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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, October 07, 2006

US Casualties Rise Sharply in September (and October?)

Not really a surprise with the US operations moving into the hottest spots in Baghdad, but still notable.
Last month, 776 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq, the highest number since the military assault to retake the insurgent-held city of Fallujah in November 2004.....

The sharp increase in American wounded -- with nearly 300 more in the first week of October...

Check those numbers. Nearly 300 in the just completed first week of October would project to 1200, a new highest number again this month.

Also: If you were on the front lines in Baghdad, how would you feel about the failure to "stand up?" The Iraqi battalions requested for Baghdad still haven't arrived.
U.S. commanders have appealed for weeks for 3,000 more Iraqi army troops to help secure Baghdad but as of Thursday had received only a few hundred, according to military officials in the Iraqi capital. Mistrust of Iraqi police in Baghdad remains high, Abizaid said. ....

"In a sense, the Baghdad security plan is a complete repudiation of the earlier Rumsfeld doctrine where he said the Iraqis would prevent the civil war," said O'Hanlon.....

So what's plan "B", Mr. President? And why does Don Rumsfeld still have a job?

Picture of the Day - 3

A father weeps as he holds body of his three-year-old son Kerar Sadiq in Baquoba hospital yard Friday, Oct. 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Mohammed Adnan)


(Reuters) Iraqi forces are conducting a "crackdown" in oil rich Kirkuk. (I'm so sick of the now meaningless phrase "crackdown.")

Kirkuk is heating up, and, as both the AP and Reuters version note, Tal Afar is heating up as well. (Baqouba, too, although it's not mentioned here.)
Saturday's car bomb attack in Tal Afar was the fourth suicide car bombing on an army or police checkpoint in the town since the start of the holy month two weeks ago.

The town has been largely free of violence since U.S.-led forces drove out al Qaeda militants in a 2005 offensive. In March, President Bush cited Tal Afar as an example of progress being made in Iraq.

I would argue that this is an inevitable outgrowth of the shift in US policy to pull so many troops into Baghdad.

(AFP) Death of a soldier: US losses mount in Battle of Baghdad. (Read the first section.)

(UPI) The US has "no idea" the level of militia infiltration in the security forces, and more details on the Iraqi brigade that was taken "offline."

And, Duck! After all the threats and statements, I don't put much stock in this, but it did grab my attention. (Indirectly from Al-Quds)
"The head of the Islamabad-based Al-Quds Media Centre has received an audio message from a senior Taliban leader in which he asked Muslims living in the US to leave the country as soon as possible “because God’s punishment would fall on America in the month of Ramazan.”

Political bits

(Post Gazette) Jeb Bush was campaigning for Santorum, got chased by protesters, and it got ugly. Tasers, a canine unit was called in. Jeb Bush was eventually stashed in a supply closet. 50 protesters.

Charlie Cook shifts 14 House races, all towards the Dems.
(7 to Toss Up)

Added: (ABCNews) Tom Reynolds runs a campaign ad laying Mark Foley firmly at Denny Hastert's doorstep.

Added: ABC also confirms this morning's WaPo story that Hastert's Chief of Staff had talked to Foley about all this prior to Nov. 2005.

(Rawstory) The ethics committee sent a letter requesting all members to contact all pages they've sponsored asking about Foleyesque behavior.

Americablog has a very vague post about rumors of another GOP Congressman. (Nothing there, really, but "Both rumors seem relevant to this story as it's unfolding." Just putting it out there.)

Picture of the Day - 2

Smoke billows from a burning armored vehicle of a Canadian military convoy after a suicide bomber rammed into the convoy in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2006. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)
(No one injured - mike.)

Afghanistan and Iraq

Good AP article by Jim Krane that discusses the adoption by the Afghan resistance of the Iraqi insurgents' tactics.
The prospect of a second downward spiral — though so far Afghanistan isn't nearly as violent as Iraq — has experts worried that Western militaries don't have an effective strategy for these irregular wars.....

The reborn Taliban acknowledges that it has adopted the suicide bombings, beheadings and remote-controlled bombs of the Iraqi insurgent movement....

he West's military strategy in Afghanistan also resembles that in Iraq.

There's not a really clear, short excerpt, but it's a solid article.

New revelation of prior Foley knowledge in Hastert's office.

Another staffer has come forward to confirm that Hastert's Chief of Staff "confronted then-Rep. Mark Foley about his inappropriate social contact with male pages well before the speaker said aides in his office took any action."
The staff member said Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, met with the Florida Republican at the Capitol to discuss complaints about Foley's behavior toward pages. The alleged meeting occurred long before Hastert says aides in his office dispatched Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.) and the clerk of the House in November 2005 to confront Foley about troubling e-mails he had sent to a Louisiana boy......

Now, a second House aide familiar with Foley and his actions told The Washington Post yesterday that "Scott Palmer had spoken to Foley prior to November 2005."

And, you know I love my little informal contests, and I think we have a winner for the first use of the "ongoing investigation" dodge.
Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean declined to directly comment on the second House staff member's assertion, saying that it is a matter for a House ethics committee investigation. "The Standards Committee has asked that no one discuss this matter because of its ongoing investigation," Bonjean said.

How messed up is it that questions about the very worst acts are hidden behind this dodge? If you manage to hit a certain threshold of wrongdoing, you no longer have to answer questions about it.

(This also creates a situation where Hastert's press conference is the last statement made. As new evidence comes in contradicting him, he won't have to answer and his fact absent version from that day will be replayed.)

ABC confirms. Also on ABC, Reynolds runs a campaign ad that I think conflicts with Hastert's story.

More Rockets in Pakistan

This getting curious. Two more rockets have been found in Islamabad, these aimed at the ISI headquarters. These follow on the two that were found Thursday 'aimed at the parliament.'

But something weird is going on. 1) No one seems particularly alarmed. 2) There were (now dismissed) reports that these are part of some exercise. 3) A new statement on the rockets found Thursday is that they were wired to a mobile phone, but "were not aimed at a specific target."

Then you've got the extreme security measures around Musharraf, and a 'mysterious explosion' near, but a safe distance from, Musharraf's residence.

I don't know exactly what's going on, but there does seem to be a remarkable lack of alarm if all this is real. If you like a mystery...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Picture of the Day - 5

(Old. A british medical evac helicopter.)

This is how the right wing noise machine works

I wrote a long post earlier on how Drudge is utilized to validate lies that can be then referenced as journalistic fact when needed. Here's an example.

