Friday, November 25, 2005

Blogosphere Journalism

Here's a very detailed look at how a blogger (the Daily Pundit) worked a particular story. This will be of particular interests to journalists who aren't familiar with how the best parts of the blogosphere work.

An excerpt:
Well, this account shows how the Blogosphere can handle a genuine news story. I received a tip, saw a story potential in the tip, and started working the story. I posted the story to my blog, pitched it to "higher ups," got cautious reactions but links from them, which provided much greater exposure, and increased feedback from my own commenters, as well as analysis from other blogs and their commenters. As new information came in, I tried to address it, and in large part managed to do so, either with updates, or in my own comments mixed in with other comments appearing below the post. In the end the story was confirmed and completed by reax from CNN itself.

The entire process occurred in realtime over a period of about 48 hours. What did I do differently from the MSM? I was transparent. I posted stuff as I got it. I didn't just tell you about the tape (after "editing" my report to suit my own purposes), I posted a copy of the tape itself, so you could make your own judgements. By the way, I was once a customer service rep for a Baby Bell, and I've done thousands of calls with complaining customers. This specialized knowledge, not available to most MSM journalists, provided me with a gut hunch the recording was genuine - another advantage of having journalists who actually have something other than experience at being journalists.

I also posted a recording of my conversation with Preska Thomas, so you could judge her denial of a hoax for yourself. Finally, my own tone in reporting was somewhat different than I'd use if I were writing for a MSM newspaper. I used the personal "I," eschewed the faux third-person "objective" voice, and kept in mind that as a blogger a lot of this story was riding on my own credibility. And I named my sources.
A useful compare / contrast story with some insightful analysis.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Term Limits and Bad Law

Just ran across this story that local politicians Cleo Kirk, Walter Bailey and Julian Bolton have been handed a victory in their fight against term limits. I haven't had a chance to read the court rulings, but I wanted to put up this post so that other can find them.

Please right-click and save these to your computer.

The Majority Ruling
The Dissenting Ruling

Why the Commercial Appeal didn't have links to these documents, I don't know. They still don't "get" the Web. I downloaded these from the Knoxville News-Sentinel website. Their URL is wrong, though, so I'm hosting them here for now.

It's way too late, so I'll have comment later.

One quick comment, though, on the use of the "81% of Shelby County voters wanted term limits" statement. The measure was approved by 81% of people who voted in that election and not 81% of all Shelby Countians. I've tried looking up the voter turnout of that 1994 election, but can't find it. Depending on what type of election it was, turnout would have ranged between 15% and maybe 60% of total voters. It was a crushing majority of those who voted, but possibly not even a majority of all voters.
Only Two Holidays

Most of you will not read this blog again until after the holiday, so have a good Thanksgiving Day and weekend. Wednesday is Busy Day and there likely won't be any more posts before y'all leave.

There are only two holidays I celebrate: Thanksgiving and Independence Day. I don't even much care about my birthday any more. Not since I turned thirty, anyway.

And damn it, I sat down to write a meaningful post about this, but it wouldn't come. I briefly posted what I had, but it was awful. I deleted it. Maybe it'll come to me in proper form later.

In the meantime, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day. Take a moment to step back from everything and really look at yourself and your life. Find the reasons to be grateful for what you have, even if it doesn't seem obvious or possible at first. It's worth it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Why I Oppose Capital Punishment

This story from Texas, about a man who comes forward ten years after the execution of an innocent man, is why I oppose the death penalty.

I don't oppose it on moral grounds. As long as due process works and everyone involved does due diligence, I am fine with an "ultimate punishment" of death. But as this case, and others you can find, shows we are only too human:
Sam D. Millsap Jr., the district attorney who handled the case, said he never should have sought the death penalty in a case based on testimony from a witness who identified a suspect only after police showed him a photo three times.
Not to cast aspersions on police, but they are in business to solve crimes. In a corrupt community, they also have other agendas that don't serve the public good. Their job is to find a suspect and evidence to support their theory of the crime, not to pursue justice.

Prosecutors can also be corrupted, or can be incompetent, or have a bad day, or make mistakes. The appeals process is often not involved in "justice" but in legal technicalities. Many appeals have nothing to do with do novo (going back to square one and reviewing all evidence and testimony) examinations but with de jure (was the law followed?) reviews. There was a case in Texas some years ago where a man was executed even after the true killer came forward because the "process" had already been followed and there was no point at which it could be interrupted. Even for the real killer.

