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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Maliki playing to Bush weakness

Sounds like someone's not very afraid of "the war president."
After a hastily arranged video conference with George Bush, Iraq's prime minister said Saturday that the U.S. president promised to move swiftly to turn over full control of the Iraqi army to the Baghdad government. A close aide to Nouri al-Maliki said later the prime minister was intentionally playing on U.S. voter displeasure with the war to strengthen his hand with Washington.

Hassan al-Suneid, a member of al-Maliki's inner circle, said the video conference was sought because issues needed airing at a higher level than with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

Al-Suneid said the prime minister complained to Bush that Khalilzad, an Afghan-born Sunni Muslim, was treating the Shiite al-Maliki imperiously.

"The U.S. ambassador is not (L. Paul) Bremer (the former U.S. administrator in Iraq). He does not have a free rein to do what he likes. Khalilzad must not behave like Bremer but rather like an ambassador," al-Suneid quoted al-Maliki as saying.

Also in these articles (WaPo, NYTimes) is an effort by Maliki to gain more control of Iraqi forces. He may well be attempting to institutionalize the civil war.

Political bits II

(Hotline) "Everyone's panicking. A veteran Republican field who's spent time in Iowa and Florida recently e-mails us in horror: "There's no volunteers. None. Zero."

(North Jersey?) Menendez is named defendant in a lawsuit.

(Politicalwire) Congealed Democratic support.

(Cook) Regardless of the polling, I find it hard to believe that Maryland Senate is that competitive.

(Rothenberg) New projections fall right into the conventional wisdom. 18-28 House seats and a good shot at the Senate. (I'm also intrigued by this inclusion which appears in some form in all the predictions, "with the caveat that larger gains surely are possible." Are they just hedging bets?)

Quickhits - Alot going on for a Saturday

(AP) The GAO chief makes a widely covered speech speaking of economic disaster and deficits. Ten days before the election, the Republicans on the block, and he's making this speech?

(Reuters) Chad says that Sudan is bombing in Chad. (I think it's time to start paying attention to NE Africa. There's a growing instability around Islamic militias. Ethiopia and Eritria are fighting a proxy war in Somalia, Sudan/Darfur, Sudan/Chad.)

(Reuters) 8 with Al Qaeda ties arrested in Yemen for smuggling weapons into Somalia.

Picture of the Day - 2

Iraqi women grieve over the body of a relative after he was shot by unknown gunmen in a local market, at the local Baquba hospital morgue. (AFP/Ali Yussef)

Iraq, Afghanistan, and Beyond

(USAToday) In an effort to bolster available troops, the Army is reassigning specialties. (You're going to end up with clerks rushed through infantry training and thrust into Iraq. Bad news.)

(AFP) The fighting in Ramadi is really heating up as the US tries to retake the "town." (I think the two day "insurgent parade" spawned this.)

(Al Jazeera) A major battle in Baquba. 24 Iraqi forces killed, US soldiers diverted from other missions, air support. Baquba/Diyala is very hot right now. Also: A vehicle ban in Mosul, and US/Mahdi conflicts in Sadr City.

(Telegraph) Fresh fighting engulfs 'Taliban-free' region

(AP) "Women are facing increasing violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia..."

(AP) The US and five other nations are conducting a mock ship interception in the Persian Gulf. (ostensibly for the Iranians benefit.)

Ethics Committee Stalling through Election Day

Surprise, surprise.

The Mark Foley investigation will not report until AFTER the election. (Even though it appears everything is done.) I read this as indicating someone's guilty.

Security is a myth

And these are the targets we've tried to harden.
Screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the starting points for the Sept. 11 hijackers, failed 20 of 22 security tests conducted by undercover U.S. agents last week, missing concealed bombs and guns at checkpoints throughout the major air hub's three terminals, according to federal security officials.

Schools, restaurants, shopping malls, minor stadiums, etc......

Picture of the Day

2003 - a pro war rally by a young Republicans group.
(bigger if you click it.)

Pulling out of Baghdad?

I'd really like to hear more about this before I declare it huge news, but a recommendtion to completely pull out of Baghdad by a top uniformed general would represent a huge admission of policy failure.

There are hints as to identity, "probably the most respected man in uniform today," and "he made it to the civilian leadership of the United States."

The politics of Iraq

Just how bad is the view of the President's handling of Iraq that people are preferring Democrats on the issue even while often admitting the Democrats don't have a coherent plan?

