is blocking our constitutional processes from working for the public good.”

“DFL legislative leaders have clearly said that they are united and ready to get to work with the governor,” Melendez continued. “But even while they agree with the governor’s clear principles for a special session, Pawlenty continues to sit on his hands, and now even suggests that a special session might not be necessary.”

This sentence in Melendez’ statement is laughable on its face:

“But even while they agree with the governor’s clear principles for a special session, Pawlenty continues to sit on his hands, and now even suggests that a special session might not be necessary.”

Considering the joint statement that Sen. Pogemiller and Speaker Kelliher put out saying that they want to revisit the Transportation Bill and the Tax Bill, how can Brian Melendez say with a straight face that the DFL leadership agrees “with the governor’s clear principles for a special session”? That’s an absurd statement that can’t be substantiated.

Considering the fact that he’s a lawyer, it’s impossible to believe that Mr. Melendez didn’t know about Gov. Pawlenty’s constitutional authority during emergencies. The legislature only has a constitutional responsibility in disaster recoveries if a special session is called. The DFL’s statement contains some misleading headlines, like this one:

Molnau Questioned the Need for a Special Session.

Here’s what they wrote to ‘prove’ their accusation:

“Molnau says she doesn’t want to rush into a special session without having a complete sense of the region’s needs…‘If there is opportunity for us to help, you don’t want to miss something significant and needs to be addressed. You don’t know that until a full assessment is done,’ she said.”

Where in Lt. Gov. Molnau’s statement does she say that a special session isn’t needed? Simply put, the DFL’s accusations can’t be substantiated. They also accused Gov. Pawlenty of dithering:

But Governor Continued to Dither.

According to Dictionary.com, here’s the definition of dither:

to act irresolutely; vacillate.

Based on the consistency of Gov. Pawlenty’s statements on what a special session would involve, it’s impossible for the DFL to truthfully say that Gov. Pawlenty hasn’t been resolute in his positions on the special session.

An important question must be asked here, though. In the opening paragraph of the DFL statement, they talk about the need to “call a special session of the Legislature on this “extraordinary occasion.” This certainly gives the impression that a special session should be called so that the recovery can start. While that’s the DFL’s official position, Sen. Pogemiller and Speaker Kelliher are quoted as saying that they’d revisit the Tax Bill and the Transportation Bill during that special session.

Why does the legislature have to revisit the vetoed Transportation and Tax bills if the session’s objective is about starting the recovery from the bridge collapse and the flooding? The simple answer is that the two things don’t go together.

That’s why Gov. Pawlenty is right in not having already called a special session.

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KSTP-TV is reporting that a special session isn’t imminent. Let’s hope they’re right. Here’s what they’re reporting:

On Thursday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS learned a special legislative session may be on hold.

Last week, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he was hoping to call lawmakers back to St. Paul after Labor Day to deal with the emergency issues that plague the state. But now, that may not happen any time soon.

Pawlenty wanted to call a special session to pass laws on four issues: bridge safety, flood relief, property taxes, and transportation. “Special session are supposed to be called for emergencies. And we have one,” said Pawlenty. But the Governor won’t call a special session unless he has in writing, an agreement from lawmakers that they’ll stick to emergency issues only.

In other words, we’re no closer to a special session than when the bridge collapsed. The thing that GOP activists should take from this is that Gov. Pawlenty is playing his cards well in the sense that he’s painting the DFL into a tiny corner. If they don’t agree to a limited session, something that 80 percent of the state agrees with, then the DFL will be blamed for a special session not being called.

Let’s look at this from a purely political standpoint for a minute. From a political responsibility standpoint, undecided voters are saying to themselves that Gov. Pawlenty is being reasonable by saying that he wants a limited, narrowly focused special session. These same people won’t say that Larry Pogemiller and Maggie Kelliher are being reasonable. That’s because Pogemiller and Kelliher can’t afford to be reasonable. their supporters were upset with them for not getting more of their agenda signed into law. If they don’t push for a more freewheeling special session, their supporters will think that they’ve caved. I can’t imagine that Larry Pogemiller and Maggie Kelliher would enjoy defending themselves against those charges.

Here in St. Cloud, I don’t think that Tarryl Clark is getting hurt the same way that it’s hurting Pogemiller and Kelliher. That isn’t to say that it isn’t affecting her. It’s still hurting her from the standpoint that she’s seen as part of an ineffective leadership team that passed tons of taxes because it didn’t get their priorities straight.

Six months from now, I suspect that we’ll see that Larry Pogemiller and Maggie Kelliher substantially weakened. I also suspect that we’ll see a number of deep divisions emerge within the DFL. The reason why I believe that is because the outstate freshmen that got swept into office last November won’t want to side with Mr. Pogemiller and Ms. Kelliher. I suspect that these freshmen will be getting an earful from their constituents that they don’t want their taxes raised.

