Monday, March 31, 2008

I can raise more money, (and spend it), better than you can.

In today's New York Times, (front page), two writers attempt to pose the short-failings of John McCain's fund raising capabilities. Some how raising more money, (and spending it faster than it comes in), shows "Presidential" qualities:

McCain Faces Test in Wooing Elite Donors

Published: March 31, 2008

With attention focused on the Democrats’ infighting for the presidential nomination, Senator John McCain is pressing ahead to the general election but has yet to sign up one critical constituency: the big-money people who powered the Bush fund-raising machine.

Poor fund-raising nearly forced Mr. McCain from the race last summer, but it began to improve after his candidacy gathered momentum in January, helping him bring in almost $12 million that month. But he brought in slightly less in February, about $11 million, according to the latest filings to the Federal Election Commission.

In comparison, on the Democratic side, Senator Barack Obama raised $55 million in February and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton collected $36 million. As of the end of February, Mr. McCain had collected about $60 million in contributions over all, while Mr. Obama has raised the most of any candidate with nearly $200 million.............LINK

The New York Times thinks "elite money" is what makes for a good President. But who could be surprised at this articles intention, coming from the "queen of elite-grayed lady". What the Times (timely) does is release this story before more positive fund raising figures are released for March, which will show McCain gaining financial support from the various party fundraisers that have been reserved up till now. While the Times points out the huge difference between McCain and his Democratic foes, they also fail to mention how much money is left in Obama’s or Clintons coffers. It should also be pointed out that if these two can spend the vast amounts of millions of other Democratic “supporters” money ravaging each other, what would either one of them do with a fragile national treasury, (if elected). One has to wonder how much money will be left available when the Democratic candidates "sort out" who will lead their party into the general election, and how much will be left to draw from the same "wells" they have drained during the elimination process.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Removing Saddam Was A Bipartisan Effort----Attempts to re-write history is not!

Speaking of Memory Losses................Here's a Hillary Brain Fart:

Is this the "Day One" we are looking for?

RovinsWorld will be taking this week off to work on our local Jazz Festival......I'm the Band Driver Coordinator and a Board Member.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reuters is hurting for news:

Small bomb explodes in Yemen market

ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - A small bomb exploded in a market in Yemen's southern port city of Aden on Wednesday but caused no casualties, witnesses said, a day after three mortars hit a school near the U.S. embassy in Sanaa.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the bomb, which went off near a bank, but residents said that the market was not busy at the time.

Correction: Turns out it was just our camerman passing gas. Sorry.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Revelation! -------- Paul Krugman Has a Good Point

Paul Krugman, the op-ed columnist at the New York Times wrote a piece yesterday that I find little fault within most of its context:

The B Word
Published: March 17, 2008

O.K., here it comes: The unthinkable is about to become the inevitable.

Last week, Robert Rubin, the former Treasury secretary, and John Lipsky, a top official at the International Monetary Fund, both suggested that public funds might be needed to rescue the U.S. financial system. Mr. Lipsky insisted that he wasn’t talking about a bailout. But he was.

It’s true that Henry Paulson, the current Treasury secretary, still says that any proposal to use taxpayers’ money to help resolve the crisis is a "non-starter." But that’s about as credible as all of his previous pronouncements on the financial situation.

So here’s the question we really should be asking: When the feds do bail out the financial system, what will they do to ensure that they aren’t also bailing out the people who got us into this mess?
Let’s talk about why a bailout is inevitable.

Between 2002 and 2007, false beliefs in the private sector — the belief that home prices only go up, that financial innovation had made risk go away, that a triple-A rating really meant that an investment was safe — led to an epidemic of bad lending. Meanwhile, false beliefs in the political arena — the belief of Alan Greenspan and his friends in the Bush administration that the market is always right and regulation always a bad thing — led Washington to ignore the warning signs.
LINK (registration may be required)

Also from Mr. Krugman:

"As I said, the important thing is to bail out the system, not the people who got us into this mess. That means cleaning out the shareholders in failed institutions, making bondholders take a haircut, and canceling the stock options of executives who got rich playing heads I win, tails you lose."

