Friday, October 20, 2006


GOP Aims to Scare Up Big Voter Turnout -
A number of GOP operatives said privately yesterday that they now see minimum losses of perhaps 18 seats, with 25 to 30 a more likely outcome. Democrats need 15 to take control of the House.

Republicans are slightly more optimistic about the Senate but nonetheless are worried about prospects for maintaining control. At this point, they see four seats likely to tip to the Democrats: Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Montana and Ohio. Democrats need six seats to take control. That means the battle could come down to Republican-held seats in Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia, all of which are considered too close to call now. Republicans see New Jersey as their best chance to gain a seat.
Like I said before; I just love it when a plan comes together.

Bush's Last Stand

Bush Faces a Battery of Ugly Choices on War - New York Times:
One official providing advice to the president noted on Thursday that while Mr. Bush still insists his goal is an Iraq that “can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself,” he has already dropped most references to creating a flourishing democracy in the heart of the Middle East.

Or, he could take the advice of Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is expected to run to replace him in two years, who argues in favor of pouring more troops into Iraq, an option one senior administration official said recently might make sense but could “cause the bottom to fall out” of public support.

But whatever choices he makes — probably not until after the Nov. 7 election, and perhaps not until the bipartisan group issues its report — they will be forced by a series of events, in Iraq and at home, that now seems largely out of Mr. Bush’s control, in Iraq and at home.
So, let's see. No WMD. No bin Laden. No democracy. Hmmm. Why are we there again? I can't seem to remember....

Why Turning It Over Doesn't Work, Either

NPR : Shiite Militia Takes Over Iraqi City:
"The events in Amarah -- involving a dispute between the Mahdi Army and local security forces believed controlled by the rival Badr Brigade militia -- highlight the threat of wider violence between rival Shiite factions, who have entrenched themselves among the majority Shiite population and are blamed for killings of rival Sunnis."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just Sad

My Way News - Gay Congressman's Spouse Denied Benefits:
BOSTON (AP) - Former Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay member of Congress, was married to another man in Massachusetts at the time of his death, but the federal government will not pay death benefits to his spouse.

Studds married Dean Hara in 2004 after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts. But Hara will not be eligible to receive any portion of Studds' estimated $114,337 annual pension because the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act bars the federal government from recognizing Studds' marriage.

Peter Graves, a spokesman for the Office of Personnel Management, which administers the congressional pension program, said same-sex partners are not recognized as spouses for any marriage benefits. He said Studds' case was the first of its kind known to the agency.

Under federal law, pensions can be denied only to lawmakers' same-sex partners and people convicted of espionage or treason, Graves said.
And of course denying benefits is what it's all about. This is the price of bigotry, our own self-respect. Civil rights should apply to all or they apply to none. This is digusting and the law can't be changed fast enough.

Come November, quickly!

Not Gonna' Tell Ya'

My Way News - Burns: Bush Has Plan to Win War in Iraq:
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Sen. Conrad Burns says he believes President Bush has a plan to win the war in Iraq but is keeping it quiet, a statement Democrats pounced on Wednesday as reminiscent of comments made during another divisive war.

Burns, at a debate Tuesday night with Democratic challenger Jon Tester, said he believes Bush has a plan to win - but added: 'we're not going to tell you what our plan is.'
How silly is this? Reminds me of kids in the playground pretending to whisper secrets in each others ears to make other kids feel jealous or isolated. Pathetic!

Snakes And Scum!

My Way News - AG: Voter Warning Linked to GOP Campaign:
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - State investigators have linked a Republican campaign to letters sent to thousands of Orange County Hispanics warning them they could go to jail or be deported if they vote next month, a spokesman for the attorney general said.

'We have identified where we believe the mailing list was obtained,' said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

He declined to identify the specific Republican campaign Wednesday, citing the ongoing investigation. The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register both reported Thursday that the investigation appeared to be focused on the campaign of Tan D. Nguyen, a Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez.
Prison would be too good for the perpetrators, but then we know that. Someday, they're gonna' pay. Soon, please!

Sweeney Connected To Abramoff

My Way News - Rep. Sweeney Trip Raises Ethics Question:
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Rep. John Sweeney asked the House Ethics Committee for guidance Wednesday after a published report said he did not properly report a 2001 trip with a lobbyist now cooperating in a federal investigation of congressional corruption.

Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, insisted he did not knowingly violate any rules, and said he wants to know if he should submit new paperwork about his reimbursed travel five years ago.

'I don't believe that I'm not in compliance,' said Sweeney.

The Times Union of Albany reported Wednesday that the Northern Marianas government denied paying for the congressman's travel. Instead, the executive director of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce said her group financed the trip, the newspaper reported.

Convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff was lobbying at the time on behalf of the Northern Marianas government, which opposed labor reforms proposed for the U.S. commonwealth.
Gee. What a surprise.

Why It's Never Over 'Til It's Over

Iraq Is Big Issue for Voters Seeing the Upside of War - New York Times:
“As much as people hate to say it, when the country is at war, it makes our area more productive and creates jobs,” said Bob Wagner, 52, an engineer for a military contractor who also serves on the City Council.

This year alone, new or expanding companies have brought 3,000 jobs and $175 million in investment to the area. A 3,800-acre research park abutting the Redstone Arsenal Army base is the second largest in the country.
Not that these people are the real war profiteers. That dubious distinction goes to the contractors and CEO's of Haliburton, Bechtel, and the weapons producing companies, but this points out the problems inherent in wartime economics. That these folks don't see what they're doing as wrong or as contributing to the problem, well, that's another conversation.

Yeah!!! Now That's What I Want To Hear!