Also: How smart has McCain been on the politics of Iraq? By calling for an escalation early on that that he knew would never come, he's able to vindicate his support of the war by out "toughing" in the hypothetical.

Slow blogging day

My internet was down this morning, and now, I probably won't be able to get back til late afternoon, so, here's some quickhitty stuff.

Josh Marshall points out some suprising small races the GOP should win where they are spending money playing defense.

Hastert's aide Van Der Meid obstructed another investigation.

I assume everybody saw the NYTimes article on the smart money hedging bets towards the Dems. (Interesting problem they've got, they need to make friends with the Dems, but can't alienate the Bush administration or the Repubs long term. That's a thin line to walk in a heated polarized campaign.)

And, I understand Webb is in a tight race, but be careful what you promise, Mr. Webb.

Friday, October 27, 2006

"Unacceptable" is not a policy

With N. Korea possibly preparing for another test, and Iran stepping up enrichment, Bush uses that word again, "unacceptable." (Maybe the seventh time he says it, it will work.)

Picture of the Day - 3 - PR

I look at the Iraq wire photos on Yahoo every day, and very rarely have I seen more than one positive picture of soldier/child every few days. Now, suddenly starting on Oct 26, I count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Two different photographers (Iraqi) and all involving the 172nd Stryker brigade. So, I would guess it's a genuine effort by this unit, but it's striking in its suddenness.

(Let me make very clear that all evidence is that there have been positive interactions in the more pacified areas throughout, but this is unusual.)

Political bits

It's all going to be turnout, folks. The Senate races are all polling within margin of error. Republican lead, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia. Dem lead New Jersey.

I guess Duke Cunningham's seat comes with it's own grand jury. Bilbray has a grand jury asking him about residency.

Safavian got sentenced to 18 months, and he cried for that.

Stuff is starting to swirl around the George Allen sealed divorce.

Letterman and O'Reilly have a spirited round two tonight.

(And today is the last day to donate to candidates.)

US votes no on small arms treaty

You would think that with the US fighting Islamic militias and insurgencies from the Phillipines to North Africa that cutting off their supply of small arms would be a top priority. But no.
A United Nations committee has voted to start drafting an international arms trade treaty which would regulate the import and export of conventional weapons.

The measure, passed by an overwhelming majority, would help to stop guns finding their way to existing war zones despite existing arms embargos and export controls.

The assembly's Disarmament and International Security Committee voted 139 to 1, with the US casting the sole 'no' vote.

Look, I'm willing to talk about the debates on US gun control either way, but this is about limiting large international sales, and the US votes to have no limits on international transshipments?
US President George W Bush, a close ally of the US gun lobby, said the US govt was willing to endorse a set of voluntary principles aimed at guiding arms deals, but would not back binding controls on transfers across national boundaries.

I'm sure that the administration's goal is to leave open the US policies towards arming "freedom fighters" against "objectionable" governments, but this is insane.

Haven't we learned from Afghanistan and elsewhere that US soldiers frequently end up on the point end of those transferred weapons?

(The politics of this does play well with the black helicopter crowd.)

Picture of the Day - 2

A young man carries a boy out of a hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, after the youth received medical treatment Sunday Oct. 22, 2006. The boy was hurt when two bombs exploded in Baghdad's Shurja market. Three people were killed in the blasts and 14 were wounded. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

The "benchmarks" were agreed to two months ago?

Reuters has exerpts from that Maliki press conference Mr. Rumsfeld told me to read in full for "context," but while reading it, I came across this from Maliki,
I want to clarify something ... Khalilzad was at a meeting between us and other officials including the president and his deputies. We discussed setting a timetable for solving pending issues. That was two months ago ...

It is not a timetable for the government but rather the issues needed to be solved. We said, for example, 'In November we will finish this and in January this and in 2007 we will amend the constitution'. The term used by Khalilzad was not accurate. That is why it was negatively understood. It is a list of issues we need to solve and this was our decision. It was not Khalilzad's decision but he was present.

So, if I'm reading that right, Maliki is saying that these "benchmarks" which have been so touted by the Bush administration as a major (pre-election) breakthrough were actually agreed to two months ago?

And to the Iraqis they don't mean anything?

You would think this might be a big story.


2,809 US fatalities in Iraq. 96 this month.