This is by far one of the toughest things I have ever done in my short three year stint of blogging. I agree with 90% of what Mr. Krugman has written here. (cough, cough!) Ouch, that hurts. Mr. Krugman is the epitome of the socialist leftist experiment and has had a pulpit to preach from for over a decade. While Mr. Krugman generally puts his party's affiliation and ideology ahead of what is in the best interest of the whole nation, in this isolated instance, I believe Mr. Krugman is right about the procedures that allowed a portion of the financial institutions to grant unqualified loans to far too many borrowers that should never have been considered. It is this policy, ("system"), that is currently choking a free market system that should in its own right be made to shoulder the burden of correction. Once again, the over-extension of credit to the general population has come home to roost and the "piper" must be paid. But who's the piper?

With the Fed setting precedence here by stepping in and backing the debt of Bear Stearns, it appears that it will be the tax payer that will ultimately pay this debt. How many other financial institutions will line up for the "bail-out" is any one's guess. Meanwhile the housing market will remain in a flux mode because stiffer restrictions must be used in the lending practices of the banking industry. And. I'm not comfortable if the restrictions are "self-implemented" when the industry itself could not show restraints in the past. If the Federal Reserve is going into the business of financial lending, they should also be expected to provide restrictions and at the same time demand interest on their "investments". Any other course would be just a recycle of the same mess they participated in that got us to this point.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Private Failings-----Spitzer Resigns

"I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me," he said during the 11:45 a.m. announcement. His wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, stood by his side in a similar fashion to his first public comments Monday, appearing tired and visibly upset."To every New Yorker and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for," he said. "There is much to be done, and I cannot allow for my private failings to disrupt the people's work........ Link

What has become one of the biggest news storys of 2008, Mr. Spitzer's "private failings" will be examined for weeks ahead. What Client Number Nine does from here will more likely be in the private sector while he deals with his failure to his wife and family.

Now back to the economy stupid...........

Monday, March 10, 2008

And the Loser is.......Client Number Nine

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring

Published: March 10, 2008

ALBANY - Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation. LINK

NY Gov Apologizes, but Quiet on Scandal

Allahpundit at Hot Air has details and comment

Expected to Resign............

Details ahead.........

John McCain Wins General Election-------By Default
by Scrapple-Rovin

November 5th, 2008

John McCain has been declared the official winner of the general election by default after the Democratic Party failed to field a candidate. Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman said it was a shame that his party could not find a solution to their nominating process. Even after the Democrats late August convention in Denver failed to produce a definitive choice to run against McCain, most of the party leaders thought their judicial process with top paid lawyers would solve the dilemma, but suits and counter suits ended up only filling the lawyers pockets while the deadline came and went. Many party insiders say the biggest flaw was the party taking their argument to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that had the reputation of writing opinions that even the Supreme Court could not decipher. The final blow to the party was when,(for the third time) the Supreme Court, (by a 9-0 decision) sent the decision back to the Ninth Circuit for further clarification. The Ninth said they could not return a verdict until after the return from their Thanksgiving break.

Dean said this would have never happened if the Clintons had not challenged the decision at the convention that handed Barak Obama the nomination. "I never imagined that those two morons would take the DNC to court over this process, and taking this to the Ninth Circuit was a kiss of death", Dean said.

Obama had come into the convention with a 140 delegate lead and 50 million lead in the popular vote. Obama's staff had indicated it was prepared to offer Mrs. Clinton the number two slot to solidify the party's chances in the general election, but the papers filed on the last day of the convention by the Clintons took that offer off the table. "I had "hoped" that we finally had an opportunity to "change" the partys direction, but those damned attournys had to get into the mix" said Obama.

President McCain and Vice President Bruce Willis will be sworn in on January 20th.

In other news, with the death of Osama Bin Laden and the surrender of Al Qaida in both Iraq and Pakistan, General Petraeus has announced that troop withdrawals will be accelerated to bring almost 80% of military home before Valentines Day. A ticker tape parade is scheduled in New York to celebrate the victory. The now defunct New York Times said the will publish a one time edition to cover the parade, but they would only use inbed reporters that they had recruited from Al Jazeera . Outgoing President George Bush said the part time employment of Mareen Dowd and Paul Krugman at Bush's Crawford ranch would depend on their ability to shovel horse shit. "I'm encouraged by their level of talent here", said Bush.

