Thursday, August 30, 2007

It’s time to throw the rascals out!

Unaffiliated Voters of America Party or UVAP?

It’s time to throw the rascals out!
by Mark E. Towner

As many of you know I come from Alaska via Seattle via Japan. Back in the 1970’s time frame, Washington State had two of the most powerful Senators in Washington, Henry (Scoop) Jackson and Warren G Magnusson. They were both Democrats, but were in the leadership ranks in the defense of the United States during the cold war.

There were a number of scandals attributed to Magnuson and the Democratic controlled State Legislature and a grassroots movement created what was called the OWL party.

Once elected in Utah, to continue in office usually depends only on a handful of people who get elected every two years in caucus meetings. These elected officials need only keep these delegates happy and keep getting them elected in their respective precincts to keep their elected nomination positions as incumbents to get re-elected over and over again.

The recent revelations of possible misconduct by our neighboring Idaho US Senator and other Republican elected Federal and State officials scandals now brings to a head the same issues that created a 3rd political party in Washington State. The OWL stood for “Out With Legislators” and was created from both good Democrats and Republicans that were sick and tired of the Party corruption on both sides. The slogan for their campaign was “Throw the Rascals Out”.

This group targeted any Legislator, both local, state, and Federal who’s ethics, antics, and actions were found to be in question, or they were convicted of crimes but refused to step down from office.

I truly believe that we as a country are now at a crossroads in the two major party system. I feel Mitt Romney could be one of the most organized, families oriented and ethical of the current first tier presidential candidates, however the nomination system of the major two parties will likely make it impossible for him to receive the nomination.

As I have commented before on many occasions, the extremes of both parties have captured leadership and fund raising positions making it impossible for candidates who differ on some hot button positions from ever being considered by its respective party’s delegates. Additionally elected officials that have been in office longer and longer become addicted to the power of the position, and actually believe that nobody can do the job better then themselves. They always tend to forget that they were once freshman legislators and learned the ropes, just like anyone can if given the opportunity. You give an honest hardworking person an elected position and they usually rise to the occasion. However with time, (usually 12 years) they become beholding to so many special interests and groups for their re-election fund raising that they can no more blow their nose without asking permission from their key lobbyists. The healthcare problems in this country are a direct result of these elected officials in the pocket of the Industry. A perfect example is Sen. Hillary Clinton received the most money from the Healthcare Industry for her campaign. Have you heard on word from the Senator lately about her healthcare plans?

As a sign of further frustration within our own Utah Republican Party, I have officially changed my political party designation to “unaffiliated” and plan on forming a formal “Unaffiliated Voters Party of Utah” to place good honest mainstream candidates on the ballot to “Throw the Rascals Out”.

We will be seeking like minded “Unaffiliated Utah Voters” to sign our petition to get this new Party recognized here in Utah, and maybe elsewhere in the US.

If you are interested in becoming involved in this effort send an email to

Who are the Unaffiliated Voters?

Unaffiliated Voters seek a non-partisan approach to electing our officials is necessary to secure the future we all want. They have been the major swing vote in every election for the last few decades and now should to be noticed as a major part of keeping our democracy responsive to the needs of the citizens.

We encourage and embrace all Political Parties as long as they move our country forward in a positive way. They also feel that, as an organized voice asking for, and then hearing, non-filtered, full, non-partisan information directly from the people running for each office in this country, it makes the voters better informed before making our voting decisions.

This means we can then vote for the person and not a party.

It also means that the parties must become solution seekers as opposed to the political game playing we have had over our country's history.

Voters should individually focus on the person who can do the best job no matter which color of political flag they may fly. We should be only interested in one flag and that is the flag of our country

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: The Latest Political Happenings

McCain, Republicans Call for Craig's Resignation
Posted: 30 Aug 2007 11:47 AM CDT
New York Times

Fugitive Clinton Donor Bows Out of Fundraising
Posted: 30 Aug 2007 11:46 AM CDT
Los Angeles Times

Terrorism Policies Split Democrats
Posted: 30 Aug 2007 11:45 AM CDT
Washington Post

Candidates Likely to Defy DNC
Posted: 30 Aug 2007 11:44 AM CDT
Washington Times

McCain Posts POW Video
Posted: 30 Aug 2007 11:42 AM CDT
Concord Monitor

Giuliani Campaign Seats First Responder Committee
Posted: 30 Aug 2007 11:38 AM CDT
The State

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: NEA neither confirms nor deny

My mom takes a fall

My 85 year old mother (looks like late 60's) took a spill while shopping with my wife Carrie last Saturday and broke her hip. She had surgery on Monday and is still loopy from the pain meds, but hopefully she will recover quickly. The circle of life has now completed. 52 years ago in a mad dash to Zama Air Base in Japan, I was delivered on the gerny not even getting to the delivery room. My mom raised 4 hell raising military boys, and now it's time for her boys to take care of her. Please keep her (Bettie) in your prayers for a speedy recovery and many more years to play with her grandchildren and great grandchildren.


Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Real Story Behind Gonzales Resignation

Analysis: Gonzales Resignation Clears Way for Progress Gonzales clearly had shortcomings managing the Justice Department and testifying in a persuasive fashion to members of Congress. Now, President Bush can push his agenda without needless distractions. The Bush administration has enough problems and challenges to deal with without the political sideshow that Gonzales had come to represent. Full Story Here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal August 29, 2007
Voucher Showdown
August 29, 2007; Page A14

The Utah legislature passed one of the nation's most far-sighted voucher laws in February, and the state teachers union is calling in the national cavalry to help repeal it in a November 6 referendum.

Last month Kim Campbell, the head of the Utah Education Association, schlepped all the way to Philadelphia to speak at a National Education Association convention, where she asked the board of directors for financial support to oppose school choice. Ms. Campbell promised that her campaign to defeat it "will be ugly, mean and expensive," and she needs the outside cash to overwhelm pro-voucher supporters in the state. Look for other liberal activists to pour cash into what will be the most significant state-wide ballot test for school choice in years.

The Utah union chief made her out-of-state trek, by the way, even as one of her spokesmen back home denounced the "river of money from out- of-state ideologues intent on starting a voucher experiment in Utah." Apparently, out-of-state contributions are only tainted when they're used to support something the teachers union opposes.In any case, Ms. Campbell's plea didn't fall on deaf ears. Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a union watchdog, reported recently that the Utah union's $3 million request for its anti-voucher campaign was approved.

The union's executive director wouldn't confirm or deny the amount when we inquired, but she did volunteer that "we're reaching out to the national affiliate for support and assistance, and we're hoping it will be significant." You can bet it will be. URL for this article:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Ann Romney steps into spotlight

