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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Picture of the Day

(AP) "The Romney strategy is very clear — win Iowa, get a bounce to New Hampshire, win New Hampshire and write yourself a check for the Feb. 5 states and start advertising," said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns but is unaffiliated this election.

If Romney writes himself a sizable check in January, his spending might be evident, but the size of his contribution would not be a public record until mid-February, well after the nomination is likely to be sewn up."

(Mitt Romney greets audience members after a campaign stop at the Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire October 4, 2007. REUTERS/Brian Snyder)


(NYTimes) The chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo has stepped down citing interference from a supervising general at the Pentagon.
They said he also pushed the prosecutors to frame cases with bold terrorism accusations that would draw public attention to the military commission process, which has been one of the central legal strategies of the Bush administration.

(AP) Musharraf won the vote, but now everyone waits to see if the Supreme Court rules his candidacy illegal.

(NYTimes) Young Christians in Lebanon are joining militias in preparation for a civil war.

(WaPo) A group of US interrogators from WWII decry the current policies of torture, saying they didn't need it against the Nazis.

(CNN) The US has detained a Sunni member of parliament in Iraq after he was picked up in a raid.

And, (Aswataliraq) Two Sadrist clerics were assassinated in the growing conflicts in Basra.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Aimless Quickhits

(AP) A brewing scandal at Oral Roberts University. Mostly pretty standard misappropriation and abuse claims against the son and family of the founder. All except this:
Mrs. Roberts -- who is a member of the board of regents and is referred to as ORU's ''first lady'' on the university's Web site -- frequently had cell-phone bills of more than $800 per month, with hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. to ''underage males who had been provided phones at university expense.''

That'll get your attention. (It has to be the daughter, right?)

(NYTimes) The Republican candidates are backing Bush on the SCHIP veto.

And, (Ambinder) Another Republican money group (re)forms to press the "Reagan" politics. (Now we know why Newt said he wouldn't run. There's all that 527 and PAC money he can get his fingers on.)

More on the Israeli airstike on Syria

Just a different version from somewhere else.
In attacking Dair el Zor in Syria on Sept. 6, the Israeli air force wasn't targeting a nuclear site but rather one of the main arms depots in the country.

Dair el Zor houses a huge underground base where the Syrian army stores the long and medium-range missiles it mostly buys from Iran and North Korea. The attack by the Israeli air force coincided with the arrival of a stock of parts for Syria's 200 Scud B and 60 Scud C weapons....

Damascus immediately appealed to several Palestinian groups with strong ties to Syria to retaliate. But Hamas, whose strategy chief Khaled Meshal lives in exile in Syria, refused to act. That was also the case of Hezbollah, which sent its political adviser, Hussein Khalil, to Damascus to signify the movement's reluctance to strike back at Israel.

I don't know the original source, "Intelligence Online," but this seems to jibe with the more realist interpretations rather than the crazy and unfounded nuclear claims.

I'm probably going to keep talking about this until I figure out what went on.

UPDATE: (ABC) "The September Israeli airstrike on a suspected nuclear site in Syria had been in the works for months, ABC News has learned, and was delayed only at the strong urging of the United States....

A senior U.S. official said the Israelis planned to strike during the week of July 14."

(This story repeats the nuclear assertion.)

Picture of the Day

(A U.S. soldier walks past the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, on September 3. Getty)


Take a minute to appreciate that when we talk about "corruption in Iraq," we're talking about at least $18 billion so far, and it's believed to be getting worse. ($100-150 to plant an IED. $100+ for an AK. $500,000 for 9/11....)

(Kuna) "The US army said Thursday its troops arrested one of the most major financiers of terrorism who is charged with delivering some USD 100 million to Al-Qaeda Organization in Iraq.... The detainee used to travel abroad to lobby and raise funds for Al-Qaeda, the statement said, noting that the man was charged of paying some USD 50,000 to Al-Qaeda members a month."

(NYTimes) "A police chief, a government official and a tribal leader who allied with American forces were killed in separate attacks across Iraq on Thursday."

(On the Iskandariyah mayor, (AP) "Suspicion for the killing fell on Shiite extremists jockeying for power ahead of expected provincial elections." (Don't hear about Shia roadside bombs very often.))