Update: It's being reported that the former states of Michigan and Florida may get around to re-voting to re-ratify their inclusion back into the United States after ceeding from the Union last summer. Both former governors implied that they preferred to move the dates of the ratification ahead of the schedule to resume their respective relevance according the the newly formed Election Workers Union.

(Rovin is on vacation)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Media Distortions on the Economy

Tom Blummer at Newsbusters writes about the distortions the media is putting out:

"It is reports like the one written up by Shobhana Chandra at Bloomberg yesterday on household net worth that make you wonder if everyday US citizens will ever get the information needed to accurately evaluate what's going on in the economy without doing more digging than they have time for -- or that they should even have to do":

U.S. Household Worth Fell for First Time Since 2002 (Update2)

U.S. household wealth fell in the fourth quarter for the first time in five years and borrowing slowed as home values plunged and lenders restricted credit, Federal Reserve figures show.

Net worth for households decreased by $532.9 billion from the previous three months, the first decline since the third quarter of 2002, according to the Fed's quarterly Flow of Funds report today. Housing-related net worth dropped by $176.4 billion.

Lower home and stock prices and reduced access to loans are prompting Americans to spend less and are driving up foreclosures. A slowdown in consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the economy, threatens to push the U.S. into a recession.

Incredibly, Chandra never told us what total US household net worth is, only supplying the amount of the decrease. Of course, many readers will see the $532.9 billion decline, a very big number, and think the worst -- that our portfolios are disappearing, that our homes are becoming worthless, and that the economy is irretrievably going into the tank (Was that the point, Ms. Chandra?).

Additionally, Chandra never told us what has happened to household net worth between the third quarter of 2002, the last time it declined, and the most recently reported quarter.

Here are the key numbers Chandra failed to report, including what has happened to household net worth in the past five years:

Household net worth at the end of 2007 was $57.7 trillion.

The $532.9 billion decline during the fourth quarter was a "whopping" 0.91% drop from the third-quarter peak of $58.25 trillion. It's a little difficult to make the case for a "threatened recession" based on such a small decline.

Here is how household net worth grew from 2002 to 2007:

Household net worth has increased over 47% since 2002 (about 27% after inflation during those years) -- and we're supposed to be breaking into a cold sweat because of a one-quarter decline of less than 1%?

Omitting the three items just noted borders on journalistic malpractice -- on the wrong side of the border..........Read the whole story here
I Smell a Rat

Literally, I do smell a rat. We discovered an infestation of rats last week near my place and the owner of the property put some bait out. Unfortunatley, one of the critters must have crawled up into the side of my wall and died.

Now the other part of the rat-smelling may belong to the producers of the Kingdom. While Reuters never seems to publish one positive accomplishment that goes on in Iraq, they do get the "if it bleeds" part down:

Baghdad blast toll rises, deadliest for months

By Michael Holden

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi police said on Friday 68 people were killed in coordinated bombings blamed on al Qaeda in a packed shopping area in central Baghdad on Thursday, making it the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital for nine

Iraqi and U.S. officials said a roadside bomb had exploded first in Baghdad's mainly Shi'ite Karrada district, which was crowded with shoppers and vendors on Thursday evening.
Minutes later, as Iraqi security forces and locals gathered to tend to casualties, a second, larger bomb exploded. Women and children were among the casualties.

Police and the U.S. military said they believed the second blast was caused by a suicide bomber but Iraqi security officials said it appeared to have been another bomb planted at the scene.

(Gee wiz....let me guess.....where have we seen a version of this production before? Would the first ten minutes of the Kingdom work for the terrorist who start with a smaller explosion, (or attack), and then work up to the big one that takes out medical responders, investigators, and more people trying to identify their loved ones?)

(Even the synopsis leaves out a "small" tidbit of info on how the terrorist succeed after their initial attack----the second planted explosive goes off after the first attack when medical responders and investigators are on the scene, including FBI agents......nice job providing terrorist with the "one-two" punch for effectiveness)

Perhaps Hollywood can come up with some more splendid plots to help the terrorist write their real life story's of mayhem and catastrophes?

Reuters did find a way to bury the good new in this story too:

It was against the background of improving security that General David Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, announced plans to withdraw five of the 20 U.S. brigades operating in Iraq.