In the meantime, each GOP activist should be calling their representatives to have them have a public town hall meeting focusing on our transportation priorities for the next decade. These meeting should also focus on how we’ll pay for these priorities.

If the DFL leadership makes itself irrelevant by refusing to limit itself in a special session and if the GOP House leadership steps forward with a forward-looking plan for meeting our transportation needs, we will have given the voters another reason to vote Republican in 2008.

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If Democrats were serious about preventing terrorist attacks, there wouldn’t be a basis for an article like this.The fact that there’s a basis for this article should be a warning sign to voters.

A growing clamor among rank-and-file Democrats to halt President Bush’s most controversial tactics in the fight against terrorism has exposed deep divisions within the party, with many Democrats angry that they cannot defeat even a weakened president on issues that they believe should be front and center.

The Democrats’ failure to rein in wiretapping without warrants, close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay or restore basic legal rights such as habeas corpus for terrorism suspects has opened the party’s leaders to fierce criticism from some of their staunchest allies, on Capitol Hill, among liberal bloggers and at interest groups.

The Nutroots are going to be exceptionally upset with Democrats when the FISA law that President Bush signed comes up for renewal. Despite Ms. Pelosi’s charge to John Conyers and Silvestre Reyes to rewrite the FISA reform bill, it won’t be a big enough change to satisfy the Nutroots because they’re totally opposed to warrantless intercepts regardless of what intel is gleaned from them.

At the Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress yesterday, panelists discussing the balance between security and freedom lashed out at Democratic leaders for not standing up to the White House. “These are matters of principle,” said Mark Agrast, a senior fellow at the center. “You don’t temporize.”

Mr. Agrast is wrong. It isn’t a matter of principle. It’s a matter of survival. If we don’t have the capability to intercept known al-Qa’ida terrorists’ communications without a warrant, we will get hit. It isn’t a question of if; it’s a matter of when and how big of an attack it’ll be. You can’t sell it that you’re serious about protecting us from future terrorist attacks at the same time that you’re preventing the NSA from intercepting al-Qa’ida’s communications.

The question now becomes whether they are enough adults in the Democratic Party to tell the Nutroots to take a hike on this issue. Frankly, I don’t see it happening because they contribute too much money to their campaigns and too many workers for their GOTV operations.

Reid and Pelosi promised last week that they would at least confront the president next month over his wiretapping program, with Pelosi taking an uncompromising stand in a private conference call with House Democrats. When lawmakers return in September, Democrats will also push legislation to restore habeas corpus rights for terrorism suspects and may resume an effort to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But conservative Democrats and some party leaders continue to worry that taking on those issues would expose them to Republican charges that they are weak on terrorism. And advocates of a strong push on the terrorism issues are increasingly skeptical that they can prevail.

It’s safe to say that Democrats have to tread lightly on this issue. They can’t push too hard lest they lose alot of seats in the moderate to conservative districts. On the other hand, not pushing means that the Nutroots takes their money and energy and goes home. Simply put, they’re to the east of the rock and west of the hard place on this issue.

That’s what happens when a political party lets its fringe dictate the direction of the party.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Despite all the worries about the housing bubble bursting, the U.S. economy still grew at an annual rate of 4.0 during the last quarter:

The economy grew at its strongest pace in more than a year during the spring as solid improvements in international trade and business investment helped offset weakness in housing.

The gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, expanded at an annual rate of 4 percent in the April-June quarter, significantly higher than the 3.4 percent rate the government had initially estimated a month ago, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

That isn’t to say that I think the economy is running strong but it isn’t the doom and gloom story that Democrats are likely to portray it as either. About a week ago, I read something about how Democrats planned on using the sub prime mortgage problems as a campaign issue. I don’t know why they but they think it’s a winning issue.

I’ll be checking for King’s analysis later today.

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If I had a vote for the Beltway Boys’ Ups and Downs segment, I’d give Norm Coleman an up arrow. According to this Strib article, Sen. Coleman is leaving on an Iraq fact-finding mission. Here’s what he’s quoted as saying in the Strib:

“My position is based on information that I get from people on the ground and things I hear,” Coleman said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.

The first-term senator’s fourth trip to Iraq comes only weeks before U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus come to Washington to testify before lawmakers about progress in the region. Coleman said his trip’s purpose is to understand how to accelerate political reconciliation without undermining military success. He said he plans to meet with Crocker in Baghdad and will travel to other parts of the country.”

That’s one of the most intelligent positions I’ve heard. Better yet, it’s great knowing that Sen. Coleman doesn’t appear to consider abandoning our Iraq allies as a viable option. Rather, it appears as though he’d rather see us redouble our efforts to help with political reconciliation, which is the weak spot in our Iraq strategy right now.