Ann Romney steps into spotlight
Traditional image sets her apart
By Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff August 26, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In a hotel ballroom yesterday morning, Ann Romney stood before about 150 Republican women and held up oversized photographs of her five sons and their families. The women, mostly older, many wearing black T-shirts with rhinestone emblems of their group's website, leaned in, nodding.
There was Tagg, with his wife and three children -- "That granddaughter, by the way, is a brilliant girl." Here was Matt and his twin girls -- "trouble with a capital T" -- and Josh, who went to all 99 counties in Iowa in a Winnebago, and his family. There was Ben, with his wife -- "he married way above himself," she said, to laughter -- and Craig, with his wife, Mary, and baby, Parker, "who has stolen all of our hearts, and he will steal yours too."
"This is a family affair that we're involved in," she said.
In past presidential campaigns, Romney would be standard fare as a candidate's spouse -- a wife who devoted most of her life to her husband and children rather than pursuing a profession, and a sunny presence on the campaign trail who keeps her thoughts on policy and politics mostly to herself.
Florida primary in violation of Democratic rules. A10.
But among this year's crop of candidates' spouses -- replete with divor cees, career women, and even a former president -- her adherence to the first lady archetype sets her apart.
"We have more nontraditional spouses this time than we've had in a while -- nontraditional in different ways, which is pretty interesting," said Kathleen A. Dolan, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. "Ann Romney is much more the traditional spouse in this election, and she's sort of alone in that regard."
The contrast has become increasingly striking in recent weeks as Romney has taken a more prominent role in her husband's campaign. At the same time, other candidates' spouses have drawn attention for their political pronouncements on the stump, or deeper scrutiny of their personal histories.
Many analysts say Ann Romney plays a critical role helping her husband appeal to voters who care deeply about family values -- and who make up a substantial portion of the Republican primary electorate. Advisers to Romney say he also performs better on the stump when she is by his side.
"Next to Mitt himself, she is the most important person in this campaign," said Charlie Manning, a consultant to the campaign.
Among the top Republican contenders, the Romneys' harmonious -- single -- marriage is unique. While the Romneys fell in love in high school, married in college, and have five children and 10 grandchildren, Rudy and Judith Giuliani, each now in their third marriages, began dating when the candidate was still married to the mother of his two children. A venomous profile in Vanity Fair magazine recently portrayed Judith Giuliani, who publicly disclosed one of her previous marriages for the first time in March, as a scheming home wrecker with a lust for luxury.
Fred Thompson's wife, Jeri, also previously married, has been labeled a "trophy wife" because she is [and looks] a quarter-century younger than her husband; she also has been blamed for the turmoil in her husband's nascent campaign. And Cindy McCain, John McCain's second wife, earned notoriety in the past for stealing drugs from her own charity while she was addicted to painkillers.
"It's, 'Here comes Fred Thompson with Ooh-la-la, and here comes Rudy Giuliani with -- is that your second or third wife? And McCain -- yes, he's a national hero . . . but oh, by the way, didn't he leave his wife for a younger woman?' " said Elizabeth A. Sherman, an adjunct professor at the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University. "The main thing you have to do in a primary is distinguish yourself from a very crowded field, and [Romney] distinguishes himself so beautifully on family values."
The spouses of the major Democratic candidates, meanwhile, are lawyers who have become increasingly political, even outspoken, on the stump.
An emboldened Elizabeth Edwards, a key strategist for her husband John's campaign, has sharply criticized his rivals' votes for an Iraq war-funding bill and accused Senator Barack Obama of Illinois of being "holier than thou" on the war.
Michelle Obama, caused a ruckus recently over an apparent swipe at the Clintons -- "If you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House." Then there is Bill Clinton, a former president whose marital transgressions created a sex scandal in the White House.
In an interview Friday in New Hampshire, Elizabeth Edwards said she welcomed the "pretty wide spectrum" of spouses this campaign.
"It's sort of a picture of America, really, isn't it?" she said. "It's actually kind of good that there's no cookie-cutter example, I think, because there shouldn't be."
Asked whether she thought voters preferred a potential first lady who, like her, had pursued a career outside the home, or like Ann Romney, who had not, Edwards said today's electorate respected both choices.
"Everyone's always able to relate better to somebody who has a life closer to theirs," she said. "So there may be some working women who don't relate as much to Ann Romney, there may be some women who work in the home and relate better to her."
Ann Romney, 58, even as she takes on a starring role in the campaign, tends to keep her thoughts on policy matters to herself, confining her public words mostly to the realm of her children and grandchildren, her husband's character, and her adventures on the campaign trail. She also speaks movingly -- and frankly -- about her battle with multiple sclerosis, even admitting she wanted to die after her diagnosis in 1998.
In Orlando yesterday, she told the story of her battle with the disease and used it to connect with the audience.
"Live life long enough and you will have your burdens, that's what I've learned from this disease," she said, her voice trembling. "I look out at this room. You all look happy and smiling -- you know what I know? I know every single one of you has a bag of rocks over your shoulder. . . . And the other thing I've learned is we need to lighten each other's burdens."
After her speech, several women whose lives have been touched by MS came to greet her, some in tears. Romney said she spends part of each week calling people she has met on the campaign trail who have multiple sclerosis, or their family members who suffer from the disease.
If some stay-at-home mothers feel a stigma associated with not having a career outside the home, Romney revels in her choice, telling audiences that when she was a frazzled young mother, her husband would call home from the office and remind her that her job was more important than his.
"We have five sons, lovely sons, and 10 grandchildren," she said in a July radio ad. "I had to wait until my first granddaughter. Finally, I get to buy pink!"
In Romney's past campaigns in Massachusetts, the family's squeaky clean image did not always go over well. She endured ridicule after a lengthy 1994 interview with the Globe, in which she said she and her husband had never had a serious argument and recounted their struggles as a young married couple having to sell stock to make ends meet. During the 2002 run for governor, an ad featuring her and her husband talking about how they met came across as saccharine to some. Romney's poll numbers tumbled.
Aides in those campaigns, however, said Ann Romney was always an asset and involved, traveling with her husband to events, speaking to groups of activists on her own, and helping at the campaign headquarters.
She was barely visible, however, as first lady in Massachusetts. In a brief interview in Iowa earlier this month, she said she worked hard in various charitable organizations, but the media never covered her. "I was busy, it's just that no one cared!" she said with a laugh.
In his presidential race, however, she has taken on an increasingly public, and vocal, role. She was featured this month on ABC's "Nightline," and last month in People magazine. Thursday, she appeared solo before Republicans in South Carolina, and Friday she appeared by her husband's side at a major healthcare speech in Florida.
Next month, she said, the campaign is rolling out a website devoted to her,, which will feature videos of her on the trail, issues she cares about (such as at-risk youth and multiple sclerosis), a photo gallery, press clippings, and an interactive feature.
Political specialists say the Romneys' monogamous marriage and large, apparently happy family could be a significant asset in the GOP primary, particularly given Romney's former support of abortion rights and his Mormon faith, a cause for skepticism among some Christian evangelicals.
"Romney's strategy is to focus on the base," Sherman said. "He has got to show a lot of Christian conservatives his bona fides. His message is going to be, 'Not only am I against abortion and gay marriage, but I practice what I preach. And voila, look at my beautiful stay-at-home wife, we have raised five children and she has focused on being a loving wife, a caring mother and she has devoted her entire life to her family.' That speaks volumes to the base."
Asked yesterday if she thought voters found her profile appealing, Ann Romney said, "It's just who we are."
Sylvia Rice, 77, of Orlando, said she was deciding whether to support Giuliani or Romney. But yesterday, Ann Romney "pretty much won me over."
"She obviously is a person who has the warmth and understanding and compassion that the country needs in a presidential wife."
Globe correspondent James W. Pindell contributed to this report from Manchester, N.H. Lisa Wangsness can be reached at

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: War chests of the hopefuls

War chests of the hopefuls
Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City, raised $43.9 million (£21.9 million) during the first six months of 2007
Mitt Romney, multimillionaire Mormon who also lent his campaign $8.9 million from his pocket. $35 million
John McCain, the Vietnam War veteran who had to fire staff because his campaign is short on funds, has raised $24.3 million

Barack Obama, the senator who would be the first African-American president of the US if elected. $58 million
Hillary Clinton, senator and former First Lady, who would be the first woman president of the US if elected. $53 million
John Edwards, who ran for vice-president in 2004 and has been criticised recently for getting a $400 haircut. $23 million

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots:

Lawmakers' Iraq Views Shift at Home
Posted: 25 Aug 2007 02:57 PM CDT
The Politico

No Big Shifts Planned After Report on Iraq
Posted: 25 Aug 2007 02:57 PM CDT
Washington Post

On Foreign Policy, What Counts as Experience?
Posted: 25 Aug 2007 02:47 PM CDT
New York Times

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Response to Utah Demoratic Party


Rev. Dr. Myke D. Crowder and Richard Wirthlin respond to the Utah Democratic Party

August 16, 2007

Wayne Holland
Utah Democratic Party
455 S 300 E, Ste 301
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Mr. Holland:

We are writing to express our disappointment that your website has characterized voucher supporters as “anti-LDS.” Of course voucher supporters come from all religious faiths and backgrounds. They unite in their common dream of affording a quality education to every child, all of whom are God’s children.

