.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Haggard resigns/is fired.

We may never know the truth, but I think we can conclude that it was more than a massage.
The Rev. Ted Haggard resigned Saturday as leader of the megachurch he founded after a panel recommended the influential evangelist's removal for "sexually immoral conduct," the church said Saturday.

(And, I watched that interview in the car again, and I really feel for his wife. Imagine that day.)

Somebody got to the NYTimes

Check this out. Earlier today, I made up a gleeful post saying "I love headlines like this"
Republicans Resigned to Idea of Big Losses

So, when I went back to the NYTimes to post it now, that title has been replaced.
G.O.P. Glum as It Struggles to Hold Congress

Here's the key change (in the first paragraph.) In the first version, "but that they were increasingly resigned to losing at least 15 and therefore control of the House to Democrats for the first time in 12 years."

In the second version, "But they were increasingly steeling themselves to the loss of at least 15 and therefore control of the House for the first time in 12 years."

So, what changed besides a call from the Republicans?

(As of now, both links still work.)

Picture of the Day

I don't know why he picks them up. They all cry when he picks them up.

(President Bush holds eleven-month old Will Buyske, of Sheldon, Iowa, after speaking at a campaign rally for Republican candidates, Friday, Nov. 3, 2006, at Le Mars High School in Le Mars, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall))

Mistakes have long term consequences

The Iranian nuclear program was rushed forward because of the Bush administration's including them in the "Axis of Evil." Invading Iraq has given the US significantly less negotiating space. The US refuses to even talk to Iran.

So, as the problem metastatizes, blame should be attached.
THE SPECTRE of a nuclear race in the Middle East was raised yesterday when six Arab states announced that they were embarking on programmes to master atomic technology.

The move, which follows the failure by the West to curb Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, could see a rapid spread of nuclear reactors in one of the world’s most unstable regions, stretching from the Gulf to the Levant and into North Africa.

The countries involved were named by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Tunisia and the UAE have also shown interest.

All want to build civilian nuclear energy programmes, as they are permitted to under international law. But the sudden rush to nuclear power has raised suspicions that the real intention is to acquire nuclear technology which could be used for the first Arab atomic bomb.


Dick Cheney tries to depress the voters

Richard Bruce Cheney tries to tell the antiwar folks to not bother voting because it won't make a bit of difference.
Vice President Dick Cheney told ABC News the administration is going "full speed ahead" with its policy.

"We've got the basic strategy right," Cheney told George Stephanopoulos in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on "This Week."

Cheney said that even with pollsters predicting that Democrats would likely make gains in both houses of Congress Tuesday, voter sentiment would not influence Bush's Iraq policy.

"It may not be popular with the public — it doesn't matter in the sense that we have to continue the mission and do what we think is right. And that's exactly what we're doing," Cheney said. "We're not running for office. We're doing what we think is right."

Screw you, Dick. Even if it wouldn't change the war, which it will, I would still vote against you simply as punishment.

Picture of the Day - 2

An unidentified soldier speaks to Kira Wolf, 19, from Arlington, Va., as she visits the grave of her boyfriend, Lance Cpl. Colin J. Wolfe, at Arlington National Cemetery, Friday, Nov. 3, 2006, in Arlington, Va. Wolf says she visits Wolfe's grave every other day. Wolfe, 19, of Manassas, Va., died Aug. 30 while conducting combat operations in Iraq's Al Anbar province. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The death of the Republican party

Reading this WaPo piece on the "threatened Republican centrists" got me thinking. Let's just presuppose that the Democrats have this wave, and the moderate center of the Republicans is wiped out, and that by some fluke, this situation continues for a couple of election cycles.

With the Democrats coming in with moderates in all those districts, do the Republicans then become the extremist party? Instead of hearing the word "liberal" repeated as the insult, do we begin to see the Republicans painted as "Deep South Republicans" projecting "Alabama values?"

(Personally, I'm not willing to project whether any Dem gains might be held going forward, but, after listening to my views being overstated and classed as "east coast liberal" for so long, I just got to thinking about this.)


You can be detained indefinitely at a secret prison solely at the discretion of the president. Torture can be used to gain a confession that can then be used against you at trial.

But you cannot mention any of it to anyone as you await your inevitable sentencing.
The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the "alternative interrogation methods" that their captors used to get them to talk.

The government says in new court filings that those interrogation methods are now among the nation's most sensitive national security secrets and that their release -- even to the detainees' own attorneys -- "could reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage." Terrorists could use the information to train in counter-interrogation techniques and foil government efforts to elicit information about their methods and plots, according to government documents submitted to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Oct. 26.

Ahhhh, Condi Rice is playing the wingnut circuit.

A couple days ago, I asked "Where's Condi Rice?" wondering why the administration's most popular official was visibly absent from my media world coming up to the election.

Well, come to find out, she was just absent from MY media world. Apparently, she's been doing the wingnut radio circuit.

I guess actual questions from actual reporters about actual policies and decisions was deemed not to help the election effort.

Picture of the Day

A corpse lays on a gurney outside a morgue in the restive Iraqi city of Baquba. Bombers and death squads assaulted what remains of Iraq's tattered social fabric, targeting academics, athletes, police, markets and professionals in a series of deadly attacks.(AFP/Ali Yussef)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld must go - Army Times

You may have heard about this on Olberman tonight. The Army Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, and Air Force Times will all be carrying this editorial arriving in military mailboxes on Monday.
It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.