That would mean overall U.S. troop levels falling from around 160,000 to about 140,000. On Thursday, the U.S. military said the second of those returning brigades, totaling some 2,000 soldiers, was leaving Baghdad as part of the draw down.

Earth to liberal Democrats--------troops are coming home-----victorious.

Pro Golfer Apologizes for Killing Hawk

Associated Press Writer

Is there something a little fishy about how Mr. Reed writes this story?

Isenhour started again when the hawk moved within about 75 yards, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer Brian Baine indicated in a report.

Isenhour allegedly said, "I'll get him now," and aimed for the hawk.

"About the sixth ball came very near the bird's head, and (Isenhour) was very excited that it was so close," Baine wrote.

A few shots later, witnesses said he hit the hawk. The bird, protected as a migratory species, fell to the ground bleeding from both nostrils.

"He just kept saying how he didn't think he could have hit it, which I think is a stupid thing for a PGA Tour golfer to say," Senger said. "He can put a ball in a hole from hundreds of yards away, and here he is hitting line drives at something that's, I don't know, a couple hundred feet away?"

Let's see......75 yards times 3 feet per yard comes out to 225 feet. Most of the best pros in the world at 75 yards away may put a golf ball within five feet of the hole on a putting green. Hitting the shot fifty times from the same location a pro may get within a foot or two. After Tripp Isenhour's ninth shot (attempting to hit line drives) he nails the bird dead on? I think the military should sign this guy up to hit hand grenades into enemy fortresses with this kind of accuracy. Now for the record, I'm not condoning the "results" of Isenhour's shot-making abilities-------but I do question the implication by the writer and Mr. Senger that Isenhour was deliberately attempting to kill the bird. The top twenty pros in the world could have fired over a hundred golf balls at this bird and would not have achieved the same result.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

This is the Leadership Promised on Day One

The Washington Post releases a five page story about the inner workings of the Clinton campaign and the utter chaos of the "organization":

Even in Victory, Clinton Team Is Battling Itself

By Peter Baker and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 6, 2008; Page A01

For the bruised and bitter staff around Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tuesday's death-defying victories in the Democratic presidential primaries in Ohio and Texas proved sweet indeed. They savored their wins yesterday, plotted their next steps and indulged in a moment of optimism. "She won't be stopped," one aide crowed.

And then Clinton's advisers turned to their other goal: denying Mark Penn credit.

With a flurry of phone calls and e-mail messages that began before polls closed, campaign officials made clear to friends, colleagues and reporters that they did not view the wins as validation for the candidate's chief strategist. "A lot of people would still like to see him go," a senior adviser said.

The depth of hostility toward Penn even in a time of triumph illustrates the combustible environment within the Clinton campaign, an operation where internal strife and warring camps have undercut a candidate once seemingly destined for the Democratic nomination. Clinton now faces the challenge of exploiting this moment of opportunity while at the same time deciding whether the squabbling at her Arlington headquarters has become a distraction that requires her intervention.

Many of her advisers are waging a two-front war, one against Sen. Barack Obama and the second against one another, but their most pressing challenge is figuring out why Clinton won in Ohio and Texas and trying to duplicate it. While Penn sees his strategy as a reason for the victories that have kept her candidacy alive, other advisers attribute the wins to her perseverance, favorable demographics and a new campaign manager. Clinton won "despite us, not because of us," one said.

Sifting through the data yesterday, her divided circle offered other theories. Some credit field operatives who set up organizations in record time. Others cite strong Hispanic outreach in South Texas that held off a late Obama push. And even some Penn opponents grudgingly cite his television commercial that asked which Democrat is more prepared for a 3 a.m. crisis call at the White House.

In the days leading up to the Ohio and Texas contests, Clinton presented herself as the victim of media bias and displayed a sense of humor on "Saturday Night Live" at the same time her staff was holding daily conference calls attacking Obama on his trade record and for his ties to an indicted real estate developer. The yin-yang approach -- going positive and negative at the same time -- may not have been deliberate, but it seemed to work.

"There has been a long-term disagreement on strategy over whether to focus on character . . . or raising questions about Senator Obama," said one top Clinton aide who was at the core of the fight. "What's happened over the last two weeks is we've done both."

