Friday, August 31, 2007

Is Iraq like Vietnam? Dubious history.

Nixon and Kissinger in the Oval OfficeIn the last post, we examined the question "Is Iraq like Vietnam?" , concluding it is the wrong question to ask about our involvement in Iraq. In the next two posts we address the President's analogy directly.

The President's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention, made this comparison of Iraq to Vietnam:
" ... one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields'"
Contrary to the President's assertion, it is indeed a "mistakable" legacy, dubious history, and a poor analogy. Particularly if this assertion is meant to communicate, as has been asserted by many bloggers and columnists, that the 1975 Congressional vote to cutoff funding for Vietnam was the primary cause of the death of millions of Cambodians at the hands of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime. The first step in deconstructing the President's version of history, is to separate the Vietnamese and Cambodian horrors that followed our withdrawal.

For the purposes of this post, we will stipulate that a direct consequence of the 1975 vote was hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese displaced, killed, and imprisoned after Saigon fell. These were the 'boat people' and victims of 're-education' camps' that the President references. It did happen but it did not have to happen that way. We could have planned better to support those who supported us. But as bad as it was, it still must be seen in the context of a fifteen year war, where two to three million Vietnamese and 52,000 Americans lost their lives. Such is the grisly calculus of war. Continuing American involvement after 1973 or 1975 does not mean that fewer Vietnamese lives or even the lives of our Vietnamese supporters would have been lost. After 15 years of American involvement in the fighting in Vietnam, it is hard to imagine how a better outcome would have resulted from an additional two or five or ten or fifteen more years of American intervention, as implied by this speech.

Nevertheless, what happened in Vietnam after the fall of Saigon happened to our shame. But the blame does not fall exclusively on the shoulder of the Democratic Congress that voted to cut off funds. That guilt must also be shared by the Republican Commander-in-Chief, Secretary of State, and administration that set the wheels in motion for that vote and its consequences.

Consider this transcript of a taped conversation between Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office in August 1972:
Kissinger: If a year or two years from now North Vietnam gobbles up South Vietnam, we can have a viable foreign policy if it looks as if it's the result of South Vietnamese incompetence. If we now sell out in such a way that, say, within a three- to four-month period, we have pushed [South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van] Thieu over the brink... even the Chinese won't like that. I mean, they'll pay verbal-- verbally, they'll like it--

Nixon: But it'll worry them.

Kissinger: But it will worry everybody. And domestically in the long run it won't help us all that much because our opponents will say we should've done it three years ago.

Nixon: I know.

Kissinger: So we've got to find some formula that holds the thing together a year or two, after which-- after a year, Mr. President, Vietnam will be a backwater. If we settle it, say, this October, by January '74 no one will give a damn.

Actual events did not stay precisely on Kissinger's schedule. This conversation took place in August, 1972. The Paris Peace Accord was signed five months later in January, 1973. Saigon fell a little over two years later, in April, 1975. Duplicity and domestic political gamesmanship by a Republican President and his Secretary of State set the timetable for the fall of Saigon. The Democratic Congress was an accessory to the crime. There is plenty of blame to go around.

As an interesting aside, we learned in September of last year, courtesy of Bob Woodward, that Henry Kissinger was again on the case:
"He said Kissinger, who served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, has been telling Bush and Cheney that 'in Iraq', he declared very simply, 'Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.' This is so fascinating. Kissinger's fighting the Vietnam War again because, in his view, the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will."
Kissinger's views apparently had evolved by November, when asked in a BBC interview "whether military victory in Iraq was still possible?" Kissinger responded:
"If you mean, by 'military victory,' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible."
I found no comfort in learning that Henry Kissinger was also advising this administration, but I digress. Back to the President's dubious history lesson.

The use of the words 'killing fields' by the President in this same context (Congressional vote for withdrawal equates to bloodbath and massacre) is a bridge too far. Those words are a specific reference to the massacres that took place in Cambodia under the Pol Pol led Khmer Rouge regime. The assertion that there is a direct cause and effect link between Congress voting to cut off funds for Vietnam in 1975, and the millions who died in Cambodia is dubious at best. Nevertheless, it has been seized on by many right-of-center bloggers and columnists as a justification for continuing our occupation of Iraq. Examples:
  • "Vietnam, as in we fled and millions are now dead." - PeejZ at RightVoices
  • "Millions died and many countries were in turmoil.Once more, it seems the ‘lessons of Vietnam’ need to be learnt once more, but not the lessons the left have us believe." - Fairfacts at No Minister
  • "So Sirik Matak stayed in Phnom Penh and a month later was killed by the Khmer Rouge, along with about 2 million other people." - Mark Steyn in OC Register
  • "Things were worse in Cambodia where the Khmer Rouge liquidated over a third of the population, over two million people were murdered, while the rest of the population were used as slave labor. That is what happened when we abandoned South Vietnam, at the insistence of the Democrats who ran Congress." - Squatty at Kowabunga
  • "...withdrawal does not mean putting the whole sorry mess behind us and returning to peace. Rather, it means great loss of life and of American credibility" - DC Innes at Principalities and Power
  • "if we let Saigon happen to Baghdad. Let the death camps, the boat people and three decades of war happen all over again." - Lee at Postpolitical
  • "2 million Cambodians were slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge as a result of America's betrayal in Southeast Asia" - Jon Roth at GOP Bloggers
  • "By injecting the aftermath of Vietnam into the post-Iraq War debate, President Bush opened the refrigerator door — and that sent the apologists for Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot scurrying." - Don Surber at DailyMail.com
Let us start with few indisputable facts. In 1975 a Democratically controlled Congress voted to cutoff funding for Vietnam. That is a fact. Later that year Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Army. That is a fact. In 1975-79 as many as two million Cambodians died at the hands of their own government under the despotic hand of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge government. That is fact.

The fallacy is stopping with those facts and ignoring others when drawing the conclusion that the Congressional vote in 1975 is responsible for the death of two million Cambodians. The bloggers linked above do not stop there, but claim that Congress cutting off funding for Vietnam in 1975 is pretty much responsible for every bad thing that has happened in the world since 1975, including the Iranian hostage crisis, both Iraq wars, Saddam Hussein, 9/11, Valdimir Putin's poor fishing technique, and Rex Grossman unable to hold on to the football in last years Superbowl, et.al.

