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Wizbang Podcast

The Wizbang Podcast Blog


Wizbang Podcast #77

Sun, 06 Apr 2008 11:24:14 -0500

Sorry for the long absence. I was busy. I hope I can keep it up again. Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: What's Really Going on in Basra?What Really Went on at Bear Stearns?What would a Hillary Presidency Look Like?What's Really Going on with FISA?What's Really Going on with Real ID?Listen: src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes What's Really Going on in Basra? The anti-war media, like the NY Times and the Washington Post, have been spinning the recent uptick in violence in Iraq as a loss for the Americans and the Iraqi government, and a win for Muqtada al-Sadr. Here is the Times on April 1:Last week, Iraq's defense minister, Abdul Kadir al-Obeidi, conceded that the government's military efforts in Basra met with far more resistance than expected. Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki's political capital has been severely depleted by the Basra campaign and that he is in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival, for a way out. David Price writing at Dean's World, in a post headlined: Sadr's Triumphant Surrender writesI haven't seen the media swoon this hard over a militant anti-American in decades. Is Sadr the new Che? To get another view of events in Iraq, I listened to the Pentagon podcast recording of a press conferences in Iraq with Major General Rick Lynch. We've heard from him before on the Wizbang podcast. He has a rather direct approach to events on the ground, a refreshing change from the spin of the Times. Lynch has been in charge of the area south of Baghdad for the past 13 months. In this clip he summarizes the progress he has made over that time, in terms of numbers of attacks per day, down from 25 to 2, or a 90% reduction. Play clip. In that clip Gen. Lynch attributes the end of hostilities to his success on the battlefield. In the minds of the press, the violence stopped because Sadr told his side to stop. Both are true, of course, but it's a matter of what caused what. He is also asked about reconciliation with his enemies. He has an interesting response. Play clip. He clearly is not happy with Iran sending munitions to kill his soldiers. And an unhappy General Lynch is going to make the enemy in Iraq very unhappy. What Really Went on at Bear Stearns? The recent melt down of the investment bank Bear Stearns as a result of a gradual, and then suddenly quite steep decline in the value of their asset base, which included many derivatives based on mortgage backed securities. Here is a somewhat simplified description of the events by the head of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, here describing the events that lead up to the merger of Bear into JP Morgan Chase on Sunday March 16 for $2 a share, down from $160 a share less than 12 months ago. The focus is on a liquidity crisis. Their assets on the books were significant, but they could not get access to them when they needed them due to other firms not wanting to do business with them. Play clip. So the fed extended liquidity to Bear to help them get to the weekend, when they then assisted with negotiations for the merger with JP Morgan Chase. But what is the taxpayer at risk in this arrangement? There is talk of a $30b bailout by the Fed. In fact what happened was the Fed extended credit terms and received assets in return that were "marked to market". This is a term in the financial community that reflects the valuing of an asset from its book value to how much a willing buyer would pay for it. Here is Bernanke explaining that to Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota. The Senator's speech is slurred due to the emergency brain surgery that saved his life in 2006. Back then, he was rushed to the hospital to repair serious bleeding in the brain. That he has recovered well enough to conduct questioning at this hearing is remarkable.[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #76

Fri, 14 Dec 2007 17:35:32 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: Driving God out of the Public Square - Secularists and Bigots Attack RomneyGates on the NIE - It's not Policy, it's the Independent CIAMore Progress in Iraq - Permanent Progress src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Driving God out of the Public Square - Secularists and Bigots Attack Romney On my last podcast I played a clip from Mitt Romney's Faith in America speech. Since then, he has been praised by Republicans, and condemned by Democrats. Big surprise I guess. But the criticisms have all been over his statement that Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Some have claimed that this would exclude agnostics and atheists from government. Is anyone surprised that a speech called Faith in America is calling for more faith? Some are claiming that he is calling for a theocracy. I missed that part, somehow. Here is Newt Gingrich on This Week with George Stephanopoulos challenging the host's views on Romney's speech and American History. Play clip. I was intrigued, so I found an audio clip at American Rhetoric of an actor reading Lincoln's second inaugural address. It was given less than two months before he was assassinated. And it is frankly religious. Listen to the last half of this very short address. I think you will recognize the last few lines. Play clip. Stirring words, indeed. But the talking heads on This Week were ready to hang Romney for his modest effort. Listen to Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts. Play clip. Sam claims that it's getting much much closer to a theocracy; Frightening; Encroachment into the government. All Bunk. But for a really off the rails criticism of Romney, we have to go to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell. Never one to hold back on his true feelings, Lawrence dragged up ancient history on the LDS church to attack Romney with both barrels. Here he is on The McLaughlin Group. Hold on to your hats. Play clip. Good for Pat Buchanan, one of my least favorite Republican pundits for asking if Romney's Mormonism disqualifies him from being President, and if past condoning of slavery by Christians disqualify them from running for office. O'Donnell is unhinged. He appeared on Hugh Hewitt's show after this rant to continue the bile against Romney. Hugh asked why he was only criticizing the politely religious, instead of the Islamofascists. Play clip. What a wimp. Only point out the flaws of the safe groups, not the dangerous ones. Gates on the NIE - It's not Policy, it's the Independent CIA Last week's release of the National Intelligence Estimate has been very controversial. Some have cited the cessation of the Iranian nuclear weapons program to call into question the belicose rhetoric of the Bush administration. World War III and all that. Secretary Robert Gates spoke on the subject of the NIE to some of our allies in Bahrain last week. I'm going to play to excerpts, the first from the speech and the second from the questions after the talk. Thanks to the Pentagon Channel Podcast for the audio. Play clip. I can see what trouble this independent intelligence community is to those responsible and accountable for government policy. How can our allies trust us when those who must formulate and implement the policy are tossed to the wolves by unaccountable spooks bent on bringing down Bush? More Progress in Iraq - Permanent Progress I have tremendous respect for Maj. Gen. W.E. Gaskin, the top man in Anbar Province. As the Pentagon Channel described it: MajGen W.E. Gaskin, Commanding General, MNF-West, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), provides Pentagon reporters with an update of ongoing operations in western Iraq, Dec 10, 2007 I joined a conference call with the General on a previous podcast, #66 on July 20, where he r[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #75