Drudge has since pulled this "exclusive" because it was proven false, but last night, Congressman Chris Cannon (R-Ut) used the Drudge story, referencing it to minimize the situation.
"These kids are actually precocious kids," Cannon, R-Utah, told KSL Radio's Nightside. "It looks like uh, maybe this one email is a prank where you had a bunch of kids sitting [around] egging this guy on."

Blatant lies validated by Drudge. This is how it works.

UPDATE: NYTimes on the Foley politics. "Talk radio hosts, working off a list of talking points distributed by Republican Party officials...."

"Former administration official" Susan Ralston?

She was only Karl Rove's top aide five weeks before the election.
A key aide to presidential political strategist Karl Rove resigned Friday in the wake of congressional report that listed hundreds of contacts between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the White House.

I have nothing to back this, but I feel the need to point out that within the growing history of administration indictments, the White House always prefers to have them referred to as "former administration official X."

I see a sudden resignation/firing of a key political aide five weeks before the election. I see it mentioned next to Abramoff. I have to ask.

(Notice that she's not the one making the statement, the White House is. Not want her to talk to the press? Hmmmm..... This may be worth following.)

Also, why immediately, and why during the Friday dump?

Later: Longer AP story indirectly discussing ticket gifts.
ThinkProgress on some of the Abramoff/Ralston background.

UPDATE: Maybe I got this wrong. (White House story?)
A congressional report showed last week that Ralston accepted sometimes-pricey tickets to nine sports and entertainment events from Abramoff while she provided him with inside White House information.

Or maybe not.
the counsel's office reached no conclusion about whether Ralston violated gift limits because her resignation made the point moot.

Picture of the Day - 4

(From a homecoming. I just liked this photo. (bigger if you click it.))

(Nas, if you're out there, see this post for (maybe) pictures of your brother.)

Political bits

A new book from a former Bush aide. "The book essentially says President Bush's "compassionate conservativism" and "faith-based initaitives" were more campaign rhetoric than anything else." (The publicity tour will be the two weeks before the election!)

(CNN) The Foley investigation begins by subpoenaing Pelosi, Dean, and Emanuel.

(USAToday) "Democrats are within striking distance of winning control of the Senate in the Nov. 7 elections, USA TODAY/Gallup Polls in six key states show as the campaigns head into their final month." (Notice Burns/Tester not listed.)

(LATimes) Mark Foley was contacted about a photo from the Republican Convention 2000 of a young intern sitting on his lap.
The intern, "male or female?" he inquired.
"Female" was the reply.
"Oh, thank God," Foley responded. "Send me that photo, I might need it someday."

Oh, and Katherine Harris isn't only losing her Senate race, her old house seat looks likely to flip as well.

And, Tammy Duckworth rocks. (+5 in Zogby.)

If you feel the need to worry today, might I recommend NK or Iran?

After all this crazy blogging this week, I'm kind of enjoying the quiet, but if you really need something to worry about....

Bill Gertz has a single sourced paragraph talking about Israel using nukes on Iran, soon. I would guess this is all part of the diplomatic dance at the Iran meeting today, where
Russia said it agreed with China no ultimatum should be issued to Iran over its nuclear program, underlining divisions as world powers met on Friday to discuss U.S. and British proposals for possible sanctions.

So, in the face of a rigid Chinese/Russian block, a small item of threat is placed in an influential Defense column.

Also, in the Telegraph, North Korea could conduct a nuclear test this Sunday. What is that? "Could?" The statement was made a second tier Japanese diplomatic figure with no national security credentials. (Also probably tied to diplomatic efforts.)

If you want to worry, there it is.

Picture of the Day - 3

Maliki places his final bet (Iraq catchall)

With Condi Rice standing behind him (with a gun to his head?), Prime Minister Maliki issued what may well be his last challenge.
Political parties must either get rid of their militias or get out of politics, Iraq's prime minister said Thursday, in his toughest warning yet to groups blamed for the country's wave of sectarian violence. ....

"The presence of parties with militias in the government is not acceptable." "The political parties must obey the decisions of the government or else get out of the political process. I don't believe there is any power that wants to leave the political process," he said,

Maliki has no way to enforce something like this, and just by saying it, he's pushing himself farther into irrelevancy. (The great irony, as noted by the AP reporter, is that this meeting, and Maliki's very life, was being guarded by SCIRI militia at the time.)

(CSM) The US staying in Iraq is exactly what Al Qaeda wants.

(AP) "U.S. commanders have defined victory (in Baghdad) as reducing violence in the capital to the point where Iraqi civilian police could handle security."

(Same article) It's not a civil war, but the US is trying not to affect the balance.
To achieve success, the Americans and their Iraqi partners are trying to weaken both the Sunni and Shiite extremist groups equally.

“I can’t drive (the Mahdi Army) into the dirt and let (al-Qaida) basically conduct suicide attacks at will,” one senior coalition intelligence officer said on condition of anonymity for security reasons. “I’ve got to take both elements out of the equation.”

(WaPo, NYTimes) Sen. John Warner gets big headlines on his statements questioning the current strategy on Iraq. Not too explosive, but he is the top military rep in the Senate.

(CNN) "That's because the situation has escalated beyond the random potshots. Now, U.S. troops are hunted by well-trained sniper teams who lay in wait on rooftops and other well-shielded positions."

(And, as you watch news today, make note, every reporter from Iraq, every single reporter, is noting that the violence and the security situation is getting significantly worse.)

Attention Nas

You left a comment on this post saying that one of the soldiers in the picture might be your brother. If he is in that unit that is being followed by AP phtographer Darko Badic, take a look at this Yahoo photo search which contains "Alfa, 172th, Bandic," or broader, this one just searching "Bandic."

I would bet you'll find him in at least one of those photos.

For the rest of you, I don't have another way to get in touch with Nas, so you'll just have to put up with this. I'll probably repost this periodically over the next day. If it was my brother, I would really want the link.

Two stories on Evangelicals drifting away

WaPo has an article on evangelical voters abandoning the Republican party. (We'll have to wait and see if this is a real trend after the "scare" push by the Republicans in the last few weeks.)

But, I liked the NYTimes article much more, Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers.

Dear Highschoolers of America, I know that dorky, religious kid is a bit of a downer, but go ahead and invite him to the kegger.

You're doing it for America.