The problem with that formulation, is that these bloggers ignore inconvenient facts that undermine the argument. With those facts, we can come up with a whole host of other reasons for what happened in Cambodia. Take your pick:
  • In 1975 Congress voted to cutoff funding for Vietnam that ultimately led to the death of two million Cambodians in 1975 -79 at the hands of the Khmer Rouge government.
  • In 1972 President Nixon and Henry Kissinger planned a withdrawal they knew would lead to the failure of the South Vietnamese government and ultimately led to the death of two million Cambodians in 1975 -79 at the hands of the Khmer Rouge government.
  • In 197o Cambodian leader Prince Sihaounok was deposed by pro-American general Lon-Nol in a coup widely understood to have been engineered by the CIA. He was perceived as an American puppet further fueling the Khmer Rouge insurgency which ultimately led to the death of two million Cambodians in 1975 -79 at the hands of the Khmer Rouge government.
  • In 1969 President Nixon ordered the carpet bombing of supply lines in Cambodia, with over 540,000 tons of American bombs killing between 140,000 and 500,000 civilians, fueling popular Cambodian support for the Khmer Rouge that ultimately led to the death of two million Cambodians in 1975 -79 t the hands of the Khmer Rouge government.
  • In 1968 with 25,000 American dead in Vietnam, SECDEF Robert MacNamara, the architect of the Vietnam war, quit or was fired after informing LBJ that the war was not winnable. He chose to not share that insight with the American people until writing his memoirs some 30 years later. As a consequence, the war continued for another five years costing 27,000 American lives and ultimately led to the death of two million Cambodians in 1975 -79 at the hands of the Khmer Rouge government.
Which of these where most responsible for the Cambodian massacres? Who knows? Yes, there was a bloodbath in Cambodia and there was suffering in Vietnam. But it is not clear that there was a direct causal relationship between the cutoff in funds in 1975 and the bloodbath in Cambodia. It is not clear that we would have or could have prevented the genocide in Cambodia if we stayed. It is easier to make the case that the bloodbath was not a consequence of leaving Vietnam too early (after over a decade of war and 52,000 American lives), but because we left Vietnam too late. Indeed, one can as easily extract a lesson from Vietnam that the risk of a bloodbath increases the longer we stay. There is no historical certainty here.

The assertion that the "killing fields" in Cambodia were a consequence of a Congressional vote to cut off funds for Vietnam is bad history, and a false analogy for Iraq. Obviously, if the history itself is wrong, extracting an analogous lesson for Iraq from that falsity is complete fantasy. Does this mean there is no risk of a bloodbath in Iraq should we leave? Of course not. That risk is real. As we begin our withdrawal from Iraq, as we inevitably must, we should strive to do so in a responsible way and minimize the likelihood of a bloodbath.

A bloodbath in Iraq is not certain, but there is no guarantee that a bloodbath will not occur.

There is no guarantee that we can prevent a bloodbath from happening.

Not if we stay.

Not if we go.

For the next and last post in this series, we will revisit the question of what lessons were learned from Vietnam. We will reference the lessons that were researched, codified, and understood by the military strategists that studied that war, and the military leaders who were soldiers in that war. Soldiers like General Colin Powell.


Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Is Iraq like Vietnam? Wrong question.

Last week the President formally announced the designated autumn 2007 argument for justifying a continuing US military presence in Iraq.
" ... one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields' ..."
The Designated Argument: Since the Democrats voted to cut off funding for Vietnam in 1975, and massacres occurred in Cambodia, irresponsible Democrats were to blame and Congress must continue to support the President to avoid the same outcome in Iraq. The argument is usually illustrated in blogs by the iconic photo of the helicopter evacuation of the US Embassy in Saigon seen at the top of this post.

This is not a new argument. It has been a staple on right-of-center blogs and comment threads since Republicans realized there was a possibility of losing their congressional majorities in the mid-terms. It was used last year to argue why it was so vitally important for the Republicans to retain majority control in Congress [October 2006 RedState example here*]. We have already seen how effective that argument was with the American electorate in the midterms. It will be equally ineffective now. The argument is intellectually bankrupt for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, we will hear it over and over again before, during, and after the Petraeus report next month.

The Wrong Question. The Right Question.
The primary problem with invoking Vietnam as a reason to stay the course in Iraq, is that the argument is a red herring. Arguing whether presumed actions and consequences in 1975 Vietnam are applicable to 2007 Iraq is a fundamentally unresolvable and ultimately unknowable argument. It serves only to distract attention from the real question. The real question is not "Is the 1975 Congressional cutoff of funds for Vietnam an appropriate historical lesson for 2007 Iraq? The real question is "Can we trust the judgment of this President and this administration to understand/predict the consequences of any military decision or action in Iraq?

The primary responsibility of the President of the United States, is the role of Commander in Chief with the responsibility of protecting the security of the United States. My view, like most Americans, is that the President should be afforded wide latitude and the benefit of the doubt when assessing whether military action is required to meet a threat to our country or our people. I believe that it is not only reasonable, but incumbent on the American people to support the President if he determines there is a threat. That is his job. that is what we elect him to do.

President Bush was given that latitude by the American people through their elected representatives in Congress in October 2002. I supported that decision. In November,2002 - 70% of Americans supported taking military action to remove Saddam Hussein if diplomacy failed, based on the representations of this administration that Iraq and Saddam Hussein represented a real threat. By June of this year, only 30% of Americans supported the war in Iraq and 66% believed the war was either a mistake in the first place, or badly mismanaged. This President and this administration lost the confidence and support of the American people for one simple reason - They demonstrated unequivocally that they do not deserve that support.

This is the key point - the confidence the American people placed on the judgment of this president and this administration in 2002 proved to be misplaced. The threat was not imminent. The stated rationale for the war was wrong. Over the course of the occupation, the administration moved the goalposts (objectives for the war) again and again. The nature and resilience of the enemy was misunderstood. The planning for the occupation was non-existent. The force structure deployed to maintain stability was inadequate. Bad decisions were piled on bad decisions. Dogma took precedence over analysis. Political loyalty took precedence over competence. Failures of civilian and military leadership were not recognized by the administration in a timely manner and action to replace that failed leadership came far too late.

For these reasons and more the American people have lost confidence in the ability of this president and administration to competently prosecute this war. The critics of the war are not to blame. The architects and strategists for this war are to blame. If it is incumbent on the American people to support the president when a threat is identified, it is equally incumbent on the administration to be right about the reasons for war, and demonstrate competence in prosecuting the war. Failing that, the administration has no right to expect to retain the confidence of the American people in their judgment on matters of war.

The question is not whether leaving Iraq will create a bloodbath like Vietnam. The question is whether the American people can trust the judgment of this President and administration to make that assessment.

