This demands your attention.
As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."
This demands your attention.
The Right likes to make a big deal about how the news media routinely reveals classified information which undermines the war effort. I could probably find a thousand stories written by conservative bloggers in the last month with this very storyline. When one of their own does it, however, they grow strangely silent.
In his interview on Fox, Santorum brandished a document and said the following:
"I'll show you the classified documents right here. And it says that in fact that there are assessed that there are additional weapons that we need to find. I can't go into the details. It's in the classified portion." (Emphasis added.)
The National Academy of Sciences released a report, requested by the Congress, that shows that industrial activity is having an effect on rising temperatures globally. The media coverage in this and other stories focuses on the "debate" aspects as if they were talking about a Senate race. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It's a human issue, and we owe it to future generations to understand what our impact to the planet is, and how we can stop it if it's detrimental. The retiring chairman of the House Science Committee gets it:
House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-N.Y.) sought the study last year after Energy and Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.), a global-warming skeptic, subpoenaed Mann's computer programs, funding sources and other documents.
Boehlert said in a statement yesterday that the academy "shows the value of Congress handling scientific disputes by asking scientists to give us guidance. The report clearly lays out a scientific consensus position on the historic temperature record."
The great TBogg has been doing this Random Ten thing for a while, and I've always wanted to join in the fun. Basically you put your iPod on shuffle and list the first 10 songs that come out. It's mp3 meets Magic 8-Ball. And my new Scion xB with iPod connector, along with the fact that I have exactly a 10-song commute to work these days makes this easy as pie. The desired result is something more like "I'm cooler than you" and less like "Hey, I got the CD for free, give me a break!"
So I'm considering moving the focus of this blog more local, or at least providing a few more So-Cal stories per week. WE've got a big election coming up here, and Angelides frankly needs all the help he can get. So I wonder if it'll ever get to the point that it has this week in Kentucky.
UPDATE #7: From a source within state government:
The only Kentucky-related blogs other than yours that appear to be blocked are at blogspot.com. I think it's safe to say you have been singled out.
NKY Politics (Pat Crowley)
The Bluegrass Policy Blog (Bluegrass Institute)
The Bridge (Dr. Ted)
Conservative Edge (Brian Goettl)
KYKurmudgeon (Larry Dale Keeling)
The Rural Blog (Al Cross)
The Compassionate eCommunity (Jonathan Miller)
Kentucky Progress (David Adams)
Kentucky Republican Voice
The Kentucky Democrat (Daniel Solzman)
I think this story of the capture of a terrorist cell in Miami that was plotting to, among other things, blow up the Sears Tower is a victory for law enforcement. It shows that just fighting them over there doesn't mean you have to stop fighting them over here. Oh, and since they're mostly Americans without any ties to Al Qaeda but "swearing a loyalty oath," which I'm pretty sure I could do right now and it wouldn't mean I get the key to the bin Laden executive washroom, does that mean that "the terrorists" aren't an organization that holds monthly meetings and potluck dinners but an amorphous force that you can't use traditional, MILITARY tactics to beat?
There is no imminent threat to Miami or any other area because of these operations," said Richard Kolko, spokesman for FBI headquarters in Washington. He declined further comment.
The Iraqi government is announcing a 28-point peace plan that is in direct opposition to the Bush strategy of "stay the course." I guess he didn't expect this when he looked into the eyes of Prime Minister Maliki:
The 28-point package for national reconciliation will offer Iraqi resistance groups inclusion in the political process and an amnesty for their prisoners if they renounce violence and lay down their arms, The Times can reveal.
The Government will promise a finite, UN-approved timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq; a halt to US operations against insurgent strongholds; an end to human rights violations, including those by coalition troops; and compensation for victims of attacks by terrorists or Iraqi and coalition forces.