These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.

And although that tradition, and the officers' deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go.

*This editorial was prompted by Bush's statement Wednesday that he will keep Cheney and Rumsfeld through the end of his term.

The NYTimes writes about Iraqi snipers

I thought this was a very interesting article in the NYTimes on Iraqi snipers and the US troops experience and response.
Many marines, on operations, do an understated dance they call “cutting squares.” It is not really a square at all.

They zig and zag as they walk, and when they stop they shift weight from foot to foot, bobbing their heads. They change the rhythm often, so that when a sniper who might be watching them thinks they are about to zig, they have zagged.

Now and then they squat, shift weight to one leg and stand up beside the place where they had just been. Maj. Sean Riordan, the battalion executive officer, described his own unpredictable jigs as “my little salsa dance.”.....

But as operations drag on, some marines begin to stop cutting squares.

Picture of the Day - 5

A wounded Palestinian woman lies on the ground as others run for cover after an Israeli tank opened fire at them at Beit Hanoun town in northern Gaza strip, November 3, 2006. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

"Israeli troops fired at a large crowd of unarmed Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip today as the women approached a mosque to help Palestinian militants holed up inside. Two women were killed and about 10 were injured, according to hospital workers."

I wish Dick Cheney were telling the truth

Dick Cheney has been running around telling anyone who won't throw rotten fruit at him that the insurgents in Iraq are upping the violence to try to affect the US election. Oh, how I wish that were true.

Eight US soldiers died in Iraq yesterday. Three died Wednesday.

(Again, I'm going to point out, that according to this White House, first the violence was temporarily increased to prevent the arrival of Maliki. Then, the violence was temporarily increased to prevent the appointment of Interior and Defense Ministers. Then the violence was temporarily increased because of Ramadan. Now the violence is temporarily increased because of the US elections.

Unfortunately, none of these "temporary increases" has been temporary.)

Political bits

Added: President Slimy. "Interesting timing to declare federal aid on its way to the Show-Me State just as the President plans a day of campaigning there. Be sure to Note the dates of the storms.....severe storms during the period of July 19-21, 2006."

Chris Matthews destroys Mike Dewine. "Don't you feel embarrassed you're doing this, Senator?"

Added: This chart and commentary argues the pivotal week of the campaign was the Woodward/NIE/Foley week. (That was the week the Republican 9/11 campaign strategy collapsed.)

Added: Unsurprisingly, the Neocons turn on Bush.

Allen is out of money, and the early voter turnout in northern Virginia seems to bode well for Webb.

Pederson gaining on Kyl. This would be a wave.

Rothenberg predicts Dem Senate takeover.

President "sports page." (2nd section.)

A coal executive in West Virginia is giving $1.8 million to defeat state Democrats in a PAC called, "And for the Sake of the Kids." (Isn't the coal industry always about the kids?)

The Foley report won't come out before the election. Surprised?

FBI director Mueller warns employees about leaking investigations, "after recent news articles disclosed criminal inquiries involving incumbent lawmakers, mainly House Republicans."

Too funny. Deborah Pryce walked out of an interview with CNN Radio when asked about Iraq, later saying, "What's happening in Iraq is not a direct reflection on me."

Rep. Sweeney admits that State Troopers were called to his house for a "domestic disturbance," but claims inaccuracies in the police report.

And, Will Haggard depress evangelical turnout? That seems to be the talking point today.

*** I will probably update this post throughout the day.

Picture of the Day - 4

Montana Democratic Senate Candidate Jon Tester.
(Poll history.)

Haggard - "I didn't inhale"

Does anybody believe this?
The Rev. Ted Haggard admitted Friday he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a gay prostitute who claims he was paid for drug-fueled trysts by the former head of the National Association of Evangelicals.

"I bought it for myself but never used it," Haggard told reporters gathered outside his home. "I was tempted, but I never used it."

(Notice the way he slipped the Christian "tempted" in there?
Not his fault. It was the devil.) (video)

Read or listen to the voicemails. Good Morning America led the 7AM hour with this, and aired sections of the voicemails and sections of the original interview.
"Hi Mike, this is Art. Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply. And I could pick it up really anytime. I could get it tomorrow or we could wait till next week sometime and so I also wanted to get your address. I could send you some money for inventory but that's probably not working, so if you have it then go ahead and get what you can and I may buzz up there later today,"

Haggard is talking about a "supply" and fronting money so the guy will have an "inventory." He very clearly says "if we could get any more." Does that sound like he bought it once and never used it?

(And, I don't know much about meth, but isn't $100-$200 more than a one time/try it amount?)

As for the "massage," he claims he was referred to Jones by a hotel in Denver. It's really just a question of what kind of "referral" now, isn't it. Many a concierge has gotten rich offering such "referrals." Was he re-referred for three years?

Also: The gay prostitute failed the lie detector...
(Is that a sentence that I'd expected to see this election year?)

Picture of the Day - 3

"I just don't understand why you won't fire me."

(From an Oct. 14 dedication of an Air Force Memorial.)

Faaaabulous - Haggard admits to some of the accusations

Even a partial admission beats Jim Baker by a mile.
The acting senior pastor at New Life, Ross Parsley, told KKTV-TV of Colorado Springs that Haggard admitted that some of the accusations were true.

"I just know that there has been some admission of indiscretion, not admission to all of the material that has been discussed but there is an admission of some guilt," Parsley told the station.