The verdict of the majority of Americans is in, and the answer is no. This administration has forfeited any expectation of retaining the confidence and support of the American people in their judgment on war. As a result, we have no alternative but to substitute the collective judgment of our representatives in Congress, until such time as we elect a new president. This is not optimal, in fact, it is a very, very bad substitute. We just have no other choice.

This is not to say, that the Petraeus "surge" strategy should be dismissed out of hand as the appropriate strategy now. Personally, I am highly dubious. For me to support it, I have to hear that Congress supports it, as I have no confidence in this President to make a correct war decision. The "surge" debate in Congress will be contentious, heated, with strongly expressed views on both side. That is the way it should be. That is the way our government is designed to work. But arguments comparing a 1975 cutoff of funds for Vietnam to 2007 Iraq will not be persuasive.

That said, and despite Kevin Sullivan's reasonable admonition, it is worth considering the factual basis of the rhetorical question in the title of this post - to explore whether, which and how lessons extracted from the Vietnam experience can be applied to Iraq.

Over the next couple of posts, we'll stage that question by casting two actors who had major roles to play in both the Vietnam and Iraq theater - Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell.


*NOTE: This example is, coincidently, the very comment exchange that caused RedState to ban DWSUWF, a state that continues to this day, despite my conversion to Republicanism and supporting a Republican for President in 2008. It is a puzzlement.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Chalk up another one for divided government.

Stephen Slivinski, economist, author of Buck Wild, Director of Budget Analysis for the Cato Institute, and DWSUWF favorite, comments on recently released CBO budget estimates in "Finally, Some Not-So-Bad News on the Budget" posted at Cato@Liberty:
The big surprise in the Congressional Budget Office mid-year budget estimates released today isn’t that the year-to-year deficit shrank again. Or that the long-term liabilities in Medicare and Social Security continue to impend. The surprise is that federal spending will only grow about 3% in the current fiscal year that ends this October. That’s a big improvement over the annual average 7% growth we’ve seen since the first day of the George W. Bush presidency. How did that happen? Those familiar with my previous research will probably not be surprised to hear that the new political reality – divided government – has something to do with it... Earlier this year, the new Democratic Congress decided to put the federal budget on auto-pilot until October. Instead of passing new appropriations bills to fund the government for the entire year, they passed what is called a “continuing resolution” to keep the government operating. This didn’t happen because the Democrats were all that interested in spending less money. They just wanted to get the old budget work left to them by the outgoing Republican Congress off the table so they could get on with more ideological-base-friendly legislation, like the minimum wage increase. And the Democrats knew that the president might finally start vetoing legislation, too. A protracted battle over the budget wasn’t something they wanted to spend their energy on in the first half of the year. Thus, the auto-pilot continuing resolution: a piece of legislation that keeps the government running at basically the inflation-adjusted level of the previous year. With the White House veto strategy finally a credible threat, it looks like we might have a similar sort of outcome on spending this year, too. Isn’t divided government wonderful?
Good news. Since its inception, this blog has been in the service of promoting the concept of voting for divided government as a way of limiting the growth of federal government spending, among other beneficial effects. After divided government was re-established in the 2006 midterms we outlined assumptions for continuing to support this concept in the 2008 presidential election in the post - "2008 Election Prologue - Check your assumptions":
Assumption 1) The Divided Government hypothesis holds true to form.
We will have divided government for the next two years. Minimally, we expect to see restraint in the growth of spending and some evidence for more fiscal discipline on the part of the federal government. If that does not happen, the foundation for advocating divided government will collapse, and we will refocus on abalone diving on the Mendocino coast.
Looks like the abalone will have to wait. Divided Government Rules!

Reminder - We are one week away from the next edition of the Carnival of Divided Government. The Carnival of Divided Government Sextus Decimus- Special Labor Day Edition, will be posted on or about September 3rd, 2007. Blog articles may be submitted for the carnival of divided government using the carnival submission form. Past posts can be found here or on our blog carnival index page.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The dude with white hair - A Dood Tube Surge

"The guy with white hair." That is exactly how I have been referring to Democratic Senator Chris Dodd during the debates. If you are among the few of us that are actually paying attention to the 2008 presidential race (h/t Andrew Sullivan), you may have noticed that there are an awful lot of senators and ex-senators running for President. I'm guessing two or three hundred at least. Calling him the dude with white hair helped me track him among the clouds of dust kicked up by this presidential stampede. Over the last few weeks Chris Dodd has been on the tube quite a bit. This prospective YouTube debate question helped me identify him:



Every time I've see him in recent weeks I am more impressed. He appears less like someone running for President, and more like an elected representative trying his level best to do the the people's business in congress. This being so completely out of character for Presidential candidates, it got my attention.

I am calling this post the Dood Tube Surge, in order to highlight his emergence as a solid alternative to a Clinton nomination. I have already anointed one Democratic Senator as the Designated VP Candidate (see previous post), but I am not quite ready to concede the nomination belongs to Clinton. She has plenty of time to lose this nomination. Her formidable strength in the debates so far has emerged from her confidence and the perception that she "looks presidential. " Well Chris Dodd is looking every bit as Presidential lately, and has the additional advantage of, you know, actually doing things in the Senate that are important to Americans. I'm not saying he is going to strip her of the front runner title. I am not even saying that he is my favorite Democratic Senator running for President (that would be Joe "it's the war stupid" Biden). I am just saying - keep an eye on him.

The Dood Tube Surge 1 - Sub-Prime Credit Contagion:
Today Chris Dodd met with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to discuss what could be done to keep the sub-prime market crisis and the record high mortgage default rate from spinning out of control. Stepping out of the meeting he was interviewed on CNBC:

In this video Senator Dodd speaks with authority and clarity about a complex problem that affects millions of Americans facing foreclosure on badly constructed and/or misrepresented loans, as well as a panicky credit market and business community. The interview is conducted on CNBC - the business channel of record - where he has a dialog with business journalists, not as presidential candidate, but as an important actor on the American economic stage. Is there another Democratic Senator running for President that could conduct this interview at this level of specificity and authority on this topic in this venue? If so, I don't know who it is. Contrast with another Democratic Senator running for president who talks a good game empathizing with "The People" struggling to keep their homes, but was invested in a Hedge Fund whose portfolio companies created these sub-prime loans and later foreclosed on them. In New Orleans. Not good John, not good at all. Good presidential candidates just don't let themselves become such an easy target. Now, Chris Dodd has not appeared on the cover of Fortune magazine with the gushing headline "Business Loves Chris!" as has yet another Democratic Senator candidate for president. But when business journalists want an in depth discussion of a potential political policy solutions to an emerging economic crisis, it is Chris Dodd being interviewed. By contrast, when Hillary Clinton is in a business magazine, the article is not about economic policy. It is about Hillary running for President.