My Way News:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With congressional elections less than three weeks away, the Republican party's approval ratings are at an all-time low, with approval of the Republican-led Congress at its lowest point in 14 years, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Wednesday.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said they were less in favor of keeping Republicans in control of Congress, compared to 14 percent who were more in favor of maintaining the current congressional makeup, according to the poll.

Only 16 percent of respondents approve of the job Congress is doing, the lowest level since 1992, NBC said.

In October 1994, when Democrats held congressional majorities, Congress had a 24 percent job approval, NBC said. Democrats lost 52 House and 8 Senate seats in the 1994 midterm elections.

NBC said the poll indicates people have been paying attention to the issues they are hearing about -- from Iraq and Bob Woodward's new book on the Bush administration's handling of the war to the unfolding scandal over former Florida Rep. Mark Foley's e-mail messages to teenage congressional aides.

The poll numbers and President George W. Bush's own job approval ratings, which have been mired in the 30 percent range, are an ominous sign for a party trying to maintain control of Congress, NBC said.
I just love it when a plan comes together.

A Dangerous New Order - New York Times

A Dangerous New Order - New York Times:
Once President Bush signed the new law on military tribunals, administration officials and Republican leaders in Congress wasted no time giving Americans a taste of the new order created by this unconstitutional act.

Within hours, Justice Department lawyers notified the federal courts that they no longer had the authority to hear pending lawsuits filed by attorneys on behalf of inmates of the penal camp at Guantánamo Bay. They cited passages in the bill that suspend the fundamental principle of habeas corpus, making Mr. Bush the first president since the Civil War to take that undemocratic step.

Not satisfied with having won the vote, Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, quickly issued a statement accusing Democrats who opposed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 of putting “their liberal agenda ahead of the security of America.” He said the Democrats “would gingerly pamper the terrorists who plan to destroy innocent Americans’ lives” and create “new rights for terrorists.”

This nonsense is part of the Republicans’ scare-America-first strategy for the elections. No Democrat advocated pampering terrorists — gingerly or otherwise — or giving them new rights. Democratic amendments to the bill sought to protect everyone’s right to a fair trial while providing a legal way to convict terrorists.

Americans will hear more of this ahead of the election. They also will hear Mr. Bush say that he finally has the power to bring to justice a handful of men behind the 9/11 attacks. The truth is that Mr. Bush could have done that long ago, but chose to detain them illegally at hidden C.I.A. camps to extract information. He sent them to Guantánamo only to stampede Congress into passing the new law.

The 60 or so men at Guantánamo who are now facing tribunals — out of about 450 inmates — also could have been tried years ago if Mr. Bush had not rebuffed efforts by Congress to create suitable courts. He imposed a system of kangaroo courts that was more about expanding his power than about combating terrorism.

While the Republicans pretend that this bill will make America safer, let’s be clear about its real dangers. It sets up a separate system of justice for any foreigner whom Mr. Bush chooses to designate as an “illegal enemy combatant.” It raises insurmountable obstacles for prisoners to challenge their detentions. It does not require the government to release prisoners who are not being charged, or a prisoner who is exonerated by the tribunals.

The law does not apply to American citizens, but it does apply to other legal United States residents. And it chips away at the foundations of the judicial system in ways that all Americans should find threatening. It further damages the nation’s reputation and, by repudiating key protections of the Geneva Conventions, it needlessly increases the danger to any American soldier captured in battle.

In the short run, voters should see through the fog created by the Republican campaign machine. It will be up to the courts to repair the harm this law has done to the Constitution.
I don't usually quote an entire piece or even most of one, but this one hit me hard, and I think it's important enough to bear repeating here, in case somebody missed it in the source.

And Lest Ye' Think It Might Get Better Over There

WP: Iraq militias splintering - Highlights -
Iraq militias splintering into radicalized cells

New groups appear more ruthless in use of violence

And Lest Ye' Think It Might Get Better Over There

WP: Iraq militias splintering - Highlights -
Iraq militias splintering into radicalized cells

New groups appear more ruthless in use of violence

Well, D-uh!

General Urges New Strategy for Baghdad - New York Times:
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the senior spokesman for the American military in Iraq, said that the strategy of concentrating on a limited number of highly troubled neighborhoods had not slowed sectarian violence in the city as a whole.

Attacks in the Baghdad area went up 22 percent during the first three weeks of Ramadan in comparison with the three weeks before, an increase General Caldwell called “disheartening.”
Seems like no matter how many generals they "retire", the ones in charge keep coming to the same conclusion: we're losing in Iraq and Afghanistan and something has to change. Just wait until next year, boys. It's coming!


Tables Turned for the G.O.P. Over Iraq Issue - New York Times:
With three weeks until Election Day, Republican candidates are barely mentioning Iraq on the campaign trail and in their television advertisements.

Even President Bush, continuing to attack Democrats for opposing the war, has largely dropped his call of “stay the course” and replaced it with a more nuanced promise of flexibility.

It is the Democrats who have seized on Iraq as a central issue. In debates and in speeches, candidates are pummeling Republicans with accusations of a failed war.
And it's only getting worse. Now that the media is actually covering the news, I see a tsunami coming in November, and it's not for the Reps!

Bushie Actually Gets It!

My Way News:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush says he sees a possible parallel in the increase in violence in Iraq and the 1968 Tet offensive that prompted Americans to lose support for the Vietnam War.

Asked in an ABC News interview on Wednesday whether he agreed with an opinion by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that the current violence in Iraq was 'the jihadist equivalent of the Tet offensive,' Bush said: 'He could be right.'

'There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election,' Bush said.


"They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw," he said.
Unfortunately, he sees all this as a reason to stay the course rather than change strategy or plan redeployment. That's the part he doesn't get, that it's not working and something (the administration) needs to change. Oh well. He'll get it eventually.


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