One’s particular religious faith or tradition should play no part in this debate of how best to educate God’s children. Rather we hope the discussion will focus on what is best for each individual child and how to help that child reach his or her god-given potential.

We urge you immediately to drop from your website your divisive reference to voucher supporters being “anti-LDS”.

We believe that while Utah’s public schools work well for most students, it is unreasonable to expect a single system to be the best option for more than 500,000 diverse learners. Many students fall through the cracks or don’t get what they need, as evidenced by recent news that 25 percent of high school seniors did not pass the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test, and that Hispanic children in Utah score three grade levels behind their white counterparts in reading.

Many Democratic leaders agree that public education does not provide the same benefits to all children. Just last week, Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama said that “A U.S. Senator can get his kids into a great public school…the question is whether or not an ordinary family who can’t work the system can get their kids into a decent school.” The week before, presidential candidate John Edwards said, “There are two public school systems in this country…The result is, if you live in a wealthy suburban area, the odds are very high that your child will get a very good public school education. If you live in the inner city or if you live in a poor rural area, the odds of that go down dramatically.”

We see Utah’s new voucher program as a tool that will level the playing field for poor and minority families, opening up options that now are only available to the wealthy. And because the taxpayer cost for a voucher, $2,000, is only about 27 percent of the cost of educating a child in a public school (over $7,500), our public schools will have more funding to meet the needs of students who choose to stay in their local school. That funding can be used to reduce class size, provide raises to our hard-working teachers, or invest in new technology.

As members of various religious faiths, we support the goals of Alliance for Unity (, namely that “differences need to be aired, and problems resolved, in an atmosphere of courtesy, respect and civility…especially when we disagree.” We encourage all participating in the voucher debate to abide by these standards.


Richard Wirthlin
Community Leader

Rev. Dr. Myke D. Crowder
Senior Pastor of Christian Life Center in Layton, Utah

Contact Information for Rev. Dr. Crowder : Cell phone: 801-791-7145

Lifelong K-12 Education

Lifelong K-12 Education
Why do we want students to pass high school exit exams?

So we don't have to teach high school in college.

Posted by Mike Antonucci on Friday, August 24, 2007 at 08:19

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Calendar In Chaos

August 23, 2007
A Calendar In Chaos
By Reid Wilson

For both Democratic and Republican party officials, the 2008 nominating contest is not only about who they choose to seek the presidency, but about how, and when, that nominee is selected. Increasingly, the how and when are creating a state of near-chaos as states jockey for position and party officials find themselves with little control.

While the national media focuses on Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states which traditionally hold the first caucus and primary, respectively, other states are making moves to set their contests as early as possible in order, they claim, to exert more influence over the contest and to assure that candidates speak to their issues.
But, thanks largely to pressure exerted by Michigan Senator Carl Levin, the Wolverine State will be the latest to challenge the primacy of Iowa and New Hampshire when the State House passes legislation moving the state's primary to January 15th, just a day after the originally-scheduled Iowa caucuses - a date now all but certain to be abandoned.

Michigan's move, as well as positions taken by Florida and other states which threaten both parties' meticulously-laid out calendar, are the latest events to sow uncertainty into the presidential race. "The structure is in danger of collapsing," said Rutgers political scientist Ross Baker. "Everybody wants to be Lord Warwick, who puts the crown on the king's head."
If DNC and RNC officials stick to their game plans, states that jump the gun could face heavy sanctions, making their early primaries little more than beauty pageants. Whether the parties are willing to punish those early states, though, remains to be seen.
Both parties agreed that several states should hold contests before the "window," during which any state can hold a contest on any day. The window for each begins on Tuesday, February 5th, and runs to July, though Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina all have a pass to hold their contests earlier. For Democrats, Nevada is also allowed to caucus before other states.
When the window opens, nearly two dozen states will hold their contests at the first available opportunity, meaning the vast majority of delegates to national conventions will be selected on one day. The event, dubbed "Super Duper Tuesday," got more crowded this week when Arizona became the twenty-first state to announce plans to hold their primary that day.
Though not every state is content to wait for the pre-defined window. If, as planned, Michigan holds its contest on January 15th and Florida holds theirs on January 29th, they could, as Levin hopes, diminish the power Iowa and New Hampshire hold over the nominating process. Many critics argue that the two states, which have sky-high percentages of white voters and strong views about certain obscure issues on which every candidate must bend, do not represent the entire U.S. well, and therefore should be replaced with a better microcosm of the country.
On the other hand, Michigan and Florida could, according to party sources, write themselves out of the process entirely. If punished by the DNC and RNC, both states, said South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler, "are probably going to lose enough delegates so that their process becomes irrelevant."
Indeed, it appears that early contests by Michigan and Florida threaten South Carolina's traditional first-in-the-South primary more than Iowa or New Hampshire. "The difference is mega-states versus smaller states," South Carolina GOP chair Katon Dawson said. "I find it disappointing that a U.S. Senator has injected himself into the process."
The position which argues that, by their nature as smaller states, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are better able to judge some second-tier candidates up close and give them a shot has not been lost on campaigns of either party. "Powerful interests are trying to change the Democratic nomination for President into a game of Monopoly, replacing the retail politics" of early states "with a process in which the only credential necessary to be President is to be the wealthiest candidate," Delaware Senator Joe Biden said in a statement.
"The lower tier and skinny-cat campaigns are the ones that are hurt the most," said one Republican campaign strategist. "[Arizona Senator John] McCain and [former Arkansas Governor Mike] Huckabee aren't in a position to quickly move the small staff and limited resources they have to a state that jumps into position to have a big impact on the nominating process."
The issue will come to a head, for Democrats, on Saturday, when the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee meets in Washington. There, party officials will decide what actions to take against Florida, which has formally submitted its plan to hold the primary on January 29th. Penalties imposed on Florida may have enough impact to dissuade Michigan from formally resubmitting its plan, which, as currently filed with the DNC, calls for a February 9th primary.
This weekend's committee meeting is the last scheduled meeting before the nominating process starts. But if Michigan does decide to resubmit its plan and hold a mid-January primary, "it's possible that the RBC will need to take up additional calendar issues following the meeting," hinted DNC spokeswoman Stacie Paxton.
If the DNC finds Florida and, eventually, Michigan, out of compliance, it has several options. First, all the state's super-delegates would lose their privileges (Super-delegates include members of Congress, a state's governor and members of the DNC). Second, at least half of the state's pledged delegates could be taken away.
At best, Florida would wield approximately the same influence as Georgia, Maryland or Washington State, all of which have vastly smaller populations. At worst, the DNC could decide to make a stronger stand and take away all the state's delegates. Based on the DNC's actions, says South Carolina Republican Dawson, "I think it's going to change the appetite of Michigan."
For the RNC, rules are similar, though theirs were set at the 2004 convention and are not subject to change, as Democrats' are. States have until September 4th to officially submit plans to hold primaries and caucuses. If a state moves their contest after the September 4th deadline, or if they hold their contest before February 5th without permission, they will also lose at least half their delegates.
For some states, even the threat of fewer delegates and less influence is not enough to scare them off. "We understand what the possible consequences are," said Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis. "We're cautiously optimistic that we wouldn't lose any delegates." Still, if his state faces a threat from either party, says Anuzis, "we think the risks are worth the potential benefit."
To Baker and others, the lack of structure is troubling. "It keeps the candidates and campaigns off balance. It's introduced a huge amount of uncertainty on the system," he said. "You're going to be squandering resources based on contingencies, based on hypotheses, based on rumors, based on threats."
By the end of Saturday, only one issue ripe for rumor and threats will be solved: How far the DNC and chairman Howard Dean are willing to go to hold the line on states creeping earlier. Iowa is still waiting for New Hampshire to name the date of their primary. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is still contemplating just how early he will set the primary. Even South Carolina Republicans are contemplating another move: The party's executive committee gave Dawson the power to hold the primary on any day in December or January.
The DNC, perhaps forseeing the inevitable calendar crunch in December 2004, named former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and North Carolina Congressman David Price to run the party's Nominating Calendar Commission for 2008. But the uncertainty in the calendar, says Baker, can only be solved by a party elder or senior statesman. "If George Mitchell weren't tied up," Baker said, referring to the former Senate Minority Leader currently investigating the prevalence of steroids in baseball, "he'd be a great person to get."
Until a Mitchell figure emerges in both parties, the process will remain muddled. South Carolina Democrat Fowler demonstrated just how up in the air the calendar remains, just four months before the first contest is expected: "The only date [for a contest] we know is the South Carolina Republicans, assuming they don't change and move to some other date."
She paused. "Which they might."
Reid Wilson, an associate editor and writer for RealClearPolitics, formerly covered polls and polling for The Hotline, National Journal’s daily briefing on politics. Wilson’s work has appeared in National Journal, Hotline OnCall and the Arizona Capitol Times. He can be reached at

