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    20 July 2007

    LTTE: Why excuse Vitter?

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    Have a look, 3rd down...

    I don't know who there at the P & C edited this but here is how it should have read:
    Recently, Senator Jim DeMint provided a confusing response to friend and supposed fellow family value conservative Congressman David Vitter's (R-LA) revelation that he used the 'services' of DC madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey. In a recent interview DeMint said that "[w]e all think that we're not vulnerable to something like that happening … but the fact is this can be a very lonely and isolating place to be away from your family. So I'm certainly not going to judge him because I don't want that kind of pressure on me."

    This response raises a number of questions; the first and most obvious is if it is a confession of a similar guilt by DeMint. I doubt that this is the case and I hope it's not. Second, why does Vitter get a pass here? Do the principles of conservative family value-style Republicans only apply to others and not to themselves or their friends? This is more likely as we've all witnessed supposed law and order Republicans (such as Lindsey Graham) gleeful celebrating President Bush's commutation of convicted felon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence and increasing their pressure for a full pardon. And finally, what about Washington, DC is "lonely and isolating?" We live in a world where distance is minimized by technology. Vitter lived in DC as a conservative Republican during a time when his ilk ruled with impunity and in large numbers. How can anyone like Vitter or DeMint be lonely in a place so inviting for conservative Republicans?

    Why conservative, rule of law, family value voters continue sending people who obviously don't share their convictions to DC is a riddle for the ages. It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious.

    Posted by Geoff

    19 July 2007

    Monday's Democratic Debate at the Citadel

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    Hey everyone!

    I just wanted to make a quick request/offer and extend an invitation.

    I’m lucky enough to have gotten my hands on press credentials for the Democratic debate this upcoming Monday (23 July 2007 from 7 PM to 9 PM ET). I’ll be in the so-called spin room all afternoon and evening. There I’ll have some type of access to all the pundits, spinmeisters and perhaps some of the candidates. If you have any interest in politics then you know that you can submit questions [find links: www.youtube.com/debates] through YouTube here. [UPDATE: For example] I encourage anyone interested to do so. But for some reason—be it time, equipment or shyness—you are unable to create a quick vid, pass along any thoughtful questions and I’ll see what I can do. I have no idea what to expect. Any question is fine. I’m not inclined to throw these guys and gals softballs. The truth is I prefer them because they’re not Republicans, not because they’re Democrats. I have no problem watching any politician squirm. I won’t ask partisan talking point-style questions so keep whatever Rush told ya in the car today to yourself. You can send the questions via comment.

    Next… I’ll be blogging as much as possible during the event (it’s an all day event). The premise will be what happens in the spin room more than anything else. I’ll have pics and anything else noteworthy that comes up while I’m in there. I doubt I'll have video capability but maybe audio. For example, we’ll see what this free dinner is all about. I’m expecting a refreshing mix of prison and plane food. But who knows? Do they have a culinary class at the Citadel?

    Any-who, if you’re watching the debate and have an internet connection check back here and see what’s up. Furthermore, check in during the day for a look behind the scenes. Again, I have no idea what to expect!


    (Note, I'll also be working with another outfit so I apologize--in advance--if all this hype isn’t delivered on.)

    [UPDATE II] During a conference call I just participated it was mentioned that the Democratic party's after party will also be a fund raiser for the Charleston Fire Department.

    Posted by Geoff

    17 July 2007

    Haha... This Has Got to be a Glitch

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    AP: "And the leading Republican presidential candidate is ... none of the above."

    Posted by Geoff

    The Do Nothing Congress of the Republican Minority

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    New Wars Mike Burleson complained Sunday that the 110th Congrees is "[t]he most “do-nothing” Congress of all". He compared our Congress and their obstructionist to that of Iraq's. (h/t Postscripts)

    Three quick points: First, the Congress has been compromised by small group of Republican "dead-enders" hell bent on protecting the most unpopular presidents in a generation. Instead of enacting bipartisan legislation destine for Bush veto, the the Republican minority in this Congress has taken the heat off of the President by stonewalling legislation with procedural maneuvers. Open Congress reported yesterday that
    A popular Democratic proposal to require that U.S. troops be given more time at home between their deployments was blocked, even though an overwhelming majority of the Senate voted for it. The vote on that proposal was 56-41, but because of a Senate rule that allows the minority party to require 60 votes for the passage of any bill or amendment, it was considered a failure and its sponsor, Jim Webb (D-VA) was forced to withdraw it.

    adding that "Senate Republicans in the 110th Congress have been putting up these 60-vote blockades in record numbers."

    This flows nicely into point two, the same article mentioned in Burleson's post adds this
    after the last major power shift in 1994, the productivity of Congress also dropped off, from 104 bills enacted at the start of 1993 to 77 at the start of 1995 (just after the Republicans took power), and then 56 two years later in 1997. But still the relevant comparison is 77 to 42, and that’s a big difference.

    (As another caveat, it’s possible the drop in productivity isn’t Congress’s fault. For instance, Bush might be more reluctant to sign bills than Clinton was, or you could say that the Iraq issue reasonably needed more time than whatever was the leading issue in 1994 (I wouldn’t know, I was 12).)

    So Bush is stubborn and Iraq is the paramount issue in America and to Americans. Additionally, legislative action in the realm of legislation has been low when Republicans were in power. No surprise there.

    Finally on Iraq and the Bush administration. While this congress has been unable to pass a record number of laws as pointed out above, they have provided some much needed oversight and accountability. This is a responsibility that the real do nothing congress of years prior chose to ignore; to the detriment of our national security and our national standing.

    Posted by Geoff

    16 July 2007

    Petraeus Ready to Change Course?