Defense lawyers in capital murder also can be a problem, relying on the very prosecutors and police who may not be viewing their case with the same zealousness of justice. Evidence witholding and tampering aren't unheard of. Frequently, defense lawyers may be pro bono types who don't specialise in capital murder or have the time to really dig into complicated or hazy cases.

There is also the reparations argument. You cannot return the lost time to a falsely accused person, nor restore careers and good names, but you can at least make some monetary amends and you can free the person. If you execute the wrong person, there is nothing that can be done.

All this, to me, spells trouble. And it is, for me, reason to reconsider the death penalty process.

On the other side, you have people like Judge Nixon in Nashville, who appears to have become a one-man shield against the application of the death penalty. I view Judge Nixon with nothing but contempt. The people of Tennessee have spoken overwhelmingly in favor of the use of the death penalty, but because he doesn't agree, he blocks all progress on any case he gets his hands on.

No, I don't view him as the Last Dissenter. I view him as a Self-Righteous Megalomaniac Pain in the Ass. He is sworn to uphold the laws of his State, not make personal decisions on its application. He is yet another example of the problems and perversions of the death penalty process. Another reason to worry at its application.

I'm not sure how we can "solve" the dilemma. Certainly, making sure that many people from many different parts of the civil, police and judicial departments get an opportunity to review and re-examine every death penalty case, with ample opportunity to ensure judicial rereview and retrial if necessary is cumbersome in the extreme. It gets you, along with the "crusading gladiatorial lawyer" syndrome where we are now -- taking a decade or more to execute someone, even when guilty is plainly apparent, admitted all around and legally arrived at. That's not "justice" in the sense of communicating a connection between crime and punishment.

I don't know what to do, but the current system is broken. We would also need, in the course of correcting it, to look at what purpose we have jails and prisons for. Is it to hold the guilty during their term of incarceration? With some degree of mercy or without? Rehabilitate those who can be rehabilitated? Do social work to try to improve every prisoner? Currently we do a muddled mix of all three.

Do we have a multi-tiered system? Say, an intake step that assigns prisoners? Minor crimes here; crimes against people there? The monstrous, heinous and unredeemable way down deep under there? Doing so opens a whole new set of problems. If one group can take over that intake step, say those who favor social work, they can pervert the whole system. Politicians will want to intervene, to prove to the public whatever it is they think the voters want to see. "Minor" crimes will become major ones. (Did you know that if you say the wrong thing to a bus driver, you have committed a felony?)

I tend to favor simplicity. Fewer laws, for one. Let society handle the rest, as it will. That's how cultures self-maintain. For minor property crimes, I'd favor community service of a meaningful, punitive sort like cleaning vacant lots or streets, washing off graffitit, repairing damage, etc. For minor personal crimes, I'd favor a social-work approach like directing drunks and addicts into treatment (as Memphis Mayor Herenton once proposed), housing the mentally ill separately, rehabilitating the angry and maladjusted. For the small proportion that are the permanently dangerous and anti-social, permanent incarceration.

But that's just me. And any human system I (or we) might create resides in the hands of the bureaucrats and politicians and careerists and idealists -- and the power-mad -- who will run them, meaning they will become perverted rather shortly.

Maybe regular review of the process? That would soon become not a regular review that occasionally implements change, but a process of regularly getting through the review with little or no change at all so we can all get back to work.

I guess it gets back to human nature, which is flawed, self-interested and short-sighted. Which gets us right back where this post started from.
Screw That, FedExKinko's

I went across the street to the Union Avenue FedExKinko's store to see about getting less than a dozen page-sized jpg's printed; one on card stock and the rest on heavy paper stock.

The clerk first told me that if I had more than five files they had to open from my CD I would be charged $90 per hour! Now, I don't seriously expect they measure the minutes, and I'd consider myself lucky if they broke it down by quarter-hours, so I immediately knew I didn't have $45 to spend on a pretty simple job.

Then, when I asked about having them printed not centered but in the upper-left corner of the page (I'll be cutting them out later.), she had to go check with someone who said there would be an additional $14.95 "set up" charge.