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 14:09:42 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: Huckabee's Conversion on Illegal Immigration - The Fastest Recovery in Political HistoryRomney's Faith in America Speech - What does it mean for the Evangelical VoteThe White House Press Corp's Crazy Aunt in the Attic - Some of Helen Thomas' Latest EmissionsNewt Gingrich on the CNN-YouTube Debate - Selection Bias at the NetworkMoral Equivalence Run Amok - on Slate's Political GabfestAdvice to a New Recruit in Iraq - Write your Momma Every Day src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Huckabee's Conversion on Illegal Immigration - The Fastest Recovery in Political History I'm no fan of Mike Huckabee. His stand on taxation and big government drive me up the wall. Take this interchange during the CNN-YouTube debate on the question of federal support for a trip to Mars. Play clip. You've got to love Tancredo's realistic conservative comeback to Huckabee's call for more money. Later on Romney said that it reminded him of being Governor of Massachusetts, where people were constantly coming to him with great ideas that were wastes of taxpayer money. Another Huckabee flaw is his support for scholarships for illegal immigrants while governor of Arkansas. He was confronted about this expertly by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week last Sunday. Thanks to the Corner for pointing out a post by David Sanders of the Arkansas News Bureau. Play clip. I'm going to read David Sanders posting here:His logic capsized. Apparently for Huckabee, withholding college scholarships or in-state tuition from the children of illegal immigrants is tantamount to the state "punishing" students for the sins of their parents, but withholding Pell grants or financial aid from the children of illegal immigrants is tantamount to the federal government simply not "rewarding" these same students for the sins of their parents? He is trying to have it both ways. Stephanopoulos reduced Huckabee, who is often lauded for his rhetorical prowess, to the role of a verbal contortionist who tried to bend and spin his way out of unfamiliar territory. But when he forced Huckabee to project onto the presidency the logic and reasoning that guided him as governor, he exposed an incongruent position and an inherent weakness on an issue important to Republicans. So with that performance behind him, the current Iowa front-runner Huckabee has been backpedaling fast. Today, four days later, he posted his Plan for Immigration Enforcement and Border Security. It's a decent comprehensive plan to address the problem on the federal level, where most agree it should be dealt with. States and localities have been forced into silly positions by the millions of people who the federal government has allowed into the country illegally. The problem is that he came by this plan only after being called on it by a liberal media person like Stephanopoulos, formerly Clinton's press secretary. Can you imagine how his position on evolution vs. Intelligent Design will resound among the Democrats and independents in November, should he win the nomination? It won't be pretty. Romney's Faith in America Speech - What does it mean for the Evangelical Vote It's no secret that Romney has trouble convincing evangelical Christians that it would be safe to nominate a member of the LDS church for President. Many of the Christian conservatives just don't like what the church stands for, nor their aggressive conversion and missionary efforts. His religion is also a problem for the Democrats, who don't like anyone who wears their faith so openly. It makes liberals feel creepy. Here is NPR's Robert Seigel talking to Romney on religion last week. Thanks to the Corner for the pointer. Play clip. This problem of Romney's membership,[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #74