(AFP) Ramadi has been lost. "The US-led coalition has denied losing control of the situation, but on Thursday military spokesman General William Caldwell said the marines based in Ramadi were engaged in a tough operation to "take back" the city." (WaPo also.)

(This follows reports that Haditha and other towns may have been lost.)

(NYTimes) Iraqi police were lured into an ambush around Baquba, and we have another repeat of this horror, "One fight apparently ended when 18 policemen, each armed with only one or two clips of bullets, ran out of ammunition two miles north of Khan Bani Saad, officials said. Many appeared to have been executed near a canal, shot in the back of the head."

(Iraqi troops are limited in the ammo they are allowed to carry out of fear it will go to the militias/insurgents.)

(AFP) New reports that the bad prewar intelligence was obtained through torture. (This report references Egyptian torture, but let's go back and remember that in Nov 2005 (on a Friday afternoon,) ABC reported that al Libbi had been waterboarded in a US secret prison.)

(McClatchy) Recent Mahdi/Badr violence is souring Shias on the idea of federalism. (Reuters) talks about the intrasectarian conflicts as well.

Quote of the Day

"I don't care if I vote for Happy the Clown, just so it's not who's there now."

(Mary Nyilas, 51, an independent voter from Cologne, N.J, talking to an AP political reporter.)

Letters I'll never write

Dear Washingtion Post,

Isn't the real story, not a nasty election, but the fact that after 12 years in power, the Republicans have nothing else to run on?

Picture of the Day

I'm guessing that's a "fall festival" pumpkin and not a Satanic Halloween pumpkin.

(It's so much more Christian, after all, to celebrate a pagan harvest festival than Halloween.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sabato's interesting

Beyond Sabato's predictions, "Democrats are on track to net 21 to 26 seats in the House, 4 to 6 seats in the Senate, and 5 to 7 governorships," I found the whole "Crystal Ball" interesting.

(Also, the GOP has cancelled all Dewine ads in Ohio, and is pouring big money into Kean in New Jersey.)

Specifics on "benchmarks"?

Has anyone else noticed that the announcement of "benchmarks" which represent a "major shift in tactics" right before the election appears to be completely hollow?

Leaving aside Maliki's denial that an agreement on benchmarks has been reached, as far as I can tell, all that's being announced is an agreement to have benchmarks.

As to what they are, when they are, and how they are to be accomplished, that is yet to be determined. Is this really a major breakthrough?

Perhaps this is why Rumsfeld is angrily warning reporters off the subject, because if they look closely they will see there's nothing there.

Political bits

We are in the midst of transitioning from party polls to news organization polls, so probably a polling gap with alot coming in next week. (Sorry this post is late, got bloggered this afternoon.)

Santorum is so desperate that he's touting his work with Sens. Boxer, Clinton, and Lieberman. This from the guy who ran the K Street project.

Jean Schmidt is throwing a hissy that her opponent could possibly use her speech on the floor of the House against her.

Kolbe generates some more page smoke as Jeff Trandahl says that he had issued warnings to Kolbe.

George Allen has more racist rumors coming back from his past.

And, if you didn't see this, White House Courts the Amnesia Vote.

There's only one Rumsfeld.

When asked today in his press conference about Maliki's comments calling the "benchmarks" part of a Bush administration election strategy, Rumsfeld said this about Iraq.

"Now, we just sit back and enjoy the democracy that is there."


Down when I need it, up when I don't have time.

Picture of the Day - 2

"See, the problem is, your expectations are way up here..."

When is a border fence not a fence?

When it's an unfunded election year stunt.
While the new law authorizes 700 miles of double-layered fencing, among other measures, it does not include funding for the project. A separate $34.8 billion homeland security spending bill signed earlier this month includes $1.2 billion -- described as a "down payment" -- for various installations including the fence. The fence alone, stretching across parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, is estimated to cost at least $6 billion to build.

Shortly after passing the Secure Fence Act, lawmakers practically ensured that the fence would never be built as advertised when they passed the spending bill, Washington Post staff writer Spencer S. Hsu reported.


Five more US troops killed, all in Anbar. No real idea what happened. There are no newspeople working in Anbar. It's too dangerous.

The ethnic cleansing dayplanner in Washash, Baghdad.

Thomas Ricks points out the things that Bush didn't say yesterday.

