Monday, April 23, 2007

Bruning Polling Ahead of Hagel

From Jon Bruning's press release today, 23 April. Polling funded by Bruning's exploratory committee, completed by experienced, reputable polling firm.

Ballot 1

If Chuck Hagel decides he does want to pursue a 3rd term in the Senate, and the Republican primary election for U.S. Senate were held today between Jon Bruning and Chuck Hagel, for whom would you vote?

**Jon Bruning leads Chuck Hagle 47% to 38% statewide
**Bruning leads Hagel among conservatives 57% to 31%
Bruning leads Hagel among Republicans in Congressional District 2 (53% to 35%)
**Bruning leads Hagel among Republicans in Congressional District 3 (52% to 33%). Congressional District 3 represents 42% of the Republican primary vote

Bruning leads Hagel in Douglas County (Omaha) 54% to 34%
Bruning leads Hagel in the Lincoln-Hastings-Kearney media market 49% to 34%
Bruning leads Hagel in Lancaster County (Lincoln) 48% to 41%
Bruning leads Hagel in the entire Omaha media market 44% to 42%

Hagel leads Bruning in 3 GOP primary subgroups:
Congressional District 1 by 46% to 37%
Moderates by 46% to 37%
Liberals by 46% to 32%

Ballot 2

"Now suppose you learned that many Republicans here in Nebraska are dissatisfied with Chuck Hagel because of his unrelenting criticism of President Bush and for voting with liberal Democrats for a defense bill that calls for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and is loaded with pork barrel spending. They are also upset that Senator Hagel has suggested publicly that impeachment of President Bush is an option, saying "You can impeach him. And before this over, you might see calls for his impeachment." Knowing this, if the Republican primary for U.S. Senate were held today between Jon Bruning and Chuck Hagel for whom would you vote?"

**Support for Jon Bruning increases by 8 points statewide while support for Chuck Hagel drops by 7 points - a 15 point net shift in the Attorney General's favor.
**Bruning leads Hagel in Congressional District 1 by 12 points (48% - 36%) and among moderates by 4 points (45%-41%). Only among liberals does Bruning trail Hagel (39% - 46%).
**Bruning widens his lead over Hagel in Douglas County (Omaha) 57% to 33%, Congressional District 2 (56% to 32%), and seniors 65+ (52% to 33%).
**Support for Bruning increases significantly among conservatives (63% to 23%), voters under 50 years of age (56% to 33%), those over 50 (55% to 30%), those in Lancaster County (Lincoln) 55% to 38%, the Lincoln-Hastings-Kearney media market (57% to 26%), the Omaha media market (50% to 35%), and Congressional District 3 (59% to 27%).

Friday, April 20, 2007

No Strings Attached, Please

U.S. Congressman Adrian Smith returned from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan last week and held a conference call to discuss his observations of the war on terrorism taking place in both countries.

He said there are no illusions about “the enormity of the task” in Iraq, but that progress is being made. He pointed to the improved police force and security situation in Ramadi, tribal leadership working with the coalition in Fallujah, and rebuilding of Iraq’s navy at Um Qasr as examples of the good work done by coalition troops.

After visiting with General Petraeus and others in Iraq, Smith was convinced good planning is taking place and progress is being made by the “day to day heroes” we never hear about.

In Afghanistan, the provincial reconstruction teams (PRT’s) are working toward building an economic backbone for the country. He pointed out that the task of rebuilding is different in Afghanistan than it is in Iraq because we didn’t dismantle the infrastructure of the country during the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, there simply wasn’t much infrastructure left by the Taliban.

The Congressman said that what he’d seen and heard in Iraq solidified his position and reinforced his vote against the supplemental spending bill with all the strings attached for the war.

One of the specific points he gathered from the troops in Iraq which reaffirmed his position was the “need for flexibility;” read not specific directives from Congress which would only serve to complicate matters.

I would most certainly agree.

Congressman Smith didn’t ask this question, but haven’t we already made enough mistakes and relearned enough hard lessons in this war? Why choose to relearn the one about micromanaging a war from Washington?

535 armchair generals, led by some with the war-time personalities of Sybil, constantly readjusting the bar and redefining benchmarks for success so as to never achieve success is simply a bad idea.

Just look at some of the critics’ shifts to see the multiple personalities of their positions.

One of their criticisms is that we’re not doing enough to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq doesn’t seem to be necessary. Al Qaeda is suspected of setting off the bomb in Iraq’s parliament last week. But instead of using the occasion to reinvigorate the fight against them, defeatists here point to it as a reason to get out of Iraq. So, do they or don’t they think we need to fight Al Qaeda?