Of course, I bailed. I have a B&W printer at home, but needed color printing on heavier paper stock than usual. Sure, they have to charge you, but still, I was angrily surprised by the rates. I went to their website and was not at all surprised to learn they don't publish rates anywhere that I could find.

I knew when FedEx bought them out that Kinko's would lose its customer-friendly, helpful experience and become some corporate tool. But jeez.... This is ridiculous. At least thirty to fifty dollars for my basic printing needs? F*** that. On top of which, the person "working" with me was not at all "customer helpful" in her attitude, just standing there watching me work it all out for myself.

F*** FedExKinko's. No more business for them.
Good News!

According to NABE, the National Association for Business Economics:
The economy, as measured by gross domestic product, is projected to grow by 3.6 percent for all of 2005 and 3.3 percent in 2006....

The new estimate for GDP growth in 2005 is slightly higher than a NABE projection released in September, while the fresh estimate for 2006 is slightly lower....

If NABE's new projections are correct, they'll mark a moderation in growth from 2004 but would still represent a decent performance, economists said. Last year, the economy grew by 4.2 percent, the best showing in five years....

The nation's unemployment rate, which stood at 5.5 percent in 2004, should drop to 5.1 percent this year and then dip to 5 percent next year, according to the group's projections.
Good news all around, although West Tennessee's unemployment numbers will be higher.

It's tempting to jab at the nay-sayers who believe a Bush administration is all doom and gloom, but the numbers, as they say, speak for themselves.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Marsha Blackburn, Blogger

Eighth Congressional District Representative Marsha Blackburn, who I supported and voted for, is guest blogging at this week! She already has some topics lined up, and promises to give an insider's view of the House debate on the Murtha resolution. Should be informative, at the least.
Money Changes Everything

Aimless surfing brought me to this chart measuring two axes: GDP Per Capita and Composite Well Being. Unsurprisingly, money does make a difference.

Although I'm sure the Socialists will be quick to note the broad sweet spot where moderate happiness and lower income balance out.

[Digression: Most folks know the song in the post title from the Cindi Lauper version. But the song was written and first recorded by an Atlanta band called The Brains (two great albums on Atlantic records!). Songwriter and lead singer Tom Gray sings it with the appropriate bitterness, and, you have to admit, it sounds much angrier coming from a man.]
God, Bible, Evolution

Via Gene Expression, comes the following distillation of a 1991 study on religious views around the world. People were asked a variety of questions, but the following three are focused on:

God: I know God exists and I have no doubts about it.
Bible: The Bible is the actual word of God and it is to be taken literally, word for word.
Evolution: In your opinion, how true is this? ...Human beings developed from earlier species of animals.

Here are the results, in a cramped table:
Country, God, Bible, Evolution

USA, 62.8, 33.5, 35.4
N Ireland, 61.4, 32.7, 51.5
Philippines, 86.2, 53.7, 60.9
Ireland, 58.7, 24.9, 60.1
Poland, 66.3, 37.4, 35.4
Italy, 51.4, 27, 65.2
New Zealand, 29.3, 9.4, 66.3
Israel, 43, 26.7, 56.9
Norway, 20.1, 11.2, 65
Great Britain, 23.8, 7, 76.7
Netherlands, 24.7, 8.4, 58.6
W. Germany, 27.3, 12.5, 72.7
Russsia, 12.4, 9.9, 41.4
Slovenia, 21.9, 22.3, 60.7
Hungary, 30.1, 19.2, 62.8
E. Germany, 9.2, 7.5, 81.6
When you do correlations of these, you get the following:

God:Evolution, -0.463
Bible:Evolution, -0.488
God:Bible, 0.93

This shows that beliefs in evolution don't closely correlate, worldwide, with beliefs in God or Biblical inerrancy. Read the discussion at GNXP for why.

What fascinates me are the numbers for belief in God and Biblical inerrancy in other Anglosphere and European nations. The gap between America (and other Catholic nations) and Protestant Europe are surprising, at least to me. I've long known that Europeans are much less "religious" in the American sense than we are, but... wow.
Quick, Call Nancy Pelosi!

Via StrategyPage, this passage caught my eye:
Most of the al Qaeda enforcers were Arabs, who did not hide their disdain for the "primitive" Afghans. This has not been forgotten. Moreover, Arabs stand out more in Afghanistan, where most Afghans are European or Central Asian in appearance (the majority of Afghans belong to ethnic groups related to the ones that overran Europe thousands of years ago.) Afghans have been quick to turn in suspicious Arabs, or any suspected terrorist activities.
Racial profiling! I sense a Democratic opportunity in this....
Will the Commercial Appeal Highlight This?