And, I don't know the validity of this poll, but it's Zogby, and the headline finding leaps off the page.
An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

Later: The British are talking about halving their troop levels "early next year," because they claim they've reached a tipping point in Basra.

Picture of the Day

A man cries over the body of his son outside a hospital morgue in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, October 25, 2006. His son was one of two civilians killed in crossfire during clashes between insurgents and soldiers, morgue workers said. REUTERS/Helmiy al-Azawi

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The money quote from Maliki

I heard this on my TV today regarding timetables/benchmarks, but hadn't actually seen it in writing.
"I am positive that this is not the official policy of the American government but rather a result of the ongoing election campaign. And that does not concern us much," he (Maliki) said.

Without question, the best assessment out there.

They say that facing death sharpens the mind, right?

Defining Goals, Strategies, and Tactics in Iraq

Last week sometime, Tony Snow went off on a long discussion of the difference between Goals, Strategy, and Tactics regarding Iraq.

The goal was a "stable Iraq, able to defend itself...", the strategy was the three pronged military, political, economic outlined in the Strategy for Victory document, and everything below that was deemed tactics.

In this construction, the President's job stops at the level of making the goal. His cabinet has the duty to do strategy, and how to actually meet these goals is left to "the commanders in the field" with no feedback as to whether the "goals" are realistic.

Maybe this says it better, Bush's own description of the meeting with the generals over the weekend. (I broke it out so it's more readable.)
Bush: We want to win.

Generals: Yes, Sir.

Bush: What are you doing to adjust to the enemy?

Generals: And here are some options, Mr. President.

Bush: You choose and I support you.

See, Bush sets the vague goal, "We want to win," and then puts everything on the generals. If that doesn't sound like a rich man's son used to being surrounded by yes men.....

Political bits

All the lefty bloggers are linking to this DNC ad, "Stay the Course," but I found this ad on stem cells that is being targeted to multiple Congressional races far more effective. (Later: Nonplussed2 adds "Answers from a bush" which made me laugh out loud.)

The White House told the media that Bush would be making a "substantial" statement about Iraq at this morning's press conference. Did you see anything "substantial?"

On NPR, Robert Siegel makes Rove angry by challenging his optimism. (PS. Rove only speaks publicly when he's worried.)

Turnout will trump everything, but the latest round of polling seems to show a barely Republican Senate.

Santorum stops running ads?

The Crist is gay rumor makes the papers as a GOP staffer has been telling people at parties that he's had sex with Crist.

And, has anyone seen anything on Hispanic/Latinos voting tendencies after all the anti-immigration stuff earlier this year?

Picture of the Day - 3

"You asked me about accountability. It rests right here."

Picture of the Day - 2

A man cries beside the body of his son outside a hospital morgue in Baquba, October 22, 2006. (REUTERS Helmiy al-Azawi)

The worst of the US secret prisons?

At a US airbase in Bosnia, suspects "savagely beaten."
Blood-smeared documents, prisoners apparently tortured -- according to a German weekly news magazine, German officials had early knowledge that terror suspects were allegedly mistreated at a US base in Bosnia.....

Related: (MSNBC) Can the ‘20th hijacker’ of Sept. 11 stand trial? Aggressive interrogation at Guantanamo may prevent his prosecution.

Also related, (Boston Globe) "The US government is seeking to sharply restrict communication between defense lawyers and inmates at Guantanamo."

Harold Ford in trouble

This is the environment Ford is running in. (This opinion is so unshocking that this guy was willing to be attributed, and he's pro-Ford.)
"Oh, sure, there's some prejudice," Layne said as he contemplated casting a ballot for a black man. "I wouldn't want my daughter marrying one." But he's more concerned about rising medical costs: When it comes to voting, "you gotta look at the person, not the color."

Kind of explains that ad, doesn't it?

Maliki disowns US statements

Maliki has bristled in response to the "major" US announcement of a timetable yesterday. (Reuters)
The defiant al-Maliki also slammed the top U.S. military and diplomatic representatives in Iraq for saying Iraq needed to set a timetable to curb violence ravaging the country.

"I affirm that this government represents the will of the people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it," al-Maliki said at a news conference.

Far more interesting to me has been the politics around a US raid on Sadr City which was presumably conducted to reinforce yesterday's message.
Unusually, the U.S. statement specifically said the raid had been "authorized by the government of Iraq."....