Wed, 28 Nov 2007 16:26:49 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: Gun Ownership: An Individual or Collective Right? - Eugene Volokh debates Erwin ChemerinskyRoe v. Wade - Time for a Second Look? src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Gun Ownership: An Individual or Collective Right? - Eugene Volokh debates Erwin Chemerinsky There were two major events in the world of constitutional jurisprudence in the last two weeks. The first was the decision by the Supreme Court to grant a review of a Court of Appeals decision to overturn a Washington D.C. law banning ownership of handguns. This marks the first time since 1939 that the court will consider whether the Second Amendment right to bear arms is an individual or a collective right. Eugene Volokh appeared on KPCC's Air Talk program to defend the individual right side against Erwin Chemerinsky on the collective side. But first I'm going to play a recording of Professor David Currie reading the 2nd Amendment. Thanks to the Volokh Conspiracy for the link to the University of Chicago Law Faculty Blog. Play clip. Just to make sure you get it, here it is again. Play clip. Now, let's hear Erwin Chemerinsky concede that there may be an individual right to bear arms, but the government can regulate guns anyway, if the rules are reasonable. The host, Larry Mantle, asks some important questions, and then Eugene Volokh comes in to shred Chemerinsky's argument. Lots of constitutional law fun on the radio. Play clip. I love Chemerinsky's claim that the DC ban on all handguns is reasonable. I would guess that a ban on all religions could be considered reasonable in the eyes of an atheist. But religion is protected in the bill of rights, just like gun ownership. And we allow people the free exercise of religion. Why not the free ownership of guns? I suggest that this reasonableness argument is not going to go very far. But it is good to hear they have conceded the individual right. It's about time. Roe v. Wade - Time for a Second Look? The second big story on constitutional law was more ephemeral. I detect a growing consensus among conservatives that the court may eventually get another crack at the Roe v. Wade decision. I'm no lawyer or constitutional scholar, but three different programs I've listened to over the last two weeks have caused me to think there may be a valid argument for overturning this decision. The first was an appearance at the Heritage Foundation presentation by Henry Mark Holzer, law professor and author of The Supreme Court Opinions of Clarence Thomas 1991-2006: A Conservative's Perspective. The talk could more accurately described as a love-fest for Clarence Thomas. The first clip is about what the professor describes as Uber-Substantive Due Process, which is the tendency of the court to over reach in trying to make or undue what they consider silly laws, even if those law are enacted by the political branches of government. This clip starts a little slow, but believe me, you will not be disappointed by the end. Play clip. Over ruled, root and branch, indeed. Tell us what you really think professor. Later, Professor Holzer had a great answer to a loaded question about Roe at the end of talk. Play clip. That's got to hurt. People have little faith in the speed of legislatures fix problems, it seems, so they turn to the courts. In 1879 the legislature of Connecticut passed their contraceptive ban. It outlawed any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception. The law was almost never enforced, but it was on the books. People tried for years to make it a test case to push the Supreme Court to get involved, when the Connecticut legislature apparently found no reason to repeal the law. I suppose[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #73

Tue, 13 Nov 2007 23:39:59 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: Is Iran Cleaning Up their Act In Iraq? - Some Interesting Data PointsHillary's Equivocating - Having it all waysArmitage on Plame -She was Right, I'm an IdiotAre we Waterboarding Anyone? - Lindsey Graham says no, and he ought to know src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Is Iran Cleaning Up their Act In Iraq? - Some Interesting Data Points It's been no secret that Iran has been extremely unhelpful in stabilizing Iraq. From their support of rouge militia elements, their supplying of the deadly Explosively Formed Projectiles, also known as EFP's, the training of Iraqi insurgents, and the presence of Quods force operatives inside Iraq, they have been supremely challenging to the interests of the U.S. in Iraq. It was therefore surprising to hear the following exchange in a press briefing from November 6 in Iraq, with Rear Admiral Gregory Smith and the press. Thanks to the Pentagon Channel for the audio. Play clip. So, it looks like the EFP shipments into Iraq have stopped, and as a response we are releasing some Iranians held in detention in Iraq. This sounds promising. The nine Iranians were released three days later. According to the AP: BAGHDAD (AP) -- The U.S. military released nine Iranians from custody in Iraq on Friday, including two accused of being members of an elite force suspected of arming Shiite extremists. It said they were no longer considered security risks. The nine were released to Iraqi officials, and were being transferred to the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. They were expected to return to Iran later Friday, it said. I say this is good news, even if I have no idea what it all means. We are clearly getting the upper hand Militarily in Iraq. The monthly casualty and death rates have been coming down among US military and Iraqi civilians. One of the reasons is that Sadr has asked his followers to abide by a cease fire. Admiral Smith addressed a question about this the next day. Thanks to the MNF-I web site for the audio. Play clip. The key influence has been the decimation of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The primary purpose of the November 7 briefing was to show how many senior leaders and operational members of this band of thugs have been either killed or captured. Here is Smith talking some numbers. A picture of some of these guys is on the Wizbang Podcast web site. Click on the thumbnail for a bigger image. Play clip. All this success in Iraq is giving the Democrats in Congress fits. Here is David Obey, D-WI, and chairman of the house appropriations committee explaining the success, answering questions at the National Press Club. Thanks to C-SPAN for the audio. Play clip. That's it, we've run out of targets. Must be, Dave. Moonbat. Later on he is asked a question about funding the Pentagon's request for modifications to a bomber to accommodate a larger conventional warhead. His answer has a lot to say about where the power lies in Congress. Hint: it doesn't rest in this cheese head. Play clip. I love it. Obey said: "I don't have the power to determine whether we will or will not do anything. " How true, how true. Hillary's Equivocating - Having it all ways Senator Clinton is trying to triangulate between different positions on Iran. She voted for a resolution to call the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, but has been taking incoming fire from the Democrats that the resolution was a call for an invasion of Iran. Of course it was not. Any comparison between the Iran resolution, and the final authorization for the use of military force in Iraq that Congress passed in 2003 is a fantasy. We have a long way to go before an[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #72