It's the kind of news the daily has tended to put deep into the Metro / Greater Memphis section, if it gets reported at all. Morgan Quitno Press has released it 25 Safest / Most Dangerous Cities rankings.

Memphis comes in 16th Most Dangerous in the Overall rankings, but in the Cities of 500,000 or More rankings, we move up to number 4. Amazingly, Nashville is number 8 in that ranking.

Certainly, if you watch the television news it's no surprise. Wall to wall crime there.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What Are Your Thanksgiving Foods?

I'll have a larger Thanksgiving post later in the week but, sparked by an idea in comments, I'd like to hear from readers about what foods they like on Thanksgiving Day.

Yusuf mentioned eating something called Turduckhen. Me, I'm an old-fashioned turkey guy. White meat only, though. I had my share of legs as a kid. Since it's just me and the cat on T'Day, I buy mine sliced and ready-cooked from the Schnuck's, then reheat it in the oven and smother it with brown gravy.

I also love stuffing. Type doesn't matter: turkey, chicken, cornbread, whatever. I just love stuffing. With gravy. I make mine with broth, though, and not plain water. It tastes richer that way.

I also like corn. Usually it's on the cob, but this year I'm going to try a corn chowder with onions. Ummmmmm... corn chowder....

What else? Potatos, mashed and lumpy. Wheat rolls.

Yeah, it's pretty basic comfort-food, but I like it just fine. Bennie will share in some of the turkey, of course.

What about you? What's on your menu? What would be on your menu, if you could? If I could I'd like a green beans almondine. My mother made that and it was always killer. But she also served that horrid cranberry gel in a can. No one ever ate it and yet every year, there it was.
Nope, No Bias Here: ABC News Department

Watching This Week on ABC today, they had a short segment from Ted Koppel on his tenure at Nightline that caught my ear. (Go to this page, then click on the Koppel-head to watch.)

Koppel was talking about his most memorable political interviews. All three were with Democrats. Thousands of interviews over the years with people from around the world and across the political spectrum and his three most memorable were with Democratic politicians. Sheesh.

Then, to compound the eye-rolling, he as much as admits that an interview with presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was purely an opportunity for a badly losing candidate to make up ground. He also admits to trying to serve up softballs for Dukakis to smack out of the park.
Mike Dukakis, of course, was at the very end of his presidential campaign this [other memorable political interview] was two weeks away from Election Day. He was way behind in the polls. And this was an opportunity to, if not turn things around entirely, at least close the gap. It ended up being a total disaster for the Dukakis campaign....

I was saying to him, "Governor, you know, here's a chance to get a network audience for one hour in which you are being asked questions," and he kept saying the same things he had been saying in the campaign throughout. I didn't mean it to be rude, but it came out that way. And he missed that opportunity, too.
Nope, no bias here.
Please Excuse My Generation

Or, The Clash of the Selfish. A restauranteur puts up a sign asking parents to mind their children and all hell erupts. Childless adults demand an adult world free of the chaos of chidlren; parents of children expect everyone to tolerate their children regardless of behavior.
The owner of A Taste of Heaven, Dan McCauley, said he posted the sign -- at child level, with playful handprints -- in the hope of quieting his tin-ceilinged cafe, where toddlers have been known to sprawl between tables and hurl themselves at display cases for sport.

But many neighborhood mothers took umbrage at the implied criticism of how they handle their children. Soon, whispers of a boycott passed among the playgroups in this North Side hamlet, once an outpost of edgy artists and hip gay couples but now a hot real estate market for young professional families shunning the suburbs.

"I love people who don't have children who tell you how to parent," said Alison Miller, 35, a psychologist, corporate coach and mother of two. "I'd love for him to be responsible for three children for the next year and see if he can control the volume of their voices every minute of the day."

McCauley, 44, said the protesting parents are "former cheerleaders and beauty queens" who "have a very strong sense of entitlement." In an open letter to the community, he warned of an "epidemic" of anti-social behavior.

