Wednesday, November 30, 2005


80 Vincent Square, London SW1P 2PE
10am - 8pm

With delegates including Tony Benn, Cindy Sheehan, Jawad al Khalissi and many others from Iraq, USA & UK

The grave threat to international peace posed by the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq is now clear for all to see. The people of Iraq and the citizens of Britain and America have time and again insisted that they are opposed to war and occupation. We believe it is now time for representatives of those people to meet together face to face, to renew our bonds of solidarity and to express our joint opposition to war.

To that end a broad and representative conference attended by a delegation of Iraqis drawn from all those sections of society rejecting the US and British occupation will meet in London on 10th December 2005.

We call on all peace campaigners, trade unionists, the congregations of all faiths, non-governmental organisations, progressive campaigns, community organisations and political parties to send delegates to this conference.

We the undersigned call on the real representatives of the people of Britain, the United States and Iraq to join us in London and to issue a call for peace that will echo around the world.

Tony Benn Clare Short MP Jeremy Corbyn MP Alan Simpson MP Caroline Lucas MEP Adam Price MP John Pilger Tommy Sheridan, MSP Colin Fox MSP Billy Hayes, General Secretary CWU Hans von Sponeck, former UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq Denis Halliday, former UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq George Galloway MP Rose Gentle, Military Families Against the War Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War Coalition Kate Hudson, Chair, CND Paul Mackney, General Secretary NATFHE Tariq Ali Andrew Murray, Chair, Stop the War Coalition John Rees, Vice President Europe, The Cairo Conference Sami Ramadani, Iraqi Democrats Against the Occupation Mark Curtis Tony Woodley, General Secretary T&GWU Sabah Jawad, Iraqi Democrats Against the Occupation Harold Pinter George Monbiot Jeremy Dear, General Secretary NUJ Camden NATFHE."-from the Stop the War Coalition. More details here.

Murtha says Army 'broken, worn out'

"The U.S. Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand-to-mouth" from fighting in Iraq and may not be able to meet future military threats to this country's security, U.S. Rep. John Murtha said Wednesday. "They're barely getting by," said Murtha, a ranking member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Defense.

"They're drawing back on equipment buys down the road," said the Democrat, who was in Latrobe, Westmoreland County, yesterday to address an invited group of community and business leaders. "We are not able to buy the equipment because of the cost of the war."

Murtha, of Johnstown, Cambria County, said the Pennsylvania National Guard is "stretched so thin" that it won't be able to deploy fully equipped units to Iraq until next year because of equipment shortages and a lack of training for soldiers. They can deploy individuals. They can't deploy units. The equipment is worn out," he said.

Murtha said it will cost $50 billion to upgrade military equipment because of the war, but the government has begun reducing future equipment purchases to save money.

Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver, spokesman for the National Guard at Fort Indiantown Gap, said "there are some deployment concerns." But he said most of the 2,100 Guard members currently deployed with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team cannot be sent to Iraq for a second tour of duty because military regulations limit the number of times they can be redeployed. Clever said some units had to leave their equipment in Iraq when they returned to the United States, and that could cause problems with training.

Murtha predicted most of the U.S. troops will be out of Iraq within a year.

"I predict he'll make it look like we're staying the course," Murtha said of President Bush. "Staying the course is not a policy."

On Nov. 17, Murtha, a Korean and Vietnam war veteran, publicly called for an immediate troop withdrawal, touching off a political firestorm in Congress that hasn't abated. "We have to change direction. That's going to happen. ... It's just a matter of time," he said yesterday. "If I had my way, they'd be out sooner." Murtha also is pessimistic about the stability of Iraq and the lack of trust between American and Iraqi forces. He said the Iraqis know who the insurgents are but don't always share their knowledge with the United States.

He also believes a civil war is likely because of internecine strife between the Kurds, who control northern Iraq, and Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Murtha said he was wrong when he voted to allow the president to invade Iraq and believes Bush should admit that he made mistakes.

"I admit I made a mistake when I voted for war. I'm looking at the future of the United States military. For some reason, they don't want to admit their mistakes," he said.

Iraqis are fed up with the American occupation because of the personal toll it is taking on their lives, the congressman said. When the U.S. military took back Fallujah from insurgents, American bombings and attacks left 150,000 people homeless.