One of Clinton's favorite books is "Team of Rivals," Doris Kearns Goodwin's account of Abraham Lincoln's Cabinet, and she assembled her own team of advisers knowing their mutual enmity in the belief that good ideas come from vigorous discussion. But while many campaigns are beset by backbiting and power struggles, dozens of interviews indicate that the internal problems endured by the Clinton team have been especially corrosive.

They fought over Penn's strategy of presenting Clinton as a strong commander in chief rather than trying to humanize her, as aides such as admaker Mandy Grunwald and chief spokesman Howard Wolfson wanted to do. They fought over deployment of assets and dwindling resources, pointing fingers over the failure to field organizations in many states. They fought over how to handle former president Bill Clinton and his habit of drifting away from his talking points into provocative territory.

At the center of much of this turmoil has been Penn, the rumpled, brusque, numbers-crunching strategist respected even by his foes for his intelligence, if not his social graces. A trusted adviser to the Clintons since helping orchestrate Bill Clinton's reelection campaign in 1996, Penn mapped out a strategy emphasizing strength and experience but, in the view of critics, did not adjust adequately when it became clear that voters wanted change.

"I think about all camps think it's Mark's fault," said a Clinton White House veteran close to the campaign. "I don't think there is a Mark camp." Another person who has advised the senator from New York said: "Penn should have been let go. He failed the campaign in developing a message and evolving the message as things changed." ....Link to full story

And this is just the beginning of a five page story of the carnage and dissension within the Clinton Machines hallowed workings. It gets much worse by page four:

"Ickes was characteristically blunt on the conference call after Super Tuesday. It was quite likely that Clinton would lose the next 11 contests, colleagues recall him saying. Cecil had submitted plans for post-Feb. 5 states, but they had been rejected. The campaign had not initially thought the nomination battle would go beyond Super Tuesday and it was out of cash. "We were running on fumes," one aide said.

Nerves were raw by this point. Penn and Grunwald engaged in a 15-minute squabble that later made it into the media over which ad to run in Virginia. He wanted an ominous one called "Freefall" that warned of bad economic times, while she wanted one called "Can Do" featuring the candidate talking against patriotic music about solving problems. Cecil grew so exasperated, he stood up and left. "This is ridiculous," he said, according to people in the room. "You guys need to grow up. You're acting like kids. I've got work to do."

A more explosive example of the stress came a few days later. Phil Singer, the campaign's deputy communications director, emerged from a meeting on Feb. 11 and without explanation started angrily cursing the war room. "[Expletive] all of you," he shouted, according to a witness, then stormed out and did not return for several days.

Penn was growing increasingly aggravated by what he saw as an untenable management structure, which another aide described as an "oligarchy at the top." Penn had no real people of his own on the inside and chafed whenever Solis Doyle or Ickes got involved in his sphere. At one point, he and Ickes, who have been battling each other within the Clinton orbit for a dozen years, lost their tempers during a conference call, according to two participants.

"[Expletive] you!" Ickes shouted.
"[Expletive] you!" Penn replied.
"[Expletive] you!" Ickes shouted again.

Can we just imagine for a moment-------- (Hillary Clinton is the POTUS)---------there's a REAL crisis going on and the safety and security of the nation depends on a decisive and punctual response. There's no way a timely decision can be made in this Clinton White House because no one has gotten passed their egos, and Bill's in one of the rooms that's got a "keep-out" sign on the door. In all this confusion, a terrorist slips through the cracks of a weakened CIA and presto!, another New York building comes crashing down----------in the distance some one hears the faint sound of a phone still ringing. Ring-----ring------ring................ And it's only DAY ONE.

(Tomorrow, I will put Mr. Obama in the White House to be fair and balanced)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sunday, March 02, 2008

United States Ship New York (LPD-21), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, is the fifth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the state of New York. The ship is designed to deliver a fully-equipped battalion of 700 Marines.

Shortly after 11 September 2001, Governor of New York George E. Pataki wrote a letter to Secretary of the Navy Gordon England requesting that the Navy bestow the name USS New York on a surface warship involved in the War on Terror in honor of September 11's victims. In his letter, the Governor said he understood state names are currently reserved for submarines, but asked for special consideration so the name could be given to a surface ship. The request was approved 28 August 2002.