Dood Tube Surge 2 - America's Infrastructure
Senators Chris Dodd and Chuck Hagel worked for two years on crafting a bi-partisan bill to address the wildly under-reported issue of America's crumbling infrastructure. A couple of weeks ago they announced this important bill in a press conference that was completely ignored by both new and old media. That is,the bill was ignored until a few hours after the press conference, when a major bridge fell down in Minnesota. Then the traditional media (and the blogosphere) took notice. Dodd and Hagel on MSNBC's Hardball:



This is what I see in this video - Two dedicated Senators, working in a bi-partisan way to solve a real (if unsexy) problem, with innovative and practical policy initiatives and no real expectation of getting any recognition for their efforts. Not triangulating politics, just doing the grunt work that they think the country needs. Are these not the qualities we want in a president?

Dood Tube Surge 3 - Spanking Bill O'Reilly
This one is just fun. A couple weeks ago Chris Dodd took Bill O'Reilly to the woodshed on his own show over O'Reilly's completely asinine and mind numbingly stupid attacks on Daily Kos. Dodd is obviously having great fun doing it, while O'Reilly blows a gasket on air.



Dodd just comes across as a guy who "gets it" in terms of understanding and appreciating citizen participation in the blogosphere.

Dood Tube Surge 4 - The dude with white hair.
We started with the hair, we'll finish up with the hair. This from last Sunday's debate on ABC:



What can I say? Dodd is clearly demonstrating his respect for nature and the environment in a meaningful, visceral way. And yes, that is a bug crawling in his hair.

I am not going to update the DWSUWF Presidential stack ranking, but I do need to make one change. Dodd clearly deserves to be on the leader board. We'll call it Version 2.6B (see left sidebar). Chris Dodd makes his first appearance in the ranking in the number 10 spot, replacing Al Gore (The Ostroy Report notwithstanding).

Side note: Andy Ostroy is flat wrong about Al Gore running, but visit his site and make a contribution to The Adrienne Shelley Foundation anyway.

UPDATE: August 30,2007
Welcome to the visiting carnivalista from the Carnival of Ohio Politics and the Carnival of the Liberals. Pull up a chair and visit for while, perhaps even leave a comment or two. I guess I should disclose that I am neither a liberal, nor am I from Ohio. But lets not get hung up on labels. After all, I am not really a conservative either, and in the blogosphere, should we really concern ourselves with these imaginary lines on a map? For the visiting Progressives, I' want you to feel at home, so if you are looking for sympathetic posts, you'll probably prefer my posts on Iraq and the 2006 midterms. On the other hand, if you'd prefer to gnash your teeth, you may want to check out my views on the 2008 Election, The Fairness Doctrine, and Republicanism.

Since the original post Chris Dodd has continued to garner increased attention, although it is not clear whether this buzz will translate into momentum in the polls. We could do worse than President Dodd.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Obama's core constituency - not racial, not geographic, but generational.

Robert Novak, Captain Ed, and James Joyner overlook the key element Barack Obama brings to a Democratic ticket.

From Novak's column in the Sun-Times:
"Anticipating that Sen. Hillary Clinton will clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, some supporters are beginning to argue against her choosing her principal rival -- Sen. Barack Obama -- for vice president. They maintain Obama provides no general election help for Clinton. As an African-American from Illinois, he represents an ethnic group and a state already solidly in the Democratic column."
Obama's fundamental focus has not changed since he announced his candidacy last February, as we related in our post "Obama declares candidacy for Vice-President & launches pre-emptive strike on Boomers":
"Barack used the word "generation" at least 12 times in the 20 minute speech. Apparently he is building his campaign on on a foundation of Baby Boomicide. One has to ask - why the generational focus? I submit, that this is a realistic political calculation by a young, self-assured, very smart, very ambitious politician, who understands that his path to the presidency requires a stepping stone as Vice-President.
A key element in the selection of any Vice-Presidential candidate, is to identify what constituency they bring to a ticket. From a purely political perspective, it is interesting to ask: Exactly what constituency does Barack Obama bring to a Democratic ticket? It is not his home state. Illinois is already True Blue. It is not the black vote, Hillary Clinton outpolls Barack Obama among blacks. But if Barack can bring a generational constituency, if he can mobilize a demographic block that historically cannot even be bothered to vote, then Barack would be a formidable addition to any Democratic ticket. This is a campaign to capture that constituency and trade it for a spot on the ticket."
This constituency cuts across racial and geographic lines, and would benefit Clinton (or any Democratic nominee) in every state in the country. If he doesn't screw the pooch in the campaign, it's a done deal. I'll add this as a DWSUWF prediction (see previous post): Regardless of the Democratic candidate nominated to head the ticket, Barack Obama will be the Vice-President nominee.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

DWSUWF predicts the future - Hastert goes home.

UPDATED: 24-Aug-07
Among a rash of Republican resignations, Denny Hastert formally announced yesterday that he will not be seeking re-election to the House of Representatives in 2008. Moreover, he is not even willing to say whether he will complete his term according to the LA Times: "...he wouldn't rule out leaving early." It is fair to assume that he will leave early. Whether he does or not, this announcement is good enough for me.

I am calling this yet another correct DWSUWF prediction, and yes I do keep score. Specifically this prediction:
"Denny Hastert will resign in disgrace before his two year term is completed."
Which was a repeat of an earlier prediction in an October post here.

Now some may argue, in the glow of fawning home state news coverage, that he is not actually resigning in disgrace, and may yet complete his term. Details. Get outside of Hastert's earmark sphere of influence, and a clearer story comes into focus. Let us not forget, that it is exactly because Denny Hastert was Speaker of the House, that the Rove "fear and loathing" campaign against Nancy Pelosi failed to have any impact on the electorate in 2006. The Hastert legacy is out-of-control earmarks, corrupt land deals, the Foley cover-up, and the continuing Abramoff investigations.

As Denny Hastert rides off into the sunset, let us look back at an excerpt from a post in October, 2006 where we explored the emerging legacy of Denny Hastert's tenure in the context of Honest vs. Dishonest Graft:
Denny Hastert purchased land near Plano, Illinois in 2002 and 2004 for $2.5 million. In 2005 he earmarked $207 million dollars of your tax dollars to build a highway and interchange that passed within a few miles of his property. Four months after GWB signed the bill into law containing that earmark, Denny Hastert sold his land for almost $5 million dollars.