(I don't know what's gotten into me this morning, sorry.)

Picture of the Day - 2

A photo from a soldier's photo album.

Drudge is a lying sack of crap

Not a surprise really, but just a little update on how Drudge has been pushing "the message" (lies) exactly when the party wanted him to.

The headline yesterday, the "exclusive", that somehow Foley had been the lured into the IM's as some part of a page "prank," dissapeared. ABC responded to him in their latest piece, and without so much as a mention, the 32 pt. headline screaming headline just disappeared.

The earlier claims that the page was 21, and at another point 18, both also disappeared, without comment. But the thing to make note of is that all of these claims made it on talk radio. And, look, it's even getting a reprint in the Wash Times cloaked under "Drudge says." But notice the chicanery, the focus in "on a 21 year old." Yeah, he's 21 now. That's how time works, you idiots.

I know this should not be something I spend my time on, but it is kind of important as this is a clear display how the right wing runs their lie factory. Unattributed on Drudge for one cycle, repeated on Limbaugh and elsewhere, Drudge pulls it down, but the message (the lie) is out there.

Where "in the media" do you think Denny Hastert is referencing when he says that the whole thing is being orchestrated by Soros, Clinton, and liberal operatives? Hastert made that unfounded claim on the radio, and Drudge picked it up for six hours. So, yesterday, when Denny talks about it being out there, "it's what I hear", "it's in the media," he was indirectly referencing the talk radio rumor he helped fuel days ago.

But to the base, if they hear it on Limbaugh, it must be true. So, Drudge throws an unattributed rumor up in a screaming headline, Limbaugh listeners are lied to, and they accept it as truth because it matches what they want to be believe.

Forget the fact that all evidence is that a 52 year old Congressman was masturbating with underaged boys, and even trying to solicit sex and set up meetings with them. Drudge says.... Limbaugh says....

I'm just a victim of the left wing media. I guess that's what happens when you actually read.

(By the way, I draw a strong line between "talk radio" and Drudge, simply because no news organization researches Limbaugh's ridiculous claims. The news media actually attempts to track down Drudge's stories.)

(Sorry for the off topic outburst. Back to normal programming.)

Picture of the Day

Outside a hospital in Baqouba.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


(Reuters) "Last month's attack on the U.S. embassy in Damascus was planned in Saudi Arabia and the four Syrians who carried it out had no links to al Qaeda, a government investigation said on Thursday." (The Syrians have every incentive to report this.)

(AP) "Two rockets rigged with mobile phones and primed to fire toward Pakistan's parliament were discovered by a construction worker Thursday and safely defused by bomb disposal experts, a security official said."

(Reuters) "Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated on Thursday that his country opposed sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program ahead of a meeting of major powers in London this week."

Picture of the Day - 5

Baghdad today. (AFP/Ali al-Saadi)

Foley Update - it gets worse

We've just crossed another line. ABC is reporting three more pages coming forward saying Foley tried to solicit sex and naked photos, and offered one to stay at his place in exchange for sexual favors.

Dear Tony Snow, tell me again this is just about 'naughty emails'.

See you at tomorrow's press briefing, asshole.

Condi Rice's "trial" over Baghdad

Have you ever noticed that when an administration figure gets in trouble, they always get sent to Baghdad? Rice is there today after all her dissembling on the warnings she was given pre-9/11.
A military transport plane that flew Rice and her party into Baghdad Thursday had had its landing delayed by 35 minutes by “indirect fire” – either from mortar rounds or rockets – in the airport area, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

Bush is a religious man, maybe it's a modern day "trial by fire." If they come home, he can assume God wants them to keep serving.

Picture of the Day - 4

U.S. soldiers from Alfa company 1-17 regiment of the 172th brigade avoid children as they walk back from school, in eastern Baghdad, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2006. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Foley Update

CNN just previewed the Republican argument why Hastert should stay.

If he goes, the Democrats could well take Congress and that would mean higer taxes, etc, etc.

So, the argument for keeping Hastert is, loosely, "sure the kids are at risk of being cyber-molested by Congressmen, but that's still better than Democrats in control of the House."

I want to see that on a campaign button.

Hastert is not resigning. Apparently, he delayed his event because he wanted to hear whether there would be a House Ethics Investigation announced (40+ subpoenas issued.) Hastert wanted to announce a separate investigation led by Louis Freeh, but apparently Pelosi responded, "No, that's not good enough."

Want to take bets on who will be the first not to "comment on an ongoing investigation?"

Also: Is the primary purpose of the page tip line to bring the revelations to the Republicans rather than to the media?

Hastert has cancelled all his fundraisers for the next two weeks.

Foxnews: "House Republican candidates will suffer massive losses if House Speaker Dennis Hastert remains speaker until Election Day, according to internal polling data from a prominent GOP pollster, FOX News has learned."

Denny lied today about his exchanges with Shimkus.

(I may rewrite/update this post.)

British Find No Evidence Of Arms Traffic From Iran

(WaPo - Page A21)
Britain, whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans' contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several senior military officials said.

"I have not myself seen any evidence -- and I don't think any evidence exists -- of government-supported or instigated" armed support on Iran's part in Iraq, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said in an interview in Baghdad in late August.

So that's one rationale for military action debunked. We've still got WMD and "democracy," though. Right?

Also in Iraq, (Reuters) Baghdad bombings hit new high.

(BBC) 4 more US soldiers have died in this horrible month.

(WashTimes) The Special Inspector General who was looking at contractors, contracts and their abuse has been terminated by Congress next year.

Picture of the Day - 3

Is Maj. Gen Caldwell telling the truth?

There may be nothing here, we may have captured a year's worth of Al Qaeda in September, (a resounding success,) but these numbers jump out at me. (Maj. Gen Caldwell is the US military spokesman in Iraq.)

First: Christian Science Monitor Oct 3, edition.
Between 50 and 70 foreign fighters sneak over the border into Iraq every month, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, chief US military spokesman in Iraq, said last week.....

Between January and mid-September, US or Iraqi government forces captured some 630 foreign fighters, according to General Caldwell.

Those numbers jumped out at me, from January to mid-September, 630 captured. Now, let's jump to this morning's briefing.
He also said that Iraqi and U.S. forces had killed more than 110 al Qaeda militants in September and detained more than 520....

Either almost all those captures in the first quote occurred in the first two weeks of September, the second half of September was overwhelming, or one of these statements is false. I find the first hard to believe because of all the arrests following the Zarqawi killing.