"A military victory is unattainable if you don't win the hearts and minds of the citizens," he said. "It's time to turn it over to the Iraqis. They'll let us fight there forever."-from the story in Thursday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

''Dean on Bush's Failed Iraq Policy''

"Today, the President failed to give an honest assessment of what's really happening on the ground in Iraq. Instead he released thirty-five pages of rhetoric and gave a speech full of slogans, but no clear plan. Let's be clear, 'stay the course' is a slogan, not a strategy.

"By failing to address critical factors on the ground, President Bush doesn't seem to care what the facts are, and you can't lead when you don't care what the facts are. It's troubling that with his credibility on the line, in the face of widespread concern from the American people, and a bi-partisan vote of 'no confidence' in the Senate, President Bush still refuses to produce a real strategy for success that includes benchmarks and a process for measuring success. The American people should have seen a plan for success at the start of the war, not after three years and more than 2,000 lives lost. Our troops are serving with honor and courage, and they deserve a plan not more slogans.

"Democrats will continue to fight for our troops, promote a real strategy to keep America safe, and work to bring the War in Iraq to a successful conclusion. Together, America can do better."-from the DNC.

REMINDER: Howard Dean is on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno later this evening. (Full Disclosure: I am now hearing from viewers back east that he is on last and not long enough.)

''Pelosi Calls for Withdrawal From Iraq''

"House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday embraced a call by a prominent member of her rank-and-file to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, two weeks after she declined to endorse it.
"We should follow the lead of Congressman John Murtha, who has put forth a plan to make American safer, to make our military stronger and to make Iraq more stable," Pelosi said. "That is what the American people and our troops deserve."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., accused Pelosi of playing politics with the war. "This war and the safety of the American people is simply too important for flip-flopping or indecision. We cannot afford to retreat," he said in a statement.

Republicans have criticized Murtha's plan as one of "cutting and running."

Pelosi, D-Calif., said she wouldn't call for a party caucus position on the plan by the Pennsylvania Democrat because "a vote on the war is an individual vote."

Nevertheless, she said, "I believe that a majority of our caucus clearly supports Mr. Murtha."

Two weeks ago, Murtha called for U.S. troops to begin returning home and said a complete pullout could be achieved in six months. He introduced a resolution in the House that would force the president to withdraw the 160,000 troops "at the earliest practicable date."

Murtha, a Vietnam combat veteran and Marine, voted in 2002 to give President Bush the authority to go to war. He has been a strong supporter of the military and an influential voice on defense issues during his three-decade House career — and his position switch set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill.

At the time, Pelosi emphasized that Murtha spoke only for himself, and not for her or the Democratic caucus.

She changed her position at a news conference after Bush sought to lay out the administration's Iraq strategy in a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy.

"I'm endorsing what Mr. Murtha is saying, which is that the status quo is not working and that we need to have a plan that makes us safer and our military stronger and makes Iraq more stable," she said. "I believe that what he has said has great wisdom."

A day after Murtha's Nov. 17 announcement, Republicans sought to put the House on record rejecting immediate withdrawal and forced a vote just before adjourning for Thanksgiving break. Democrats called the vote a political stunt meant to undermine Murtha and limit debate on the war. Most in the minority party, including Pelosi and Murtha, voted against immediate withdrawal in what they said was a protest, making the tally 403-3 against it.

Pelosi's counterpart in the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., hasn't endorsed Murtha's plan. "While Senator Reid does not agree with the immediate withdrawal plan Congressman Murtha proposed, he does respect the congressman for coming forward with a plan," Rebecca Kirszner, a Reid spokeswoman, said.

Some Senate Democrats support a phased withdrawal based on political and military conditions in Iraq, but not Murtha's plan.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said he and other Democrats in the Senate believe the United States needs an exit strategy for U.S. troops in which there are "certain measurements for that success over a period of time."-from the AP story.

''Dems will win House and Senate in 2006''

"2005 has been a good year for Democrats. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has trained and hired local organizers on the ground in 49 states. These organizers are critical to our victories in 2006 and beyond.

We’ve shattered the 2001 post-presidential-year fundraising record, despite not being able to collect soft money. Through our grassroots Democracy Bonds program, we’ve doubled the number of monthly givers to the DNC.