It will pledge to take action against Shia militias and death squads. It will also offer to review the process of “de-Baathification” and financial compensation for the thousands of Sunnis who were purged from senior jobs in the Armed Forces and Civil Service after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
I can't believe this came out of a President's mouth:
We've known for years now that George W. Bush received a presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, in which he was warned: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." We've known for almost as long that Bush went fishing afterward.
What we didn't know is what happened in between the briefing and the fishing, and now Suskind is here to tell us. Bush listened to the briefing, Suskind says, then told the CIA briefer: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."
Greg Sargent's blog The Horse's Mouth, rapidly becoming a must-read, dissects the media's obsession with continuing its familiar narratives:
Here's something we should keep an eye out for as the political battle over Iraq unfolds: How often do reporters and commentators portray the GOP as being on offense and the Democrats as being on the defensive? Compare these two takes on yesterday's Congressional skirmishing over the war:
The New York Times: Democrats have found themselves trying to fend off accusations from the White House and other Republicans that they are "cutting and running," and many lawmakers demonstrated flashes of exasperation and anger about the level of partisanship.
Los Angeles Times: Democrats and Republicans dueled over the Iraq war in the Senate on Wednesday, exchanging rhetorical jabs as each side sought political advantage on a debate many strategists believed could be a decisive factor in determining which party would control Congress after the November elections.
What happened yesterday was this: Both parties attacked each other. The L.A. Times piece made this very clear. The N.Y. Times piece, though it did quote a couple Dems criticizing the GOP, essentially downplayed it. It's important to understand that these were editorial choices. The L.A. Times's choice was closer to the whole truth.
That emerging Republican approach reflects, at least for now, the success of a White House effort to bring a skittish party behind Mr. Bush on the war after months of political ambivalence in some vocal quarters. As President Bush offered another defense of his Iraq policy during a visit to Vienna on Wednesday, Republicans acknowledged that it was a strategy of necessity, an effort to turn what some party leaders had feared could become the party's greatest liability into an advantage in the midterm elections.
The approach might yet be upended by more problems in Iraq, as Republicans were reminded this week with reports about two American servicemen who were abducted, tortured and apparently killed. Some polls show a majority of Americans continue to think that entering Iraq was a mistake, and pollsters say independent voters are particularly open to the idea of setting some sort of timetable for withdrawal, the very policy Democrats have embraced and Republicans are now fighting.
The reality is this: Republicans have a massive albatross around their neck that's getting heavier every day. It's not an option to throw off the albatross -- that is, initiate a big pullout -- because doing so would be an admission of failure. So their only option is to put some phony swagger in their step, act as if they're confident that they have a winner on their hands, and hope for two things. First, that Dems blink. And second, that reporters and commentators will be taken for suckers, that members of the media will portray the GOP's political hand as the stronger one and allow the Republicans' feigned brashness to distract them from the reality that the GOP simply can't come up with a way out of the mess it's created.
The Dems haven't blinked -- yet.
“I rise today to offer a simple proposition: Congress should act like a co-equal branch of government and vote on whether or not to keep American troops in Iraq for at least three more years,” said Wyden on the Senate floor today. “I simply ask the President to come to Congress and describe his plan and his budget, in detail, and let us consider its potential to succeed before we, with our silence, consent to three more years of exceptionally costly involvement in Iraq. That vote, if held, won't be about cut-and-run. It won't be about who comes up with the best spin. It will be about holding the President and Congress accountable. The vote will hold the President accountable for presenting a plan and a budget for securing the peace. And the vote will hold Congress accountable by making it finally act like a co-equal branch of government.”
The only place in the American government where there is an honest and spirited debate over Iraq is within the Democratic Party. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are not on the same page – and that’s a good thing. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry disagree. Hooray for that.
If anyone tells you the solution to Iraq is easy or obvious, they’re a liar or a fool (a false choice in the case of our president). So why not feature the debate? At least someone is debating what to do.
The fact is the American people want a new direction in Iraq, and the Democrats offer several. The Republicans, on the other hand, offer nothing more than a four-word strategy: more of the same.