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 15:53:03 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: Politicizing the California Fires - Some Fantasies in the MediaWorking with George - Nancy Pelosi's view of the PresidentWhy Does the Religious Right Prefer Hillary to Giuliani? - Dobson's AnswerDemagoguing the Jena Six in the House - Appealing to the prejudices and Fears of the PeopleCourage in India Pakistan - Benazir Bhutto after escaping an attack and I did write India by mistake. Sorry src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Politicizing the California Fires - Some Fantasies in the Media It was inevitable that some in the media and the political world would try to politicize their fantasies about the causes of the California wildfires. The fires are no joking manner. People's lives have been lost and thousands of homes destroyed or damaged this week. But the speed and ferocity with which the media and their anti-Bush friends have pounced on the fires for their own benefit was stunning. I'm going to play three examples. Two are from Air America, a station known for polemics against the Bush administration. First, thanks to the Radio Equalizer, we have Randi Rhodes speculating that Blackwater is somehow involved, then Mike Malloy accuses the "Bush Crime Family" of setting the fires. Moonbats. Play clip. Not to be outdone, the Junior Senator from California, Barbara Boxer used her hearing into the effects of Global Warming on Public Health issues, to claim that there is shortage of equipment in California to fight fires, and it is somehow the fault of the Bush Administration's war in Iraq. Thanks to C-SPAN for the audio. Play clip. That was Kit Bond setting her straight, re-framing her complaint about equipment into a promise to vote to increase funding for the national guard in the next Pentagon authorization bill. Fat chance Kit. As Don Boudreaux on Cafe Hayek wrote:this war, while it does interfere with efforts to extinguish wildfires, does not interfere any more so than does nearly any other government program you care to name. Resources have multiple uses and are scarce. To use a worker or raw materials fighting a war is to take that worker and those materials, at least for a time, away from other potentially valuable uses. The same is true of using workers and other resources to fight the "war on drugs" -- or using workers and other resources to administer agricultural price-support programs -- or using workers and other resources to run the Departments of Education, Transportation, Commerce, and so on -- or using workers and other resources to enforce the Endangered Species Act. The question is not does fighting the war in Iraq reduce government's (and private persons') ability to battle the wildfires. Of course it does. The questions are, rather, are too many resources devoted to fighting the war? Will Americans likely be made better off by taking some resources away from the war effort and put instead to other uses? Boxer's attempt to blame property losses in California on Iraq are easy and simplistic, but she is just wrong. As a Senator, she has the power to buy whatever the forest fighters might need. As it turns out, the fire fighters are not likely to need many of the up-armored Humvees, or MRAP vehicles, or remote control IED defusing systems that are now in use by the National Guard in Iraq. They need highly trained personnel and specialized equipment. If it is so important to buy that stuff, then propose it. Otherwise, shut the heck up. Moonbat. The press is really looking for someone to blame for this tragedy. Listen to this excerpt from the Pentagon Press conference discussing what they were doing to help California. When Lt. General Ste[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #71

Sat, 13 Oct 2007 18:25:25 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: Should we Talk to Iran? - Using North Korea as a Case StudyDefining Torture Down - When discomfort and fear is confused with tortureGood news on Iraq - How the media hides itPicking the Poster Children - Misplaying the Absolute Moral Authority Card src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Should we Talk to Iran? - Using North Korea as a Case Study Many amateur pundits have been calling for the Bush Administration to open bilateral dialog with Iran. The idea is that you need to talk to your enemies even more than your allies. Jimmy Carter the other day said as much. Here is is on WBZ radio with Ed Walsh talking about talking to Iran. Thanks to's Best of the Web for the link. Play clip. This is rich. During the Iranian hostage crisis, the Iranian government held our diplomats for over a year against their will in our diplomatic embassy. Some success for diplomacy. As James Tarranto comments:Carter's failure to learn from his own experience is really quite stunning. He proudly cites the taking of "my hostages" (a very odd turn of phrase) at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran as evidence that America had diplomatic relations with Iran. Excuse us, but was that fact ever in dispute? The real point--and this is not so subtle that anyone can be excused for missing it--is that diplomacy with Iran didn't work back then, as evidenced by the Iranians' having taken our diplomats hostage! Anyway, we talk to Iran today. We have had high level discussions about their shipment of weapons like EFP's into Iraq. They deny the evidence and claim they are doing their best to stabilize the region. And then they continue to ship arms to kill Americans. What point is there to talk to liars? Their promises have no merit. President Bush was asked why we don't talk to Iran in his question and answer session on October 3, in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. Thanks to the for the audio and transcript. Here's his answer to a question from a 10th grader in the audience. Play clip. The president is clear that there are times and places to have discussions with your enemies. When we have the proper amount of leverage, we will talk to Iran. But not until we get the Russians, the Chinese, the Germans and others ready to give up their vast financial interests in Iran. When they are willing to work with us, then we can bring economic sanctions against the regime. Any talk before we have leverage is a waste of time. Defining Torture Down - When discomfort and fear is confused with torture Jimmy Carter was also asked about torture in his interview with WBZ. Here is Ed Walsh's question and the former president's answer. Play clip. Notice the deflection of the question about the so called enhanced interrogation techniques? He immediately reframes the question about interrogation techniques to a question about torture. But what is torture, and is what we are doing to get information from detainees actually torture? I don't know. My idea of torture is what John McCain endured in North Vietnam, where he suffered broken bones and denial of medical treatment. From the Atlantic Robert D Kaplan describes the fate of Bud Day, a marine pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam and held for years in a prisoner of war camp. He later wrote a memoir.In December 1967, a prisoner was dumped in Day's cell on the outskirts of Hanoi, known as the Plantation. This prisoner's legs were atrophied and he weighed under 100 pounds. Day helped scrub his face and nurse him back from the brink of death. The fellow American was Navy Lieutenant Commander John Sidney McCain III o[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #70