And, This is what battle looks like in Iraq
In Friday's pre-dawn raid on the Shiite militia members, U.S. aircraft repeatedly bombed the neighborhood in Khalis, a Shiite enclave about 50 miles north of Baghdad, according to an Iraqi army official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. At least 24 were killed, 28 were injured, most of whom were in critical condition, and several others were missing, he said.

He said civilians were killed when they rushed out to help those hurt in the initial bombing.

But, frankly, there's really no other way to do it.

Later: On the same attack, (NYTimes) "Accounts Differ on U.S. Attack That Killed 25 Iraqis"

USAToday wins the prize

In a USAToday article on the US shutting down insurgent web sites.
For some Arab viewers who don't regularly view Western media, the overwhelming impression from the videos could be that militants are winning.

Pakistani supreme court delays election results

The Pakistani Supreme Court has accepted petitions that Musharraf cannot stand for reelection while maintaining his role as Army chief. While the petitions are under consideration, the election will be allowed to go forward on Saturday, but the results will be withheld until the court's decisions are rendered. Hearings on the petitions resume Oct. 17. (AP, BBC, NYTimes)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sen. Larry Craig says he's not queer, but he's still there, so get used to it.

Larry Craig's petition to get his bathroom hijinks plea deal revoked was rejected, but he says he's going to serve out his term. Incredible.

Later: Something to watch for: I saw Ed Rollins on Hardball make a rather veiled threat to Larry Craig saying that a Senate Ethics Investigation would likely include a public review of past allegations and evidence, some of which would be very graphic.

Sound like the Repubs are threatening Craig to get him to resign.

Picture of the Day - 3

(An unidentified spectator wears a t-shirt as she sits in the crowd as President Bush speaks on the budget in an event sponsored by the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2007 in Lancaster, Pa. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais))

Republican fundraising/Cash on hand

We're finally getting the fundraising numbers for Giuliani ($11 million) and Romney ($10 million + $8.5 million of his own money.) Both raised about half of Clinton and a little more than half of Obama.

But what really caught my eye was the cash on hand figures.
Giuliani's campaign income for the July-September quarter left him with $16 million cash on hand, aides said Thursday. Of that, about $12 million is available for the primary contests. Romney had $9 million on hand for the battle for the Republican nomination.

I don't have the Clinton or Obama cash on hand figures, but doesn't $12 million in the bank 3 months before the primaries seem pretty slim? Especially since they'll have to spend in New York, California, Texas, etc. by late Jan/Feb.?

(As Reality Based Educator pointed out the other day, "primary money" is to be spent up until the conventions next August and September. That's a long time if the fundraising inequities stay where they are.)

The fundies backing a third party against Giuliani?

James Dobson "clarifies" the reports out of the big "Christian" conservative meeting in Salt Lake City last Saturday.
After two hours of deliberation, we voted on a resolution that can be summarized as follows: If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate. Those agreeing with the proposition were invited to stand. The result was almost unanimous.

Later: Looking past face value on this, what a devious attempt to undermine the general election "electability" argument the Giuliani campaign was hoping would carry them through the primaries.

(By the way, is it a coincidence that Cheney was in Salt Lake City the day before?)

If we elect a woman as president, do we get to pay her 30% less?

(Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton waves after speaking at a conference in September 2007. (AFP/File/Tim Sloan))

Iraq - The US against the Iraqi government (and vice versa)

(WaPo) Iraq will buy $100 million of weapons from the Chinese to equip their security forces, saying the US is too slow to provide.

(Note: This will offer screening for the Chinese weaponry currently being brought in from Iran. There will be no way to tell if a Chinese weapon in militia hands came from this order or through Iran. It's perfect cover for the Iranian transfers, provided by the Iraqi government.)

(AP) "The largest Shiite political coalition in Iraq (UIA) demanded Tuesday that the U.S. military abandon its recruitment of Sunni tribesmen into the Iraqi police force.... the most direct rebuke to a policy that U.S. military officers hold up as one of their most important achievements over the past year."

(FT) "
US military officials in Baghdad on Wednesday defended their support of local anti-insurgent volunteer organisations, the day after the country’s largest political bloc attacked the programme as an “adventure” and accused participants of kidnap and murder."