"Part of parenting skills is teaching kids they behave differently in a restaurant than they do on the playground," McCauley said. "If you send out positive energy, positive energy returns to you. If you send out energy that says I'm the only one that matters, it's going to be a pretty chaotic world."
Read the whole article and see if you can guess which side the author supports. It's not a secret.
Sign of the Times

So I'm sitting in my Sunday Chinese buffet restaurant, reading my book. (Still slogging through The Coming Fury; the possibilities of a President Seward are intriguing and frightening.) The music today is Cantonese pop (sweet, syrupy, bland and earnest) when, out of nowhere, comes You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!
You're a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul.
Mr. Grinch.

I wouldn't touch you, with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

You're a vile one, Mr. Grinch.
You have termites in your smile.
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile.
Mr. Grinch.

Given the choice between the two of you
I'd take the seasick crocodile.
Ah, I just love those lyrics, that voice and the boozy stripclub horns of the band.

Next comes A Charlie Brown Christmas and the season will officially be on us.

But wait! There's more.

I come home and start to post a bit when I hear a familiar tune coming from the television in the background. It's Buckaroo Bonzai! (Officially, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension) Whoo!!

BB is one of the all-time great movies, despite all the bad Eighties hair, makeup, music and fashion. It definitely has some of the best movie quotes ever:
No matter where you go, there you are.

Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife.
Doomed is your soul and damned is your life.

I've been ionised, but I'm better now.

Perfect Tommy: Emilio Lizardo. Wasn't he on TV once?
Buckaroo Banzai: You're thinking of Mr. Wizard.
Reno: Emilio Lizardo is a top scientist, dummkopf.
Perfect Tommy: So was Mr. Wizard.
List of quotes here; a summary of the movie with context, and more quotes here; WAV files here.

[Digression: My most favorite move quote? From Six String Samurai:
Bad Guy: If I were you, I'd run.

SSS: If you were me, you'd be good looking.

Runnerup: Only one man can kill this many Russians. Bring his guitar to me!

So, no posting for a while as I enjoy the movie. You got any favorite Buckaroo (or other cult film) quotes?
I Have to Quibble has posted their reader-voted list of The Best Space Movies of All Time! Results. Six of the ten are either Star Wars or Star Trek.

Where are the "space" movies like Silent Running, Outland, Forbidden Planet or 2010? All of these movies give a real sense of what it might be like to live orwork in space.

There's also animated movies. My favorite animated "space" movie is Wings of Honneamise, a Japanese movie about a world a lot like ours but different. It's about the ragtag, nearly abandoned space program of one country and its efforts to make a launch before war consumes them all. Very much a "The Right Stuff kind of film, but in a lighter vein. And where's that movie on the list?

There's a discussion on Slashdot that mentions other movies about getting to space like Contact. The readers seem to have confused "science fiction" with "space."
The Media and the War

Great post from Austin Bay about the disparity between mainstream news reporting of events in Iraq and the experience of troops on the ground, of which Bay was one just this year. He also links to lots of other posts and articles on the subject, as well as providing some important background not often mentioned in the American press.

For starters, the vast majority of violence is coming from the minority Sunni population and the imported terrorists who have allied with them. In the larger Arab Muslim world, the Sunnis are the majority branch of Islam; the Shia are the decided minority. But in Iraq the situation was reversed. Shias are the large majority and the Sunnis are the minority.

But the Sunnis were allied with Saddam Hussein and his secular Baathist Party. They enjoyed, during his tenure, a degree of control and power and privilege far out of proportion to their numbers.

The Iraqi War dumped them from their place and they are angry. They've been able to get support from the dictatorships and the wealthy oil barons of the surrounding Sunni-majority nations. Look at maps of terror attacks there and you'll see they are largely confined to the Sunni areas of Iraq.

The Kurdish-controlled area to the north, next to Turkey, has no troubles at all from the terrorists. In fact, they have a stable, functioning society in spite of Saddam's depredations from before the War. Remember, he gas-attacked that area in the 90s with the WMDs he doesn't have. And yet they have achieved what the rest of the country is struggling for.

As Bay correctly notes, the American press has a tough time reporting on process events (change from here to there), and especially tends to focus on spectacular events that can be isolated through reporting.