Congressman Smith noted how the violent overreach by Al Qaeda in Iraq has driven Iraqi’s together in a fight against them. Last Saturday’s Telegraph from Britain noted that the same attack had even brought Sunnis and Shiites in parliament together, resolved to fight Al Qaeda. Military intelligence and news articles over the last several months have shown the same trend, a growing, concerted effort against Al Qaeda by the Iraqi’s, especially in Anbar Province. Doesn’t it seem odd that they increasingly understand the threat from Al Qaeda while we seem less and less willing to acknowledge it?

But that’s not the only place where the factors for success are constantly on the move so as to allow pessimism and defeatism to run amuck.

How many senators and congressmen who had been calling for more troops in Iraq up to and through last summer, have spent the last four months arguing against that very same thing now that the President is implementing “the surge?”

Previously, when more and more provinces in Iraq were becoming peaceful, even to the point of being turned over to full Iraqi control from coalition authority, the defeatists belittled those accomplishments. We heard that progress in those places was irrelevant because Baghdad was the key to victory.

Now that the trends in Baghdad show signs of success, those stuck in multiple personality criticism mode point to the violence elsewhere in the country as reasons the cause is lost. So, is Baghdad the key or not? Or is that “benchmark” simply going to change to fulfill a predetermined, desired outcome?

One of the things I was told by the staff of a war critic in Washington was that even though Baghdad is the key, the surge wouldn’t work because the bad guys would simply “go to ground” and come out of hiding later. But violence popping up in other areas of the country is a clear indication that at least some of the bad guys flushed out of Baghdad. Now that same politician points to those series of events as reasons why the cause is lost. Beyond being short-sighted about the mobility and intentions of terrorists, it begs the simple question, “which way is it?” Why does the condition of the rest of the country now matter when it previously mattered so very little?

However, there’s no point for those who really need to answer these questions to do so. They’re likely to change their answers as conditions improve in one place or another that contradict their positions, thus forcing them to change their answers, again.

Regardless, what it does illustrate is why there shouldn’t be micromanagement by Congress via the supplemental spending bill, because the defeatists demanding the strings be attached are sure to constantly change the length, number, color, and size of the strings to ensure we can’t succeed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

There Was a Global War on Terror?

I have earned an award which recognizes my service in a war that doesn’t exist, at least as far as some Democrats in the House of Representatives are concerned.

According to a March 27th House Armed Services Committee memo penned by the new Democratic leadership, the term “global war on terror” is not to be used.

So, what in the world am I to do with the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal I was awarded for my service in Iraq?

If the war doesn’t exist, should the medal also not exist?

The same memo calls the term “global war on terrorism” a “colloquialism.”

So should we change the name of the medal to the “Colloquialism Medal?” That’s a whole lot of medals to change for all of us who’ve served to fight terrorism throughout the world and been awarded the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. We’d also have to change all the Global War on Terrorism Service Medals for those who’ve earned that award.

“Colloquialism Medal,” sounds like something I should have gotten for stellar performance in high school English, rather than something awarded for combat operations. Maybe I should have a picture of Walt Whitman etched on mine instead?

Or better yet, maybe I should have an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand engraved on mine and have it sent to Nancy Pelosi.

The incredible level of ignorance she possesses about the threats in the world today surely makes her and at least a few others worthy of some type of award.

The members of the House Armed Services Committee probably also deserve a copy of the ostrich medal. Obviously they weren’t aware of the awards so many military members who have fought in the war on terror, whom they have been specifically designated to represent, have earned. Of any group in Washington D.C., one would have thought they would have been better informed at least on this one issue.

However, making the assumption that some members of the House and Senate understand the threat from worldwide terrorists could earn one a medal engraved with a donkey. Not for political affiliation, but for being naive enough to assume such a thing and becoming what the old saying tells us we are after making such an assumption.

The memo may be worthy of the ostrich medal, but it’s also a Democratic strategy.

In pursuing defeat in Iraq, they’ve tried to dissect the war on terror into unrelated, individual actions. This allows them to deny the fact that we daily battle Al Qaeda in Iraq and doesn’t recognize it as part of the war on terror, thereby making that part of the war being fought in Iraq unworthy of prosecution.

It allows them to make Iraq a separate issue, which in turn makes their pursuit of defeat in Iraq more palatable to the public.

The fact that so many want to precipitously pull out of Iraq, while completely disregarding the reality of Al Qaeda there, makes them worthy of the ostrich medal. Because if Al Qaeda isn’t worth fighting in Iraq and we can afford to stick our heads in the sand with regard to the danger posed by leaving them unchecked, why are we fighting them anywhere in the world?

Maybe we should assume that Al Qaeda’s simply not a threat anymore. However, making that assumption would qualify one for both the ostrich and the donkey medals.

If we’re not willing to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq, are we as a nation on the way to losing the courage necessary for confronting them? How close to home do they have to come before we again concede the threat exists if we won’t acknowledge it elsewhere?

But it’s not just Iraq where Pelosi and friends are wrong.

Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria solidifies her lack of knowledge concerning the threats from terrorists in the world. The road to peace leads through Damascus? Surely you jest Ms. Pelosi.

To have made such a statement, she must be completely unaware that Syria is one of the world’s largest sponsors of terrorism, being critical to the existence of Hamas, Hezbollah, and a conduit for Al Qaeda into Iraq.

However, if she sees capitulation to those groups intent on destroying peace-loving nations as a means to achieving peace, then yes, by all means, the road to peace would lead through Damascus.

It’s probably the same road that Al Qaeda takes into Iraq to attack our troops. It’s probably the same road that also leads Hezbollah into Lebanon for its attacks against Israel. Maybe she should be consulting someone or something other than Map Quest and Rand McNally to figure out where that road really leads.

In the end, she is deserving of some type of an award for being seemingly lost to what’s happening in the world today.

But I’d have to contract with someone else to make her the ostrich medal. No way is she getting a remade version of my Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. I’m keeping mine.

To send it back would bring me down to the same level as John Kerry who sent his medals back, via the White House lawn.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Congress Isn't a Collective Commander in Chief

In voting for a firm date to surrender in Iraq and dictating how the war should be fought, the House of Representatives overstepped the boundaries of its Constitutional powers. The Senate’s mandates for fighting the war did so as well, while their “recommended” date of March ’08 for the President to have raised the white flag came close.

In trying to provide constitutionally required oversight, they wrongly and intentionally stepped into the arena of Congressional overreach.

Not only “wrong-headed” in its effect on both short and long term national security, as well as overreaching, setting these dates violates a multitude of lessons learned by many generations of American leadership.

One of the most significant, as historians have pointed out, came from George Washington and his push to have the Constitution grant sole power to a single individual, the President, to serve as the Commander in Chief for the armed forces. Our nation’s struggle for independence showed the harm and futility of having numerous individuals trying to direct the army and the war effort.

Congress trying to step in as a collective commander in chief also violates one of the most steadfast principles of war fighting and leadership, unity of command. Having one person in charge at every level from fire team to the Commander in Chief is a lesson learned and reaffirmed many times through history.

Infringing on the Executive authority to act as the sole Commander in Chief and having 535 others try to act as generals sets a damaging precedent, ignores history’s lessons, and would have grave, permanent consequences for our national security.

Some of their actions over the last month show why 535 members of congress shouldn’t be generals or acting as a collective commander in chief.

A General won’t surrender when he still has the capacity to fight and would most certainly not plan for or forecast to the enemy the day of his own demise. Although disappointed with Senator Ben Nelson changing his vote, he was wise to say he’d vote against a bill coming out of conference if it included a hard, fast date for withdrawal. The same can’t be said of Senator Hagel.

Generals have spent a lifetime studying the art of war and conflict, allowing them to make sound tactical and strategic decisions. Most in Congress do not have that background and many of those who do are prone to making political decisions instead of national security decisions. Others often cherry pick news and advice to suit a political agenda rather than consider intelligence and advice in pursuit of a strategically sound decision for national security.

A General and a Commander in Chief would both have benchmarks for success, as Senator Nelson rightly proposed, but would never tell the enemy what they were, thereby allowing the enemy the advantage of focusing his limited resources on preventing those benchmarks from ever being reached.

A General would never intentionally short his troops of the funds for the equipment and training they need. John Murtha proposed legislation which gave the appearance of trying to take care of the troops and insure they were combat ready. But he slipped up and let his true intentions for our troops be known. He admitted that his legislation was intended to guarantee “They won’t have the equipment, they don’t have the training and they won’t be able to do the work.” A true military leader cares so much for his troops that he would never put them in that situation. Others in Congress caught on to his intentions, and his proposal faded.

But now, Chuck Hagel and Jim Webb have submitted a very similar amendment in the Senate. One that looks hauntingly familiar to the Murtha proposal. One that gives the appearance of trying to take care of the troops, but in detail and implementation would be as harmful as the Murtha proposal. Are their intentions the same, to guarantee our troops won’t have the equipment and training they need, and thus by default, force us out of Iraq while endangering our troops in the process?

A General is not likely to trade money for the safety of his troops or country, as those whose votes were swayed by millions of dollars in pork were.

Generals and the Commander in Chief lack the luxury of sitting around and debating an issue to death at the expense of the troops. If funding for our troops is not approved, it potentially leaves them in harms way without having the means to operate. If Congress refuses to pass appropriations for our troops without all the strings and pork attached and the President vetoes them, funds start to run out sometime in April, August at the latest.

But in the end, maybe that’s the plan of the Democratic leadership: force a situation where they cut off the funds for the troops and the war without actually having to commit a vote or legislation to do so. They could simply point the finger at the President, try to blame him rather than accept responsibility for their actions, and provide themselves cover from the political consequences of reaffirming the notion they don’t have the right stuff for leading our country during a time of war.