Thu, 27 Sep 2007 15:29:02 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: Mission Descisions - Why don't we just fight the Terrorists in Iraq?The Myth of the Objective Anchor - Katie Couric and the Nefarious WeDinner Jacket visits the U.S. - and Columbia Screws it upHillary's Gigglefest - She Laughs at the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Play clip. Mission Descisions - Why don't we just fight the Terrorists in Iraq? I watched and listened to much of Hillary Clinton's talk show marathon on Sunday, when she appeared as the lead guest on Meet the Press, This Week with George Stephanopoulis, Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday, and Late Edition. The talk ranged across a wide field of topics, including health care, fund raising scandals, the war in Iraq, and why people hate her so much. I'm going to focus on two topics from her appearances. The first is her call for a change in mission. Listen to this segment from Face the Nation with Bob Scheiffer. Play clip. She is clearly trying to walk a fine line between the hard left, with their calls for withdrawal now regardless of consequences, and the hard right shock troops like me. She wants to stay, but with a new, more narrowly defined mission. Here she was on This Week with George Stephanopoulis saying much the same thing: Play clip. She has her talking points and she stuck to them in a very professional manner. But how realistic is it to change the mission from population security and counter-insurgency of today, authored by General David Petraeus, to one centered on counter terrorism? Can you fight terrorists in Iraq, like the infamous Al Qaeda in Iraq, without securing the population? How many troops would that take? Fred Kagan, one of the primary advocates of General Petraeus's surge strategy, and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, had this to say on those ideas in a recent Heritage Foundation Podcast. The audio is a little over modulated, but the message is clear. Play clip. What he said was that you can't fight Al Qaeda if you can't get the population to tell you where they are. And they won't tell you if you aren't protecting them. That's the trade: if you promise to stick around and keep them safe, they will tell you where the bad guys are. This is the success formula that Petraeus has been following. This morning, I joined a conference call, sponsored by the Pentagon, with Army LTC Ken Adgie, commander in charge of operation Marne Torch II, described by the Pentagon as follows:Task Force Marne troops continue to break up improvised explosive device-making cells in southern Baghdad, and push further south into new areas, with the conduct of Operation Marne Torch II, launched Sept. 15. The operation, Multi-National Division - Center's newest offensive, picked up immediately on the heels of its predecessor, Operation Marne HuskyI asked the LTC about Hillary's idea of counter terrorism only, without civilian security. Here's what he thought of the idea: Play clip. I agree with the commander. Without the great intelligence the population is now sharing with them, there is no way they can figure out who the bad guys are. And the people won't share with someone they don't trust. The term bird dog in his response refers to the 4-5 top informants that he uses in their area of operations. These citizens supply the bulk of the tips to the coalition forces. The Myth of the Objective Anchor - Katie Couric and the Nefarious We Katie Couric, the anchor of CBS Evening News with anybody but Dan Rather, appeared at the National Press Club this week for a pleasant discussion with Marvin Kalb, the Edwa[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #69

Sun, 16 Sep 2007 12:00:00 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: The Petraeus Show src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes The Petraeus Show Those not living under a rock know that General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified on capitol hill this week to cheer leading Republicans and skeptical Democrats. I listened to most of the House and Senate testimony over the past few days. There were few really surprising moments after the introductory remarks from both witnesses. The rest of the 16 or so hours was taken up by speechification exercises of both parties, interspersed with restatements of the opening remarks by the witnesses. I'm going to play a few short excerpts from the Senate hearings. First, I'll play the questions, if they could be called that, of Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California. She spoke so long that there was no time left for any response from the witnesses, supposedly brought in to provide a punching back for the great Ms Boxer. This is classic spin by the Senator, taking every opportunity to twist the General's words until they bore no resemblance to what he had ever said in the past. This segment starts with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Joe Biden, having the nerve to ask the General to shorten his answers so that the Senators get more time to bloviate. Amazing. Thanks to the Pentagon Channel for this and all the other clips by Petraeus and Crocker in this podcast. Play clip. So at the end of her speech there is no time for an answer. Why do they bother bringing these guys all the way back from Iraq, away from where they are succeeding, just so self important Senators can lecture them about their own personal ideas? Her recommendation that we pull back to large heavily fortified bases and out of the neighborhoods the way the Brits did in Basra shows how out of touch she is with what's happening in Iraq. Chaos is quickly taking over in Basra ever since they pulled back. That same chaos will take over the country if we follow her advice. The best counterweight to this set of arguments was made by Senator Graham later in the day. Here's his back and forth on the subjects. Play clip. Graham is a skilled litigator; he gets his witness to do the talking. How refreshing. Some of the best of the week's Petraeus and Crocker show was in their appearance at the National Press Club. The reporters had the good sense to ask questions and get out of the way for the responses. Here is some of the exchange concerning the difference between the ability of the Iraqi army to work on their own, contrasted with the benchmarks that measure their readiness by a set of clip levels. His point is that the benchmarks can be a misleading indicator of how effective the Iraqi army actually is in action, as opposed to paper evaluations. Play clip. Later on Petraeus was asked about how he handles the personal attacks by outside groups like His answer is enlightening. Play clip. I had heard that the General looked for inspiration to the famous Rudyard Kipling poem "If". He said so on the Fox News interview with Brit Hume earlier in the week. I went to the Librivox web site and found this terrific reading of the poem by one "Chip in Tampa". Listen to the master. Play clip. One of the criticisms of the Petraeus plan to draw down brigade combat teams roughly at the same pace that they arrived, is that it so closely resembles the troop rotations required to maintain the 15 months on, 12 months at home schedule that Secretary Gates promised to the troops at the beginning of the surge. It appears to some, and[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #68