The brunt of the terror targets is overwhelmingly Iraqis, not American troops. The terrorists are attacking schools, hospitals, police stations, public roads and the markets (shopping centers for the Arab world). Their point is not to remove Americans as much as it is to make Iraqis sick of our presence, even though we are doing good. Even the anti-America Arab press is realising this.

The attacks are decreasing in number. We are achieving what we set out to do: topple Saddam; rebuild the government, police and army; recreate public stability after war conditions; rebuild the economy and infrastructure after a war. This is happening. We will shortly reach a point where the country is as safe as places like Egypt, Pakistan or Israel.

And Muslim Arabs will have another example of democratically elected representative government providing opportunity for the average man or woman not available in richer autocratically controlled nations that surround it.

As Bay also notes, there is a strong streak of blaming outsiders for their own problems. With the example of a new Iraq, they won't be able to do that. With our continued support and attention, we can help the Arabs to modernise their societies, to reform their cultures. This is all to the good.

On This Week With George Puf'n'Stuf Joe Klein made the excellent point that the debate has changed from how to prosecute this war to how to end it. Remember back in late 2003 how the anti-War Left was talking about how we didn't have enough soldiers to do the job? How we needed more, more, more? Now, it's too many soldiers, except when it's not enough to do the job and then that's bad again.

George Will also noted the failure of the Bush Administration to bring the war home. He said there were no "domestic echoes" like war taxes, war-related policies, etc. That helps to isolate the War, to separate Americans from its importance and necessity. It allows opponents to exploit the "over there" syndrome.

Representative John Murtha -- who the press has recently discovered is an anti-war former Marine even though he's been peddling his line for 18 months -- is on Meet The Press is calling for "redeploying along the periphery." Basically getting troops out of the fight because they are being hurt and killed. Killed! In a war zone!

His idea should be imported to America. For example, the Memphis Police Department faces danger every day from gangs, organised resistance to the tyranny of American law and government. We regularly, thanks to the sensationalism of the press, hear about cops being shot, wounded and killed in the line of duty.

We need to move the cops and "redeploy along the periphery." They need to be taken from harm's way and moved to the edges of these dangerous areas. After all, it's up to the people of these neighborhoods to keep their own peace, to raise their own children properly. It's the duty of their adults ministers, educators and public leaders, not the cops. Right?

Let's Murtha-fy our approach to local policing. It's a good idea, right? Right?

Murtha also predicted that all our troops in Iraq would be out by Election Day next year. He was baited by Russert, who regularly does this kind of stupidity to his interviewees, but still it was a foolish thing to fall for. He will pay for it.

And those who criticise Rep. Jean Schmidt for repeating the words of a Marine of her acquaintance ("... cowards cut and run, Marines never do.") should recall every politician and activist who has claimed that President Bush deliberately distorted intelligence, lied to America, started and led us into a war, all for the profits of Halliburton and his oil buddies is practising what they decry. They get upset with a charge of cowardice but happily holler treason and murderer.

Murtha is peddling a false charge: that the War is going poorly and not achieving its goals. He is wrong, if you read the reports of American soldiers, not reporters, and look at the progress of events. The anti-War Left has seized on this to further their agenda of crippling America's foreign policy and America herself. The anti-Bush Democrats are happy to add this to their long list of imagined reasons to impeach Bush and utterly decimate the Republican Party. The press is happy to report the conflict.

Murtha and a lot of anti-War folks want a firm date set when it's all over, rather than letting the progress of events dictate what happens when. We can't do that. Take an example from American history, the 1876 election of Rutherford B. Hayes. The Electoral College vote was contested and thrown to the House. It was only after promises were made to end Reconstruction with his election that Hayes won.

The work of Reconstruction -- eliminating the vestiges of slavery and white domination -- was far from over. (We'll leave out questions of whether Reconstruction itself was right or wrong.) As soon as Federal occupation ended, the forces of Jim Crow were launched and there ensued decades of oppression for Southern blacks. All because the process was abandoned by a date, and not by achievement.

This isn't about simple anti-Bush "stay the course"-ism, but about finishing what we start. We have made a promise and a commitment to the Iraqi people. We have an obligation to finish what we've started. Having been launched on this mission, we cannot alter trajectory without grave and terrible consequences. Democrats and the anti-War left seem to think that as long as those consequences fall on folks "over there" that's fine. But an emboldened terrorist Al-Qaeda will most certainly bring their renewed mission to us, over here. Count on it.