Democrats should seize this moment to attack the rubber-stamp Republicans for their lemming-like devotion to a failed strategy and a set of incompetent and dishonest leaders. Republicans have a faith-based Iraq policy. They have faith in Donald Rumsfeld, they have faith in Dick Cheney, they have faith in George W. Bush. We don’t. They are liars and nincompoops – and the lives of tens of thousands of our best are in their hands.
Every time the GOP says “cut and run,” Democrats should say, “rubber stamp.” Every time they say we’re weak, we should say real strength is standing up to your president and your party when American lives are on the line. When they attack our patriotism, we should challenge them to sign their kids up for the military: “Since when did the sons and daughters of working people corner the market on patriotism, Senator? If this war is so wonderful, so noble, so vital, why the hell is your son throwing up on his date at Ivy League frat parties?”
In short, Democrats can and will win the debate over the war in Iraq not by playing defense (pleading “We’re NOT for cut and run!”) but on offense: the Republican Congress has blindly backed a failed strategy that has left 2,500 Americans dead, 20,000 wounded, and put us $2 trillion in the hole.
Being part of a party that has three or four different new approaches to Iraq beats the hell out of being part of a party that marches in lockstep off a cliff.
Democrats Want Change in Iraq
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats want a different direction in Iraq. Republicans back President Bush.
Faced with leaving the Senate in about 6 months, Rick Santorum decided to push a completely irrelevant story today, arguing that 500 "WMD" have been found in Iraq since the start of the invasion. And you know, if I were to announce something this earth-shattering in magnitude, I'd definitely not give it to the Defense Department, but the Senator who doesn't sit on the Intelligence, Armed Services or Foreign Relations Commitees.
While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible Indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad’s desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered.
Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.
“This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991,” the official said, adding the munitions “are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war.”
Every year, it seems, the GOP-run Congress finds a slogan and repeats it over and over again like a club with which to bash Democrats about the head. Last year it was "up or down vote," usually said quickly like it was one word. "Upperdownvote!"
Some officials added that Republicans have begun discussing a pre-election strategy for seizing the political high ground on an issue that so far has served to highlight divisions within the party. Among the possibilities, these officials said, are holding votes in the House or Senate this fall on additional measures to secure the borders, or on legislation that would prevent illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security payments or other government benefits.
"The discussion is how to put the Democrats in a box without attacking the president," said one aide, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Additionally, GOP aides said Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the House campaign committee, has recently been using polling data to persuade fellow members of the leadership that the public would respond poorly to some provisions in the Senate-passed bill.
The Republican-controlled Senate smothered a proposed election-year increase in the minimum wage Wednesday, rejecting Democratic claims that it was past time to boost the $5.15 hourly pay floor that has been in effect for nearly a decade.
The 52-46 vote was eight short of the 60 needed for approval under budget rules and came one day after House Republican leaders made clear they do not intend to allow a vote on the issue, fearing it might pass.
The Senate vote marked the ninth time since 1997 that Democrats there have proposed — and Republicans have blocked — a stand-alone increase in the minimum wage. The debate fell along predictable lines.
"Americans believe that no one who works hard for a living should have to live in poverty. A job should lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass. He said a worker paid $5.15 an hour would earn $10,700 a year, "almost $6,000 below the poverty line for a family of three."
Kennedy also said lawmakers' annual pay has risen by roughly $30,000 since the last increase in the minimum wage.
With the help of a few rebellious Republicans, House Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee succeeded in attaching a minimum wage increase last week to legislation providing funding for federal social programs. Fearing that the House would pass the measure with the increase intact, the GOP leadership swiftly decided to sidetrack the entire bill.
"I am opposed to it, and I think a vast majority of our (rank and file) is opposed to it," House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday.
Pressed by reporters, he said, "There are limits to my willingness to just throw anything out on the floor."
