For months the main stream media has been giving us the story told by the residents in Haditha. According to them, U.S. Marines rampaged through the neighborhood, purposely killing women and children while they pleaded for their lives. Most of the media swallowed there stories uncritically, in spite of the facts that (1) we hadn't yet heard the Marines' version of events, (2) the Haditha neighborhood is a terrorist stronghold, and (3) there have been documented attempts by the terrorists to try to gin up a "human rights" incident in order to discredit our people (like this one).
Well, we have now heard from the Marines involved, through their attorneys. The story isn't pretty, but it sounds to me that the young Marines acted reasonably (and courageously) in the face of real dangers. And while woman and kids were killed, this is only because the terrorists involved put them in harms way.
This clearly isn't the end of the story, but it was good to finally hear the other side.
For example, the Democrats see this as a big win (in spite of the fact that they . . . well . . . lost) because their candidate got 45% of the vote this time out when she only got 36 % two years ago. As the folks at My DD put it, "this is a huge, seismic shift in our favor that bodes extremely
well for November. If we receive an 18% shift nationwide, we will win
the House easily." But over at Red State they are happy to let the left have all the moral victories they want, so long as the guy going to Washington has an "R" next to his name.
And then some people think the race was all about immigration. Bilbray was for strong enforcement of immigration laws and against the Senate's "Amnesty" bill. So much so that Sen. McCain dis-invited himself from a Bilbray fund raiser. And Busby committed a serious gaffe when she told a man who asked if he could help her campaign when he didn't have "papers" that “You don't need papers for voting." So you can say (a lot of people do) that this race shows that the Republicans should focus on immigration in the fall.
And then you have some people saying it's a mistake to try to draw too much of a trend from this election. As Smash points out, Busby was never very likely to win, given that she was never able to crack 45% in the race. And as The Moderate Voice points out in a detailed (and really smart) analysis, there were lots and lots of factors in the race. Such as:
No one knows how much Randy Cunningham's spectacular fall from grace hurt Bilbray;
Bilbray was actually pretty moderate, so much so that he had a third party candidate running to his right;
Bilbray was also an attractive, experienced candidate, with a lot of name recognition in San Diego; and
Busby's comment about not needing papers to vote was one of the more spectacular slip-ups by a candidate in recent memory.
In one sense TMV is right, the election was more about a good candidate who ran a smart campaign in friendly territory than it is about anything else. On the other hand, an awful lot of the smart campaign that Bilbray ran focused on immigration.
So, in spite of the danger in trying to find a trend out of a single event, I am going out on a limb. I think that in the upcoming election cycle immigration might become the new "third rail". The traditional wisdom is that candidates that want to win in national or (most) statewide elections can't afford to alienate the Hispanic vote. So they try to play both sides, i.e. the way the President and the Senate bill tries to be all things to all people.
But Hispanics actually make up a pretty small chunk of the actual registered voters in this Country (about 6%), and non-Hispanics are more focused on the immigration issue than ever before. Bilbray won in large part because he rejected the squishy middle and took a tough, pro-enforcement line. And so I think that pandering to the open borders, pro-amnesty crowd is very dangerous in this environment. You could find yourself--either Democrat or Republican--alienating a lot of folks who otherwise would be in your corner.
Which will make a lot of politicians very uncomfortable in the coming months, which ought to be fun to watch.
Opinions differ on the significance of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Regardless, we should all rejoice in the fact that this very evil man, who was our primary adversary in the war on terror, has been shuffled off this mortal coil.
Why can't these people take a moment to be happy about the fact that not only has justice been served to a monster, but America has won a victory (of some magnitude or other) in the war on terror? My guess is that the pathological hatred of George Bush has so blinded some of these people that, deep in their tiny little heart-of-hearts, they don't really want us to succeed.
As Robert A. Heinlein once wrote, a democracy will only survive until the people figure out they can vote themselves bread and circuses. There are times when I think we passed that point some time ago. However, I now have a bit of hope that my fellow citizens can occasionally rise up to vote something other than their self-interest.
Specifically, yesterday the California electorate was given an opportunity to vote on Proposition 82, sponsored and supported by Hollywood director and political activist Rob Reiner (aka "Meathead") . The "Preschool for All" initiative would have taxed people making more than 400 grand a year in order to provide "universal" preschool for the kids of California.
At its heart, the proposition was as cynical as all hell. It was premised on the facts that (1) everyone thinks preschool is swell, and (2) there are are lot more people in California making less than 400k than there are people making more. So we were all given an engraved invitation to vote to for free preschool, with the rich guys having to pay for it.
Reiner has had success at just this sort of thing in the past. In 1998 he sponsored Proposition 10, which imposed a 50 cent tax on a pack of ciggies, in order to fund "early education". Once again, who among us isn't in favor of "early education", and there are more non-smokers than smokers. So the tax passed (and my local cigar store went out of business, but who's complaining).
This is the same formula, offering up a big spoonful of gravy with someone else footing the bill. And if this had worked, you can be sure that in a couple of years Reiner would have offered up another initiative, mandating free food and health care for puppies (who doesn't love puppies, right?), funded through a tax on left-handed midgets.
Well, yesterday a significant majority of the California voters said no to pie-in-the-sky. A significant majority of California's refused to vote themselves a free bennie with some other slob having to pick up the tab. Hurray for the Republic!!
There is a whole hell of a lot that we don't know about the alleged massacre at Haditha. But there are a lot of things that we do know.
First, people like Congressman Murtha, who is accusing our guys of being war criminals based largely on press reports and leaks, need to be taken out and beaten. I mean, its all well and good to get out "in front" of the news cycle, but Murtha's unseemly haste to score political points out of what looks like a tragedy for all concerned has caused him to lose whatever respect I may have had for him.
Second, its like that old joke that starts out, "you can build a thousand bridges, and nobody ever calls you a bridge builder, but all you have to do is . . . . . (you either know how the joke goes, or you don't, this is a family blog). The Marines in Iraq have shown countless examples of restraint, valor, and compassion. Much of this sort of thing, for example the remarkable exploits of Brian Chontosh get virtually ignored in the press (for Heaven's sake, there are some people who think he is an urban legend). But everyone in the world knows who Lyndie England is.
Finally, whatever these kids might have done, there isn't anyone out there as alone and friendless right now. The anti-war left is prepared to crucify them, because it helps advance the agenda. The pro-war crowd is going after them too, as a damage control measure, in order to assure "world opinion" that there is accountability, and that these are just a few "bad apples".
Lets remember a couple of things, please. First off, these are not "bad apples". These guys are good Marines, as testified to by a CNN reporter that was embedded with them last year.
And remember that we gave these kids guns and taught them how to use them. We taught them to bond with each other like family, because that makes for an effective fighting unit. Then we put them out on patrol in a terrorist stronghold, where everyone hates them and where the bad guys don't wear uniform, are masters of the sneak attack and might be anywhere. And this is a place where their comrades have been killed in the not too distant past, amid much glee and rejoicing by the locals.
Then lets add in a sudden explosion that kills one of their number, and wounds a bunch more. Then all of a sudden there is gunfire, and you think someone is shooting at you or your buddies.
Well, okay, you are still not supposed to over-react, you are still supposed to be a "professional". And I am not suggesting that anyone condone war crimes, if this is what happened here. But these young Marines were put (by us) into an insanely dangerous situation. It would be nice if all the armchair critics could recognize that, and maybe recognize that they might not have done a whole lot better in the same situation.