This is a perfect example of what George Washington Plunkitt (a corrupt turn of the century Tammany Hall politician) called "dishonest graft". Wikipedia helps clarify Plunkitt's distinction between "honest graft" and "dishonest graft":
"Most of his [Plunkitt's] money was made through purchasing land, through his connections, he knew would be needed for public projects. He would buy such parcels, then resell them at an inflated price. This was "Honest Graft". "Dishonest Graft" according to Plunkitt, would be buying land and then using influence to have a project built on it."
The point, is that the 2006 Speaker of the House of the United States of America, the man who was third in line for succession to the presidency of the United States, engaged in activity that would not meet the moral standards of one of the most corrupt 1906 political participants of the most corrupt political organization in the history of the United States.
That was all I really needed to say in that post, but I said it all again in this video mash-up, for the more video inclined.





This is why I cannot get very sentimental about Hastert's resignation. His legacy is one of corruption, putting party before principle, the loss of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and abandoning conservative principles. Denny Hastert has left the building, and he leaves it disgraced.

Lets update my track record on political predictions by reviewing the current status on all past predictions made on this blog:

Prediction Scorecard:
  1. Democrats would take majority control of the House of Representatives in 2006 (HIT)
  2. Democrats/Republicans would split the Senate 50/50 in 2006 (HIT - depending on how you count Lieberman)
  3. Rumsfeld was politically radioactive and would be fired or resign (HIT).
  4. It would happen within two weeks (MISS - It took two months).
  5. Republicans could not maintain a majority with Rumsfeld as a convenient target during the 2006 election (HIT)
  6. Rumsfeld will receive the Medal of Freedom (MISS).
  7. He would be replaced by John McCain (MISS).
  8. He would be replaced by an "unassailable warrior" (HIT).
  9. Bush would rhetorically claim a "fresh start when replacing Rumsfeld. (HIT - actual quote was "fresh eyes").
  10. Republican efforts to mobilize their base and swing the election by demonizing Nancy Pelosi would be ineffective due to the ethically challenged Republican alternative - Denny Hastert (HIT)
  11. Denny Hastert will resign in disgrace before his two year term is completed. (HIT)

By my calculation, DWSUWF is batting .720 Not bad. So what does the future hold?

Outstanding predictions:
  • Democrats will retain majorities in the House and Senate in 2008.
  • Democrats will extend their majority in the Senate in 2008 but still be short of a 60/40 plurality.
  • Hagel would win the general election if he could win the the Republican nomination (We may never know).
  • Moqtada al-Sadr will be the leader of Iraq within the next four years if he is not killed first (more on this in a subsequent post).
My track record indicates that three of these four predictions will prove to be correct. In the spirit of the polarized partisan fairness that is the hallmark of this blog, Let us (as another retiring Republican Karl Rove admonished us to do on the Sunday talk-fest this morning) look forward and not look back. While Wonkette sums up Hastert's legacy succinctly saying "He was corrupt and kinda dumb..." , the Democrats have the majority in Congress now. They probably do not have enough time to screw up in the next 18 months on the scale that the Republicans did over the last six years - not impossible, but unlikely. So the Democrats will hold their majorities in 2008.

But the Democratic Congress has already shown that they have not learned the lessons of the Republican mistakes. The much heralded ethics bill was emasculated and the corrupting influence of earmarks continue unabated. Jack Murtha, may not be as "dumb" as Hastert, but he is just as corrupt. One more new prediction - there is a Hastert-esque Jack Murtha corruption post in DWSUWF's future.

UPDATE: 24-Aug-07

Going... Going... Going...

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Notes on Panetta Institute Lecture with Chuck Hagel

I attended the latest Panetta Institute Lecture series in Monterey yesterday. The webcast was broadcast live, but is not available from the the Institute website, and the transcript will apparently not be posted for a year or two. The Monterey Herald and Santa Cruz Sentinel reported on the pre-lecture press conference rather than the lecture itself. I've been spoiled by the internet. No fall back and no cut and paste resources for this post. I'm on my own. C-Span has broadcast other lectures in this series, if they broadcast this one, I'll update and link in this post when I find it.

The format: A 90 minute informal Q&A hosted by Leon Panetta with Bob Graham, and Chuck Hagel and Leon sitting in a semicircle of easy chairs on the stage. The first half is comprised of Leon Peanetta asking questions, with Graham and Hagel given free rein to respond at length. In the second half Panetta asks questions submitted by the audience as vetted by a small committee of local academics and journalists.

There was no breaking news or earth shattering revelations in the event, but I found it interesting. I'll admit I wondered whether I should have saved some time and money and watched the webcast from home, but I am glad I went. There is a difference when your butt is planted in a seat and watching something live vs. a screen at home. Not the least of which is that the interaction in the auditorium had my undivided attention, as opposed to say - simultaneously watching a webcast on the laptop, an exhibition NFL game on TV, while commenting on QoDys or Wonkette blog posts and sucking down a couple of beers. There is a qualitative difference that I just can't put my finger on.

For this post, there is no particular theme, just highlights of some of the dialog where I registered a mental note over the evening. Since I am relying on memory, all "quotes" are paraphrased (but not completely imaginary).

2008 Election
Panetta kicked it off by noting the continuing speculation about Chuck Hagel's presidential ambitions and asking "So what the hell are you going to do Chuck?" to which Hagel replied "Well, I am sure as hell not going to tell you here." Followed by the usual " I need to talk this over with my family and make a decision over the next month ... yadda yadda yadda." He also waxed philosophical saying he never felt that his identity was tied to his job title, whether that is Senator or President, and didn't feel a driving need to be President. To which I think - that is exactly the kind of person we need as President. Others in the audience had a different reaction - overheard on the escalator after the lecture: "Hagel doesn't have the fire in his belly to run for President." The conversation moved into the "broken" presidential election process, with Hagel and Graham repeating the "regional primary" plan they discussed in the press conference linked above.

Rove Resignation
The news of the day was Karl Rove's resignation. Panetta wondered whether the resignation could have an effect rehabilitating the last year of the Bush presidency. Graham was dismissive, saying it is just too late for this President to salvage his legacy. Hagel was more sanguine, saying that Rove and Gonzales are lightning rods for criticism and their resignations would open a door. He spun a scenario where Gonzales also resigns, Bush shifts strategy on Iraq in the fall, and gets a major piece of bi-partisan legislation through congress next year. That, he asserts would elevate the Bush legacy.