A new poll by Public Campaign shows broad, bipartisan support for public financing of all elections:
In the wake of lobbyist scandals, the soaring costs of campaigns, and discontent with Washington, voters are hungry for a more open, clean, and fair system of campaign funding.
• Three out of four voters support a voluntary system of publicly funded campaigns. (2) Seventy-four percent of voters support a proposal for voluntary public funding of federal elections (57% strongly) with only 16% opposed.
• Support for public financing of Congressional elections cross all party lines. Eighty percent of Democrats, 78% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans support this reform.
• Support of this reform is strong across demographic and regional groups. This reform enjoys strong support across gender lines, age groups, and regionally—garnering no less than 60% support and in most cases around three-quarters support.
• Support for public financing of elections helps Congressional candidates. Respondents were given a generic congressional profile ballot, with standard “Republican” and “Democratic” issue platforms. On this initial test, the “Democratic” candidate outpaces the “Republican” candidate by 53% to 37%. Then half the respondents were told the “Republican” signed a pledge to support the reform and that the “Democrat” refused, and vice versa for the other half of respondents. In both cases the congressional candidate who signed the pledge was able to increase their lead substantially over an opponent who refused to sign it. The “Republican” candidate supporting reform wins 49% to 39% over an anti-reform Democrat. The “Democratic” candidate supporting reform wins 58% to 29% over an anti-reform Republican.
• Voters support this reform because of the positive changes they overwhelmingly believe will come from it. Fully 82% of voters believe it is likely, as a result of publicly financed elections, that candidates will win on their ideas, not because of the money they raise, and 81% believe it is likely politicians will be more accountable to voters instead of large contributors. Additionally, voters also feel it is likely citizens with good ideas will have a fair shot at winning rather than just the rich and powerful (79% likely), and that special interests will not receive as many favors, tax breaks, and deals from politicians (77% likely).
• The low perception voters have of congressional ethics is driving their support for this reform. Voters’ unfavorable views of Congress (36% favorable, 52% unfavorable) and lobbyists (14% favorable, 66% unfavorable) spell trouble for the Washington status quo. Voters are angry about business as usual and are demanding significant change.
I'm pretty happy with my VOIP phone service, even though I don't really use it all that much, and I'd probably switch over fully to a cell phone-only lifestyle if I didn't consider paying my monthly Vonage bill something of an in-kind donation to new technologies (and a thumb in the eye of telecom monopolies, no doubt). Vonage and Skype and other services like them are offering better service for less money. If I didn't have them, I'd be giving Verizon $35/month for pretty much nothing more than local calls. Via the iPac blog, it appears that Verizon is fighting back - not by offering better service, but by trying to sue Vonage out of existence:
Verizon would love to extort companies large and small for access to their DSL subscribers, but they really care about shutting down VOIP. VOIP fundamentally alters Verizon's bread and butter business model of selling over priced telephony because of their copper monopoly. If Verizon gets their way in Congress you can bet that Vonage, Skype, Gizmo, and every other VOIP application and company out there will be all but locked from Verizon's DSL subscribers. Just look at what's going on in Canada for a precedent.
Verizon Communications Inc. has charged that Internet phone carrier Vonage Holdings Corp. violated patent rights that Verizon has on technology for making phone calls over the Internet [...]
Holmdel-based Vonage, which said Monday it had been sued, contested the claim. "Vonage believes that its services have been developed with its own proprietary technology and technology licensed from third parties and intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit," the company said in a statement.
Verizon charged that Vonage is infringing on at least seven of its patents regarding Internet phone service, a technology known as voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP. The patents include inventions related to gateway interfaces between a packet-switched and circuit-switched network, billing and fraud detection, call services such as call forwarding and voicemail and methods related to Wi-Fi handset use in a VoIP network, the lawsuit said.
The complaint, filed June 12, also claimed that "Vonage is aggressively marketing and advertising services made with Verizon's appropriated intellectual property."