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: People Are More Important than Animals

People Are More Important than Animals
by Abel KeoghAugust 23, 2007
Let’s say your next door neighbor becomes angry at his dog. To punish the animal he puts him in an oven and cooks him for five minutes at 200 degrees. The dog lives but will bear physical scars of the incident for the rest of his life. The next day this same neighbor is arrested for sexually abusing a minor. For what crime should your neighbor receive the most punishment: torturing a dog or sexually abusing a minor?
According to Utah animal rights activists, torturing a dog should receive a harsher sentence. Thankfully, for the time being, the Utah state legislature disagreed.
Yesterday the Utah state legislature balked on voting on a measure that would have made acts of animal torture, now a Class A misdemeanor, a third degree felony and punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
This all sounds good until you learn, thanks to Republican Sen. Jon Greiner, that under Utah law such crimes as child abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, assault of a police officer, and assault of a school employee are still Class A misdemeanors. “How do we get to a third-degree felony [for animal torture] when we don’t have enough respect for human life, sexually abused children, that we don’t have a higher standard of care for them?” he told the Salt Lake Tribune.
How, indeed.
The fact that the legislature is seriously considering this bill shouldn’t come as a surprise. For years militant animal rights activists and have told us that animals have at least the same rights as people: we shouldn’t eat them, perform scientific experiments on them, or even consider building homes, roads, or bridges where it might disturb them. Their goal has been to get us to treat animals as equals. Now it seems they want us to treat them as our superiors.
Think about the message the proposed Utah law sends to state residents about the value of humans when stacked up against man’s best friend. Stick a dog in the oven and get five years behind bars. Assault a teacher or abuse a child and, at least in the eyes of the law, a lesser sentence is required.
Those who torture animals are cruel, sadistic, and should be punished. However, the punishment should not be greater than harming a person. If Utah state legislators want to make it a third-degree felony to torture animals, they need to up the punishments for abusing and assaulting people as well.
People are more important than animals. This is something our laws should reflect and something the Utah legislators should keep in mind when they reconsider this bill next January.
Abel Keogh is the editor of You can email him here. His book, Room for Two, is now available. You can order a personalized copy here.

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Response to Anti Voucher Supporters in the Salt Lake Tribune

Actuary321: 8/20/2007 1:26:00 PM

I am sorry but this one simply had to be responded to. >>> You want to know why teacher unions are against vouchers? It has nothing to do with protecting ourselves. Here are some reasons:

1. Utah has the most overcrowded classrooms in the country and the state ranks last in the nation in spending per student. Instead of diverting school funding to vouchers, Utahns should increase our investment in public schools. >>> For each student removed less than ½ of the funding for that student will be removed. The average amount spent per public school pupil will increase with vouchers. >>>

2. The flawed voucher law contains too many loopholes and unanswered questions, and provides little accountability for private voucher schools. >>> Private schools are much more accountable to parents than public schools. >>>

3. Unaccountable private voucher schools may hire teachers without a college degree or a state license. These unaccountable voucher schools don’t have to be accredited like public schools and don’t have to meet the same coursework or attendance standards that public schools must meet. >>> The law says the teachers must either “hold baccalaureate or higher degrees or have special skills, knowledge, or expertise that qualifies them to provide instruction in the subjects taught.” And schools must “provide to parents the teaching credentials of the school's teachers and provide, upon request to any person, a statement indicating which, if any, organizations have accredited the private school.” Public schools have not requirement to provide that information to parents. And I think it is fairly naïve for anyone to think that parents will not hold the schools accountable based on the amount of tuition money, in addition to the vouchers, that they will be paying to the school. >>>

4. The lack of accountability or oversight of private schools opens the door to waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. >>> Hard to see how much more accountability public schools have. And since I would expect, because of the tuition costs in excess of the vouchers and the requirement virtually every private school I have ever seen of parental involvement, parents will hold private schools more accountable than they are able to hold public schools. >>>

5. Even though private schools are subject to very little accountability now, the new flawed legislation prohibits any further accountability of private schools in the future. There is no way to hold private voucher schools accountable to taxpayers. >>> Covered in 3 & 4 above. >>>

6. The state projects vouchers will cost the state $429 million over the next thirteen years. That is money that will not be available to assist the 96% of Utah’s children – 9 in 10 – who attend public school. >>> 96% is more than 9 in 10 but lets get back to the $$. What savings will be accrued by not having to pay the full amount for the students who get those $429 Million? Estimates I have seen are about $1.5 BILLION. I am usually willing to spend $1 to save $3. >>>

7. Vouchers won’t help the majority of Utah families anyway because more than half of Utah counties have NO private schools at all. >>> But the majority of Utah families don’t live in the half of Utah counties that have NO private schools. Remember there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. >>>

8. Even if an eligible student is chosen by a private voucher school, there is no guarantee that there will be a voucher available for that student now or in the future. Vouchers run out when the funds do. >>> Wait are you claiming that vouchers will be wildly popular now, after claiming pretty much the opposite in 6 & 7? Which is it? The more students that apply for vouchers the greater the savings. You think that if the money runs out this year, the legislature won’t look to increase it next year, thereby allowing more students to take advantage of it thereby generating even bigger savings (See 6 above). >>>

9. Even with a voucher, most Utah families will not be able to afford expensive private school tuition, which averages $8,000 per child per year. >>> Where did you get the $8,000? Have you looked at They give a figure of $3,316 for recipients of their scholarships. And again, I can’t tell if you are arguing that lots of people will take advantage, or few? >>>

10. Utah lawmakers provided $9.3 million in funding for vouchers in 2008. With a projected enrollment of 553,428 students that means less than 1% of students would receive an average voucher. >>> At the moment, I think there are probably not 5,534 private school seats open. But even if there are, you already argued that most Utah families will not be able to afford it anyway, even with the vouchers.

Your circular arguments are making me dizzy. But thanks for the opportunity to comment. I am not a voucher supporter, my kids are in public schools and I don’t intend on moving them. I am more inclined to vote against vouchers at the moment so please come up with better arguments so that I can back up my vote with well reasoned facts. Thanks.

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: NEA Press Release, Merit Pay NO How NO Way

WASHINGTON —Democrats running for President reject any mandatory pay-for-performance schemes as part of the reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The candidates also reject any plan to tie teacher pay to student test scores. The candidates stated their opposition to merit pay during a nationally televised debate in Des Moines, Iowa , where they also called for universal pre-school and an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act.
NEA President Reg Weaver believes the Democratic candidates for president show they understand what it takes to create great public schools for every child. The following statement can be attributed to Weaver:

“The Democratic Presidential candidates have the right instincts on merit pay. Pay for performance – so-called merit pay - undermines the collegial relationship among teachers, and there is no scientific evidence to show that merit pay plans improve student academic achievement.

“The 3.2 million members of the National Education Association hope the positions of the candidates are heard loud and clear by their party’s Congressional leadership.

“Democratic leaders in the US House of Representatives have said publicly that they intend to include pay for performance as an element of a reauthorized No Child Left Behind Act. NEA will oppose any legislative proposal that mandates implementation of a pay for performance plan.
“Teachers are underpaid, and NEA believes America should establish a minimum pay for public school teachers of $40,000, reward teachers who become nationally board certified, and provide additional pay to educators who teach in high poverty schools.”

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: 'Collegiality vs. Excellence, Or 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

August 21, 2007
Collegiality vs. Excellence, Or 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
I was going to blog about the Sunday debates between the Democratic presidential candidates, but it turns out the statement that the National Education Association (and its president Reg Weaver) put out afterward proved to be far more interesting than any of the carefully scripted/guarded comments that came out of the candidates' mouths.
(And in case you spent the weekend maniacally scrubbing your Wikipedia entry edits and missed the debate itself, you can watch the pertinent parts here. But trust me, there is nothing really there. Some words coming from candidates' mouths, but it's pretty much all bells and whistles baby. Even EdIn08's good cop only had nice things to say about the questioners, and not as much to say about the answers, displaying how low the bar has been set - even in Romerville.)
My take on the significance of the "so-called performance pay" discussion (and the NEA's subsequent public statement) is closer to the strand that David Hoff is following over at Education Week's NCLB: Act II blog. David noted that three of the candidates sit on a Senate committee that may be taking up the "so-called performance pay" issue as part of an eventual reauthorization of NCLB.
With that in mind, you can understand why the candidates are under so much pressure to be as boring as they are on education issues - even as a couple hundred thousand high school students prepare to become dropouts between now and the 2008 general election. The NEA's statement following the debates tells you a lot about what is happening behind the scenes, who really dominates the education discussion in this country, and why concepts like teacher "collegiality" almost always trump concepts like excellence, performance, etc. (And I'm probably reading too much into this, but it almost reads like a "Don't get too big for your reform-sounding britches" message to Barack Obama, who has called for merit pay, but only in cases where the teachers design the pay schemes.)

The NEA's audience here isn't the presidential candidates or the public at large. It is aimed squarely at members of Congress who dare cross the union by offering plans in NCLB to reward successful teachers for the hard work they do.

Congratulations Reg Weaver, for making it onto today's "DFER Quote of the Day."

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots ‘Williams' First Law of Blogging'

Williams' First Law of Blogging
The New York Sun has published what may be the first newspaper story ever about guest bloggers. It's a coup for, where for the past two weeks New York City Public Schools Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf and United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten have taken turns sitting in.I'll leave commentary on the substance to others, but I'd like to direct both Cerf and Weingarten to the section of the Sun story where Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform gives some crucial advice about blogging:"He said the art is to be lively and avoid dragging on. 'It's harder to do than many people may think,' he said."Be Lively and Avoid Dragging On.And, if I may, avoid comical disclaimers like "Opinions here are my own and not necessarily those of the United Federation of Teachers, where I serve as President."
Posted by Mike Antonucci on Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 07:47

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots ‘Heat up the Voucher fight'

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots ‘Heat up the Voucher fight'
If there were any doubts about the Utah Democratic Party's involvement in the anti-voucher movement, this quote was copied directly from the Utah Democrats Newsletter.

One thing I find quite interesting is the comment “We can help.)” So the Utah Democratic Party will help it’s members write letters to the editor in opposition to vouchers. Since a large majority of Utah Democrats are Teachers, Government workers (State, County, and Local) or work for the State Universities or colleges or somehow attached to the taxpayer tit, one would assume that they could write their own letters to the editor."Heat up the voucher fightThe anti-voucher campaign is getting underway, and while polls show opposition to vouchers is relatively strong, we can’t take anything for granted.

On Saturday,July 28th, Democrats all over the country will be standing up for their values and we are asking Utah Democrats to do the same by doing one or more of the following:
Write a letter to the editor of your local paperregarding your concerns about vouchers (We can help.)
Sign up to volunteer for Utahns for Public Schools by visiting their website at
Get 10 of your friends, family members and/or neighbors to contribute $25 to Utahns for Public Schools.
Utah Democrats came together in an attempt to stop this costly attempt to undermine public education when every single Democratic legislator voted against vouchers. We came together again to help support Utah values by placing vouchers on this November’s ballot."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots ‘'Are People Losing Patience With Thompson?

Former Sen. Fred Thompson spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention yesterday where he accused congress of trying to plant a "white flag".
From GMA
Aug. 22, 2007

In the latest Gallup presidential poll, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson ranks second among Republican voters.
One political strategist said Thompson could swim the Mediterranean with all the "testing of the waters" he's done, but he still has yet to take the plunge and officially announce his candidacy.

Thompson got razed for wearing expensive Gucci loafers to the Iowa State Fair, but he did eat some meat on a stick and he even held a pig.
Would he do all that if he weren't running?
On the radio show "Mickelson in the Morning," Thompson said, "I have declared that I'm going to declare."
Thompson has certainly been honing his message.
"Some people in this country apparently think if we can pull out of Iraq, our problems will be over. You and I know better than that," Thompson said in a recent speech to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City.
And the other candidates are treating him like a rival.
When Thompson wrote on his blog Tuesday that he'd spent a lot of time in New York City filming the TV show "Law and Order" and that he doesn't like the city's gun laws, a spokeswoman for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani shot back.
"Those who live in New York in the real world — not on TV — know that Rudy Giuliani's record of making the city safe for families speaks for itself," said Giuliani's communications director, Katie Levinson, in a statement.

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots 'Clinton Takes the Bait on Cuba'

Clinton Takes the Bait on Cuba
Tom BevanWed Aug 22, 11:02 AM ET
Yesterday we wondered how Hillary Clinton would respond to Barack Obama's op-ed in the Miami Herald calling for easing restrictions on the US embargo of Cuba. Today Beth Reinhard and Lesley Clark provide the answer:

Rival Sen. Hillary Clinton said she would continue the Bush administration's hard-line stance, for the most part. Clinton's campaign said she agrees that exiles should be able to freely send money to their relatives but said she does not favor ''any wholesale, broad changes'' to the travel restrictions until Fidel Castro falls. Clinton did vote with Obama in 2005 -- unsuccessfully -- to ease restrictions on family travel in ``humanitarian cases.''

''She supports the embargo and our current policy toward Cuba, and until it is clear what type of political winds may come with a new government -- if there is a new government -- we cannot talk about changes to U.S. policy,'' Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said.
Obama was more or less daring Clinton endorse the current US policy toward Cuba, knowing that it might cost him votes in Florida but would also serve to reinforce the broader theme of his campaign as a "change of direction."