Asked about the raid by reporters, however, Maliki appeared to contradict the U.S. account, saying: "We will be seeking an explanation from the multinational forces to avoid a repetition of what happened without our cooperation in advance."

The song remains the same.

The Horn of Africa

One of the areas of the "war on terror" that has gotten very little media focus is the "Horn of Africa," although the conflicts in the region and the Islamic militia influence have been significantly increasing. Stuff over the last day.

Somalia - Government forces with help from Ethiopian soldiers are digging in, preparing for a battle in Baidoa with the Islamic militia that has been taking over the country with support from Eritrea.

There has been an Eritrean buildup within the agreed buffer zone along the Eritrean/Ethiopian border.

I think everyone knows about Sudan/Darfur.

Chad says that the rebel(militias) attacks in their country are being launched and armed by Sudan. (They are fearing an attack on the capitol.)

And, Niger has issued an order to expel Arab Chadian refugees. The refugees have vowed to fight.

Here's a simple map I googled while trying to make sense of all this.

Picture of the Day

An Army recruiter working at the Scout Jamboree.

(The picture is years old/not current.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Turning on Bush

When the White House concocted this Khalilzad/Casey Iraq PR strategy/anouncement, I'm sure this is the kind of front page coverage they were looking for.

6 months ago, this would have been reported straight.

Major Terrorist Confirmed Dead (in April)

Big headline: One of FBI's 'Most Wanted Terrorists' confirmed dead

Hooray for us... um, wait. He died in April and you're announcing it now?

Picture of the Day - 4

Musharraf's Waziristan truce not working

Really, who is surprised by this?
U.S. military officials tell ABC News cross-border attacks by the Taliban are up "300 percent" since President Musharraf declared a "truce" with tribal leaders in the troubled Northern Waziristan region that borders Afghanistan.....

Senior NATO officials say there is growing fury among the 26-nation alliance that Islamabad is doing little to stem the violence coming from its border areas.

"If the Pakistan army is not willing to clean this up in a sustained manner," worries a top U.S. military official, "I just do not know what we are going to do."

Oliver North campaigning in Nicaragua

I'm not kidding. The key figure in Iran Contra is now down in Nicaragua campaigning trying to keep Daniel Ortega from winning the election.

This is so unbelievable to me, I don't even have a kicker line.

Political bits - Part II

TPM is reporting that the reason the NIE(and other critical intelligence documents) were kept from the whole committee because they couldn't be scanned in. RIIIGGGHHHTTT....

Apparently Rumsfeld didn't get the memo about "staying the course."

A ruling on same sex marriage is due in NJ tomorrow that could supply some fuel for the sputtering GOP machine.

And, I found this interesting. James Sensenbrenner, one of the harshest pushers of anti-immigration legislation, has one of the lowest percentages of illegals in his district. (Now tell me it's not racist politics.)

Picture of the Day - 3

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill gives the thumbs up to supporters, as she holds the hand of her mother, Betty Anne McCaskill. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

It's not for the big crime, but.....

Nicolo Pollari, SISMI's top spy, is expected to be replaced in the coming days and may well be indicted around the "rendition" of Abu Omar for which dozens of CIA personnel have also been charged.

(Pollari may have played a substantial role in the propagation of the Niger forgeries which the Bush administration used to underpin their case for the Iraq war. Remember WMD?)

Political Bits

Hastert has gone before the Ethics Panel today. Hastert's chief of Staff, Scott Palmer, was in there for SIX HOURS yesterday. Doesn't sound like they believe the Hastert office line, eh?

ABC: Some of Hastert's principal aides have hired criminal defense lawyers to represent them during the investigation.

Claire McCaskill is starting to edge ahead, +1.7% (avg. of 4 polls.)

And I'm just thinking that the "major" Iraq announcement today is the White House's last desperate swing on Iraq. It's being panned.

Picture of the Day - 2

"You still think I did the right thing by invading Iraq, dontcha boy?


Bush administration cutting and running on a timetable

This is the big announcement from the "unusual" joint press conference by General Casey and Zalmay Khalilzad.
U.S. officials said Tuesday Iraq's government has agreed to develop a timeline for progress by the end of the year, and Iraqi forces should be able to take full control of security in the country in the next 12 to 18 months with minimal American support.

Funny how the White House pushed this pretty major announcement out to the "commanders in the field."

What is substantially different about this statement than previous claims of handover, greater responsibility, etc.? An election/political statement? And what about the ISG?