Vonage stock dropped 12 percent in trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, the latest blow to shares that have lost about half their value since the company went public in late May.
Shares of Vonage tumbled $1.12 to close at $8.48 on the NYSE. The stock has been trading in a 52-week range between $9.60 and $17.25. Verizon shares fell 37 cents, or 1.1 percent, to finish at $32.17 on the NYSE.
There are three possible outcomes that Verizon would like to see.
1) Verizon wins the case on all counts and now owns voice. The AT&T Ma Bell monopoly would have nothing on Verizon.
2) Verizon loses, but forces upstart Vonage to spend themselves out of business. Simply put, Verizon can fight this case as long as they need to. Vonage, on the other hand, has come off a bad IPO and may not be able to fight this all the way.
3) Verizon and Vonage settle. This way Verizon gets a cut of every call someone makes on Vonage's system. It's free money for Verizon and will chill innovation.
Verizon can't compete in the marketplace so they decided to take the marketplace out of the equation.
The current bluster over our conflict with Iran, while tempering in recent weeks, always neglects the peculiarities of the political system in Tehran.
The popularity of Iran's controversial leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is surging almost a year after he unexpectedly won closely contested presidential elections, Iranian officials and western diplomats said on Tuesday.
Attributing his success to his populist style and fortnightly meet-the-people tours of the country, the sources said, as matters stand, Mr Ahmadinejad was the clear favourite to win a second term in 2009.The perception that the president was standing up to the US over the nuclear issue was also boosting his standing.
"He's more popular now than a year ago. He's on the rise," said Nasser Hadian-Jazy, a professor of political science at Tehran University. "I guess he has a 70% approval rating right now. He portrays himself as a simple man doing an honest job. He's comfortable communicating with ordinary people."
While there are no reliable national opinion polls in Iran, western diplomats acknowledged that support for Mr Ahmadinejad is growing, defying widespread predictions after last June's election that he would not last more than three months.
"An indication of his power is the way he has whipped up public opinion on the nuclear energy issue," a western diplomat said. "If there was an election today, he would win." It was possible that Mr Ahmadinejad could become a liability to the government if Iran were taken to the UN security council, he added. "But I think in that situation, he gets stronger."
Vahid Karimi, of the government-affiliated Institute for Political and International Studies, said: "Certainly his popularity is increasing. People like what he says. It's not so much because he stands up to the west but because he's not corrupt. This is very important." Independent Iranian sources said many people were surprised that Mr Ahmadinejad had not turned out to be as socially conservative as many expected. His attacks on the privileges enjoyed by some among Iran's ruling clerical elite and his recent unsuccessful attempt to allow women to attend football matches had made a big impact.
A series of quick hits on the news of the day:
Allen, who faces a Senate challenge from Democrat Jim Webb, said he probably would not return to Iowa, where precinct caucuses launch the presidential nominating season, before the November election. He dismissed suggestions that other potential White House candidates would have an edge because they are free to roam Iowa.
The nation's emergency medical system — from the 911 centers that take phone calls for help to the emergency rooms that have become primary treatment centers for millions of Americans — is in a dangerous state of crisis, says a new series of landmark reports.
The reports warn that the U.S. lifesaving system is not only failing to handle daily emergencies but also could break down in the face of national disasters, including hurricanes, disease outbreaks or terrorist attacks.
"We are not prepared," says Brent Eastman, a board member and chief medical officer at Scripps Health in San Diego. "We struggle to survive day-to-day."
On Monday a spokesman for the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said it was important to ensure that "in combating terrorism we do not ourselves damage our democratic and legal systems".
"Nobody should be in a legal vacuum," he said.
Via Matthew Yglesias, here's a choice bit from this Washington Post review of Ron Suskind's new book The One Percent Doctrine:
One example out of many comes in Ron Suskind's gripping narrative of what the White House has celebrated as one of the war's major victories: the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad. Suskind shatters the official story line here.
Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."
Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States." And over the months to come, under White House and Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first test subject for harsh interrogation techniques. [...]
"I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."
Here's my deal on this whole North Korea missile testing thing: I encourage the North Koreans to test as many weapons as possible.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction:
A jury found former Bush administration official David Safavian guilty Tuesday of covering up his dealings with Republican influence-peddler Jack Abramoff.
Safavian was convicted on four of five felony counts of lying and obstruction. He had resigned from his White House post last year as the federal government's chief procurement officer [...]
In the Safavian case, prosecutors highlighted the name of Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio. They introduced a photograph of the congressman and Abramoff standing in front of a private jet that whisked them and other members of a golfing party for a five-day trip to the storied St Andrews Old Course in Scotland, and a second leg of the journey to London.
The trial consumed eight days of testimony about Safavian's assistance to Abramoff regarding government-owned real estate and the weeklong golfing excursion to Scotland that the lobbyist organized.
Safavian went on the trans-Atlantic trip while he was chief of staff at the General Services Administration, and other participants besides Ney included two of the congressman's aides and Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed.
Big shout-out and sincere thanks to John Yoo and Abu Gonzales, two fun and swinging moral relativists whose rewriting of national policy regarding torture and the Geneva Conventions has led to the increased likelihood of incidents like this:
U.S. forces on Tuesday recovered the bodies of two American soldiers reported captured by insurgents last week. An Iraqi defense ministry official said the men were tortured and "killed in a barbaric way." Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for killing the soldiers, and said the successor to terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had "slaughtered" them.
The claim was made in a Web statement that could not be authenticated. The language in the statement suggested the men were beheaded.
U.S. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the remains were believed to be those of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore. [...]
The director of the Iraqi defense ministry's operation room, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, said the bodies showed signs of having been tortured. "With great regret, they were killed in a barbaric way," he said.
I do appreciate Mark Warner's efforts to engage the netroots and work towards electing Democrats in November. I just participated in his "Mapchangers" competition. The winners of the balloting will get $5000 from his PAC, and the grand prize winner gets a fundraiser with Gov. Warner. This is the way to get traction in the netroots over a party at the Stratosphere, in my opinion (though chocolate fondue is pretty).
Today there is debate in the Senate on two competing Democratic plans for eventual withdrawal from Iraq. My Senators in California have split equally, becoming co-sponsors on each of the bills. Sen. Boxer has signed on to the Kerry-Feingold Amendment giving a firm deadline for the redeployment of US combat troops out of Iraq (I believe the deadline is July of next year).
Our troops have served valiantly in Iraq. Under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, they’ve done their job. Now, it’s time to put the future of Iraq where it belongs: in the hands of the Iraqi people and their leaders. And it’s time to listen to General George Casey and acknowledge that the indefinite presence of large numbers of U.S. combat forces in Iraq will weaken chances of defeating the insurgency and weaken our ability to fight the global terrorist networks that threaten us today.
At a press conference this afternoon, Senators Reed and Levin, along with co-sponsors Feinstein and Salazar, announced an amendment to the Defense appropriations bill that would shift U.S. policy in Iraq away from the open-ended commitment of the Bush Administration. The amendment involves a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq beginning this year, and it requires that the President submit a plan for continued redeployment by the end of 2006.
When push comes to shove, Americans want to win. Such is the eternal optimism of the American electorate that they will vote simultaneously for John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan--because both promised sunshine in the days ahead. And no matter what they say in the polls leading up an election, when they actually step into the ballot box, they're going to vote for the people who appeal to their pride and tell them that they will WIN.
Occupations can end only in WITHDRAWAL or in ANNEXATION; Wars can end only in DEFEAT or VICTORY.