Clinton took the bait, giving Obama exactly the line he wanted: "she would continue the Bush administration's hard-line stance."
Yet at the same time, Clinton got what she wanted, which was to take the opportunity to get an even firmer grip on Florida and to reinforce her image as an experienced, hard-nosed realist unwilling to engage in speculation or hypotheticals.

(Incidentally, a backdrop to the entire discussion is whether Florida will be stripped of its convention delegates for moving its primary up into January in violation of DNC rules.)
The line between the Obama and Clinton candidacies has always been "experience" versus "change" - a cliche that Tony Blankley challenges very effectively this morning, by the way - but while the distinction had been a bit fuzzy for the first six months of the campaign, it has really come into focus during the last few weeks.

Obama and his advisors thoroughly believe this is a "change" election, and they will continue to push that message out in all directions at every possible opportunity. The Clinton campaign also recognizes the change dynamic present in this year's electorate, but is betting that voters in the primary and the general election value the idea of experience a great deal as well, in addition to wanting to satisfy a basic urge for change.
If the national and state polls mean anything, as of right now Hillary Clinton appears to be winning the battle - but there's obviously still a long way to go.;_ylt=Avzzk2NdIDhdhPtJMqbMyIHSos4F

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots 'The lamentable Edwards campaign'

Rich Lowry: The lamentable Edwards campaign
By Rich Lowry
Article Last Updated: 08/22/2007 07:17:37 PM MDT

Francois de La Rochefoucauld had a point when he said, in his frequently quoted formulation, that hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. In the case of John Edwards, however, hypocrisy is simply a way of life. The infamous $400 haircut - actually, some of his hairstyling sessions ran as much as $1,200 all told - wasn't a freak embarrassment for a candidate so self-righteously devoted to the poor. It was part of a pattern so pervasive that it has become the defining aspect of Edwards' candidacy. When he lambasted hedge funds for incorporating offshore to avoid or delay paying U.S. taxes, what could be more natural than that he made nearly $500,000 for part-time work at the Fortress Investment Group, with hedge funds incorporated in the Cayman Islands for tax purposes? When he hit other candidates for taking donations from Rupert Murdoch's media holdings, wasn't it inevitable that it would turn out he had taken $800,000 from Murdoch's HarperCollins for a coffee-table book? Or when he attacked subprime lenders for foreclosing on victims of Hurricane Katrina, he would have $16 million - half of his net worth - invested in Fortress while it was foreclosing on a couple dozen homes in New Orleans? Most of us uphold ideals that we can't meet, but liberal populism shouldn't be such an impossible standard. The late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, a liberal
populist to his core, never had such embarrassments. The former North Carolina senator is experiencing a kind of toxic shock from his synthetic political persona. In 2004, John Edwards was Mr. Congeniality, for no other reason than that seemed the market niche for him in the race. Today, he is the angry populist, for no other reason than that seems the market niche for him in the race. He thrived in the Iowa caucuses four years ago as the fresh new thing; this year he looks like a version of Dick Gephardt, the union-pandering populist with the negative campaign. Edwards' anger has about all the heft and seriousness of a 5-year-old's tantrum. All candidates fear making a gaffe in one of the debates. Edwards has to worry that Hillary Clinton will blow on him and he'll float away - like Mary Poppins with her magic umbrella, carried off by the unbearable lightness of his own political being. If a paranoid theory were needed to explain Edwards' candidacy, there are two, equally plausible options. Is he a plant from the Democratic National Committee designed to make Clinton and Barack Obama look impressive by contrast with his sheer insubstantiality? Or is he a plant of the Republican National Committee designed to pull the top-tier candidates as far to the left as possible? On the big issues of the day, Edwards specializes in can't-keep-his-story-straight contrivance. Democratic consultant Bob Shrum described in his book No Excuses how his political advisers talked Edwards into voting for the authorization of the Iraq war in the fall of 2002. Edwards vehemently denies it, but also says that he didn't express "the huge conflict" he had in his own mind about the vote, which makes it sound like politics played as big a role in his decision as his conscience. On gay marriage, he said that he opposes it because of his religious background, but then explained that it had been wrong for him to say that. He now offers no real reason for his opposition. Surely, the hindrance is simply that it is the most politically contentious item on the gay-rights agenda. Edwards says on the campaign trail that he can beat the special interests the way he beat them in the courtroom as a trial lawyer. Back then, how John Edwards lived and his past record didn't matter, so long as he told the jury what it wanted to hear. Edwards still seems to think he's in the courtroom, which is why he is so deaf to the jarring incongruities of his lamentable campaign. ---

RICH LOWRY can be reached via e-mail:

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots ‘The New War'

‘The New War'
New York Sun EditorialAugust 22, 2007

As Democrats scramble in the wake of the realization that President Bush's surge is working in Iraq, Senator Clinton is suddenly talking about preparing to fight a new war. She's always been a master at hedging her bets, but her speech Monday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars where she admitted that the surge she opposed is "working," beats all. In the same breath she added, "We're just years too late in changing our tactics We can't ever let that happen again We can't be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war."

New Yorkers can take that to mean that, for all her flailing, she will press for passage of the retreat she has sought to legislate, the Iraq Troop Protection and Reduction of 2007. She co-authored the measure, which, her campaign Web site says, "will end the war before the next president takes the oath of office." Like every other Democrat running for president, Mrs. Clinton opposed the troop surge she now concedes is working. Some of her other legislative meddling would cap the number of troops in Iraq to pre-surge levels.

So what exactly is going on here? It turns out that General Petraeus has been masterful in presenting the data of the military campaign to both Democrats and Republicans. He has made it clear that the president understands that his mission requires bipartisan tolerance, if not support from both parties. Another thing that is happening is that for the first time Iraqi sheikhs of both the Sunni and now Shi'ia stripe are joining arms with our GIs against Al Qaeda, the Iranian terror network, and the followers of Moqtada al Sadr known as Jaish al Mahdi.
All of these entities have sought to destroy any hope for a stable Iraqi democracy from day one, but in the case of Iran and Mr. Sadr it took nearly three years to unleash the military against the Mullah terror masters in Iraq. The new strategy in Iraq also commits our soldiers to protecting civilians and openly patrolling with Iraqi security forces the neighborhoods we left to the terrorists in 2005 and 2006. This means that the daily revenge killings and the ethnic cleansing are stalling. Baghdad may not be safe Â-- yet Â-- but in many swaths normal life is returning and with it the prospect of political reconciliation.

Neither Senator Clinton nor Senators Levin and Durbin and other Democratic party leaders are fools. They understand that the new strategy in Iraq presents the best chance we've had in a long time to leave Iraq better than we found it, which the Left needs to be forever reminded was a failed state in every sense of the word. Yet we have not won just yet. General Petraeus next month will say many things, but we hear one of his key points will be to say how fragile the progress in Iraq really is. Should Congress pull the plug on him now, we would be betraying the best allies we've ever had against Al Qaeda and Iran, pro-American Muslims.

So what exactly then is this Â'new war' that Mrs. Clinton says we ought to be preparing to fight? And how does she think we will win it if we just allow our current allies in Iraq to be slaughtered by the enemies we will have to fight elsewhere if they drive us from Iraq? And how are the Democrats going to lead in a new war after beating the drums so avidly for retreat in the current fight? The truth is Mrs. Clinton doesn't believe all the clap trap she's been spooling to her party's base. We hear that in private conversations with military brass, she pointedly says she will not run the war, if elected, as she promises to during the campaign Â-- which is one of the most astounding things we've heard of late.