Two of the voicemails are printed here. At the very least, Haggard appears to be trying to buy meth (in a way that indicates it's definitely not a one off.)

Picture of the Day - 2

Iraqi hospital workers inspect the bodies of civilians killed by unknown gunmen in Baquba, Nov. 2, 2006. (AFP/Ali Yussef)

The Saddam verdict

Alot has been made of the US politics of the Saddam verdict coming this Sunday before the election, and the general impression seems to be that this will be used by the White House for their political ends, but let me offer a different possibility indicated here,
Apparently fearing still more bloodshed after Sunday's expected announcement of a verdict in the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Iraq's defense minister has canceled leave for all soldiers.

Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi was heard issuing the order in video of a meeting between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and senior military and security officials, in which al-Maliki upbraided them for failing to stop the capital's unbridled violence.

"All vacations will be canceled and all those who are on vacation must return," al-Obeidi said.

In the past, major events have included a security crackdown which has been moderately effective, but this one I think is different. I think there's a fair chance that Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday may be filled with bombings followed by rampant death squad killings.

When it was originated, this trial of Saddam was intended to act as reconciliation, a symbolic, fixed point through which Iraq could put their past conflicts and divisions behind them. But that's not where we are now.


The violence continues. Eight US soldiers killed in two days.

(Reuters) "Growing suspicions among leaders of Iraq's Shi'ite majority that the United States is shifting its favor toward once dominant Sunnis are fuelling the tensions that have broken into the open between Baghdad and Washington."

(AP) The Maliki cabinet reshuffle should happen in a few weeks. This will certainly aggrieve some parties. Will he keep the same sectarian balance?

(Time) Unbelievable. One of the soldiers convicted in Abu Ghraib is being sent back to Iraq.

(NYTimes) "Presidential candidate" Duncan Hunter has officially killed the auditor who has been so effective in Iraq. Does that favor for his military contractor friends go on the campaign posters?

(Reuters) A senior U.S. general compared Iraq on Thursday to a "work of art" in progress, saying it was too soon to judge the outcome.... "A lump of clay can become a sculpture, blobs of paint become paintings which inspire," Major General William Caldwell, chief military spokesman, told his weekly Baghdad news briefing. (I don't know art, but I know what I don't like.)

And, I've been wondering about this. Regarding the search for the kidnapped US soldier Taie,
"The manhunt has angered some American troops in Iraq, who have privately complained that the military should not expend any additional resources, or put any troops at further risk, to search for a soldier who had violated military rules and exposed himself to danger by leaving his post without military protection."

Picture of the Day

Photo released by the United Nations shows refugees at the Kalma Camp in south Darfur, in 2005. (AFP/UN-HO - Evan Schneider)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Somali leader authorizes suicide attacks

This has been out all day, and I haven't seen it anywhere, so...
The supreme leader of Somalia's powerful Islamist movement has purportedly authorized suicide attacks against "prominent" targets in Kenya and Ethiopia, the United States said.

As the Islamists and weak Somali government gird for war after the collapse of peace talks, the US embassies in Nairobi and Addis Ababa warned Americans "to use extreme" caution while in Kenya and Ethiopia, citing the threat.

They said they had information about "reports of terrorist threats emanating from extremist elements within Somalia, which target Kenya, Ethiopia, and other surrounding countries."

"These threats specifically mention the execution of suicide explosions in prominent landmarks within Kenya and Ethiopia," the embassies said in notices sent to US citizens in the two countries.

I don't know how real this is, but for context, remember that all three nations mentioned have taken actions to try to destroy the Islamic militias in Somalia. Kenya and Ethiopia have taken direct steps to try to defend and arm the legitimate government, while the US attempted, through covert action, to band together mercenary Somali warlords to fight the militias.

There was a big debate in US policy circles at the time as to whether this was a good plan, questioning the possibility of blowback.

Here's a good Newsweek article on this from late May.
The policy has provoked dissent at both the CIA and the State Department, as well as in Europe. Some officials fear that America may be inadvertently creating a new jihadist haven in Somalia by generating an anti-U.S. backlash. Before the U.S. program began, the Islamists were only a small part of the population. ..... Giraldi is more blunt. "We're creating a new mess," he says. "Everything is tactical with this administration: catching a guy, catching a guy. I don't see that anyone has thought about the strategic issue of losing support." ....

Publicly, the administration will not admit to any policy of aiding warlords. But officials with the Red Cross and other aid groups in Mogadishu report seeing "many Americans with thick necks and short haircuts moving around, carrying big suitcases," says one aid official whose agency does not permit him to speak on the record.

Also: I'll say it again, the violent Islamic movement in NE Africa coming from Sudan, Eritrea, and, now, Somalia is heating up, and that is putting increasing pressure on Chad, Niger, and Ethiopia, and, of course, the indigenous people in Darfur.
"Militia attacks on refugee camps in Sudan's Darfur region this week killed scores of civilians including 27 children under the age of 12, the United Nations said on Thursday, condemning the raids."

The United States looks set to pull back from its muscular approach to ending what it calls genocide in Sudan's Darfur region in a major concession to the regime in Khartoum, according to former US officials and Africa experts.

President George W. Bush announced a policy review this week.....

And, no, I don't have an answer.

UPDATE: This morning we get a report that the Somali Islamists have test fired short range rockets, and a more direct statement on the involvement of Ethiopia and Eritrea in the Somali civil war.