(AFP) "
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday that Blackwater should leave the country because of the mountain of evidence against the under-fire US security firm."

(BBC) Iraqi Kurds sign four oil deals.

(AFP) "The White House on Wednesday declined to criticize four controversial oil deals inked by Iraq's Kurdistan regional government in defiance of criticisms from leaders in Baghdad." (What's going on here?)

(AP) The mayor of Iskandariyah, a Dawa party member was killed by a roadside bomb.

Picture of the Day

I thought this might capture today's mood. (see next.)

(The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is swept clean prior to remarks there by President Bush in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, March 3, 2005. REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

But I thought we didn't torture.....

First, look at the timelines. The administration put in these "interrogation tactics," including waterboarding, after February 2005. (Presumably about when Comey started to leave.)
When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.

But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

Second, we get reporting the President reinstated secret prisons and torture, even after the Supreme Court ruled them illegal.

After the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda, President Bush for the first time acknowledged the C.I.A.’s secret jails and ordered their inmates moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The C.I.A. halted its use of waterboarding, or pouring water over a bound prisoner’s cloth-covered face to induce fear of suffocation.

But in July, after a monthlong debate inside the administration, President Bush signed a new executive order authorizing the use of what the administration calls “enhanced” interrogation techniques — the details remain secret — and officials say the C.I.A. again is holding prisoners in “black sites” overseas. The executive order was reviewed and approved by Mr. Bradbury and the Office of Legal Counsel.

Later: The White House confirms the secret legal decisions, but "denied that the tactics violated earlier government decrees against torture."

Political bits

(AP) That crazy Catholic Archbishop is now saying he would deny Giuliani communion. (First the evangelicals, now the Catholics....)

(NYSun) Maybe the reason McCain is backing off his "Christian President" statements is because now the Jewish Anti-Defamation League is after him.

(WaPo) Polling shows that Bill Clinton is an asset to Hillary Clinton. (But what's really interesting was the ABC reporter on Nightly News referencing the same poll to say that Bill Clinton polled as more of an asset to Hillary Clinton than 9/11 polled as an asset to Rudy Giuliani.)

(CNN) NM Sen. Pete Domenici is expected not to run in 2008.

And, the reviews of Thompson on the stump are pretty harsh.
Twenty-four minutes after he began speaking in a small restaurant the other day, Fred Thompson brought his remarks to a close with a nod of his head and an expression of thanks to Iowans for allowing him to “give my thoughts about some things.” Then he stood face to a face with a silent audience.

“Can I have a round of applause?” Mr. Thompson said, drawing a rustle of clapping and some laughter.

“Well, I had to drag that out of you,” he said.

Roger Simon's Politico column has a pretty funny and fairly long collection of some of Thompson's stump inanities.

Picture of the Day - 4

(The local Sudanese security chief, who only gave his first name as Omar, blocks former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, left, from meeting representatives of ethnic African refugees in Kabkabiya town in Darfur, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2007. Carter got in a shouting match Wednesday with Sudanese security officials who blocked him from a town in Darfur where he was trying to meet representatives of ethnic African refugees from the ongoing conflict. (AP Photo/ Alfred de Montesquiou))

The best ex-President, ever.

Just how dangerously incompetent is my government?

Another "TOPOFF" terror drill is set to be conducted, this one focusing on fictional dirty bombs in Portland, Phoenix, and Guam. (Guam?)

But what really caught me in this article is that they still haven't published the results from the 2005 TOPOFF exercise, one of whose elements was the release of pneumonic plague.

Tell me this doesn't sound like the drill went horribly wrong, and an ungodly number of fictional people died.
Yet even as this drill begins, details from the previous national exercise held in 2005 have yet to be publicly released — information that's supposed to help officials prepare for the next real attack....

According to a brief summary of the 2005 exercise — marked For Official Use Only, but obtained by AP — problems arose when officials realized the federal government's law for providing assistance does not cover biological incidents.....

"The most recent Top Officials (TOPOFF) exercise in April 2005 revealed the federal government's lack of progress in addressing a number of preparedness deficiencies, many of which had been identified in previous exercises," according to the White House.

It's not good for America when people know their government is dangerously incompetent. Gotta keep that quiet. It's a national security issue.