Thu, 23 Aug 2007 23:57:59 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: How long the Surge? - Admiral Mullen's ViewReinstating the Draft? - A Warning Shot from General Douglas LuteAre We Really at Risk of a Domestic Terrorist Attack? - Not according to the leftThe Debate on Changes to the FISA law - Rivkin v GreenwaldIs Iraq like Viet Nam? - What George Bush Actually Said src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes How long the Surge? - Admiral Mullen's View The newly confirmed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon is Admiral Michael Mullen. He takes over from General Peter Pace at the end of September. At his confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee at the end of July, he was asked about our options in Iraq by Carl Levin, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Committee. Thanks to C-SPAN for the video. He describes the pros and cons of three options for the next 12-18 months in Iraq. Play clip. Admiral Mullen is very clear that Defense Secretary Gates' commitment to 15 months on, 12 months off troop rotation schedule, in order to preserve the all-volunteer force, is going to lead to the end of the surge. Not the end of military activity, just a return to 15 brigades from the current 20. Later on in the hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham tries to pin down the Admiral to dates and force levels. He clearly indicates that we can't keep as many in theater as we have now without breaking the 15/12 commitment. Play clip. So it sounds to me like the Pentagon plans for half the troops in 3-4 years, in order to reach the 12 month on, 24 month at home rotation. That schedule is critical to recruiting and retention goals of the all volunteer army. Which brings us to our next topic: Restarting the Draft? - A Warning Shot from Douglas Lute The Pentagon has always preferred volunteers over conscription. The draft is an anathema to the Generals. It would go against the goal of having the strongest, most intelligent, most motivated armed forces we can get. So why did Lt. General Douglas Lute, President Bush's War Czar suggest a return of the draft? From NPR on August 10, we hear a rumble of that. His real title is assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, but the war czar sounds so much more dramatic. Here he is interviewed by Michele Norris. Play clip. Clearly we are putting our young men and women under stress by forcing longer deployments in the war zone. Long times away from families, extended risk from being in the conflict theater a greater percentage of their service time, and the incredibly tough working conditions put the military under enormous pressure. As the liaison between the President's National Security team and the other branches of government involved in Iraq, including the Defense Department and the State Department, he has regular contact with those responsible for planning and executing operations there. Someone at the Pentagon must have done the arithmetic on force levels and decided that Lute would be the right guy to float the draft idea to the media. No one else has mentioned it. Dave Winer, a long time anti-war blogger had an idea what it meant. He wrote on August 15:I figured out why the czar said what he said -- it's the military, sending a message to the President, in clear terms. We can't keep running the way we're running, and if you won't do something about the shortfall of soldiers for the war in Iraq (really an occupation, of course) we'll take the issue to the people, in a way you'll feel. No doubt, even talk of a return to the draft [...]