That alone would be enough to earn Sen. Coleman an up arrow but he didn’t stop with enunciating an intelligent position on Iraq. Instead, he called for Sen. Craig to resign from the Senate:

“Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator,” the Minnesota Republican said in a terse, two-sentence statement. “He should resign.”

Amen to that. Let’s hope that Sen. Craig resigns quickly rather than dragging this out. The outcome would be the same either way.

Again, kudos to Sen. Coleman for taking strong principled stands on two big issues this week.

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Brian Baird’s statements that the surge is actually working has drawn the wrath of the Netroots. According to this article in the Hill, MoveOn.org is calling Baird a flip-flopper in a series of ads:

Rep. Brian Baird’s (D-Wash.) recent conversion on the Iraq war is beginning to affect more than the national dialogue. On Wednesday, liberal group MoveOn.org announced an ad campaign against the congressman in his own district.

Baird recently returned from a trip to Iraq and reversed his position on a withdrawal timetable, citing military progress in the four-year-old war.

MoveOn is calling the move a “flip-flop” and says it goes against the views of his constituents.

The ad does not make specific reference to Baird’s conversion. Instead, it features a soldier who served in Iraq talking about the amount of resistance troops encountered and at the end asks viewers to tell Baird to bring the troops home.

Here’s the striking sentence in that section of the article:

MoveOn is calling the move a “flip-flop” and says it goes against the views of his constituents.

What’s striking is that it doesn’t say that Baird lied about the improving conditions on the ground. It didn’t bother addressing that because they don’t care about what’s happening in Iraq. If that were a consideration, they would’ve addressed that immediately.

Rep. Baird should wear their attack as a badge of honor. At least he’s come around to the side that wants to win, which is far more than I can say about MoveOn.org.

Baird voted against the war in 2003 and had opposed it until last month. Republicans have been quick to key on his remarks as evidence of progress in Iraq.

MoveOn disagrees, calling the war “unwinnable.”

“So far this has been one of the bloodiest summers in Iraq, and voters don’t want to continue down a failed path,” said MoveOn campaigner Nita Chaudhary. “They want representatives who will stand up to President Bush’s reckless policy and bring our troops home.”

Ms. Chaudhary can’t be paying attention to the people. If she was paying attention, she’d notice that support for the war is increasing. She’d notice that more positive reports are getting published. With the trend pointing towards more successes, isn’t it reasonable to think that MoveOn.org’s ideological beliefs, coupled with their hatred for President Bush, have everything to do with their anti-war position?

It’s a sad commentary when a political organization’s hatred for President Bush prevents them from cheering for a military victory in Iraq.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

The anti-war left has announced that they’ll descend upon our nation’s capitol on Sept. 11 to protest the Iraq War. According to a quote in this Michelle Malkin column, International ANSWER won’t have the stage to themselves:

As retired Army Col. Harry Riley explains, “Unlike the ’60s and ’70s, the anti-war lemmings will not have the streets or the political stage to themselves. This time, Eagle Americans; we who support our troops, understand the stakes in the War on Terror and the true nature of our enemy, who aren’t blinded by an insane hatred of our way of life and our form of government; will also be in Washington, D.C., to show Congress that we will not tolerate another betrayal of our own forces or our allies…While the anti-democracy forces are well-funded by pro-left, anti-Americans, we Eagles have steadily been building our own coalition to stop ANSWER in its tracks, and keep Congress focused on winning the war, not their political ambitions.”

In addition to the numerous articles I’ve written about the troop surge, I’ve also talked about the implications of the announcement that al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army taking a six month ‘leave of absence’. The simplest conclusion to draw is that anti-war groups are increasing their visibility right when the Surge seems to be having its biggest effect both militarily and politically.

Knowing GOE like I do, I don’t think it’s wise for anti-war (and anti-American) organizations like International ANSWER to criticize our nation’s military. That won’t stop them from doing just that. It just means that they’re stirring up some people that won’t take kindly to their anti-war diatribes.

GOE won’t be the only pro victory organization in DC during Gen. Petraeus’ and Ambassador Crocker’s testimony. Here’s a partial list of other organizations that will be in DC then:

Eagles Landing, Move America Forward, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Free Republic, Vets for Freedom and the Victory Caucus.

I can’t wait to see how this fight turns out. Let’s just say that I don’t think International ANSWER will win this battle.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Yesterday, Slow Joe Biden and Harry Reid whined about Bush’s failed Iraq policy. Today, we receive more news that Bush’s Iraq policy, as implemented by Gen. David Petraeus, has failed:

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered a six-month suspension of activities by his Mahdi Army militia in order to reorganize the force, an aide said Wednesday. The aide, Sheik Hazim al-Araji, said on Iraqi state television that the goal was to “rehabilitate” the organization, which has reportedly broken into factions, some of which the U.S. maintains are trained and supplied by Iran.