The first answer appears to have been given after a question on the NIE finding that Iraq is creating terrorists, so a low number would make a better answer. The second statement appears to have followed a question similar to, "but what are you doing about the violence?"

Two different political needs, two different answers?

I recognize this is a small point in the grand scheme, and it is certainly possible that both statements somehow mesh together, but I think this captures how "metrics" are being used.

A horrible story out of Iraq

Rawstory rewriting CBSNews. (They have the original video.)
"A U.S. intelligence report finds that sectarian death squads have taken control of hospitals and morgues in Iraq, reports Lara Logan of CBS News. Secret documentation by the U.S. Military shows that sectarian militias use Hospitals for command and control centers. The militias often kill Sunni patients, some "dragged from their beds." Ambulances are used to transport hostages, weapons, and to escape from coalition troops."

The thing I would add is that the Health Ministry is held by the Sadr faction, and there have been numerous complaints around this relationship previously.

As reference on the factions, militias, and their ministries, I would highly recommend going back to read this post on an NBC reporter's journey to the Baghdad morgue, during which the Health Ministry's protection forces(militia) came into a firefight with the FPS from the electricity ministry controlled by another faction.

Signals and signs on Hastert?

First we had the missed interview last night because of a "conference call with leadership." Now, we have a press conference (probably statement/no questions) scheduled in the home district.
For one, we're hearing that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), who's been heaped with scorn and blame over the scandal, is planning a press conference in Chicago tomorrow morning. No word on what he'll say, although speculation abounds that he may announce he's quitting his leadership post -- either now or after the elections.

Although it has to be said that in an interview last night he said he would "fight on," of course blaming Democratic operatives and George Soros,
He went on to suggest that operatives aligned with former President Bill Clinton knew about the allegations and were perhaps behind the disclosures in the closing weeks before the Nov. 7 midterm elections, but he offered no hard proof.

Alot of the smart money seems to be falling on the "will keep his job for a maximum of one and one-half months," said a top party aide, adding that in the meantime Hastert may fire some staffers." (Or is this just a trial balloon?)

Related: Rasmussen, "Sixty-one percent (61%) of American adults believe that Republican leaders have been “protecting [Mark] Foley for several years.”

(It should also be added that as Boehner and Blunt have come out against Hastert from their leadership positions, they now have a high incentive to see him resign. (Blunt has been mentioned as a possible replacement.))

UPDATE: CNN just reported that Hastert will not resign.

Also, Boehner has signed onto an email this morning with Hastert about the whole thing. Blunt's name is noticably absent.

Picture of the Day - 2

Nearing the escalation point in Iraq

For awhile now, there has been a growing movement to significantly increase the numbers of troops in Iraq. This call has come from several quarters on the right, John McCain and William Kristol most notably.

Maybe it's just an impression, but over the last month, this "escalate to win" argument seems to be gaining more presence. As the rapidly deteriorating conditions in Iraq become ever more apparent, as well as the complete failure of the current "strategy," an increasing call will come out for a radical shift in tactics, and, at least in the public debate, the options will be isolated down to the polar, easily debatably "get in or get out."

Leaving aside the military impracticality of an escalation with so many of our units rated not combat ready, there is no real basis to believe that the addition of more force will significantly alter the larger situation.

Violence certainly exacerbates the political problems fracturing the Maliki government, but the underlying causes of those fractures is more directly related to the complete overturning of the previous social order. The political strife comes from the reallocation of resources and power and the reshaping of sectarian roles.

The footprint of US control, the ground on which our soldiers are standing, would certainly increase, and a let up in some of the violence would offer a brief window (not enough time to cleanse and retrain the Iraqi Security Forces,) but the underlying problems will still be there, festering.

So, keep an eye out for the "escalate to win" argument. With Kissinger haunting the White House halls speaking of "victory being the only meaningful exit strategy," I have a feeling it is soon going to move into the limelight.

(I have nothing concrete to back this post except a creeping feeling that soon this decision will be made if it has not already.)

The political strategy of blaming the Dems for the Foley leak

Reality-Based Educator brought up the Republican effort to paint the Foley leak as coming from the Dems. So far, this effort is really having no resonance anywhere but Limbaugh and such feeding the base, but I think this effort has a secondary goal of serving as a Dem trap.

The Republicans would benefit tremendously if the could lure the Dems into some sort of debate over the politics of Foley. If they could get just one Democrat on record arguing with them about any secondary issue (even if they lost,) suddenly this entire firestorm takes on a partisan element and begins to lose its steam.

As we learned during the Swiftboating, the argument is more important that the truth. The argument, as displayed on the talking head shows and editorial pages, creates the impression that there are two valid sides whether there are or not.

Thankfully, the Dems aren't playing. Besides Pelosi's very careful outrage about protecting the children, have you seen many House or Senate Dems on TV discussing this? No, thus far, they see the trap.

(Just for backing, this story is decidedly not a Dem leak. "The source ... says the documents came to him from a House GOP aide. That aide has been a registered Republican since becoming eligible to vote.")

Picture of the Day

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Odds of Hastert resigning just went up.

I think it was Schuster tonight who reported that a number of powerful Republican House members had gotten together and decided Hastert had to go and were debating who was going to make the call. That call may have been made.
Another Junkie/Hillie tells me: "Listening to WGN in Chicago - Hastert was supposed to be on at 6:20. His staff called in and said he is in a meeting with all leadership and is delayed at least 30 minutes."

UPDATE: WGN now changing it to a "conference call with leadership"

(It's The Corner, so take it for what it's worth. ThinkProgress has more.)

Anybody want to lay odds on Hastert resigning?

I put those odds as pretty good. I think it ends tomorrow.

Just a feeling.

5:47 PM Foley Update.

I'm assuming everyone saw the anti-Hastert bombshell (Fordham says he reported Foley years ago, Hastert says he's lying,) but you may not have seen this yet,
A senior House Republican has asked the House clerk to look into allegations that then-Rep. Mark Foley was turned away from the congressional page dorm on Capitol Hill after arriving there intoxicated one night.

It's just a rumor at this point. A dirty, salacious, intoxicating rumor.

Picture of the Day - 4

Are you kidding me?

On the day his Chief of Staff resigns for attempting to cover for a pedophile?

(Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., talks with first lady Laura Bush at a fundraiser in Amherst, N.Y., Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006. Reynolds Tuesday denied knowing what his top aide might have done on behalf of a disgraced lawmaker Mark Foley in the days before Foley resigned. (AP Photo/David Duprey))

Iraqi brigade taken "offline"

Within its context, this is a pretty big deal, but I think it's intended mainly as a symbol and as a political token to the Sunnis. (Earlier Iraq catchall post.)

With the level of militia and insurgent infiltration into the Iraqi security forces, it is no longer realistic to think about rescreening or "retraining" all the suspect units, so I think the US singled this brigade out, probably one of the worst, probably Shia, to show an example, hoping that it will "scare" other units into behaving.

The Sunnis will see this as a crumb. (less than 1/2 of one percent of the police,) and, to the Shia militias, what threat does the government really hold for them?

In the balance of power, the militias can threaten the government far more.

The situation in Iraq has developed a significant internal inertia towards more chaos and an open civil war. All of the trending favors a weaker central government, futher sectarian bloodletting, and more anti-Americanism. With every failed action, Maliki's previous reconciliation plans, Operation Forward Together, that sense of inevitability, the inertia of Iraq, grows stronger.

1:46 PM Foley update

I really didn't want to be doing this today, Iraq is REALLY in the crapper, but...

Fordham resigns, and Denny Hastert is trying to tie it all up with a neat little bow around Fordham's neck.
Those sources said Fordham, a former chief of staff for Congressman Mark Foley, had urged Republican leaders last spring not to raise questionable Foley e-mails with the full Congressional Page Board, made up of two Republicans and a Democrat.

"He begged them not to tell the page board," said one of the Republican sources.....

People familiar with Fordham's side of the story, however, said Fordham was being used as a scapegoat by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

They said Fordham had repeatedly warned Hastert's staff about Foley's "problem" with pages, but little was done.

As Aravosis says: "You mean the entire House leadership wanted to report the scary child sex predator but a single staffer recommended otherwise, so there was nothing they could do?" (He has more.)

And, what exactly is David Corn saying about this list that's going around "of top-level Republican congressional aides who are gay?" "There's anger among House Republicans at what an unidentified House GOPer called a "network of gay staffers and gay members who protect each other and did the Speaker a disservice."

Are the Republicans really about to conduct a gay witch hunt trying to blame a gay conspiracy rather than their leadership? (Maybe the Republicans would know who to trust if all the homosexuals wore a pink triangle.)

And, One more bit to banish another effort to dimish all this. There's been an effort to claim that the Page in question was 21. That claim on a blog has been pulled down.
RAW STORY can verify that the young man in question is not the Congressional page from the emails that originally surfaced. The recipient of those is currently 17 (and was 16 at the time of the correspondence)......

ABC has stated that they are in possession of chat logs from as much as five years back.

Picture of the Day - 3

Mr. Hastert, do you know what Mark Foley does with that hand?

Oh, right. You do.

(Sorry, I know it's under my usual taste line, but I couldn't resist.
Photo from Democratic Underground. )

How much does it suck to be Mark Foley right now?

Not THE Mark Foley, but a Mark Foley.

You have to figure that with that fairly common name, there're a number of poor guys out there who are endlessly hearing about all this.

If you know one, be nice.

(The Foley stories are getting worse with evidence he (at least) tried to solicit sex, was doing this back in 1995, and with "acquaintances" openly questioning the alcohol story.)

(Also: FoxNews (O'Reilly) shows Foley as a Democrat.)

Republicans budgeted Iraq victory celebration

Take a look at this.
Tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation’s capital “for commemoration of success” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the latest bill is rolled over into 2007.

(Can I get the interest off that money? With the current trajectory, it might well carry me into retirement.)

Picture of the Day - 2

A French soldier inspects the scene next to the body of a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Oct. 2, 2006. The suicide bomber blew himself up next to a NATO convoy in Kabul on Monday, wounding three soldiers and three civilians, officials said. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Back to Iraq

Multiple major bombings in Baghdad, in the Christian districts of Karrada, one targeting the Kurdish Industry Minister. AP, Reuters.
(AP) "Bodies lay in the street next to the smoking wreckage of burning cars. Rescue workers piled corpses into an ambulance parked next to the crumbled facade of a building, while a policeman warned residents to leave the area for fear more bombs would explode."

(BBC) "One woman sat weeping over the crumpled body of her son refusing to allow police or rescue workers to take him away, the AFP news agency reported."

(AP) "Will we see a day in Iraq when violence is completely gone away? I don't think so. It wasn't that way under Saddam," said U.S. Air Force Gen. Lance L. Smith." (He's at a big post at NATO.)

(CNN) Officially, all the political leaders are rallying around Maliki's latest 4 point peace plan.

(BBC) But if you read a little deeper, the support for that plan is more desperation, and no one really expects it to change anything.

(IPS) It sounds like the US is hiring mercenary Sunni fighters from the tribal chiefs in Anbar under the cover of the Maliki deal with tribal leaders last week. (It's Dahr Jamail so it's real, but it's also not very clear.)

(Zaman) Maliki has named
Shirwan al-Waili, a Shia, to deal with the PKK.

(AP) 2,729 US soldiers killed, 20,687 wounded thus far.

(AP) The Saddam verdict has been delayed. (I'm sure it's evidentiary and not related to the fact that Iraq is on fire. -mike)

(LATimes) There are still only 15,400 troops operating in Baghdad trying to pacify a city of 6 million. (Houston has about 5,000 policemen for 4 million people, and the president hasn't said "The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Houston."- mike)

(Bloomberg) "
A majority of U.S. adults say President George W. Bush has deliberately misled the public about progress in Iraq and opposition to the war matches an all- time high, according to a poll conducted for CNN."

(CSM) "Between 50 and 70 foreign fighters sneak over the border into Iraq every month, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell..... Between January and mid-September, US or Iraqi government forces captured some 630 foreign fighters, according to General Caldwell.

(Funny, when Bush needed a "threat" to justify the Iraq war back in election year '04, Iraq was presented as swarming with foreign fighters, whereas now, after the NIE said Iraq was generating foreign "jihadis" suddenly, there aren't any there. - mike)

Also: Make note that the "Friedman's" are shrinking. It used to be that people would say Iraq will be decided in the next six months, then that became three months, now Khalilzad has lowered that threshold to two.

Picture of the Day - George W. Bush Elementary School


You are Queen for a Day.