Picture of the Day - 3

Tammy Duckworth.

Political bits

Menendez in NJ is still in front, as is Cardin in Maryland. The NSRCC gave $844,000 to an outside group to run hit ads against Cardin. (I've never seen how either one of these goes red in this year. Like Stabenow in Michigan, why are they spending money there? Do they have more money than good options?)

Reuters repeats RCP yesterday. Polling shows Dems taking six Senate seats by wafer thin margins. For what that's worth.

Curious, public polling shows Corker stretching away from Ford, but GOP internal polling only shows him up by 2? (Usually, you release internals show your guy better.)

Charlie Cook continues his case for a blue wave.

The NRCC dumped $6 million more into House races focused mainly on four races in Pa.

Romney tries to set himself up as the solution to a midterm loss that hasn't happened yet? Talk about dancing at the deathbed.

In the close House races, Wilson is sinking, Hayworth is sinking, Nussle is sinking, Chocula is sinking. I don't really follow all these races closely, but my general impression is that as the polling firms up, the Dems are gaining a little in many races.

Take the minute to watch this ad.

The desperation is starting to stink. Republican loyalist Bob Dornan warns "christians" of a "hell fire of a Nancy Pelosi Catholic." Did you hear that Protestants?

Sherwood is paying hush money to the mistress he choked. Half before the election, half after.

And, I assume by now that you saw that the president of the National Association of Evangelicals has been allegedly having a three year affair with a homosexual prostitute. I question the claim even though the male prostitute claims to have voicemails and is going to take a polygraph on Friday. (Why not produce the voicemails as proof?)

(Latest: Haggard is temporarily stepping down, but, his lawyer says, not admitting anything. Innocent people often send their lawyer out for the press conference. How long til rehab?)

ALSO: If you're voting on a Sequoia voting machine, be sure to press the yellow button a dozen times so you're vote will count a dozen times. I'm not kidding.

****I'll be updating this post throughout the afternoon.

Where's Condi Rice?

There have been many people who have been disappeared for political reasons this election cycle by both sides (seen Ted Kennedy lately?), but where is Condi Rice?

She made that high visibility tour through East Asia regarding North Korea recently, but has since that trip has more or less disappeared. The MAJOR announcement that North Korea was returning to the six party talks, was made by Chris Hill, and the current Iraq/Afghanistan push is being handled by Hadley.

I find it weird that with this election just next week, the most popular administration official is not out in front of the cameras

Do the Republicans not want the reminder of "diplomacy" or N. Korea or Iran on the campaign trail? Distancing her from the loss?

(Another surprising absence from my media world is Pat Robertson. Other notable entries? Pelosi? Dean?)

Sabato sees the Dems taking it, too

Larry Sabato puts his predictions down. Dems +23-30 seats in the House and, more surprisingly, +6 retaking control of the Senate.

If you're keeping score, the House prediction seems pretty much in line with everyone else, but I think this is the only "Dems take the Senate" prediction I've seen from a neutral.

Consensus seems to be Dems +18-30 and +4-5 in the Senate.

Picture of the Day - 2

U.S. military doctors attend to a wounded Iraqi soldier inside a U.S. military hospital at the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad October 30, 2006. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

The long term cost

I may be misunderstanding this Stars and Stripes article or it's classifications, but the numbers seem to be staggering.

144,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Vets seeking counselling through the VA out of 589,000(24%,) 38,000 for PTSD counselling (6.4%,) of whom 29,000 have had (psychiatric) hospitalization (4.9%)?
The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans getting treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder nearly doubled from fall 2005 to this summer,.....

According to internal department data, the number of young veterans receiving PTSD treatment from VA hospitals and counseling centers rose from 20,394 patients in September 2005 to 38,144 patients in June 2006, an increase of 87 percent.

Hospital cases alone totaled 29,041 in June, up 82 percent from nine months earlier. The number of veterans who visited counseling centers more than doubled, from 4,467 to 9,103, over that same period....

The number of troops who have separated from the service since September 2002 grew to 588,923 this summer, up more than 150,000 from the previous year....

Overall, the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans visiting VA centers for any type of counseling rose from 43,682 in September 2005 to 144,227 in June.

If I'm reading this right, 38,144 PTSD patients through the VA of whom 29,041 were hospitalized? Either they're over-hospitalizing or these big numbers represent only the very worst cases.

Support all Veterans programs. They held up their end of the bargain, it's imperative that we hold up ours.

On the kidnapped soldier in Iraq

The US installed checkpoints in Sadr City that the US claimed were to find abducted US soldier Qusay al-Taayie. Sadr declares a general strike and Maliki orders the US checkpoints pulled. Now, we get this,
Caldwell said there was "an ongoing dialogue" in a bid to win the soldier's release, but he would not say with whom or at what level.

Is the US negotiation with/through Maliki's government/Sadr, and, what exactly are the terms of negotiation from the US, money, weapons, prisoner release, limits on future actions?

(One note, I've read several allusions around this story that the US was trying to locate Abu Dera, the infamous death squad leader. After previous raids trying to locate Dera, Sadr's political group and Maliki have registered loud complaints.)

War games as threat around Iran

The policy on Iran has officially foundered with the Russians and Chinese again reiterating that they will not support sanctions.

And, two days after the US conducted it's practice ship interception off the coast of Iran, the Iranians had their own little display firing missiles (into the exact same area that the US ships were operating.)

Reuters points out that the missiles were equipped with a new version of casualty producing cluster bombs.

Dear John Kerry,

See, you apologize, get the hell off the front pages, and I get to read stories like this: Scandals Alone Could Cost Republicans Their House Majority. (A01 above the fold)

I'll be really curious to see how Republicans try to keep this alive.

Picture of the Day

Kraig Foyteck

This undated photo provided by the Foyteck family on Nov. 1, 2006, shows Army Sgt. Kraig Foyteck, who was killed in Mosul in northern Iraq. Foyteck was killed when he was hit in the neck by a bullet or mortar, his family said. The family was notified on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006. (AP Photo/Foyteck family)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More politics

The NYTimes/CBS poll is chocked full of all sorts of surprising goodness.

70% say Bush has no plan in Iraq.
80% recognized benchmarks as a sham.

Among independents(RV), 33 % planned to vote R, 52% D.

"By a slight margin, more respondents said the threat of terrorism would increase under Republicans than those who said it would increase under Democrats."

Bush approval 34%.

And, even the Douchebag of Liberty predicts a Dem win +20, +5.

So that's what's wrong with the Chinese

Needless to say, I didn't listen to Limbaugh today, but I did miss this gem.
In an interview with conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Bush said China should become "a society in which there's consumers. Because now they're a society of too many savers."

I'm sure with their growing world influence, trade surplus, and booming economy, they'll be quick to take Bush's advice.

Picture of the Day - 3

US Soldier committed suicide over interrogation practices

"All records of those techniques have now been destroyed..."
“Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed….”

She was was then assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards, and sent to suicide prevention training. “But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle,” the documents disclose.

Political bits

The Republicans have been complaining that the polling is undersampling Republicans. Maybe that's because only 31.5% consider themselves Republicans, down from 37.2% two years ago.

House Republicans abandon three more House races. (Weldon, Bob Ney's seat, and Beauprez's seat.)

Corker puts in another $2 million of his own money, and launches two new hit ads on Ford.

The Republicans are throwing $1 million against Stabenow +14? That looks an even longer shot than the Dems throwing money against Kyl. (Pederson doing better than expected in early voting?)

This is great, RCP tallied and tabled the spending on House Races yesterday.

New DCCC ad focusing on Iraq.

And, Ann Coulter has refused to cooperate with the investigation of her voting in the wrong precinct, so it's being turned over to prosecutors. (I would guess her refusal indicates guilt, no?)

****I'll update this post throughout the afternoon.

The Kerry thing is about depressing turnout

The point of this Kerry thing is not to fire up the Republican base but to depress Democratic turnout and act as a distraction.

That's why the underlying complaint doesn't even have to be plausible. (Hell, the White House isn't even making the argument that he actually meant it as a slur.)

It's about election psychology. Don't buy in.

Later: Finally, the right move. Now, go away for a week.

Bush wants to keep Rumsfeld/Cheney til the end

Look, America, Bush is telling you straight out that nothing will change for the next two years.

Picture of the Day - 2

A homeless Iraq war veteran and single mother pauses for a photo in Brooklyn, May 19, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Segar


(NYTimes) This graphic is clipped from a classified Centcom briefing on Iraq from Oct. 18. It's not just some random guess, but an assessment of metrics Centcom has been using for awhile. (Full graphic with the metrics accompanies the story.)

(AP) 40 Shiites abducted at a checkpoint just north of Baghdad "just out of sight of U.S. soldiers who were disarming a roadside bomb nearby." (I include that last bit because that's what Iraqis will see.)

(SFChronicle) Bechtel is pulling out of Iraq.

AFP chimes in with the clearest headline on the US being ordered from their checkpoints in Sadr City yesterday, "Iraqi PM hands Sadr victory over US blockade."

(WaPo) The Air Force is asking for $50 billion in emergency funding. "Another source familiar with the Air Force plans said the extra funds would help pay to transport growing numbers of U.S. soldiers being killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan." (Certainly a statement looking for the money, but still....)

(AP) Rumsfeld OK's an increase in the size of the ISF. (A good move or not, this does offer a shifting explanation for why the ISF still isn't ready after three years. "We still have more troops to train..." Is there any reason to believe this batch will be better than the last?)

(McClatchy) The growing practice by Iraqis of getting tattoos (against Islamic law) with their name, address, and phone # so their bodies can be identified.

(Independent) Patrick Cockburn offers a different view of how Baghdad is clarifying with the Shia extending their control inside the city and the Sunnis attempting to encircle and control all the access points. (Don't know if I agree, but interesting.)

Quickhits - World conflicts/Islamic militias edition.

(Reuters) Nicholas Burns says the Taleban are not a "strategic threat" and schedules "senior level talks" with Afghanistan next year. (Next year?)

Meanwhile, (AFP) the NATO commander in Afghanistan says he does not have enough troops to win. (How similar does this sound to the statements out of Iraq recently? Not enough troops to win the battle, so tread water and hope for the politics to work out quickly.)

(AFP) "Pakistani troops have sealed off a troubled frontier zone amid a third day of tensions over a deadly air raid on an Islamic school."

(Reuters) Somalia Peace Talks Headed for Collapse.

(Reuters) "Israeli warplanes flew at a low altitude over Beirut, its suburbs and large areas of south Lebanon on Tuesday, witnesses and Lebanese security sources said." The EU tells them they're not helping.

Picture of the Day

"You testify under oath."