“We declare the freezing of the Mahdi Army without exception in order to rehabilitate it in a way that will safeguard its ideological image within a maximum period of six months starting from the day this statement is issued,” al-Araji said, reading from a statement by al-Sadr.

It was predictable that Sadr’s Mahdi Army would fracture in the absence of his leadership. It’s difficult, if not impossible, maintaining discipline when Sadr and his top generals are hiding in Tehran. It’s even more difficult now that Shiite politicians can’t protect these groups like they were able to in the past.

Bit by bit, it’s getting more difficult for Democrats to deny that the surge isn’t working. If the Iraqi Parliament is able to pass an oil revenue sharing plan when they return, it’ll be apparent to the American people that political progress is being made.

Democrats went from saying that the surge wasn’t working to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi saying that the Surge had failed to saying that the surge was showing signs of working but that political progress was nowhere to be found. If Sadr’s militia is shown to be dysfunctional and the Iraqi Parliament passes the oil revenue sharing legislation, Democrats won’t even have that fig leaf of cover to hide behind.

Here’s a reminder of what Reid and Pelosi said in their letter to President Bush:

“As many had foreseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results,” the two leaders wrote. “The increase in US forces has had little impact in curbing the violence or fostering political reconciliation.

Rather than asking President Bush for his opinion on whether “the escalation has failed to produce the intended results”, someone should ask Muqtada al-Sadr if he thinks the surge is producing “the intended results.” That is, if they can find Sadr, who’s acting like a scared little boy hiding behind his mommie.

If more information comes out about political progress from Iraq, Democratic presidential candidates will have to shift tactics totally. They’ve been having a contest to see which one can make the most disparaging statements about Iraq. They’ve talked about how President Bush’s policies have been proven to be failures.

By comparison, Republican presidential candidates haven’t wavered from their beliefs that the war must be won.

Based on what might be called the ‘presidential campaign rule of simplicity’, I’d say that Democrats will have a difficult time talking about Iraq. They’ll have an even more difficult task defending their positions. The ‘presidential campaign rule of simplicity’ can be defined this way: the longer the explanation, the less traction you’ll get on that issue.

Democratic presidential candidates are at that tipping point right now. Another nudge in the right direction and they’ll be without a defense on Iraq. Considering how big an issue that was for them, that wouldn’t be good news for them.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Led by Harry Reid and Joe Biden, Democrats are whining that President Bush is painting a rosy picture of Iraq. While it’s true that he’s pointed to the successes of the surge, it’s absurd to think that he’s painting an unjustifiably rosy picture of what’s happening in Iraq. Here’s what Joe Biden said about President Bush:

Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee told reporters that Bush’s logic on the Iraq war was flawed, but a key House of Representatives Republican leader backed the president.

“It’s been (Bush’s) misguided policy and his mismanaged war that have actually fueled extremism and extremists in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond,” Biden said. “The president, in my view, likes to confuse the American people by conflating Iraq, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, with the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.”

Slow Joe isn’t the only Democrat to allege that President Bush’s prosecution of the war has created more extremists or terrorists. In fact, it’s difficult to find a Democrat not named Lieberman who doesn’t take that position. Thus far, I haven’t heard anyone offer proof or statistics that that’s happening. In fact, I can’t think of a single Democrat that’s offered even anecdotal evidence to support their claims.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that allegations like what Slow Joe just made aren’t based on verifiable facts. Think about it this way: If you knew of a study from a think tank that researched whether the Iraq war had created more terrorists, wouldn’t a Joe Biden state that as the basis for their allegations? Wouldn’t such a study from a respected think tank like the Brookings Institution strengthen or validate their case?

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid accused Bush of pursuing a bankrupt strategy in Iraq as “Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda grow stronger.” “Most Americans, and a bipartisan majority in Congress, believe this strategy is not in our national interest and the time for a major change in strategy is now.”

Sen. Reid, if a “bipartisan majority in Congress” believe that the President’s surge strategy isn’t in our national interest, why hasn’t funding for the war been cut off yet? Furthermore, what’s the basis for Sen. Reid’s claim that “Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda” are growing stronger?

Not only don’t they lack evidence or even a study that proves their theories as being valid, they’re now claiming that President Bush is painting a rosy scenario. Again I ask “Based on what”? What statements can they specifically point to? For that matter, can they point to any specific statements that prove their point?

“The most important and immediate way to counter the ambitions of Al-Qaeda and Iran and other forces of instability and terror is to win the fight in Iraq,” he said in Nevada.

How is this debatable? President Bush didn’t say that Iraq is the only place where al-Qa’ida must be defeated. He simply said that defeating al-Qa’ida in Iraq is a big part of their mission.

At the end of the day, their whining is nothing more than annoying chatter.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative