The Administration's victory lap upon the announcement that House and Senate conferees had reached agreement on legislation to reauthorize provisions in the Patriot Act that are set to sunset December 31st, may be premature. A number of Republican Senators are joining with many Democrats to stop cloture. These constitutionalists will then continue efforts to incorporate in the final legislation the modest but important amendments that were in the earlier Senate version of the reauthorization. Civil libertarians on the right and the left support their efforts.
The Spectacle Blog
The local muezzin woke me at about 0515. It's about 0620 now. We spent the night in one of Saddam's palaces (redecorated US Army style, with the finest of bunk beds). No potable water in the sinks, but breakfast awaits, and then the helo ride to one or more undisclosed locations to see the troops. We're accompanied at all times by a detail of force protection troops led by a very sharp lieutenant colonel. I feel mighty safe. Well, at least when not riding helos. Like bumblebees, they seem to break the laws of physics every time they fly. I kinda like stuff with wings. Later.
BAGHDAD, IRAQ -- We flew from Kuwait City to Baghdad International this morning on a C-130, and then helo'd to the Baghdad Embassy Annex (one of Saddam's old palaces) to meet with Amb. Khalilzad, and several of the top military commanders. There's a lot to report, and I can only do some tonight as we are up very early tomorrow to helo out to visit the troops in one or two hotspots. Can't say where we're going until we've been there. Security is very tight.
The Iraqi election is a week from today, and from all reports there will likely be a very high turnout in all but one or two places. The Sunni seem to have taken a more pragmatic view than in the leadup to the constitutional referendum in September. This election chooses a permanent government, and the Sunni will probably vote in substantial numbers to avoid being deprived of proportional representation in the new parliament.
In the category of nice guys finish first -- as Tom Brady has done in three of the last four Super Bowls -- it's only fitting that Brady has been named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. He's the prince of quarterbacks, or better maybe to call him a virtuoso. If you read SI's write-up, one things jumps out as the secret to Brady's success, notwithstanding his toughness and fine character: practice. As in practice, practice, practice, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Writes Charles P. Pierce in the Dec. 12 issue:
In response to one of the polling posts below, a reader asks how these new NYT numbers jive with the ones David Brooks uses in his piece today. I found the Brooks piece on Lexis Nexis. It's something else.
First, the numbers.
On the economy, Democrats are trusted more, 56 to 34. On education, it's Democrats 55 to 32. On taxes, Democrats 48 to 38. On health care, Democrats 54 to 29.
The Times/CBS poll reports Democrats are trusted more on the economy 45 to 37 percent, moral values 43 to 41 percent, terrorism 42 to 31 percent, Medicare 54 to 24 percent, and immigration 38 to 32 percent. Democrats are trusted less on ethics, 31 to 34 percent. The Times/CBS poll didn't ask about taxes, education, or general health care.
The rest of the Brooks article is rife with oversimplication.
Gray Davis, the confederately named former governor of California who was ousted from office in the recall that gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger as his replacement, returned to Sacramento yesterday for the unveiling of his portrait in the state capitol. Whatever it was that brought about his humiliating demise was long forgotten. Davis took credit for investing in young people and raising school standards. Standing next to him, Schwarzenegger heaped praise on Davis for the "incredible" job he did over 30 years of public life -- "he always fought for the underdog, he always fought for the poor..." -- and, more incredible still, talked about how he and Maria have become good friends with the Davises since the 2003 election.
"Every time I have a problem, or any time that I need advice, I still can call him, and he always gives me great, great advice," Arnold said. "So I want to say, 'Thank you very much. It's great to be your friend.'"
Now you know why politicians are such credible creatures.
We dragged the kids on a shopping trip before Thanksgiving -- Mommy needed something to wear to a Christmas party. For once, my 3 little ones behaved themselves (no small feat) while Mommy tried on various outfits. The boy (age 7) struck up a conversation with the young salesgirl, informing her that he had just finished reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Her response? She immediately offered 4 tickets to the premier of the movie -- tonight. Turns out her church had bought 700+ tickets. She was heading back to college and couldn't make the show, so she offered them to our family free of charge.
Who knew Santa's helpers worked retail? Score one for the spirit of Christmas and good will toward men.
Our new friend will soon receive a treat-filled care package to help her get through her end-of-semester exams.
I'll give my review of the movie tomorrow.
More on the raw data from that New York Times/CBS poll:
-Support for the President's handling of the war in Iraq is up 4 points.
-48 percent approve of his handling of the war on terror in general, versus 45 who disapprove. The approval is only up by 1 point.
-Congress's approval rating is much lower than the President's, though virtually unchanged at 33 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove.
-However, numbers for respondents' individual members of Congress are up to 60 percent approval from 57 percent.
-An understanding of the economy's red hot performance seems to have broken through: 55 percent say the economy is in fairly good or very good condition, up from 47 percent. 35 percent still believe the economy is getting worse, 19 percent think it's improving.
-59 percent abortion should be not permitted or at least restricted.
-Sam Alito's numbers are barely registering, with 14 percent favorable and 10 percent unfavorable. The smears against him haven't taken hold.