(I lost the caption for this. It was about 10 days ago "responding to a reporter.")

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The "Florida" of 2008

Craig Crawford makes a very interesting point. I had not been paying attention to the governor's races, but Crawford mentions that those governors will appoint the election officials who will be running the show in 2008.

Katherine Harris, Florida, 2000.
Ken Blackwell, Ohio, 2004.

So, maybe I should pay attention to Fla., Ohio, and Pennsylvania?

Also: Right sided Real Clear Politics says their poll averages show Dems picking up 6 Senate seats. Doesn't mean too much (it's polling and razor thin,) but it's the first time I've seen that anywhere semi-reliable.

Bush's light schedule

If you're a Dem, looking for things to worry about,
President Bush will hold no public events of any kind on Wednesday, an exceptionally light schedule this close to next Tuesday’s midterm elections. That sparked questions about whether Bush has a “November surprise” in store. This is, after all, a president who has twice managed to sneak away to Iraq.

Picture of the Day - 3

Jubilant Iraqis carry poster of radical anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr after US troops dismantled checkpoints around Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City Tuesday Oct. 31 2006. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Political bits

Webb is polling +4 over Allen in several neutral polls. (Notice that the undecideds are getting very small.)

And, I don't think this video of Allen's staff tackling/attacking a blogger will help his cause. According to Politicalwire, the question that caused the incident was "Why did you spit on your first wife?" That sealed divorce is an issue now.

Menendez is polling +5 and +7 over Kean in neutral polls.

I don't buy CNN's Tenn polling Corker +8. (Polling history.)

Dear John Kerry, go away! True or not, you have been successfully villanized. I know you want to be somebody, but, right now, you're not helping. (video) The Republicans were scattered and on the defense and you've given them fuel.

And, Tony Snow is desperate and an asshole:
Q Tony, let me just ask your plan about this idea of -- I believe it was called withdrawal without assurance of victory in Iraq, which I think was the summary of the Democrats' position. And it gets back to this notion of this being a referendum, because isn't what the President putting forward -- is to stay without an assurance of victory in Iraq?

MR. SNOW: No, it's to stay with a determination of victory.

Q There's no assurance of victory in Iraq.

MR. SNOW: Well, Jim, are you saying that you don't think our troops are going to be able to complete the job?

(And, I can assure you that unlike many of the big bloggers you might visit, no political candidate has paid me s**t!)

Update: Bush's Georgia stop had plenty of empty seats.

This is funny. Blogactive, the gay activist guy has produced a satire commercial against Mehlman with an over stereotyped gay guy in the middle mocking the Ford ad that Mehlman said was OK.

Southpark: "Please Tom Cruise, come out of the closet."

Fallout from the attack in Pakistan

It appears the protests have been primarily only in Bajur which is good news, but imagine this taking place with a crowd of 20,000.
Inayatur Rahman, a local pro-Taliban elder, said he had prepared a "squad of suicide bombers" to target Pakistani security forces in the same way that militants are attacking Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We will carry out these suicide attacks soon," he said, asking the crowd if they approved the idea. The angry mob yelled back in unison, "Yes!"

The crowd railed against Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and President Bush. They chanted: "God is Great!" "Death to Bush! Death to Musharraf!" and "Anyone who is a friend of America is a traitor!"

Earlier, the Chief Pakistani Army spokesman made a statement praising US/Pakistani cooperation on the effort. "Sultan later contacted the AP to deny he had made the remarks." This is volatile, and moving.

Picture of the Day - 3

I don't know why he keeps picking them up. They all cry on him.

(From a campaign rally in Statesboro, Ga. yesterday. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(I think somebody in the campaign decided it was baby day. (No hug for this child though. Her pain makes a bad photo op.))

US obeys Maliki's order to remove checkpoints in Sadr City

A huge victory for Sadr. A significant claim of independence for Maliki, and a punch in the gut to the US forces. The Shia are parading in the streets with Sadr's picture, (but blogger won't let me upload pictures right now.)
The United States on Tuesday disbanded a five-day-old military blockade of Baghdad's impoverished Sadr City section, meeting a deadline set by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki under pressure from the anti-U.S. cleric whose militia controls the sprawling Shiite slum.

Maliki ordered that the security cordon be lifted hours after cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a civil disobedience campaign in Sadr City to protest the blockade, which the U.S. launched Wednesday in an effort to find an abducted U.S. soldier and capture a purported Iraqi death squad leader.

Not only did they leave, but they left quickly after Maliki gave them 3 hours.

The last plan voiced to reduce the violence in Baghdad was to take on the militias in Sadr City. What's the plan now?

The South Dakota abortion ban looks likely to be voted down

I was speaking with a friend last night whose mother (an occasional reader, "Hi Ginny,") has been extremely involved in the South Dakota vote on their recently passed total abortion ban (which includes rape and incest.)

The word is that this law is extremely likely to be voted down by the fine people of South Dakota.

UPDATE: The NYTimes has a story on it tonight.

Picture of the Day - 2

Boys wait outside as their brother, who was injured in a bomb attack, receives treatment at a hospital in Baghdad's Sadr City October 30, 2006. REUTERS/Kareem Raheem

Iraq on the front pages

I used to complain that I thought Iraq didn't get enough coverage, but I didn't appreciate the costs it was going to take for Iraq to make it to the front pages.

US death toll in Iraq hits 103.