They should've just "stayed the course" in their rhetoric.

(I have changed this post. My first reading of this was factually incorrect.)

The CW tide has turned

Despite what any numbers say, the press coverage has shifted. Did you ever think you would see this lead paragraph?
(AFP) - The campaign ahead of critical November 7 US legislative elections sometimes seems to boil down to one question: Who's scarier, terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, or US President George W. Bush?

Or, how does the "optimistic" White House feel about this? Or this?

Just noting the sea change.

Say a little prayer

A US soldier, an American of Iraqi descent who was serving as a translator, has gone missing.

The AP adds this cryptic little bit, "American troops who raided Baghdad's al-Furat TV on Monday said they were looking for an abducted American officer of Iraqi descent who went to join family members in Karradah."

Whether that's the case or whether that was just a cover story is unclear. Let's hope that's the case, because you would think an American soldier with Iraqi roots would be a target of special interest.

Picture of the Day

Masked insurgents patrol a road while onboard a vehicle in Ramadi, Iraq, October 22, 2006. REUTERS/Stringer

Monday, October 23, 2006

Haditha is a black hole

Just an observation. Further down this page, I quoted an Azzaman article,
In one the outskirts of Haditha, for example, fighting is reported to be raging between U.S. troops and the rebels who have barricaded themselves inside the city.

They are lying in ambush and waiting for U.S. troops to enter the city, the witnesses said.

I cannot, in fact, solidly confirm that, but looking at the wire photos, there have been just two pictures from Haditha since Sept 25, both seemingly on the outskirts of the city. Both of those were supplied by the military from what looks like one patrol.

It could be nothing, a blind spot in the coverage, but I thought I'd mention it. (Even Ramadi has some pictures coming out from Iraqi photographers.)

There has been so very little news beyond body counts out of Anbar lately, I'm just reaching for something.

Later: I'm feeling less convinced of using this as a conclusive indicator, although many of the Anbar towns share this trait. Doing further searches, the Shia towns seem to have fair coverage. The mixed towns in the central north Baquba/Diyala, Mosul, seem to have some spotty coverage, and Balad has had nothing in a week.

So, I don't know. Take it for what it is.

The rumor of an Iraqi coup is back.

The rumor is back, but this time I see a political play in it.
(Moonie Times)
Iraqi army officers are reportedly planning to stage a military coup with U.S. help to oust the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Cairo-based Iraqi and Arab sources said Monday several officers visited Washington recently for talks with U.S. officials on plans for replacing Maliki's administration by a "national salvation" government with the mission to re-establish security and stability in Iraq....

There's more detail in the article, but I don't buy it. Too complicated. Too many groups. Too many loose lips. It's interesting how this rumor keeps popping up in the press each time the US wants Maliki to do something unpopular.

Maliki Acts to Rein in Militias.

This rumor seems to have long legs, probably because it's useful.
(Maliki will never hear the one that gets him.)

Picture of the Day - 5

Political bits

Chuck Todd at the National Journal, "It now looks as if the Democrats are poised to win the 15 seats they need to win control of Congress." (Of their "hot races" the first 30 are all Republican held seats. The first Dem charts in at 39, and there are only 5 Dem seats in the list of 60.)

CQ gently agrees. (Although they have so many in "toss up"(all Republican seats) they're not stating it outright.) It's all going to be turnout.

Barron's, on the other hand, is predicting only 8 seats to Dems. (But to get there, they have to "disagree with pollsters of both parties," so....)

Lieberman's campaign suddenly refuses to release their ledger after previously volunteering to do so. (This after Lamont complains to the FEC.)

Chris Bowers tries to Google bomb Republican candidates.

Later: The WaPo has an article saying independents plan to vote 59/31 for the Dems. (A lot more numbers in the article.)

Chicago's voter database was hacked as an example by a public advocacy group.

The line between Iraqi police and militias

The next three pictures are all of the same event.

Notice the blurring between police and militia, uniform and non-uniform around this retribution killing.

This is Iraq.