Once the primaries are done and the general election approaches and as we rack up more success in Iraq, Mrs. Clinton's handlers will bend over backwards to emphasize these hawkish qualifications she placed in the speeches when she was trying to woo those Americans who believe the president and his top advisers are war criminals. At some point, Mrs. Clinton will have to take on the left wing of her party. And that is going to be some donnybrook. It's conceivable that it will turn out to be the new war about which the senator is suddenly talking.

She will certainly need to win it if she is going to abandon her commitment to retreat and seek to lead our troops to victory in Iraq and beyond.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mark Towner Spyglass: Today's Political Headlines

Michigan Senate To Vote On Jan. 15 Primary Today
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 12:00 PM CDT
Detroit News

DNC May Sanction FL Dems For Early Primary
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:55 AM CDT
The Politico

Arizona To Vote On Feb. 5
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:50 AM CDT
Phoenix Business Journal

Romney's Rhetoric Glosses Mass. Years
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:45 AM CDT
Boston Globe

Several Issues Romney Spins
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:40 AM CDT
Boston Globe

Romney Finds Familiarity in Mormon-Friendly Vegas
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:39 AM CDT
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Gingrich's 527 Raises Questionable Contributions
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:35 AM CDT
The Politico

McCain Struggles to Rekindle NH Independents' Ardor
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:30 AM CDT

Thompson vs. Giuliani On Gun Control
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:20 AM CDT
New York Times

Huckabee Visits SC For First Time Since April
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:15 AM CDT
The State

Giuliani To Expand Virginia Leadership Team
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:10 AM CDT
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Translating A Ruling Into New Limits for Issue Ads
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:05 AM CDT
Washington Post

Obama: No Military Solution in Iraq
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 11:00 AM CDT
Associated Press

Obama Vows To Rebuild Military
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 10:55 AM CDT
Washington Times

Biden Explains Iraq Plan to Des Moines Jewish Community
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 10:50 AM CDT
Des Moines Register

Clinton Collects $650,000 At Arkansas Fundraisers
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 10:45 AM CDT
Arkansas News

Clinton Hires Husband's Press Man
Posted: 22 Aug 2007 10:40 AM CDT
Washington Post

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

CIA missed chances to tackle al-Qaida

CIA missed chances to tackle al-Qaida
By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer 1 minute ago

The CIA's top leaders failed to use their available powers, never developed a comprehensive plan to stop al-Qaida and missed crucial opportunities to thwart two hijackers in the run-up to Sept. 11, the agency's own watchdog concluded in a bruising report released Tuesday.
Completed in June 2005 and kept classified until now, the 19-page executive summary finds extensive fault with the actions of senior CIA leaders and others beneath them. "The agency and its officers did not discharge their responsibilities in a satisfactory manner," the CIA inspector general found.

"They did not always work effectively and cooperatively," the report stated.
Yet the review team led by Inspector General John Helgerson found neither a "single point of failure nor a silver bullet" that would have stopped the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
In a statement, CIA Director Michael Hayden said the decision to release the report was not his choice or preference, but that he was making the report available as required by Congress in a law President Bush signed earlier this month.

"I thought the release of this report would distract officers serving their country on the front lines of a global conflict," Hayden said. "It will, at a minimum, consume time and attention revisiting ground that is already well plowed."

The report does cover terrain heavily examined by a congressional inquiry and the Sept. 11 Commission. However, the CIA watchdog's report goes further than previous reviews to examine the personal failings of individuals within the agency who led the pre-9/11 efforts against al-Qaida.

Helgerson's team found that no CIA employees violated the law or were part of any misconduct. But it still called on then-CIA Director Porter Goss to form accountability boards to look at the performance of specific individuals to determine whether reprimands were called for.
The inquiry boards were recommended for officials including former CIA Director George Tenet, who resigned in July 2004; his Deputy Director for Operations Jim Pavitt; Counterterrorism Center Chief Cofer Black and the agency's executive director, who was not further identified. Other less senior officials were also tagged for accountability reviews, but identifying information was removed from the report's public version.

In a statement, Tenet said the inspector general is "flat wrong" about the lack of plan.
"There was in fact a robust plan, marked by extraordinary effort and dedication to fighting terrorism, dating back to long before 9/11," he said. "Without such an effort, we would not have been able to give the president a plan on Sept. 15, 2001, that led to the routing of the Taliban, chasing al-Qaida from its Afghan sanctuary and combating terrorists across 92 countries."
In October 2005, Goss rejected the recommendation for the inquiry boards. He said he had spoken personally with the current employees named in the report, and he trusted their abilities and dedication. "This report unveiled no mysteries," Goss said.
Hayden stuck by Goss's decision.

Providing a glimpse of a series of shortfalls laid out in the longer, still-classified report, the executive summary says:
• U.S. spy agencies, which were overseen by Tenet, lacked a comprehensive strategic plan to counter Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11. The inspector general concluded that Tenet "by virtue of his position, bears ultimate responsibility for the fact that no such strategic plan was ever created."
• The CIA's analysis of al-Qaida before Sept. 2001 was lacking. No comprehensive report focusing on bin Laden was written after 1993, and no comprehensive report laying out the threats of 2001 was assembled. "A number of important issues were covered insufficiently or not at all," the report found.
• The CIA and the National Security Agency tussled over their responsibilities in dealing with al-Qaida well into 2001. Only Tenet's personal involvement could have led to a timely resolution, the report concluded.
• The CIA station charged with monitoring bin Laden — code-named Alec Station — was overworked, lacked operational experience, expertise and training. The report recommended forming accountability boards for the CIA Counterterror Center chiefs from 1998 to 2001, including Black.
• Although 50 to 60 people read at least one CIA cable about two of the hijackers, the information wasn't shared with the proper offices and agencies. "That so many individuals failed to act in this case reflects a systemic breakdown.... Basically, there was no coherent, functioning watch-listing program," the report said. The report again called for further review of Black and his predecessor.
While blame is heaped on Tenet and his deputies, the report also says that Tenet was forcefully engaged in counterterrorism efforts and personally sounded the alarm before Congress, the military and policymakers. In a now well-known 1998 memo, he declared, "We are at war."
The trouble, the report said, was follow-up.
The inspector general did take exception to findings of Congress' joint inquiry into 9/11. For instance, the congressional inquiry found that the CIA was reluctant to seek authority to assassinate bin Laden. Instead, the inspector general believed the problem was the agency's limited covert-action capabilities.
The CIA's reliance on a group of sources with questionable reliability "proved insufficient to mount a credible operation against bin Laden," the report said. "Efforts to develop other options had limited potential prior to 9/11."
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, said the CIA has learned from the past and has corrected many of these shortcomings, but has to do more.
"Sadly, the CIA's 9/11 accountability review serves as a sobering reminder that the Bush Administration policies for the past six years have failed to capture or kill Osama bin Laden," the West Virginia Democrat said. "Nor have the administration's policies deprived Osama bin Laden and other senior al-Qaida leaders of the safe haven they need to plot against the United States."

John McCain vs. Romney

McCain vs. Romney
Posted by Ryan SagerWed, 22 Aug 2007 at 12:10 AM

Jonathan Martin catches John McCain going easy on Rudy Giuliani, so as to take a shot at Mitt Romney.

Mr. Giuliani has said repeatedly in the campaign that he'd be supporting Mr. McCain if not for his own candidacy. It looks like a play for Mr. McCain's support, once the Arizona senator drops out, but may also contain a touch of sincerity.
One certainly can't see either Mr. Giuliani or Mr. McCain supporting Mr. Romney, at this point.

UEA To Get $3 Million to Defeat Vouchers

You should link over to the EIA site and watch the video of the NEA. This should really tell everyone that this issue is really over protecting Union Jobs, and not about teaching children.