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    The White House PR shop isn't going to like this:
    [Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.] said that Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. and coalition commander in Iraq appeared eager to come out with new ways to respond to the continuing security problems there.

    "I got the impression from Gen. Petraeus that he wasn't waiting. Now he might be overruled by people in the White House and, you know, wait until September. But he seemed very eager to come forward as quickly as possible with a new direction and policy," the senator said.

    Posted by Geoff

    Mr. Kristol, Please Sit Down

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    Because some of your claims simply don't make sense. He wrote:
    I suppose I'll merely expose myself to harmless ridicule if I make the following assertion: George W. Bush's presidency will probably be a successful one.

    Let's step back from the unnecessary mistakes and the self-inflicted wounds that have characterized the Bush administration. Let's look at the broad forest rather than the often unlovely trees. What do we see? First, no second terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- not something we could have taken for granted. Second, a strong economy -- also something that wasn't inevitable.

    And third, and most important, a war in Iraq that has been very difficult, but where -- despite some confusion engendered by an almost meaningless "benchmark" report last week -- we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome.
    What about terrorism? Apart from Iraq, there has been less of it, here and abroad, than many experts predicted on Sept. 12, 2001. So Bush and Vice President Cheney probably are doing some important things right. The war in Afghanistan has gone reasonably well.

    First of all, yawn... Second, he's just making things up... someone get this man a newspaper, pronto.

    Fortunately Carolyn O'Hara at FP Passport blog has pulled out a seat for Bill. Let's be quite so he can absorb what he has obviously (intentionally?) missed.
    It's fine and fair to debate Bush's legacy, and he's surely done a few good things over the past six years. And Bill Kristol is certainly entitled to his own opinion; if he think Bush has been boffo, then more power to him. But Kristol is certainly not entitled to his own facts.

    Go to the above link to see the factual counter points to Kristol's delusion that there has been less terrorism since 9/11. Heck, you don't even have to read. There is a simple graphic that proves her point nicely.

    Posted by Geoff

    Foreign Fighters in Iraq Overwhelmingly Saudi Arabian

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    I know this is inconvenient for Bush, Cheney and their buddies. But you know what? The truth hurts, especially when your this administration.
    Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.

    About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

    Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency.

    He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis.

    I'd love to see some figures, similar to these but describing Shiite fighters captured/killed in Iraq. My bet is that it's a trivial number when compared to those highlighted above. If it were a large number, the White House would slip them into their talking points immediately. Iran doesn't even get an honorable mention in the linked article minus the Bush administrations claim that they are the root of all evil. Furthermore, any sunni-Syrian fighter entering Iraq is not doing so by the command of the Allawite regime in Damascus.

    Juan Cole adds:
    Think about that when you hear Bush say that the US is fighting "al-Qaeda" in Iraq or that "al-Qaeda" would take over Iraq if the US left. The foreigners just are not that important to the guerrilla war. Only .7% of detainees are foreigners, and unless they run faster than Iraqis, that is likely their percentage share in the "insurgency," too.

    ...the numbers ... pulled out of a US officer in Iraq demolish the entire image that the Bush administration and the Washington press corps has been presenting of the war.
    There isn't any significant cadre of foreign "al-Qaeda" fighters in Iraq if this is all we could capture. They can't take over the country because they are such a tiny group. Everything Bush and Cheney have said about the nature of the war and the supposed dangers of a US withdrawal is transparent falsehood.

    I think Cole understates the recruitment gains our occupation gives al Qaeda, but his point cited above still stands.

    George Bush said last week that "[t]he same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th". As factually inaccurate as that statement is, one part is right: The majority of terrorists that conducted the attacks of 11 September 2001 were Saudi, just like the majority of terrorists coming into Iraq and blowing up themselves and killing US troops and innocent Iraqis are Saudi as well.

    Finally, this is by far the most infuriating statement from the article is from Gen. Mansour Turki, spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry:
    "Saudis are actually being misused. Someone is helping them come to Iraq. Someone is helping them inside Iraq. Someone is recruiting them to be suicide bombers. We have no idea who these people are."

    Gosh Mr. Turki. Could these people 'misusing' your citizens be one of the radical clerics you fund in you multi-billion dollar campaign to fund Madrasas and spread Wahhabism throughout the Muslim world? Quit chopping peoples heads off in the desert and come down to Earth for a moment sir.

    The web we've tangled in the MENA would be laughable if it was not so serious. Our imagined allies in the Middle East (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) are among our biggest threats.

    Posted by Geoff

    15 July 2007

    Senator Webb vs. Graham

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    This morning on Meet the Press Senator Lindsey Graham got a whipping from Senator Jim Webb over who really supports the troops. Watch:

    Lindsey called a bill to provide adequate rest for our men and women "the greatest politicization of military action in the history of the country." I don't know how he arrived at that conclusion but that's what he said. While this comment by graham is a stretch and is probably more of a political statement than passing a bill to aid our troops, Lindsey and his Republican friends have repeatedly used politics and our armed forces together to get to political ends. Consider the vote to authorize military force in Iraq. The Republicans forced the vote to take place before the 2002 mid-term elections so that they could use a vote against the measure against Democrats. We knew then and we all know now that such a hasty vote was unnecessary and proved to be deadly to our troops and to our national security. If Webb was in the business of politicizing the troops, he would have brought up his son who actually served in Iraq fighting Lindsey's war.

    Lindsey and his acolytes are scared because supporting the troops is now a tool for the Democrats to use to force the president to change his course to a more practical one.

    Lindsey Graham needs to shut up, accept reality, support the troops and quit digging for ponies with Senator McCain. There are no ponies in the sands of Iraq. All they are finding are the dead bodies of American service members.

    Posted by Geoff


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