Our leaders in the House and Senate stuck together on issues such as fiscal responsibility and Social Security, and they continue to pressure the administration for the truth about manipulating prewar intelligence, sending a strong message that Democrats will fight for what is right.

And for the first time in recent memory, the DNC, the Democratic House and Senate leadership and Democratic mayors and governors are sitting at the same table to create policies and strategies for restoring honest government and fiscal responsibility to America.

The early results in California, Virginia and New Jersey are good. Local races in St. Louis, Parkersburg and Minnesota, where we picked up seats that had been Republican for up to 58 years, are even better.

This is a solid beginning, but there is more we must do. Cutting the fundraising advantage the other party enjoys from 3-1 to 2-1 is good but not good enough. Sticking together on the budget and supporting Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) great courage are good starts, but we need to continue to work together on judicial nominations, environmental legislation, trade and jobs to send effectively the message that we are again ready to lead the American people with purpose and in a fundamentally new direction.

In 2006, Democrats will take back the House and the Senate. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have done an excellent job recruiting strong candidates, and we are already investing in the local infrastructure to ensure they win. But the key to winning is running a national campaign based on our different vision and the themes that Democrats around the country have put forward.

Americans of all political persuasions are tired of and worried about the culture of corruption that Republicans have brought to Washington and to so many statehouses around America. We will offer real ethics reform and election reform so that the Government Accountability Office can report in three years that we can have confidence in our voting machines.

We will offer a program for American jobs that stay in America and for energy independence that will create jobs and wean us off of foreign oil.

The only president to balance a budget in the past 37 years was a Democrat. We will do that again.

We will offer a real tax-reform program that helps the middle class pay for it by eliminating the shocking waste and giveaways the Republican Congress and president have added to the budget and subtracted from revenues in the past five years.

We will join the 36 other countries that manage to include all their citizens in their health-insurance systems while simultaneously balancing their budgets.

We will provide a strong public education system by avoiding bureaucratic federal mandates and taxpayer-funded puff pieces. We will rely on local control while requiring real standards that work nationally.

We will offer Americans real security. We all agree that 2006 must be a transition year in Iraq. While we may have different ideas about tactics and timing, it’s clear we must change course. The vision of strategic redeployment set forward by Brian Katulis and former Reagan Defense Department official Lawrence Korb offers a likely roadmap to success that we can coalesce around.

We will offer the American people a government that is honest in preparing for any deployment of American troops and honor their sacrifice when they come home.

Most important, we will talk about Democratic values, which are America’s values.

The vast majority of Americans believe it is immoral to lets kids go hungry. We agree. The other party cuts school lunches (they just can’t seem to leave that one alone.)

Americans believe it is immoral that not everyone has some kind of health insurance. We agree.

The vast majority of Americans believe that government overreaching into personal and family decisions is wrong. We agree.

Americans believe that it is immoral to leave huge debts to our children and grandchildren. We agree.

Americans believe that using issues to divide us as a country to win elections is bad for America. We will restore America’s sense of community.

Together, America can do better. And in 2006, the Democrats will lead America to do just that."-Howard Dean, today in The Hill.

''the costliest engineering mistake in American history''

"The floodwall on the 17th Street Canal levee was destined to fail long before it reached its maximum design load of 14 feet of water because the Army Corps of Engineers underestimated the weak soil layers 10 to 25 feet below the levee, the state's forensic levee investigation team concluded in a report to be released this week.

That miscalculation was so obvious and fundamental, investigators said, they "could not fathom" how the design team of engineers from the corps, local firm Eustis Engineering and the national firm Modjeski and Masters could have missed what is being termed the costliest engineering mistake in American history.

The failure of the wall and other breaches in the city's levee system flooded much of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore Aug. 29, prompting investigations that have raised questions about the basic design and construction of the floodwalls.

"It's simply beyond me," said Billy Prochaska, a consulting engineer in the forensic group known as Team Louisiana. "This wasn't a complicated problem. This is something the corps, Eustis, and Modjeski and Masters do all the time. Yet everyone missed it -- everyone from the local offices all the way up to Washington."-from The Times-Picayune (LA) story today, "17th Street Canal levee was doomed." If you believe bad news "comes in threes," this article, along with the one below, is not a good omen.