Iraq
The discussion segued into Iraq and comparisons to Vietnam, a topic we have explored on this blog from time to time. Hagel was most animated when talking about the damage done to our standing in the world, our force structure and the Army by the policies of this administration. He generally kept an even keel relaxing in the easy chair, but this topic got him going. This is where he sees a clear parallel to Vietnam and believes it will take years, and perhaps decades to undo the damage, as it did after Vietnam. That said, he offered some "inside baseball' perception of an evolving administration strategy in Iraq. Pointing to continuing erosion of support in the Senate, the Petraeus Report next month, and trial balloons launched by SECDEF Robert Gates in a recent MTP interview, he sees the administration strategy in Iraq shifting by the end of the year.

Maybe there was some news in the event. I am always struck by how the perception of a news story is shaped by the crafting of a headline. Lets try it - you tell me - is this news?
"Hagel: Gonzales to resign / Bush shifting Iraq strategy before year end."
Maybe. Maybe not.

Audience Q&A
The second half of of lecture had the guests responding to questions written by the audience, screened and selected for Panetta to present. I was tipped off to the question process by a couple of series subscribers I met over coffee and pecan pie in the reception area before the event. Entering the auditorium, there is a basket with 4 x6 yellow note cards, a box of stubby pencils and no explanation. The questions written on these cards are collected within the first 30 minutes of the lecture, so you've got to be prepared. I started scribbling my question the moment I sat down. Readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that my carefully printed question filled an entire side of the yellow card and half of the reverse. I was asking what it would take for a GOP candidate to be nominated in a Republican party fragmented into evangelical, libertarian, and "loyal Bushie" factions. We'll never know the answer to that question, as it was not selected. Instead these questions from the audience were posed by Panetta:
  • How do we get the budget from a deficit to a surplus again?
  • What do we do about illegal immigration?
  • What do we do about health care?
  • What do we do about global warming?
Now, I am not sure why Panetta needs the audience to come up with questions like these. They seem rather - umm - pedestrian. I am not going to go through Hagel's responses to these questions in this post, as I am still quite bitter about my question not being selected.

I did get a sense of what a Hagel presidency would be like from his replies. His answer on all of these questions involved cooking up a plan informed by detailed input from experts, representation from all constituencies, seasoning it with some libertarian special sauce, folding in bi-partisan support, and serving up a comprehensive solution.

Hagel's appetite for practical solutions and bi-partisan results was apparent in an anecdote he related on the failed immigration bill. He said he knew the bill was DOA in the first briefing/strategy session between the administration and congressional representatives supporting the bill. As the unnamed administration officials began the briefing, Hagel interrupted them to ask "Where are the Democrats? How are we going to get this passed without Democrats?' The official explained that they didn't feel they needed Democrats in the meeting to develop a strategy. Hagel felt compelled to explain to the official that there had been an election in November and that the Democrats actually controlled Congress. He was laughing and shaking his head as he related the story.

Not all of his replies were impressive. The very last question was on global warming. Hagel responded with a classic Cornhusker "3 yards and a cloud of dust" obfuscation. He invoked everything including energy policy, the US and global economy, CO2 emissions, China, India, greenhouse gases, carbon trading, research supporting and questioning man-made causality, bipartisan support, international cooperation, - and still managed to say absolutely nothing. I was stunned. It was a suffocating cloud of pure Nebraska bullshit.

OK - It was the last question of a long program at the end of a long day. I'll give him a pass on that one.

One last bit of advice Chuck - if you are going to run, you've got to get that particular answer tightened up, or at least coherent. If you'd like a suggestion, the whole spectrum of conservation, climate change, and ecology issues could use an articulate advocate speaking in defense of the environment from libertarian principles. Let me know if I can help you out with that.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hagel headlines Panetta Institute forum tonight

Hat tip to Charlie at Chuck Hagel for President 2008 for calling my attention to tonight's lecture at the Panetta Institute, featuring Chuck Hagel and Lindsey Bob Graham. The lecture is about two hours drive from here (absent rush hour traffic). Since Chuck Hagel has been a regular subject of the DWSUWF blog and YouTube videos, we thought we should take this opportunity to see him in person. It should be interesting for a couple of reasons. I expect he has to make a decision on running for President in the next few weeks (DWSUWF is already on the record in that regard). The pairing with Graham is also interesting. Probably won't produce the fireworks of the Graham / Webb pairing on MTP a few weeks ago, but... Hagel did co-sponsor that bill with Webb. Perhaps Graham has sharpened his arguments since then.
[UPDATE: 08/14/07: Ok. I am an idiot. It was not Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, but former Florida Democratic Senator Bob Graham that was participating in the lecture. I am leaving this post more or less intact, as a reminder to myself to pay more attention to what I write here. This video is still interesting, but has nothing to do with the Panetta Lecture series. One small consolation, the Monterey Herlad also got it wrong, identifying him as "Bill" Graham in the article announcing the event. So they are idiots too. The "live blogging" notion was also a bust, as the bandwidth was poor and cameras/recording devices were not permitted during the event. Rather than continue to update this post, I'll just post a wrap-up of my impressions in a new post later.]




DWSUWF was able to secure a ticket over the weekend and will be attending. Pending Treo/Verizon/Blogger technology, cellular bandwidth coverage, and DWSUWF inclination, I'll be posting some real-time impressions on my mobile blog (link here). We'll update this blog with a more detailed review here after return and suitable reflection. I believe the lecture will be web-cast live, but don't know whether c-span is picking it up.

Heading out now to beat the traffic. I might even get there early enough to check out the Monterey Aquarium.

Graham, Hagel headline forum - The Monterey County Herald

The final Panetta Institute Lecture Series event of 2007 will feature Sen. Chuck Hagel and and former Sen. Bill Graham on Monday in Monterey. The series this year has concentrated on the upcoming presidential elections. View Full Story


http://www.montereyherald.com/ci_6574756
http://www.montereyherald.com

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Carnival of Divided Government Quîntus Decimus - Dog Days of Summer Edition

UPDATED: August 10,2007
Welcome to the August 9, 2007 edition of the Carnival of Divided Government Quîntus Decimus - Special Dog Days of Summer Edition. This the latest in a series of irregularly scheduled compilations of divided government writing from around the blogosphere. Some more irregular than others.