UEA To Get $3 Million?
A website called the Education Intelligence Agency says the National Education Association is likely to send $3 million to Utah for the Utah Education Association to use in its campaign against education vouchers in Utah. See the second item in the EIA Communique and more information about EIA.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

So we're clueless? Bloggers union talk: Life imitates The Onion


So we're clueless?
Bloggers union talk: Life imitates The Onion
August 11, 2007

One of the most striking aspects about the left-wing blogs that have assumed a major place of influence in recent years is their unlimited self-confidence. From Iraq to trade to how to win a presidential campaign, these blogs assert that oblivious Democrats, conniving Republicans and the clueless mainstream media just don't get it – that they are mired in past assumptions and just don't understand how the world really works nowadays.

Now along comes a story about some of these lefty bloggers that is so flabbergasting it demands this observation: So we're clueless?

This week, Associated Press reported that “a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance (and) conduct collective bargaining.”

Um, just whom will they be bargaining with? Do these “left-leaning bloggers” understand that collective bargaining involves employees and employers – and that no one hired them to blog?

Or are they just beginning to edge up to the argument that grateful taxpayers should pay for their health benefits?

Hey, that's how to solve the health crisis: Have every American start a blog and be given health coverage for the effort. We expect this to soon become a major plank in the Kucinich-for-president campaign.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Back to the Future: Russian bomber jets resume Cold War sorties

Russian bomber jets resume Cold War sorties

By Dmitry SolovyovThu Aug 9, 11:45 AM ET

Russia's strategic bombers have resumed Cold War-style long-haul missions to areas patrolled by NATO and the United States, top generals said on Thursday.
A Russian bomber flew over a U.S. naval base on the Pacific island of Guam on Wednesday and "exchanged smiles" with U.S. pilots who had scrambled to track it, said Major-General Pavel Androsov, head of long-range aviation in the Russian air force.
"It has always been the tradition of our long-range aviation to fly far into the ocean, to meet (U.S.) aircraft carriers and greet (U.S. pilots) visually," Androsov told a news conference.
"Yesterday we revived this tradition, and two of our young crews paid a visit to the area of the (U.S. Pacific Naval Activities) base of Guam," he said.
President Vladimir Putin has sought to make Russia more assertive in the world. Putin has boosted defense spending and sought to raise morale in the armed forces, which were starved of funding following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Androsov said the sortie by the two turboprop Tu-95MS bombers, from a base near Blagoveshchensk in the Far East, had lasted for 13 hours. The Tu-95, codenamed "Bear" by NATO, is Russia's Cold War icon and may stay in service until 2040.
"I think the result was good. We met our colleagues -- fighter jet pilots from (U.S.) aircraft carriers. We exchanged smiles and returned home," Androsov said.
Ivan Safranchuk, Moscow office director of the Washington-based World Security Institute, said he saw nothing extraordinary in Moscow sending its bombers around the globe.
"This practice as such never stopped, it was only scaled down because there was less cash available for that," he said.
"It doesn't cost much to flex your muscles ... You can burn fuel flying over your own land or you can do it flying somewhere like Guam, in which case political dividends will be higher."
The bombers give Russia the capability of launching a devastating nuclear strike even if the nuclear arsenals on its own territory are wiped out.
During the Cold War, they played elaborate airborne games of cat-and-mouse with Western air forces.
Lieutenant-General Igor Khvorov, air forces chief of staff, said the West would have to come to terms with Russia asserting its geopolitical presence. "But I don't see anything unusual, this is business as usual," he said.
The generals said under Putin long-range aviation was no longer in need of fuel, enjoyed better maintenance and much higher wages, a far cry from the 1990s when many pilots were practically grounded because there was no money to buy fuel.
The generals quipped that part of the funding boost was thanks to a five-hour sortie Putin once flew as part of a crew on a supersonic Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber, known as the "White Swan" in Russia and codenamed "Blackjack" by NATO.
The current state of Russia's economy, which is booming for the eighth year in a row, has allowed Russia to finance such flights, said Safranchuk from the World Security Institute.
"Maintenance and training are not the most expensive budget items of modern armies. Purchases of new weapons really are."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Where is Ethan?

Giuliani: reduce abortion, increase adoption

August 6, 2007

Rudy Giuliani released the third of his ‘Twelve Commitments’ on Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the only pro-choice Republican presidential candidate, talked about his plan to reduce abortions and increase adoptions at a campaign stop in Iowa on Monday.

“My administration will streamline the adoption process by removing the heartbreaking bureaucratic delays that burden the current process,” Giuliani said in a statement. “By working together to promote personal responsibility and a culture of life, Americans can limit abortions and increase adoptions.”

Giuliani has received a great deal of criticism from his rivals and many grassroots conservatives for his support of abortion rights. The former mayor has defended himself by saying that, while he believes that abortion is wrong, he does not believe the government should interfere in a woman’s personal decision.

Giuliani’s adoption plan is the third part of his “Twelve Commitments,” the name given to a range of policy proposals being unveiled over a period of several months. Since announcing the Twelve Commitments in June, he has also detailed a new energy initiative and a comprehensive health care plan.

–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Filed under Rudy Giuliani, Iowa, Abortion
Posted 8/6/2007 02:30:04 PM Permalink
10 Comments Add a comment

Early Morning Update

Recapturing the Center - Martin O'Malley & Harold Ford, Washington PostA Bridge Too Far Gone - Thomas Sowell, RealClearPoliticsRich Suburbs Move to Democrats - Froma Harrop, Providence JournalWhy 'Liberal' Doesn't Quite Fit - Jonah Goldberg, USA TodayFor Romney, Traction in Iowa - E. J. Dionne, Washington PostRupert Murdoch: Satan or Savior? - Cal Thomas, Sacramento BeeThe Destiny of Old-School Journalism - Steve Coll, The New YorkerZimbabwe's Ruined Economy Signals Mugabe's End - Ian Bremmer, RCP

Monday, August 06, 2007

RealClearPolitics - Politics and Election

RealClearPolitics - Politics and Election

Republicans Stay On Democratic Attack In Debate
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 12:00 PM CDT
The Politico

Hurdles Await Congress After Recess
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 11:55 AM CDT
Wall Street Journal

Congressional Partisanship Serves Both Sides
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 11:54 AM CDT
Los Angeles Times

Nevada Dems Cheer Obama's Pakistan Comments
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 11:50 AM CDT
Las Vegas Review-Jrnl

Clinton Draws Fire From Obama, Edwards Over Lobbyists
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 11:47 AM CDT

Clinton Dances To Defend Husband At Yearly Kos
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 11:45 AM CDT
Associated Press

Small Obama Event Turns Into Hundred-Strong Rally
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 11:39 AM CDT
Salt Lake Tribune

Edwards: Organized Labor Best "Anti-Poverty Movement" Ever
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 11:30 AM CDT
Des Moines Register

GOP Eyes Slice Of California's Electoral Pie
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 11:01 AM CDT
Los Angeles Times

Thompson's Tough Act: Courting Michigan
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 11:00 AM CDT
Detroit News

Fmr. Florida Gov. Martinez Backing Giuliani
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 10:55 AM CDT
Tampa Tribune

McCain Tops South Carolina Contributions
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 10:40 AM CDT
Greenville News

McCain On South Carolina Campaign
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 10:35 AM CDT
The State

Republican Donors Holding Back
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 10:30 AM CDT
Greenville News

Contributions Down, Spending Up in Spartanburg Co.
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 10:25 AM CDT
Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Giuliani Leads Among Tobacco, Gambling Donations
Posted: 06 Aug 2007 10:15 AM CDT
New York Post