Giuliani's dolphin

First we had the guy in the dolphin costume following Mitt Romney at CPAC. ("Flips" on issues.) Then it was the duck following Fred Thompson. ("Ducking" debates.) Now, Giuliani's got this guy to deal with.
Giuliani ignored a demonstrator who showed up in a Rudy mask and a dark suit, holding a plastic Little Tikes phone and wearing a hand-lettered sign, “Hold On … My Wife Is on the Phone,” a reference to the candidate’s startling decision to take a call during a recent speech to the National Rifle Association.

(PS. Still no Giuliani fundraising numbers?)

Picture of the Day - 3

(AP) "Bush vetoes child health insurance plan"

There's not even a mention of it on the White House's page.

(President George W. Bush speaks about the budget during a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania October 3, 2007. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The inevitability behemoth rolls on

Just a few days ago, the press had started to turn on Hillary Clinton, but one pumped up fundraising report and some new polling trending her way, and the press is once again gaga.

(I think it's a statement on how we conduct politics that the media shift comes, not because of some major speech or policy statement, but because of "horserace" factors.

She introduced a health plan and got kicked around for how she laughed. She raised a bunch of money and suddenly the press loves her.

This is how we pick our leaders.)

A mystery on the Israeli/Syrian airstrike

I don't really know what this means, but I find it intriguing. Haaretz reports that online databases that track ship arrivals were altered after the Israeli airstike on Syria, removing the N. Korean flag designation on a ship that docked in Syria.

I don't know....


I'm not writing about the Blackwater incident because, to me, it's not a surprise that Blackwater shot first. If you've kept a close eye on Iraq, you know that the contractors have been trigger happy since day one.

It's really inevitable in the structure of their engagement. Unlike US soldiers who serve in the military at least in part out of a belief in service to their country, the foot soldiers of Blackwater and other contractors are in Iraq for the money. Is it any surprise that those who self selected for personal interest would shoot first to stay alive, especially without any limitations that they wouldn't?

Picture of the Day - 2

An Iraqi man sits among the ruins of a home in the Baiyaa neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad, Iraq on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007. (AP Photo/ Hadi Mizban)

What the US enforces in Iraq....

In the wake of the IED attack that wounded the Polish ambassador.
U.S. authorities confiscated an AP Television News videotape that contained scenes of the wounded being evacuated. U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl told the AP the government of Iraq had made it illegal to photograph or videotape the aftermath of bombings or other attacks.

As an avid watcher of the images out of Iraq, I have to say that this ban on photographs after attacks has been nearly complete. There have been almost no pictures of attacks on any news service in the many months since this picture ban has been imposed. From a propaganda point of view, it has been hugely successful.

More than the numbers, more than the stories, the pictures of the attacks, of the bodies in the streets, conveyed the brutality of Iraq. Now, those images are gone, and come to find out, the US is helping to enforce that policy.

I think it's the only law in Iraq that's actually enforced.

If you're watching the Pakistani pre-election....

One from the government, (AP) "Musharraf would share power with Bhutto"

One from the opposition, (AFP) "Former Pakistani premier Bhutto says power-sharing talks stalled"

And, a "state of play" from the NYTimes.
Opposition parties, meanwhile, intensified their campaign against General Musharraf’s re-election, filing new legal challenges against his eligibility in the Supreme Court. At the same time, more than 80 legislators resigned from the National Assembly, and almost as many others resigned from provincial assemblies.....

Ms. Bhutto’s party did not take part in the mass resignation from Parliament to protest General Musharraf’s bid for re-election.....

General Musharraf needs the participation of her Pakistan Peoples Party in the election so it is not seen as being completely robbed of legitimacy.

Musharraf's allies want the emphasis on the fact that they're offering "amnesty" to Bhutto so she can return. "Bhutto, though, dismissed the amnesty offer. "It's absolutely wrong, the news the corruption charges have been dropped," she said, adding: "It's a disinformation campaign run by...the head of the intelligence bureau."

With the way the election has been structured, there's little question Musharraf will win. The main question is how much (or how little) legitimacy the election will be seen to have had.