(AFP) "With the US death toll in Iraq passing 100 this month and mid-term elections just days away, the Pentagon said the US force in Iraq has grown to 150,000 troops, the biggest it has been since January."

(NYTimes) "Though American officials would describe Mr. Hadley’s talks only in the vaguest of terms, one option widely discussed in Washington and Baghdad in the days before his arrival, according to American and Iraqi officials, is a substantial increase in the number of American and Iraqi troops patrolling Baghdad......" (accomplished by extending deployments. The article says further that no announcement will be made until after the election.)

(Copy Editor pointed out yesterday that the 4th ID is due to rotate out soon.)

(AP) "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday ordered the lifting of joint U.S.-Iraqi military checkpoints around the Shiite militant stronghold of Sadr City and other parts of Baghdad." (I'm assuming this is part of some agreement struck with Hadley who arrived in Baghdad yesterday for emergency meetings.)

"CBS News has learned exclusively that Gen. George Casey, the U.S. Commander in Iraq, is expected to recommend the size of Iraqi security forces be increased by up to 100,000." (Video.)

(WaPo) "Seventy percent of the Iraqi police force has been infiltrated by militias, primarily the Mahdi Army, according to Shaw and other military police trainers."

(LATimes) "Growing numbers of American military officers have begun to privately question a key tenet of U.S. strategy in Iraq — that setting a hard deadline for troop reductions would strengthen the insurgency and undermine efforts to create a stable state."

And I want it to be a maximum security prison.

Pardon the local rant, but......

Nail the bastards to the wall.

Report: BP knew refinery was at risk

BP's Texas refinery was 'unsafe', and firm knew it: US

The explosion at the BP refinery about 30 miles from Houston's city center killed 15 and wounded scores.

Picture of the Day

Iraqis gather around a pool of blood left behind following a bomb blast in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Sadr City. (AFP/Wissam Al-Okaili)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Increasing desperation from Bush

Have we ever had a president who so lacked the dignity of office?
Campaigning for Republicans, President Bush said Monday that "terrorists win and America loses" if opponents of his Iraq policy triumph in next week's elections.

Then there's the more subtle Cheney (for once.) The violence in Iraq increased because the "insurgents" wanted to influence the US election. (And by connection help the Democrats. So if you vote for Democrats....)

Notice the clever way this extends the explanation for the violence. Remember just a week ago it was Ramadan. Then Ramadan ended, but the violence didn't. So, now, Cheney supplies an excuse through the election...

I can't wait til they tell me the violence will continue through January because the Iraqis want to influence the Super Bowl.

Final predictions from Charlie Cook and CQ.

In a hurry, I may rewrite this later.

CQ predictions: Overall and links for House, Senate.

Charlie Cook: Dems + 20-35 seats (maybe more.) +4-6 Senate.
(Cook has been working on the "blue wave theory.")

Later: Polls, Polls, Polls.

Picture of the Day - 4

More on the Pakistan bombing - An October Surprise miss?

ABCNews(The Blotter) is now reporting,
Despite earlier reports that the missiles had been launched by Pakistani military helicopters, Pakistani intelligence sources now tell ABC News that the missiles were fired from a U.S. Predator drone plane.

And, if your October Surprise radar is still on, this was a near miss.
Ayman al Zawahiri was the target of a Predator missile attack this morning on a religious school in Pakistan, according to Pakistani intelligence sources.

Political bits

A week from tomorrow you should be voting. Excited?

For all Karl Rove's confidence, the Republicans are playing defense in some pretty surprising places, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana. It smells to me like an effort to mitigate the losses and avoid a massive sweep.

And, for a President so sure of victory, Bush sure seems to be doing a lot of contingency planning, "'You tell me administratively everything you can do between now and the end of the presidency." ("administratively"!!!)

Dirty tricks under a false flag in Pennsylvania.

Did the NYTimes really use the word "lie" in the lead editorial when talking about Bush and the border fence? That's new.

Has anyone else noticed that everytime there's a story about an electronic voting machine misregistering votes it's always taking away from the Democrat and adding to the Republican? Funny coincidence, eh?

Duncan Hunter running for President? Are you kidding?

ROVE (?!?!) doles out federal disaster aid to help Tom Reynolds. "The stars were aligned. It was a coincidence," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. (Check out the section titled "Measured Influence.")

(USNews) Dick Cheney is talking up Hillary Clinton as a strong 2008 candidate in an effort to fire the base.

And, somebody's nerding the elections far harder than me, already posting a watchlist by which races come in at what time.

(Over the next few days, we should start getting good, neutral, news organization polls. Today, McCaskill/Talent 47/47 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)

The questions of our grandchildren

Despite repeated assertions by Bush, Cheney, and others that our grandchildren will ask whether we stood and fought or exited in Iraq, I think they'll be asking a different question.

"How could you spend $500 billion on a war to perpetuate the carbon economy rather than spending that half trillion dollars mitigating the flood waters that are around our necks?"

I mean, really.

Picture of the Day - 3

Even the cheerleaders are getting tired of it. - or -

Ray LaHood: "She's a Democratic plant by Howard Dean, George Soros, and the liberal media!!!!!"

(A cheerleader from Silver Creek High School yawns as U.S. President George W. Bush speaks to supporters at a Republican party Congressional election rally at the Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg, Indiana, October 28, 2006. REUTERS/Jason Reed)


(Telegraph) The British are evacuating their embassy in Basra "in the next 24 hours" in the face of continuing mortar attacks striking a bit of a blow to the British claim that Basra is moving in the right direction.