(President George W. Bush (L) greets students at an elementary school named after him in Stockton, California October 3, 2006. REUTERS/Jim Young)

(It was named before he left office? I'm sure there's no possibility he could embarass himself in the next two years.)

Each class day will begin with seven ceremonial minutes of sitting and doing nothing. There are no science classes, and every C student gets into Yale.

It's an open mike, fire away.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


As I've been watching these horrific school shootings over the past weeks, I've been struck by really how little can be done to prevent these attacks. Since Columbine, the student awareness has gone way up, and shootings by students have been frequently sussed out.

But there is so very little that can be done to stop a random attack, a random person just wandering in and killing people.

The next time I hear the Republicans crow that there hasn't been another terror attack, I'm probably going to think of this and think of that horrible attack on the school in the Russian city of Beslan.

Certainly steps have been taken that have aided in preventing attacks, but if terrorists really wanted to, the could commit Beslan after Beslan here in the US. There're really no measures to prevent that. For whatever reason, they don't want to.

It's not so much a success that there hasn't been another terror attack on US soil. It's their strategy.

Just something I'm thinking about tonight.

Haven't seen this anywhere else.

The announcement that Egypt was going to pursue a nuclear program got some press, but did you hear about this?
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said his country, one of the poorest in the world, plans to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes with the help of the United States and Canada.

It's a civilian program, but still.....


How often did Foley vote with Hastert?

Picture of the Day - 5

An Iraqi boy collects water from a broken pipe on the outskirts of Baghdad August 30, 2006. Residents have been complaining of scarce water supply in some parts of the Iraqi capital since the start of summer. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen (IRAQ)

Political Bits

George Bush already has a school named after him? Isn't he still in office?
Reuters photo caption: "U.S. President George W. Bush (C) greets students at an elementary school named after him in Stockton, California October 3, 2006. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES)"

NYTimes: "Mr. Bush said in Stockton, Calif., where he was dedicating a school named after the president.

John Bolton will be a recess appointment again, but in order to get paid, they will have to appoint him to another post so he can collect that check.

Harold Ford is rocking and rolling in Tennesee. His opponent Corker just replaced key campaign staff 5 weeks before the election.

(As a laugh, here's the Daily Show first segment from last night. Funny, but what really caught me was the section pointing out that original ABCNews story intentionally showed "Foley" typing with two hands, then one. (It's at 3:30.) Damn funny.)

Foley story not a Dem leak

I was totally convinced that the Foley story breaking now was part of the Dem campaign, and, honestly, I must admit that I'm a little let down to find out that it wasn't.
Brian Ross of ABC News said he learned about the e-mail messages in August but was too busy with Hurricane Katrina and the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to pursue them immediately.....

“I hate to give up sources, but to the extent that I know the political parties of any of the people who helped us, it would be the same party,” Mr. Ross said, referring to Republicans.

Also, let's remember ABC's sequence of what happened. They ran the story about the emails, ONLY THEN did pages start contacting them with these digusting IM logs.

(This is despite Hastert and Hannity's claims this is a Dem conspiracy.)

Picture of the Day - 4

Later: (AP) Bush supports Hastert. Really? The White House wants to go that far out on that limb without all the info in? That limb had better be strong, Hastert carries alot of weight. (Rawstory so, grain of salt)
Sauer also indicated that ABC's next wave of reports on the Foley scandal will focus on who in Congress was aware of the situation, how much they knew, and when they were alerted.

Boehner, "it's his responsibility."

House Majority Leader Boehner seems to have decided that if somebody's going down, it's not going to be him.
Speaker Dennis Hastert brushed aside any suggestion of resignation on Tuesday as House Republican leaders struggled to contain the fallout from an election-year scandal involving sexually explicit messages from a disgraced lawmaker to underage male pages.

Hastert issued a written statement as Majority Leader John Boehner said the speaker had assured him months ago the matter had been taken care of. "It's in his corner, it's his responsibility," Boehner, R-Ohio, said in an interview on radio station WLW in Cincinnati.

TPM: "Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) this morning switched his position on the leader's culpability, telling a radio interviewer, "I believe I talked to the Speaker and he told me it had been taken care of."

Hastert's toast.

Not a headline

Eight US soldiers died in Baghdad yesterday in multiple incidents.

That's not news, apparently.

Picture of the Day - 3

"I was just out back digging some deeper holes.

Them skeletons keep coming up."

(Oct. 2, 2006. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Condi Rice doesn't "recall" terror warning, but sure recalls lots of details.

The beauty of the Reaganesque "I don't recall defense" (he really did change the Republican party,) is now apparent. Yesterday, Condi Rice issued a very carefully worded denial that sounded forceful and made a good headline, but wasn't true.

Today, we get the truth,
A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.

Also: McClatchy reports that Don Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft received the same briefing on July 17!!!! Check out the game her spokesman is playing.
"The information presented in this meeting was not new, rather it was a good summary from the threat reporting from the previous several weeks," McCormack said. "After this meeting, Dr. Rice asked that this same information be briefed to Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General Ashcroft. That briefing took place by July 17."

Again, the repetition that she didn't ignore specific threat information. (Just weeks of threat information -mike.)

Condi and her team sure have alot of detail considering that she didn't "recall" the meeting.

And is she dragging Rummy under the bus with her? Is the fact that he and Ashcroft ignored it too, supposed to vindicate her somehow?

Maybe Bush should've accepted their resignations when they were offered,
"I did tell the president at one point that I thought maybe all of us should go, because we had fought two wars and we ... had the largest terrorist attack in American history," Rice disclosed Sunday night while en route to the Mideast.

At least in this statement yesterday, she sounds like she recognizes their failures.

(Then there's this,
(Richard) Clarke told McClatchy Newspapers that Rice focused in particular on the possible threat to President Bush at an upcoming summit meeting in Genoa, Italy, and promised to quickly schedule a high-level White House meeting on al-Qaida.

Not really surprising if you were watching their relationship at the time.)

Picture of the Day - 2

I agree with Aravosis, with the probability that Rep. Reynolds was deep in the Foley coverup, holding a press conference "Flanked by about 30 children of supporters and as many parents" is pretty creepy. (Oct. 2, 2006. AP Photo/Don Heupel) (Video of the presser.)

"When a reporter suggested to Reynolds that the children step outside in order to have a frank discussion of the sexually charged case, Reynolds declined."