Oddly enough, a previous holder of the name, USS New York (BB-34), had its keel laid on September 11, 1911, exactly 90 years to the day before the WTC was attacked.

Twenty-four tons of the steel used in its construction came from the small amount of rubble from the World Trade Center actually preserved for posterity. Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, Louisiana to cast the ship's bow section. It was poured into the molds on September 9, 2003. With seven tons melted down and cast to form the ship's "stem bar" — part of the ship's bow.[1] The shipyard workers reportedly treated it with "reverence usually accorded to religious relics", gently touching it as they walked by.[2] LINK

I don't know what's worse-----700 cranky Marines on a ship like this or the havoc they can cause once they hit land.

Pelosi's request

(from the Washington Times)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday asked the Justice Department to open a grand jury investigation into whether Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, President Bush's former counsel, should be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, demanded that the department pursue misdemeanor charges against Miss Miers for refusing to testify to Congress about the firings of federal prosecutors in 2006 and against Mr. Bolten for failing to turn over White House documents related to the dismissals, the Associated Press reports.

The Democrat-led House voted two weeks ago to hold Mr. Bolten and Miss Miers in contempt for failing to cooperate with committee investigations.

"There is no authority by which persons may wholly ignore a subpoena and fail to appear as directed because a president unilaterally instructs them to do so," Mrs. Pelosi wrote Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.

She added: "Short of a formal assertion of executive privilege, which cannot be made in this case, there is no authority that permits a president to advise anyone to ignore a duly issued congressional subpoena for documents."

Earth to Nancy------executive privilege HAS been asserted you moron:

"The contempt of Congress statute was not intended to apply and could not constitutionally be applied to an executive branch official who asserts the president's claim of executive privilege," Mukasey wrote, quoting Justice policy.

"Accordingly," Mukasey concluded, "the department has determined that the noncompliance by Mr. Bolten and Ms. Miers with the Judiciary Committee subpoenas did not constitute a crime."

This is your speaker of the house and the democratic leadership that remains the gift that keeps on giving.
What You Won't Read in The New York Times or The Washington Post-----
-----unless it's buried in the backpages.

Unlike our own congress that can't seem to pass a "movement", the Iraqi parliament has recently passed some some critical legislation, including benchmarks set forth by our democratic friends in the house.

Political deal-making cheers Baghdad watchers

By David R. SandsMarch 1, 2008

Politics has broken out in Baghdad.

Long derided as dysfunctional, Iraq's parliament in recent weeks has passed a package of laws on the budget, elections and sectarian reconciliation that have given cautious hope to U.S. officials and private analysts that the gains from President Bush's military surge are finally being matched by a political surge as well.

Daniel Serwer, a specialist on post-conflict societies, recently led a delegation from the Washington-based U.S. Institute of Peace to Baghdad to assess the political scene and interview the major Iraqi players inside the Green Zone.

"The popular image is that things are completely deadlocked in Baghdad," he said. "That's not what we found at all."

Instead, he said, the delegation found Iraqi politicians cutting deals, making compromises and forming alliances based more on power and votes that on religious or ethnic bonds.

(isn't this embarrassing that a new democracy in Iraq can accomplish what our own congress has long forgotten how to do?)

"There's a lot of floundering, a lot of thinking and rethinking, a lot of new voices emerging," he said. "But it's a good deal less polarized than we anticipated."

Mr. Bush and his fiercest critics on Iraq have long agreed that the tactical gains of the U.S. military surge will matter only if they are followed by political gains among the country's feuding ethnic and sectarian camps.

Even top U.S. officials conceded last fall the early political returns were meager, with the Iraqi parliament failing to act on a string of political "benchmarks" set by Washington, and failing at times even to obtain a quorum to conduct basic business.

In a typical comment, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on his campaign Web site faults the military surge in Iraq for failing to produce political change......LINK

When Tim Russert asked both Clinton and Obama in their last debate how the new Russian President will effect U.S and world politics, Obama had this blank stare on his face while Hillary actually bailed him out by fielding the question and fumbling Dmitry Medvedev's name. Obama had no clue who Putin's successor was going to be. This is just a taste of the transparency that will come out in the general election that will expose a youthful and inexperienced Barak Obama. And this is the best the liberal media and their pundits can produce to run this nation?