These are indeed the dog days of divided government. Wikipedia defines dog days as
"... a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant." That fits. Democrats are still a little too close to those impassioned pleas for divided government from last fall. It just wouldn't be seemly to say "never mind" quite yet. The Republicans have still not reconciled to the fact that they lost both houses of congress with no prospect of regaining either in 2008. Soon though, very soon ... we will begin to hear Republicans singing the virtues of divided government as they stare into the abyss of single party Democratic control of the executive and legislative branch. But right now, things are a little hot, sticky and stagnant. No matter. We are dog people here at DWSUWF.

Introduction

As explained in earlier editions, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration in order to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the historical importance of the series. In this edition, as in all of the CODGOV series, we select volunteers and draftees from the blogosphere and main stream media on the singular topic of government divided between the major parties (leaving it to the reader to sort out volunteers from draftees). Consistent with this topic, the primary criteria for acceptance in the carnival is to use the words and/or concept of "divided government" in submitted posts. A criteria that, to our endless befuddlement, is ignored by many of the bloggers submitting posts, which sadly results in DWSUWF reluctantly ignoring their fine submissions. New for this edition, we are limiting the carnival selections to 10 "picks of the litter" (and one off-topic mutt).

Ten "Best of Show" Purebred Divided Government Posts

We begin with CardinalPark presenting "On the Genius of our Founding Fathers" posted at Tigerhawk:
"The very good news about divided government when it comes to policies revolving around war is that it gets both political parties firmly on Board. I am looking forward to more responsible Congressional votes on the issues that count."
CardinalPark is commenting on the vote to modify FISA to permit electronic warrantless surveillance of suspected foreign terrorist communications. Many on the left are gnashing their teeth over Congressional acquiescence in this bill. I have problems with the bill also, but it is hard to argue that FISA, which was written before cellular phones or the internet, did not need to be updated to reflect current technology and the new dangers we face. A bigger problem than the bill itself, was with the administration's original assertion that the President did not need to submit to FISA law for this program. The good news is that congressional authority to oversee and legislate this program has been reasserted and reluctantly agreed by this executive. That is the important point. There are aspects of the law as passed that are troubling. The fact is, there has never been an example of expanding government powers of surveillance that has not been ultimately abused. It will happen with this legislation, and unfortunately, it may take that catalyst to fix it. Still, I take comfort in the fact that the executive branch is no longer working an open loop, and congress has at least asserted their authority to constraint this activity. Sooner or later, they'll get around to fixing it. Prefereably sooner.

John asks the question "What's wrong with this speech" presented at Castle Argghhh! concluding:
"But one thing's for sure - the only thing I fear more than a Republican President, Republican Senate, and Republican House with with overwhelming majorities... is the Democrat equivalent. Gimme a robust and obstructionist minority - especially on domestic policy issues. Gimme that divided government. I really believe the truly important stuff will get done, and less mischief will occur than if one side or the other gets to run rampant."
John sums it up in nicely. We know our government works better this way. We just need enough people to vote to keep it that way.

Stephen Slivinski ( A DWSUWF favorite and author of "Buck Wild") also has a question, asking if "Another Government Shutdown?" is in the offing, presented at Cato@Liberty:
"...the follow-up to an upheld Bush veto would likely be a compromise stop-gap measure (like a “continuing resolution” that puts the government on auto-pilot for the rest of the fiscal year) that results in much less spending than would otherwise occur in the course of an unimpeded appropriations cycle. In either case, those of us who prefer divided government might have another example to add to our growing “Great Moments in Gridlock” list."
Thinking along similar lines, a rare Pink Elephant quotes CNN ...
"In the current era of divided government, Bush does the signing or the rejecting, confident so far that despite his poor approval ratings he has enough Republican support to avoid a veto override. It's far from tidy, and not likely to get any prettier in September, with the president and Congress both pointing toward a spending showdown as well as a resumption of their struggle over Iraq."
... then optimistically opines in his post "2006 wasn't so bad after all" ...
"I'll take a stalemate over a one-party government any day of the week and twice on Sundays! (Besides, stalemate is the first step to shutdown). We aren't there yet, but if we're lucky it wont be long. I'm just giddy over the possibility of a spending showdown. They build character."
... and finally rebuts objecting commenter's with this:
"I am only gloating about having a divided government! We have seen that when Republicans have a virtual one party state they are no better than their opposition (and some would say worse). Too much power for any one group, no matter who the group is, leads to tyranny. I'm not excited that the Dems rolled over and played dead for Bush on the surveillance measures. Instead I wish they had stalled him like a good opposition party should have. My point was not "the Democrats are fools" or even that they are hypocritical. Just that they aren't doing their job."
Exactly. But "giddy? Sure. Why not. Me too.

Digby, on the other hand, is having second thoughts about divided government - here exclaiming "Obstruct This!" while quoting Senate Minority leader Mitch McConell in a post at Hullabaloo:
"Just in case people are having trouble seeing who's making it impossible to govern, here's a nice little chart from McClatchey that illustrates it quite nicely... Republican Senate leader McConnell said Friday in a news conference - "... A divided government has frequently done important things: Social Security in the Reagan period, when (Democrat) Tip O'Neill was speaker; welfare reform when Bill Clinton was in the White House when there was a Republican Congress. There's no particular reason why divided government can't do important things. We haven't yet, but it's not too late. "And I think clearly the way to accomplish things is in the political middle, and I would challenge our friends on the other side of the aisle to step up and take a chance on something big and important for our country." You know what Mitch? Go Cheney yourself. Hard."
Huh. Digby seems to miss the concept here. Obstruction is exactly what makes divided government work. Only the good stuff gets through. Good stuff not necessarily being defined as either Democratic or Republican partisan stuff.