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Wizbang Podcast #67

Tue, 31 Jul 2007 15:57:20 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: How's that Surge Going, Congressman?Defending Alberto -Anyone out there?Next Steps on Iran -Why Bombing isn't such a good ideaA Moving Tribute to the Lion of Fallujah src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Play clip. How's that Surge Going, Congressman? Success has many fathers, it is said, but failure is an orphan. When it comes to Iraq debate in Congress, we are seeing the exact opposite of that old saw. By advocating withdrawal, the Democrats appear to be demanding the credit for the eventual failure of our efforts in Iraq. The latest incarnation of that sentiment is a pair of resolutions under consideration in the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee last week. Chairman Ike Skelton gaveled a hearing to:receive testimony on H.R. 3087, to require the President, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military leaders, to develop and transmit to Congress a comprehensive strategy for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces in Iraq, and H.R. 3159, the "Ensuring Military Readiness Through Stability and Predictability Deployment Policy Act of 2007." H.R. 3159 would require the Pentagon to abide by their new policy of 15 months of deployment and 12 months at home training and equipping. If the Pentagon were required to do this, the surge of troops would have to end by April of 2008, according to the Washington Post: Regardless of what decisions are made in Washington and Baghdad, the U.S. military cannot sustain the current force levels beyond March 2008 because of force rotations.This clever bill the Democrats are advocating will require removing troops from Iraq to meet the terms of the existing Pentagon policy. According to the experts at the Post, a surge beyond March 2008 would require Secretary Gates to go back on his pledge to maintain the 15 on/12 off plan. It's a tried and true way to use someone's words to restrict their choices. But credit is due to Chairman Skelton for bringing to the committee two well regarded witnesses. First up was General Jack Keane, a former Army Chief of Staff and current member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, testified in opposition to the resolutions. The second witness was Lawrence Korb, of the Center for American Progress, who has ready the NY Times and the Washington Post quite thoroughly. I jest, since Mr. Korb is very knowledgeable on matters of defense and represented his side quite well in the debate. I'm going to play a few clips from the show. First up is a section of Keane's opening remarks. Thanks to C-SPAN for the audio, and Iraq Insider for the transcript. Play clip. After General Keane, Lawrence Korb spoke about the broken Army, and concluded by supporting the resolutions under consideration. Thanks to American Progress for the testimony transcript. He has finished his litany of troop problems, and moves to plugging his latest book. Play clip. Notice the protester at the end of that last clip. There were more as the day wore on. The hearing went on for four hours and 45 minutes, and General Keane had to leave after two hours. This was the source of much consternation from some of the lower level Democratic Congress critters. This next clip starts off with Tom Cole, Republican from Oklahoma talking about the inability of the Iraqi politicians to come together and legislate as the benchmarks require. Play clip. Boyda is a piece of work. I listened to the entire hearing and heard no[...]

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Wizbang Podcast #66

Fri, 20 Jul 2007 17:50:55 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: Is al Qeada in Iraq the same al Qaeda that Attacked America on 9-11?Who are we fighting? src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Play clip. Is al Qeada in Iraq the same al Qaeda that Attacked America on 9-11? The press, politicians, intelligence services, and the military have been all over the news talking about Al Qeada in Iraq. The military has claimed that the most spectacularly violent attacks in Iraq have been originated by Al Qaeda in Iraq, or as the New York Times prefers to call it, al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. I've been listening to a lot of press conferences, talk shows, and blogger's conference calls over the past two weeks trying to get a better understanding of the role of al Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI. In today's podcast I'll show why the military believes that AQI is the biggest military and political threat in Iraq, what the group has done, how we have them on the run. I'll try to show the connection to the global al Qaeda network and what the battle in Iraq means in the Global War on Terror. I'll also show how the Democrats and their enablers in press are trying to minimize the connection between AQI and the al Qaeda who attacked us on 9/11. They fear that if the public believes they are part of the same network, the quest to get us out of Iraq as soon as possible will fail, and Americans will once again support the war.. To give you an example of that quest, here is Nate, a blogger writing at The Hollow Horn who points to articles that bolster his position. Titled, The Al Qaeda Myth, Nate writes:The president and his partisans keep harping on the presence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq as a reason for our continued involvement. There are a lot of problems with this claim. Articles in the New York Times and Time note most of my objections. First, there never was an Al-Qaeda in Iraq until we came. Second, it would be a bit of a stretch to suggest that this is the same Al-Qaeda that attacked the US five years ago. (It has been chastised by Zawahiri for its indiscriminate methods several times.) Third, it represents only a very small percentage of the Iraqi insurgency. Nate is mostly right that there was little active Al Qaeda presence in Iraq before the invasion in 2003. But just because they were not there before we invaded doesn't mean they are not part of the same network today. The bulk of the AQI network arrived after 2003. So what? Nate's third claim that AQI is a small percentage of the insurgents is technically correct, but it ignores the power of their "weapons of mass effect", as BG Robert H. Holmes, Deputy Director of Operations, U.S. Central Command, identified in a conference call recently. But I'm getting ahead of myself. From the NY Times article Nate refers to, we read:In rebuffing calls to bring troops home from Iraq, President Bush on Thursday employed a stark and ominous defense. "The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq," he said, "were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that's why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home." It is an argument Mr. Bush has been making with frequency in the past few months, as the challenges to the continuation of the war have grown. On Thursday alone, he referred at least 30 times to Al Qaeda or its presence in Iraq. But his references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgen[...]

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Tony Snow hosts a bloggers conference call on the Iraq Interim Report

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 15:54:39 -0500

As I reported on the main site earlier today, Tony Snow hosted a conference call for bloggers on the release of the White House Interim Report on Iraq. You can listen on the recording of the call below. This is largely unedited. Tony had most of us enthralled. It starts off with the roll call, then Tony joins at about 40 seconds in.