"For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins."-from the commentary in the Forward Newspaper, by Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University. He is the author of "Transformation of War" (Free Press, 1991). He is the only non-American author on the U.S. Army's required reading list for officers.

''Tough Call - or Not''

This cartoon from the Village Voice gives us a history lesson and then poses a question that employs the first name of two American political figures whose last names are Nixon and Cheney.-from In other cartoon-based news, "'Doonesbury' Strip Showing Bush Defending Frat Torture at Yale is 'Fact-Based,' Says Garry Trudeau," from Editor&Publisher.

Democrats would be wise to avoid the ''Romney Line''

This journalism professor emeritus at Western Washington University says any Democrat who admits he was fooled by Bush's lies is open to the charge that they aren't sharp enough to be president. Who does that leave us?-from the Seattle Times op-ed. RAW STORY has "Democrats respond to Bush speech."

''Seymour Hersh on Where the Iraq War is Headed Next''

He talks about the war and he expands on his views in The New Yorker piece this week. He talks about the Democrats and Murtha and Bush and what the generals are telling him. He talks about scary death squads, CIA prisons, etc. etc. It's an interview with Amy Goodwin from Democracy Now!You can listen, watch and/or read it. It's quite amazing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

''Sy Hersh on Today Show''

Nice to see the mainstream media picking up on this, via Crooks and Liars. Thanks to Annie Robbins for the tip.

''Journalists Report Evidence of Hundreds of Sunnis Executed in Iraq''

"On Saturday, when former Iraqi leader Ayad Allawi charged that human rights abuses in the country were as bad, or worse, today compared with Saddam Hussein's reign, current officials denied the charge. Now troubling new stories have emerged from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Knight Ridder."-from Editor&Publisher.

'War on the media: 'Don't bomb us''

"For some time, and other outlets have been reporting on the Bush Administration's contempt for the media and its attempts to manage and spin coverage.

Writing in this week's Nation, John Nichols and Robert McChesney catalogue the various strategies that have been deployed, charging, "with its unprecedented campaign to undermine and, where possible, eliminate independent journalism, the Bush Administration has demonstrated astonishing contempt for the Constitution and considerable fear of an informed public."

But would it actually attempt to "take-out" media institutions and kill or otherwise silence journalists? Would it bomb a TV station? How far will this government go?

We know that other governments have shown little restraint. An Indonesian and a Russian journalist were poisoned in high profile cases. Others have been "disappeared," killed, jailed and tortured. Groups like Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of reporters compile the cases and regularly call for justice.

In our country, the Committee to Protect Journalists has played that role well with important documentation and action alerts. Each year, usually at a fancy hotel in New York, they also have a pricey fundraising dinner hosted by network anchors in tuxedos who give prestigious awards to gutsy journalists and freedom of the press advocates. All the big media companies buy tables and pat themselves on the back for upholding the first amendment. They make videos honoring the courage of media messengers. Unfortunately, those videos and their stories rarely get on the air in their networks. In my book The More You Watch, The Less You Know, I derided the annual feel-good affair as "human rights for a night."

Why aren't these companies speaking out when other media organizations like Al Jazeera are threatened and attacked? What are they doing to demand independent inquiries into the killings of journalists and media staff? The toll in Iraq now stands at 93, and the Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad says the US military poses a bigger threat to newsgathering than the insurgents. (Reuters has bravely challenged the Pentagon to tell the truth!)

And where is the ongoing investigation of the recently leaked information about President Bush's alleged desire to bomb Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar? Al Jazeera offices had been attacked before in Afghanistan and Baghdad. One of their journalists has been killed and others jailed. Their staff and some media groups have protested but many media outlets are not following up or expressing outrage.

Did major media outlets tune out of the story because the White House dismissed it as "outlandish"? Jeremy Scahill writes:

"Is the allegation 'outlandish,' as the White House claims? Or was it a deadly serious option? Until a news organization or British official defies the Official Secrets Act and publishes the five-page memo, we have no way of knowing. But what we do know is that at the time of Bush's White House meeting with Blair, the Bush Administration was in the throes of a very public, high-level temper tantrum directed against Al Jazeera. The Bush-Blair summit took place on April 16, at the peak of the first US siege of Falluja, and Al Jazeera was there to witness the assault and the fierce resistance.