Also: Another story (WaPo) with experts screaming that the political turmoil in Pakistan is degrading the Pakistani efforts against the Taleban/Al Qaeda.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Israel confirms Syria airstrike

Not too much more detail than a confirmation of the two week old Israeli airstrike on a military construction site in northern Syria.

Still nothing to support the neocon claims of a Syria/N. Korean nuclear partnership. The Israelis are staying strategically mum on the target. (Did Bush sign off on the attack?)

Picture of the Day - 3

You can almost feel the isolation and disdain as he suffers through the Iowa Christian Alliance Conference.

Not as much fun as he thought it'd be.

(Republican presidential hopeful former Sen. Fred Thompson sits at his dinner table at the Iowa Christian Alliance Conference in Clive, Iowa, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Kevin Sanders))

The Giuliani fundraising numbers must be bad,

The Giuliani campaign sent out an "internal" memo today (certainly intended to for the mainstream press) that tries to make the Giuliani case.

No real surprises, but I gotta figure if they're out there trying to frame their case today, after Clinton's eyepopping fundraising total, they're trying to make their "pro" argument before their total becomes public.

(Oh, and don't miss the projected electoral map provided by the Giuliani camp which shows Giuliani winning 210 electoral votes, Clinton winning only 18, with all the rest listed as "swing." It must hurt to spin that hard.)

Later: I just keep going back to that phrase after Giuliani fired his top fundraiser. Insiders said, "they remained confident that Giuliani will have the resources he needs to get his message out."

The Republican Hispanic outreach is officially over

When Sen. Mel Martinez was named the titular chair of the RNC last November, it was always a bit of a transparent joke to try and curry the hispanic vote.

Well, I guess after shouting "Dirty Mexicans!!" for a couple years and skipping all the Hispanic debates and events, the Republicans finally accepted that a token appointment wasn't enough.
U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, who took over as the first Hispanic chairman of the Republican National Committee earlier this year with a pledge to reach out to minorities, is expected to resign the post early next year.

In a brief interview, Martinez, of Orlando, said Monday that he would quit after a GOP presidential nominee is selected in early 2008 because "it was a logical time."

My money's on another white guy.

Our "ally" Pakistan has priorities other than Al Qaeda

More and more we're hearing experts screaming about a collapse in the Pakistani efforts against the Taleban and Al Qaeda. Today's entry is ABCNews and the LATimes had a good piece about a week ago. But understand that for a crumbling Pakistani government, Taleban/Al Qaeda are not a priority. They're far more concerned with the near sham elections this weekend, and trying to reconsolidate their power after that.

Really, the Taleban represents a violent, but minor, threat to Musharraf and his allies. The real threats come from the center and left of Pakistani politics.

Today, (AFP) Pakistan grants amnesty to Bhutto.

(AFP) Musharraf names a successor as Army Chief assuming he wins the very controlled election process.

(AP) Pakistani opposition quits parliament

The way this election is structured, the equivalent of a Republican held Congress recertifying a Bush presidency before the 2006 midterms, there is no question that Musharraf will win, but that will not likely end the process or pressure on the government.

The bottom line is that Musharraf and his allies will spend the foreseeable future focused on their politics, not on the unpopular effort in the tribal regions. In the meantime, Taleban and Al Qaeda will get to keep their safe haven.

This is what happens in a weak state.

Picture of the Day - 2

Clinton announces $27 million raised in 3rd quarter. $22 million in primary money. That's not too much over Obama's $19 million in primary money, but compare it to the Repubs.

Thompson reported $8 million. Romney reported $10 million (without the $7 mil. of his own money.)

Still waiting for Giuliani. (After this, I'm betting Giuliani doesn't want to announce today.)

(Hillary Clinton and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums hold hands at Laney Community College in Oakland, Calif., Oct. 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma))

The Dems dirty political secret

The political layout for 2008 looks to be this: The political shape of the Iraq debate (Republicans want Iraq, Dems don't) is likely to carry the Dems to larger majorities in the House and Senate and likely will win them the presidency.

No shocker there. But ask yourself what 2008 might look like if they actually took some steps to end the war?

Right now, the Dems find themselves with a winning constituency of antiwar Dems and a big majority of antiwar independents, and, although that constituency might favor ending the war, to actually do so would be a political risk.