Picture of the Day

In this undated photo released by the Iowa Army National guard, Staff Sgt. Scott E. Nisely, 48, of Marshalltown, Iowa, is shown. Two Iowa National Guard soldiers were killed during combat operations Iraq, a Guard spokesman said Monday. Staff Sgt. Scott E. Nisely, 48, of Marshalltown, and Spc. Kampha B. Sourivong, 20, of Iowa City, were killed Saturday near Al Asad, Iraq, the Guard said in a news release. (AP Photo/ Iowa Army National Guard)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Foley begins to metastatize

Just some stray bits on Foley I found interesting.

The Moonie Washington Times calls for Hastert's resignation.

Brian Ross, who has been the main breaker of the underlying story, made a cryptic statement on the ABC Nightly News, "We’re hearing quite a bit from former pages. They’re sending us all sorts of messages about possible other members." (Think the Republicans are promising perks for pages to report Dems?)

After an initial denial, Hastert is trying to minimize his knowledge saying it was brought to him as a "campaign issue," (Note the Reaganesque "I don't recall.)

While Reynolds is trying to present that he played it straight, "“I did what most of us would have done in the workplace.... I heard something, I took it to my supervisor.”

Glenn Greenwald makes a very interesting connection that Rep. Tom Reynolds' Chief of Staff appears to have been trying to bargain with ABC to keep them from publishing the IM's. (Americablog confirms.)

Line of the day from Craig Crawford. When asked if the Republians are prepared to throw Hastert under the bus, Crawford replied,
"if he'll fit."

Has anyone else noticed?

Has anyone else noticed that since Maliki's government has been in power he has gone from a broad 24 point reconciliation plan, to a political 14 point reconciliation plan, and now to a 4 point reconciliation plan?

Frist says negotiate with the Taleban

Yes, it is real.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and called for efforts to bring the Islamic militia and its supporters into the Afghan government.

The Tennessee Republican said he learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield.

Frankly, this is the rational long term answer, and everything he said is a true assessment, but what does it do to his 2008 campaign, and why does he make this statement now?

Positioning? Vengeance? Distraction?

Later: It appears Frist may have "clarified" his statements, but I can't verify because the site the links point to is overloaded.

Found a copy of Frist's statement at Captain's Quarters. Read the commentary through the deep red filter.

Picture of the Day - 4

Waiting in the Oval Office, Condi Rice contemplates all she's done for "her man."

Condi's lips are moving - Her denial of the 9/11 warning

One of the most damning items coming out of Woodward's book is the allegation that on July 10, 2001, CIA director Tenet and Cofer Black called then NSA Condi Rice to set up a meeting "right away" regarding the imminent threat of an Al Qaeda attack. In the face of these warnings, Condi Rice gave Tenet and Black the "brush off."

Oddly, this meeting was never reported to the 9/11 Commission.

The real purpose of this post is to note the very careful language in the public denials of this meeting.
(NYTimes) “It really didn’t match Secretary Rice’s recollection of the meeting at all,” said Dan Bartlett.

(AP) "What I am quite certain of is that I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States, and the idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible," Rice said.....

"I don't know that this meeting took place, but what I really don't know, what I'm quite certain of, is that it was not a meeting in which I was told there was an impending attack and I refused to respond," Rice said.

Read that carefully. There is no denial that such a meeting took place, just that, Reaganlike, Condi Rice doesn't specifically recall.

She says explicitly that she was not told of a specific "impending attack," but leaves open all sorts of possibilities of warnings below that level.
Black reportedly laid out secret intercepts and other data "showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaida would soon attack the United States." Tenet was so worried that he called Rice from his car and asked to see her right away, the book said......

Rice referred to the session as "the supposed meeting" and noted that it is not part of the independent Sept. 11 Commission's report.

See, no direct denial of the Woodward allegation, but a very firm sounding statement.

Good headlines, good politics, but bad government.

The Foley predation includes meetings?

More IM's from ABC's The Blotter which appear to indicate meetings.

Also: This site has one long disgusting exchange which ends with Foley being relieved that the kid's mother didn't catch them.

(I really don't think the House Leadership were aware of all the disturbing details, but it seems obvious that they knew something was happening and chose to look the other way. If that strange old guy is hanging out around the playgrounds, somebody needs to ask some questions. You know?)

New Senate polling shows Dems retake Senate

Hotline and Taegan Goddard both point to recent polling for the Senate races showing (as hotline calls it) "Dems ahead everywhere." Politicalwire also points out that Montana, Tennessee, and Ohio now show Dem winners.

(Most of these polls are within MOE, and state polling is usually small sample, but you'd always rather be ahead than behind.)

Also: These polls serve to reinforce the Conventional Wisdom shift that has been taking place over the last week. After the Republican "non-political" 9/11 push, many pundits were shifting Republican, but in the last week, NIE, Woodward, and Foley, have all firmly pushed all the momentum back to the Dems.

Picture of the Day - 3

(I'm not trying for any editorial comment here, this is just one of the pictures we never see. A soldier's photo of a USO appearance.

I chose this picture because I was struck by the contrast of soldiers in full battle gear, the camoflage netting, and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. (Huge credit to the cheerleaders for going somewhere that is so obviously not "safe."))

Two more bits: Syria and Afghanistan

If you read well down in this NYTimes article on Iraq,
Meanwhile, Iraqi politicians expressed concern over a plan by Syria to move border guards from its frontier with Iraq to help patrol its border with Lebanon -- a step that could further open the doors for insurgents to move from Syria to Iraq.

''The Syrian move will make the terrorists' entry to Iraq easier,'' said Abdul Karim al-Inazi, a Shiite lawmaker with the prime minister's Dawa Party and a former minister of state for national security.

I would argue this is Syria using the UN/Lebanon as an excuse to open their border to aid the Iraqi Civil War. (Notice it's a Shia politician complaining.)

Also: The British military in Afghanistan has recently been leaking some fairly dire stories like this one.
British forces in southern Afghanistan came within hours of retreating from a key base because they suffered a critical shortage of helicopters, the task force commander has disclosed.

This tells me just how desperate they are for more troops.


(NYTimes) 3 Marines were reported killed Monday. "With their deaths, at least 73 American servicemembers died in Iraq in September -- making it the second deadliest month this year, after April when at least 76 died."

(Reuters) The Iraqi parliament re-renewed the government's "emergency powers" on a show of hands. "Some members demanded an exact count, but were overruled."