Picture of the Day - 4

A member of a militia with a drawn gun walks past the body of a man killed by gunmen in Baghdad October 22, 2006. Gunmen killed a man police said was responsible for bicycle bomb and mortars attacks on Saturday that killed 16 and wounded 60 in a market in Mahmudiya. REUTERS/Stringer

Picture of the Day - 3

A member of a police commando unit looks at the body of a man killed by gunmen in Baghdad October 22, 2006. Gunmen killed a man police said was responsible for bicycle bomb and mortars attacks on Saturday that killed 16 and wounded 60 in a market in Mahmudiya. REUTERS/Stringer

Picture of the Day - 2

A man killed by gunmen lies in the back of a police vehicle in Baghdad October 22, 2006. Gunmen killed a man police said was responsible for bicycle bomb and mortars attacks on Saturday that killed 16 and wounded 60 in a market in Mahmudiya. REUTERS/Stringer

(And huge credit to the unnamed photographer. These are the kind of pictures that can get you killed.)

The insurgent parade in Ramadi

I mentioned this on Saturday, but it sounds like it was far bigger than I'd ever imagined. Now that the Anbar presence has been depleted by pulling troops into Baghdad, just how little control does the US have?
Iraqi rebels have conducted a military parade in the city of Ramad, west of Baghdad, to mark the setting up of what they call ‘the Islamic Emirate’ of Iraq.

The parade was organized by Majlis Shora al-Mujahideen, the Mujahideen Shora Council, in which thousands of fighters and hundreds of vehicles took part....

The parade continued for two consecutive days last week (Thursday and Friday), residents said.....

Other major towns west of Baghdad are also said to be in rebel hands.

In one the outskirts of Haditha, for example, fighting is reported to be raging between U.S. troops and the rebels who have barricaded themselves inside the city.

They are lying in ambush and waiting for U.S. troops to enter the city, the witnesses said.

Also: This snippet caught my eye.
The outcome of a White House meeting Saturday among Bush and his top security and military officials could become clearer early next week when Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, are scheduled to conduct an unusual joint news conference in Baghdad.
Later: The US is also reportedly offering amnesty to those same Sunni fighters above as part of a secret negotiation.

Bush's "beliefs" vs reality

OK. I fully understand why the White House is pushing this optimism line towards the election. No matter the facts, they have to.

But, doesn't this also, very directly, point out the lie that is the optimism line on Iraq?

If it's White House strategy to push optimism against this,
A strategist close to the White House said Mr. Bush’s own political team had polling that showed as many as 14 House seats were probably already lost to Democrats, just one shy of the 15 seats they need to gain to win control.

How much credibility does Bush have swearing to "victory in Iraq?"

Firing up the Republican troops

It struck me as funny that after 12 years in power, this is the Republican campaign pitch.
"It may be unpalatable to push the button or pull the lever for a Republican this year, but the choice is not to flush the party of business down the toilet," Hagedorn told about 50 fellow businessmen and Pryce at the breakfast. "As bad as the Republican Party has gotten itself, what's the choice?"

Picture of the Day

Residents run away from the scene as police are attacked by gunmen in Baghdad October 22, 2006. Gunmen using rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers and small arms fire attacked policemen and soldiers securing the scene of a bomb attack near a market, witnesses and police said. REUTERS/Namir Noor-Eldeen

(Normal blogging will resume tomorrow.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Picture of the Day - 3

When I was a little kid, my dad went in for some minor surgery. I was too small to know what was going on, but I remember seeing him in that hospital bed in the gown, so weak. I was so scared.

33 years later, I still remember that.

(A boy stands beside his father who was injured by a roadside bomb attack in the town of Khalis, October 19, 2006. REUTERS Helmiy al-Azawi.)

Trouble for Claire McCaskill

Over at CNN's politics blog, they've been posting financial info on the key Senate races. I don't know how much the DNC is pouring in, but if this is current and accurate, it spells trouble.
Claire McCaskill (D)
Total Contributions: $6,857,826.26
Cash on Hand: $246,724.30

Jim Talent (MO-R)
Total Contributions: $11,161,485.04
Cash on Hand: $4,204,741.07

(PS. Not feeling too bloggy today. Nothing's lighting me up. So, pictures.)

Interesting Video

It's a little long (10 min?), but this video put together by The Guardian's Sean Smith of his time with the 101st Airborne is pretty good.

It shows alot of daily life snapshots and US/ISF interactions that I haven't really seen elsewhere.

Picture of the Day - 2

President Bush receives a ice cream cone of pralines and cream during an unscheduled stop at Manning's Ice Cream with Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Pa., left, and Sherwood's wife Carol, center, in Clark's Summit, Pa., Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Picture of the Day