The cold truth is that within this political mood the Dems are at far more risk of losing the independents than the antiwar Dems. The antiwar Dems will stick with their party and vote for Dem candidates because they have nowhere else to go, but the independents could easily shift their perceptions if the Dems forced a drawdown and things go badly.

I don't believe that the Dems are intentionally tanking Iraq legislation to maintain this situation, but frankly, there's nowhere for the Dems to go but down on the Iraq issue.

Right now they've staked out the middle on the dominating issue of our day, it's not really in their interests to take steps to resolve it.

It's interesting to watch the Dem presidential candidates play this game. It is utterly key that they continue the perception that they would end the war, but, at the same time, avoid any vote losing explanations of how they would actually do it.

The cold reality is that the Dems are far better off with the perception that they will end the war than if they actually ended the war.

If only you voted out a few more Republicans......

(And maybe I should mention the Republican Iraq quagmire. I'll do that later or tomorrow.)

(Spawned by the combination of the WaPo frontpager Most in Poll Want War Funding Cut: Bush's Approval Rating Ties All-Time Low and its associated polling graphs, and the AP, Senate approves $150 billion in war funding 92-3.)

It's Sadr, not the US, who determines violence levels in Iraq

It is indubitable good news that the deaths in Iraq were down in the month of September, but I want to reiterate my point that Moqtada al Sadr has far more to do with the level of violence than US actions or tactics.

If you look back, every significant dip in casualties just happens to coincide with a Sadr proclamation to "pull his forces back" or somesuch.

It is the repeated conceit of many opining on Iraq that the US is driving the situation there rather than the Iraqis themselves.

Gordon Brown continues the British drawdown

The British are slowly leaving Iraq. The latest announcement is 1,000 more troops out by Christmas, and a possible security handover of Basra in two months.

They're on a glide path for withdrawal, but I think it's a political concession to the US that they will announce it in these little incremental steps.

Picture of the Day

(Not intended as a crack on his religion, but) Romney is always good with the babies. Clinton and Edwards are, too.

(Mitt Romney kisses 6-month-old Bennett Covington as he poses for a picture with the baby and his mother, Liz Covington, Thursda, September 27, 2007 , during a campaign stop at an IHOP in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Rich Pedroncelli))

Monday, October 01, 2007

But wouldn't the Iraqis rather have the money?

Doing a little quick thumbnail math:
The Congressional Research Service estimates that as of May 2007, Congress has approved a total of about $610 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The $190 billion request for 2008, if fully approved, would raise that total to approximately $800 billion.

Making a somewhat random guess that Iraq constitutes 75% of that money, that would mean that roughly $600 billion will have gone to Iraq by FY2008.

$600 billion/27 million Iraqis = $22,222 /Iraqi.

Using the UN's estimate that an Iraqi family constitutes 6-8 people, that would mean between $133,300 and $177,700 will have been spent per Iraqi family.

The estimates for Iraqi income are all over the place, but, in effect, the US will have spent enough to have supported most Iraqi families for multiple generations.

(For a baseline might I offer, from CNN: "The median income in Iraq was equivalent to about $255 (366,000 dinars) in 2003 and decreased in the first half of 2004 to about $144 (207,000 dinars)." CIA Factbook: GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,900 (2006 est.))

(PS. With roughly 150 million US taxpayers, it's about $4,000 per taxpayer although that burden is not really evenly distributed.)

Picture of the Day - 3

Very weird.

First Lady Laura Bush is seen with with an outfit she wore to President George W. Bush's second inauguration in 2005, at the 'First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image' Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Politcal bits and Fundraising

(AP) Obama raises $19 million.

(Politico) McCain's campaign is leaking a figure around $5 million, but still carrying $2 million in debt. (Not enough to dig out of his hole.)

(Ambinder) Fred Thompson is projecting $8 million, but that reportedly comes off 70,000 (?) contributors. (If true, that means he's getting lots of small donations where he can go back and get more, however, it also seems to indicate that he hasn't found that much big money backing.... and $8 million in two months hardly seems the pent up wave his supporters have spun.)

(WSJ-OpEd) John Fund says that Giuliani has pulled the "phone stunt" over 40 times. (Also an ugly description of Giuliani tearing up a woman in the audience when her cell phone went off.)