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Wizbang Podcast #65

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 18:31:29 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: Closing Guantanamo? - Why We Can'tThose Busy Iranians in Iraq - with the Hezbollah ConnectionNew Progress on Reconciliation in Iraq - Calm After the latest Samarra BombingThe Army is not Breaking - Applying Lynch's Rules of War src="" height="20" width="164" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes Closing Guantanamo? - Why We Can't One of the most persistent rumors in Washington these days is that we are just about to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It usually starts by someone demanding that we should just shut down the center and try all the prisoners in criminal courts in the U.S. That leads to a question to some high ranking official asking if we are going to close it. For example, the following clip from a press conference June 29 in which Secretary Gates is asked about Gitmo. Play clip. In truth the issue is much more complex than just sensitive intelligence sources. It's also about the methods of capture. Many of the prisoners were seized on the battlefield, where normal criminal police procedures were not on the minds of our soldiers. There was no CSI Miami crew that descended on the crime scene to scrub it for evidence when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured. And what would they be charged with? Is it really a crime for a citizen of Afganistan to wage jihad against an American soldier? Of course not, it's a war. The Pentagon detainee policy was the subject of a blogger's conference call on June 26 that I participated in. Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard has a good writeup of the call. There's another from UPI. I'm going to play a few clips from the call that explain why we are not going to close Guantanamo any time soon. The first clip is me asking about the difference between criminals and combatants. Play clip. Grim from Blackfive asked next about what's next for the detainees. Later, I ask about the rumors of closure that periodically surface. Play clip. I think Liotta captured the reason this rumor keeps coming up: Some people allow their wishes to get ahead of their ears. Those Busy Iranians in Iraq - with the Hezbollah Connection Last February, some officers in Iraq, lead by Major General Caldwell, put on a show of Iranian weapons seized in Iraq. The press conference was highly criticized because of some over the top remarks about how much the Iranian government was involved in the activity. I covered this in my podcast at the time. Since that time there has been tremendous intelligence efforts made to make the case that Iran is highly unhelpful in Iraq. On July 2, Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner took another run at exposing Iranian involvement in Iraq. He was exceptionally well prepared. No offense to Major General Caldwell, but General Bergner blew the doors off this issue. They have documents, interrogation results, and network connections back to Hezbollah in Lebanon that show how deep the Iranian connection goes. I'm going to play several clips from his presentation. Thanks to the Pentagon for the transcript and the audio. At this point he begins talking about the Iranian connection to what are called Special Groups. Play clip. This description of Daqduq is just one of the Iranian directed bad guys seized or killed in Iraq. General Bergner described others in his talk. The Q&A that followed his presentation was good also. Here's Lara Logan of CBS, and Michael Ware of CNN asking some great questions. Play clip. Of course the next [...]

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Wizbang Podcast #64

Sat, 23 Jun 2007 23:17:12 -0500

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today: The Body Armor Story -an Update from the House Armed Services Committee and the Jerk src="" height="20" width="246" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> Download Subscribe Add Wizbang Podcast to iTunes A few weeks ago on the podcast I played some clips dealing with the controversy over the body armor that the Army provides to troops in Iraq. The Army tests armor to a standard, and the only type of armor that passes their test is called Interceptor. It's made by several manufacturers who compete for the Department of Defense business. Another firm, Pinnacle Armor, has a different style of body armor they call Dragon Skin. It's a very different design, which some felt might be more effective than the Interceptor. In 2006, the Army tested Dragon Skin, but it failed to stop the bullets they fired at it. I picked up the story in my podcast after NBC News commissioned some tests in Germany to determine if Dragon Skin would be more effective than Interceptor. Their tests showed that it was, but there were questions about the testing methodology of the NBC study. I played clips from the NBC story, and from an Army press conference soon after their story ran, refuting NBC's conclusions. To try to settle the controversy, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on June 6 to allow both sides to present their side of the story. I'm going to play several clips from that. Several key points were made over the four hours of bloviation:Duncan Hunter's Son is fighting in Iraq. He said so about 20 times during the hearing. Thanks for the info, Congressman. We get the point. Thanks for your service.Murray Neal, the CEO of Pinnacle Armor, maker of Dragon Skin, is a jerk. He spent most of his time at the witness table insulting his potential customer, the Army, his paymaster, Congress, and anyone else in a position to help him. The Army is looking for better armor that protects more effectively, is lighter in weight, and more flexible than the current standard, but only if it's betterDragon Skin has repeatedly failed Army tests, weighs 50% more than Interceptor, and is produced by a company that has lied about their certification in the past, is up for disbarment by the Air Force for that lie, but may indeed have a better technological solution that would save lives.Pinnacle thinks that the tests were not fair, that the Army has prejudged them, and they want a special test at a lab not chosen by the ArmyThere was enough smoke at the hearing to obscure almost anything. That said, there was some nice theater in the four hour hearing. The first two hours were made up of opening statements and questions of the CEO of Pinnacle, Murray Neal, and NBC's expert, Philip Coyle. For the next two hours, the Army was given an opportunity to respond. First up, is Duncan Hunter (R CA), who's running for President, and who has a son in Iraq. It's a reasonable summary of the issues as he sees them. Just a regular guy who wants the best for the troops. Play clip. Congressman Hunter set up the opening statement of Murry Neal, the CEO of Pinnacle, the maker of Dragon Skin. I'm going to play a few clips where he makes a series of innuendos, suggestions, and claims that the only reason his product has repeatedly failed the Army tests, is that the lab where the testing takes place has a vested interest in making sure Interceptor always passes, and Dragon Skin always fails. Play clip. Notice the claim Mr. Neal is making: The only lab where Dragon [...]

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