Frank Asin, a professor of constitutional law at Rutgers Law School reveals the "dirty little secret" about "A Government Divided" in an article at NewJersey.com writing:
"The dirty little secret about our governing processes is that the only time Congress can bring about real change in the country is when the president's political party controls both houses of Congress... Some polls suggest that the public actually prefers divided government, in which the White House is controlled by one party and Congress (or at least one branch) by the other. But if that is what the public wants, it will also have to accept a good measure of legislative stalemate."
That's it? That's the dirty little secret? Well, no shit, Professor. That is kind of the whole idea. Let me help. Think of the 2006 election as the public rejecting the kind of "real change" that had been effected by the single party Republican control for the previous six years. Particularly the wholesale expansion of power of the executive branch at the expense of the legislative and judicial. It is also vastly overstating your case to say that "only" single party government can bring real change. That is simply false. It is more difficult certainly, but the result of "real change" forged under divided government is better and longer lasting legislation as William Niskanen revealed :
"The probability that a major reform will last is usually higher with a divided government because the necessity of bipartisan support is more likely to protect the reform against a subsequent change in the majority party. The Reagan tax laws of 1981 and 1986, for example, were both approved by a House of Representatives controlled by the Democrats and have largely survived. The major potential reforms of agriculture, telecommunications, and welfare in 1996 were approved by Clinton and a Republican Congress..."
Professor Asin does not get it, but Ted West does. In this post he explores "What The Numbers Mean" at MyThoughtWorld:
"Isn't a divided government better? Right now, it's doing nothing, which when it comes to Congress, is almost never a bad thing. And remember this; the Dems may be craven traitors, but the President seemed only too willing to "stay the course" in Iraq, and the Republican Congress seemed perfectly willing to let him do that. If the Democrats hadn't gained control of Congress in '06, would Rumsfeld have been replaced? Would the "surge" ever have happened? Maybe, but my guess is that we'd still be speculating as to when. As it stands, we probably have the best configuration possible: Republican President, Democrat Congress. Second best would be a Dem Prez and GOP legislature, and if I'm permitted to fantasize, best of all would be to give each of them an all expenses paid trip back home."
Ed Branley has an angle I have not seen before, blaming divided government for the execution of Troy Davis in "Clinton's Mistakes..." posted at YatPundit:
"This is one of the huge consequences of divided government, though, that bad legislation gets through because of compromise. The Republican party has so poisoned our political discourse that things like AEDPA become one of there "not-so-bad" bills that a Dem president has to give in to so he can be open to shut down the even more disgusting things these pieces of crap will pull out of their ass. Clinton was a good president, but AEDPA will go down as one of his darker moments."
Now, I have not looked at the specific of the Troy Davis case, so I am not going to comment on it. But, if we parse this, Ed is saying that divided government is bad because Republicans had a say in what legislation was passed in the Clinton administration. Again, that is the whole idea. I'll just chalk that up to another plus for divided government. Better legislation forged in partisan fire, that better reflects the sentiment of a divided country.

Sean Aqui, my co-blogger at Donklephant, offered an insightful observation while commenting on the hypocrisy of partisan reactions to the Libby pardon in "Libby v. Rich" posted at Midtopia:
"Democrats often are loath to criticize a Democratic president, just as Republicans often are loath to criticize a Republican. They tend to express their opposition through lack of support, not active criticism. It's why divided government is a generally a good thing: neither party can be trusted to police itself."
Perfect. Could not have said it better myself. We'll finish this round-up with a global perspective on divided government, traveling to Indonesia where Fwan presents "Pemerintahan yang Terbelah" at Kipling Politik asking:
"Menimbulkan kehancuran? Namun, betulkah divided government otomatis menimbulkan kehancuran pemerintah? Jika melihat pengalaman beberapa negara, tidaklah demikian. Di AS, selama 50 tahun lebih, hampir semua pemerintahan hidup dalam divided government. Ternyata mereka mampu bekerja sama dengan Kongres yang dikuasai partai oposisi untuk menghasilkan berbagai agenda penting. "
You can draw your own conclusion from Fwan's assertion, but I think it is perfectly obvious.

A single off-topic Mutt.

Finally, although we generally keep mongrel off topic posts chained up outside of our purebred carnival, we will make one exception as is our longstanding tradition at The Carnival of Divided Government. Today we are walking one off-topic submission around the ring as a grudging acknowledgment and symbolic proxy for the many off-topic mutts who are shipped off to the dog pound. This month's winner:

Jon Swift asking the toughest question - Do We Need Another Terrorist Attack? posted at Jon Swift, saying:
"Many conservatives are coming to the reluctant conclusion that, regretfully, another terrorist attack may be just what we need right now to wake the country up."
I'm not going to explain it. Just go read it. BTW, it has been a big month for the Jon Swift Blog. He also was recently awarded the prestigious "Pissy Blog" Award. Congrats, Jon. Well deserved.

UPDATE: August 10, 2007
It is inevitable. After being more than a week late posting this carnival last night, I wake up to find two great new Divided Government posts this morning. they can't wait, I have to include them here:

Bruce Bartlett is substituting for Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish this week. In defense of a recent LA Times article he authored, he posts "Hillary & the Right" invoking divided government as a voting heuristic and Republican political tactic for 2008:
"...the American people like gridlock. They don't trust either party to run the whole show. And frankly, the 2000-2006 experience of a Republican Congress and a Republican president is strong evidence in favor of divided party control. Therefore, if Republicans were to run a national campaign reminding voters that the best economic times we've had in living memory came when we had a Democratic president and a Republican Congress, I think it could persuade a lot of voters to split their votes. If, on the other hand, Republicans insist of believing that they can hold the White House and put all their eggs in that basket, then we could have a nightmare scenario where Democrats in Congress are free to enact bad legislation with no restraint."
While I agree completely with Bartlett's perspective on divided government, there is a problem with his application of the concept when he advises Republicans to focus on retaking the House in 2008. The problem is he is flying in the face of history. In the 100 years since we have been electing senators directly, the House of Representatives has never switched majority unless the Senate did also. There are 33 Senate seats contested in 2008. Of these, 21 are held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats. Simple numbers - the Republicans have a lot more at risk, and will be playing defense. The Democrats have many more opportunities to take seats than Republicans. Advantage Democrats. Big, big advantage. It is possible of course, for history to be rewritten in 2008, but the best and perhaps only chance for the continuation of divided government, is if the Republicans can hold the White House.

McQ at QandO linked and amplifies Bartlett's post with "The American Preference for divided government":
"I've become convinced gridlock is not only good, it is necessary. That comes under the heading of "pragmatism". As Sullivan rightly points out, I don't trust either party to run the whole show and divided government actually does impose a defacto check and balance as we've seen here lately... If one of the parties is in a majority in both the legislative and executive branches, I have no faith that party will do what is necessary to get government out of our lives and wallets, and that includes the Republicans... with divided government - gridlock - that chance is much more available than when you have a single party in power with the ability to ram through legislation, no matter how intrusive or expensive, at will."
McQ has been an advocate of divided government since before the inauguration of this blog. I jumped into the comment thread there, to introduce the concept of using divided government as an organizing principle for securing libertarian political clout. This is a concept I have have promoted here repeatedly, notably here and here. It continues to be a concept ahead of its time.

Miscellany

With that we conclude this edition. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not). The next edition will be the Carnival of Divided Government Sextus Decimus- Special Labor Day Edition, to be posted on or about September 3rd, 2007. Blog articles may be submitted for the carnival of divided government using the carnival submission form. Past posts can be found on our blog carnival index page. Woof.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.