America is NOT ready to annex Iraq--even if such a thing were possible. Cheney and Bush would like to, through the process of permanent bases--but the American public won't stand for it. America IS ready to accept withdrawal from Iraq--But ONLY if it understands that what is happening in Iraq is an OCCUPATION and not a war.
Here's something just thrown in on the front page of the B section in this past Sunday's Washington Post. It wasn't the top story of the day, and still isn't factoring high on Google News or anywhere else. Of course it would upset the whole "Comeback President" narrative that the media seems insistent to push about Iraq:
Hours before President Bush left on a surprise trip last Monday to the Green Zone in Baghdad for an upbeat assessment of the situation there, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship faced by its Iraqi employees. This cable, marked "sensitive" and obtained by The Washington Post, outlines in spare prose the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees' constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government.
O'Reilly: Now to me, they're not fighting it hard enough. See, if I'm president, I got probably another 50-60 thousand with orders to shoot on sight anybody violating curfews. Shoot them on sight. That's me... President O'Reilly... Curfew in Ramadi, seven o'clock at night. You're on the street? You're dead. I shoot you right between the eyes. Ok? That's how I run that country. Just like Saddam ran it. Saddam didn't have explosions - he didn't have bombers. Did he? because if you got out of line, you're dead.
If you are in the Bush White House and you're not a signatory to the PNAC document, you're an endangered species. Robert Zoellick became the latest casualty in the Death of the Moderates today:
Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, the department's No. 2 official, is resigning, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Monday.
Zoellick, who served six years in the Bush administration, said he would join the Wall Street investment house Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
In his resignation letter, dated June 15, Zoellick, 52, did not say why he was leaving. A former U.S. trade representative, Zoellick reportedly wanted to be promoted to treasury secretary to replace departing secretary John Snow, but President George W. Bush nominated Goldman Sachs executive Henry Paulson instead.
In addition, friends said, Mr. Zoellick had at times felt marginalized at the State Department, where his subordinates, including R. Nicholas Burns, an under secretary of state, manage most of the major issues.
Zoellick has told administration officials he will leave, probably to a Wall Street firm, if he isn’t named to replace Treasury Secretary John Snow, two persons familiar with the matter said.
From his first days at the State Department, Mr. Zoellick has chafed at his subordinate position, frequently remarking that he was finding the adjustment difficult after running his own office during four years as United States trade representative, which is a cabinet position.
I kind of mentioned this in talking about Claire McCaskill's setting the terms of the immigration debate in her Senate race in Missouri, but this article from the Washington Post nicely displays the bankruptcy in the Bush Administration policy on the issue:
The Bush administration, which is vowing to crack down on U.S. companies that hire illegal workers, virtually abandoned such employer sanctions before it began pushing to overhaul U.S. immigration laws last year, government statistics show.
Between 1999 and 2003, work-site enforcement operations were scaled back 95 percent by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which subsequently was merged into the Homeland Security Department. The number of employers prosecuted for unlawfully employing immigrants dropped from 182 in 1999 to four in 2003, and fines collected declined from $3.6 million to $212,000, according to federal statistics.
In 1999, the United States initiated fines against 417 companies. In 2004, it issued fine notices to three.
Behind the wall, Paul Krugman lays out the sad new truth in American politics:
But if the real source of today's bitter partisanship is a Republican move to the right on economic issues, why have the last three elections been dominated by talk of terrorism, with a bit of religion on the side? Because a party whose economic policies favor a narrow elite needs to focus the public's attention elsewhere. And there's no better way to do that than accusing the other party of being unpatriotic and godless [...]
So what should we do about all this? I won't offer the Democrats advice right now, except to say that tough talk on national security and affirmations of personal faith won't help: the other side will smear you anyway.
But I would like to offer some advice to my fellow pundits: face reality. There are some commentators who long for the bipartisan days of yore, and flock eagerly to any politician who looks "centrist." But there isn't any center in modern American politics. And the center won't return until we have a new New Deal, and rebuild our middle class.