(DMRegister) Fred Thompson goes back to WMD to justify Iraq.

And, Rick Santorum mulls a future as a Pa. Gov. candidate? Doesn't he remember what happened just 10 months ago?

Picture of the Day - 2

(NYTimes) "The United States maintained its role as the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world in 2006, followed by Russia and Britain, according to a Congressional study to be released Monday. Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia were the top buyers."

(No Iraq in that list? I guess they're not really "signing agreements.")

(Bigger picture if you click it.)

Political bits - fundraising

Fundraising stories and estimates from the AP and WaPo.

(Short version: Clinton and Obama expected to be $17 million and up. Edwards at 7-ish, and Richardson at an impressive $5 million.

Romney $10 million-ish with another $6-7 million of his own money thrown in. No early estimates from Thompson or Giuliani. The early grumblings were that Thompson was running low considering this is his first quarter, and Giuliani replaced his fundraising head which doesn't seem to indicate a banner report.)

Picture of the Day

Pakistan lawyers scuffle with police during a clash in Islamabad, Pakistan on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007. Riot police fired tear gas and used batons on protesting lawyers as Pakistan's Election Commission considered the validity of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's re-election bid. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

(AFP) Pakistan's police chief and two other officials were ordered suspended by the Supreme Court for the response to this protest.

Meanwhile, on Musharraf's other side, (AP) "A burqa-clad woman blew herself up and killed at least 15 people Monday at a crowded police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan,....

In recent months, militants have staged almost daily attacks on security forces in North Waziristan since scrapping a peace agreement with the government."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bill Richardson raises $5.2 million, but from where?

I admit, Bill Richardson raising $5.2 million this quarter and $18 million overall for his presidential campaign is pretty impressive, but I gotta wonder where that money's coming from.

I mean, who is giving $18 million to a presidential campaign that, quite frankly, doesn't really have a chance.

Is it "lobbying the New Mexico governor" money? Or "I may need to know the Dem VP" hedge bets? Hispanic money?

(I wonder how many Richardson donaters also show up on the Clinton or Obama lists.)

Picture of the Day - Giuliani's religious troubles

I find it really hard to believe that this will ever come to pass, but the fact that all the major religious right leaders came to an agreement to consider a third party "pro life" candidate if Giuliani gets nominated lays out the minefield ahead of him.

That would kinda torpedo his whole "electability" argument.

(Photo: AP/Joe DeMaria)

Later: The NYTimes blog has a longer version.

More rumblings on bombing Iran

Sy Hersh was on CNN describing the White House's shift in propaganda in their desire to bomb Iran. Instead of framing it as a nuclear justification, they are going to try to frame a bombing under a "terror" justification.

The bottom line is, that they want to bomb Iran. The justification is secondary.

(It sounds to me like the push is set to begin next month targeting the friendly experts (AEI outward to other Republican national security experts through the holidays,) with the big public PR rollout coming early next year. I would guess their goal is spring.

The next round of UN Security Council sanctions is set to be decided in November with the Russians and Chinese, at this point, still looking likely to veto.)

The full Sy Hersh piece is here.

The Brits pull back

(Independent) "Gordon Brown is preparing to announce the withdrawal of a substantial number of Britain's remaining troops in Iraq as soon as Parliament returns next week. Up to half the force of 5,500 could be on their way home in the next few months.....

Under a series of scenarios being drawn up by aides, between 2,000 and 3,000 troops would remain in Iraq into next year in an "overwatch" role...."

Rumblings of a push on Iran

From the way this is written, you should probably put it more in the "rumors" category, but still add it to the growing pile of evidence that a political push for war with Iran is coming.
American diplomats have been ordered to compile a dossier detailing Iran's violations of international law that some fear could be used to justify military strikes against the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.

Members of the US secretariat in the United Nations were asked earlier this month to begin "searching for things that Iran has done wrong", The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

Oh, and then there's this, unsourced and unsubstantiated, but interesting.
Concern is also growing in the CIA and the Pentagon that the White House exaggerated intelligence used to justify an Israeli air raid on a suspected nuclear facility in Syria earlier this month, which some neo-conservatives hope is a precursor to war with Iran.

The only people saying nuclear are those who want to attack Iran.