(WaPo) Irony alert. "Some of those who are in this government have direct or indirect relationships with terrorists," said Bahaa al-Araji, a senior legislator with Sadr's Shiite Muslim party.

(LATimes) A Sunday raid by US forces in Sadr City was turned back by militia fire.

(AFP) Kurdistan is rocked as newspapers print the names of "scores," (including some currently in power) who allegedly cooperated Saddam Hussein.

(AFP) At least 50 bodies found around Baghdad. (NYTimes) 7 beheaded in Kut just south of Bagdhad.

September may be a new "record" for deaths in Iraq.

Make note of this line from Reuters.
Rifts between parties in the four-month-old unity government broke the surface as data indicated sectarian violence may have claimed a record number of victims last month .....

This "record" would've come after the US flowed every available troop in theater into Baghdad for September's Operation Forward Together.

Picture of the Day - 2

I try not to curse here, but WHAT THE FUCK?

Together Forward is failing, the US just disrupted what would've been the largest coordinated attack on US forces, the Iraqi government is about to split wide open, September looks to be another record month for violence, the Sunnis are hatching a plan to have Diyala province rebel...

And Don Rumsfeld is in Nicaragua?!?!?

(U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gestures to a reporter as he visits the volcano at the Masaya National Park, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2006, in Masaya, Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari))

White House backs Rumsfeld as it denies charges on Iraq.

Rumsfeld says he has Bush's confidence.

The cover story in Newsweek: ‘State of Denial’: It was Bush’s decision. But Rumsfeld drove the dynamic on Iraq. How the SecDef blew it. (There's alot in it.)

Picture of the Day

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Iraq gets still worse.

The arrest of an Al Qaida connected bomber from within top Sunni politician Dulaimi's security detail and household, is having the predictable effect. Maliki's "unity government" is in real trouble. (AP) (Reuters)

What does Maliki have left to bargain with?

Picture of the Day - 3

Iraq's curfew is over

In Baghdad, 26 kidnapped at a frozen foods factory, at least 3 bombings, and at least 21 bodies found. (First it was 8, then 21, now 50 bodies.) Two more American soldiers killed in Anbar.

In the AP article, after a raid by US troops in Sadr City,
Angry men at the scene held up a color image of a smiling, winking Jesus giving a "thumbs up" sign that they said was left by troops at the raided house. The image, known as the "Buddy Christ," is from the movie Dogma, a 1999 religious satire.

I'm sure that's a "calling card" left by the unit (not unheard of,) but this particular one has such a cultural significance.

Later: U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said the photo was a "rather ridiculous attempt" to discredit the raid. It was unclear how it ended up at the site.

(Right. Of all the pictures of Jesus the local residents could have picked, they chose this one? Don't lie to me, Colonel. )

: With more information from this AFP article, it appears I was wrong. The pictures accompanied a propaganda pamphlet. Sorry. (Here's an AFP picture of "Buddy Christ" being held up in Sadr City.)

Iraq - Sadr orders weapons down.

Muqtada al Sadr has issued an order for his followers to temporarily put down their weapons.

The article speculates that this move made two weeks ago is either an effort to politically distance himself from the sectarian violence for the Iraqi domestic audience, or intended to put off a US offensive by demonstrating "good behavior."

Without question it is in his interest to avoid a direct conflict with the US, but at the same time alot of the force of his militia and his popularity overall is rooted in anti-American sentiment. We've already seen some reports of fractures in his militia along these lines.

Sadr is balancing on an increasingly thin fence between his legitimate political ambitions and the "fire" that is driving his movement. Sadr is a long way from falling, but the complications of his successful dual role are increasing.

Also, in Turkey, the PKK has offered a ceasefire!

Shepard Smith unloads on the administration through Bill Kristol.

You gotta see this. I rarely push Fox News stuff, but freaky blue eyed Shepard Smith went off on Bill Kristol and the administration. He spoke the as yet unspoken truth that troops are dying in Iraq because Bush will not change tactics because of the potential impacts on the election.

Really, you gotta see it.

This is something I've been talking about for awhile, but I think Shep has a little bigger audience.

It reminded me of his Katrina moment, when finally the truth just got so ugly that he just couldn't hold the Fox line anymore.
(Rough Transcript.)

Picture of the Day - 2


The British in southern Afghanistan have negotioated a local ceasefire with the Taleban.
It has now been agreed the troops will quietly pull out of Musa Qala in return for the Taliban doing the same. The compound is one of four district government offices in the Helmand province that are being guarded by British troops. ....

It has now been agreed the troops will quietly pull out of Musa Qala in return for the Taliban doing the same. The compound is one of four district government offices in the Helmand province that are being guarded by British troops.

This reads as if the deal was actually struck with the local leaders. We'll have to see how this holds up.

The Independent has an infantry eye view on the reality of the violence.

(And, don't I remember the right wingers going ballistic over the possibility of US troops being commanded by NATO in Kosovo?)

Fallout from the Baghdad Total Curfew

First, locking every everyone in their homes did reduce violence.

Second, the political fallout from the connections to Sunni leader Dulaimi is beginning. Parliament cancelled its session for today, and the Shia's are calling for a "reshuffle" of the ministries. "If you do not reshuffle the government, the situation will only get worse," (a Sadr deputy) said. "We demand a reshuffle, especially in the security dossier."

Here's a different version of what might have been going on from a Qatari paper. (Baquoba, the political center of Diyala has seen a vast increase in violence over the last month.)
Iraqi military forces have defeated what they called an attempt to create a breakaway Sunni religious territory in Iraq's eastern Diyala province, an army spokesman said yesterday.

"We foiled an attempt to establish an emirate in Diyala," .......

"Inside the Al Aqsa mosque we found leaflets calling for the forcible displacement of Shi’ites and promoting sectarian strife," Kaabi said, adding that they also found explosives tucked inside a coffin hidden in the mosque.

And, I found this a weird, maybe unrelated data point. On Friday morning US time, just as the raid on Dulaimi was being conducted, well before the curfew announcement,
US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Friday discussed the security situation in Iraq and efforts to pacify Baghdad, the White House said.

"The president reiterated his commitment to the prime minister and the democratically elected government of Iraq. The prime minister expressed his confidence in the president and his relationship with the United States," said Bush spokesman Tony Snow.

This may have been in response to all the criticism of Maliki recently, but what an odd thing to do and with such coincidental timing.

I think there's alot more behind this than we know.