(Reuters) The Saddam verdict will be delayed a few days after fears that any conviction might be viewed as a US political ploy just two days before US midterms.. (It was originally scheduled for Nov. 5.)

(Reuters) A moderate Sunni politician says, "brutal US tactics" are swelling the ranks of Al Qaeda in Iraq. (I found it interesting that his complaint was not that they were turning violent, but that they were choosing Al Qaeda over "the nationalist resistance.")

(AP) The US cannot account for 14,030 weapons purchased for the ISF.

Picture of the Day - 2

The NYTimes has a small collection of pictures from Arlington.

And: The WaPo has a really good multimedia in the soldier's own words of Lima Company's readjustment from Iraq.
Highly Recommended.

The politics of Iraq

There was a major bombing in Sadr City which killed at least 31 and wounded at least 51. Another truly horrible act in this "new" Iraq.

But what caught my eye is the way it is being viewed/used by the people there.
Abdul-Ridha (a wounded civilian) said the area had been exposed to attack because U.S. and Iraqi forces had driven Mahdi fighters who usually provide protection into hiding.

"That forced Mahdi Army members, who were patrolling the streets, to vanish," Abdul-Ridha, 41, said from his bed in al-Sadr Hospital.

Sadr's spokesman echoed the charge.
US forces can also expect to face the fury of local people.

Since Tuesday, American troops hunting for a kidnapped comrade have operated road blocks and patrols around the fringes of Sadr City, and many blamed them for failing to prevent the attack.

"The responsibility for this attack lies with the occupying forces," said Hamdallah Rikabi, a spokesman for Sadr's movement.

"Everybody knows that before this, this was a secure city and deploying the occupier's forces is just harming our security," he said.

As broader framing for this, Time's Juan Cole interview.
They promised him, (Maliki) last summer when they launched the major security offensive to retake Baghdad, that the U.S. would take care of Sunni guerrilla movement in Baghdad before moving against Mahdi Army. That way, Maliki could to go to the Shi'ite elders in Baghdad and say, you are safe, you no longer need militias and they are a source of discord, so they must be disbanded. But the Americans failed to dislodge the Sunni insurgents, and then they go after the Mahdi army anyway.....

The reason Shi'ite communities believe they need militias is to protect them from the Sunni guerrillas, which they say the government and the U.S. are not doing. And Maliki can't go and tell them to get rid of their militias while they remain vulnerable to attack by Sunni guerrillas.

Picture of the Day

Pakistani tribesmen attend the funeral of alleged militants, who died in the Pakistani military attack, Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 in Chingai village near Khar, the main town Bajur, Pakistani tribal area along Afghan Border. (AP Photo)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The complicated politics of Pakistan

AP is reporting this straight, but I think there's a whole secondary layer.
Pakistani troops backed by helicopters firing missiles destroyed an al-Qaida-linked training facility in a northwestern tribal area near the Afghan border Monday, killing “many” militants, officials said.

The pre-dawn attack targeted a religious school — known as a madrassa — holding 70-80 militants in a village near the town of Khar, the main town in the Bajur tribal district, said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan.

The tribal areas of Bajur have thus far resisted the truces which Musharraf has already struck with North and South Waziristan.

Later: Reportedly, the tribal leadership in Bajur had agreed, but the "name" target, Al Qaeda figure Faqir Mohammed, had been stringently opposed to striking a deal with Musharraf. So, was he "removed?" Did the local leaders know/agree to this?

Interestingly, just a week ago, Faqir Mohammed's brother and other relatives were released by the Pakistani government in an effort to strike this deal. And now they target him?

(I would love to know the level of US involvement. Did the US supply the "confirmed intelligence"? Did the US fire the missiles? And why did the ISI not warn him as they have so many others?)

Picture of the Day - 2

Foley scandal to "widen a little bit?"

A very cryptic mention of the Foley investigation by Chip Reid leaves more questions than answers. "The Mark Foley scandal investigation is going to widen a little bit."

Kolbe? The allegations around Weller's page? More coverup?

And will it be this week before the election?

The Taleban bet it all in Afghanistan

In all the years of insurgent combat in Afghanistan from the British to the present, this is extremely rare.
The Taliban are planning a major winter offensive combining their diverse factions in a push on the Afghan capital, Kabul, intelligence analysts and sources among the militia have revealed.

The thrust will involve a concerted attempt to take control of surrounding provinces, a bid to cut the key commercial highway linking the capital with the eastern city of Jalalabad, and operations designed to tie down British and other Nato troops in the south.

Winter offensives are very tough for the Taleban because the snows significantly cut down the access to the "safe base" mountain areas along the Afghan/Pakistan border leaving them more limited on resupply, support, and retreat.

The assumption, I guess, is that they now have a strong enough foothold in the south of the country to conduct their rear operations there, but at the same time, this could allow NATO a key opportunity to ravage an isolated force.

This is a big gamble from their side.

The question is, I guess, just how much civilian support does the Taleban now have in southern Afghanistan? I think it's alot. This winter could decide that war.

Also of note in Afghanistan,
British forces in southern Afghanistan are experiencing periods of lockdown in two key areas, halting patrols to avoid suicide bombings by the Taliban. A senior officer called the security threat "critical".


Blogger has been erroring all day for me(java error?), and it's finally back.

Picture of the Day