"A day before Bush's meeting with Blair, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld slammed Al Jazeera in distinctly undiplomatic terms:

REPORTER: Can you definitively say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have not been killed?

RUMSFELD: I can definitively say that what Al Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.

REPORTER: Do you have a civilian casualty count?

RUMSFELD: Of course not, we're not in the city. But you know what our forces do; they don't go around killing hundreds of civilians. That's just outrageous nonsense. It's disgraceful what that station is doing.
"What Al Jazeera was doing in Falluja is exactly what it was doing when the United States bombed its offices in Afghanistan in 2001 and when US forces killed Al Jazeera's Baghdad correspondent, Tareq Ayoub, during the April 2003 occupation of Baghdad. Al Jazeera was witnessing and reporting on events Washington did not want the world to see."

Al Jazeera staffers now have a blog called "Don't bomb Us."

One staffer Yousef Al-Shouly writes: "My mother (78 years old) used to tell me before going to work 'my son take care', but yesterday she asked me 'is it true that they want to bomb your TV station? Don't go to work.'"

Their staff staged a symbolic protest. They are aware that the Clinton Administration bombed the TV station in Belgrade and the Bush Administration did the same to the Iraq TV Headquarters in Baghdad. Al Jazeera demands that the British government disclose its secret document and confirm or deny the truth of the allegations. The Bush Administration must do the same.

In the USA, more subtle means are used to stop aggressive reporting. Bill Moyers describes the pressure that came down on his PBS show NOW in the new issue of Broadcasting & Cable. He is asked about bias, responding: "We were biased, all right - in favor of uncovering the news that powerful people wanted to keep hidden."

In the past, we know that low-powered radio stations in the US were shut down by the FCC until the agency changed its mind on the issue. We also know that our government runs TV stations to put out propaganda packaged as news. The BBC has just launched an Arabic service with British government funds to compete with Al Jazeera.

The time has come for the world media to denounce threats and actions by governments and media companies who squelch truth-telling. Truth is often a casualty of war and that's why we need the MediaChannel's "Tell The Truth About The War Campaign."

Please respond to this simple appeal posed by a journalist at Al Jazeera who with his colleagues has had to face down threats, incitement, putdowns, and indifference. Yousef Al-Shouly says powerfully:

"My colleagues and I need your support. So do Tayseer, Sami, Tareq, and Rashid's kids - we want to know the truth. Simply because we are men and women who bring you the news."-from The Smirking Chimp.

''Dean flops as boogeyman''

"We're now at the rough one-year anniversary of the DNC chairmanship battle, in which us netroots hooligans helped propel Dean to the top of the DNC. We outmaneuvered Kerry, who wanted to install Vilsack and then Sheehan by fiat. We outmaneuvered Reid and Pelosi, who wanted Tim Roemer. We outmaneuvered Mark Brewer of the Association of Democratic State Chairs, who wanted to Donnie Fowler. (Here's Ryan Lizza's take on the whole affair.)

This was the first tangible "victory" for the netroots in its struggle for supremacy of the Democratic Party. But I don't bring this up to gloat. Rather, I bring it up to point out how little of the Dean Doomsday Scenario actually played out.

More specifically, the notion that Dean would be a boon to Republican propaganda efforts has completely falled flat. Remember those? Dem insiders were quaking in their shoes, Republicans were salivating at the chance to remind America how far-left and craaazzzyy those Democrats were with Dean at the top.

Yet you don't hear Republicans trying to make hay of Chairman Dean anymore. Why would they? Middle America proved, yet again, that they could give a rat's ass about who runs the political parties, whether it's Dean or the GOP's closeted homosexual robot. And while those early attacks on Dean fell flat with the general American public, Dean supporters responded with cash. Every attack on Dean suddenly became an impromptu DNC fundraisier worth tens of thousands in the bank.

Republicans aren't stupid. They're corrupt, craven, opportunistic and generally unpleasant, but they aren't stupid. So it wasn't long before the anti-Dean attacks ceased. (Well, Liddy Dole includes Dean in her fundraising emails, but given her fundraising performance thus far, even the GOP base couldn't give two shits.)

While the true measure of Dean's success will be the 2008 elections (rebuilding the party takes time, regardless whether we make gains in 2006 or not), the early praise from his fiercest Democratic detractors and the unilateral ceasefire from the Republican side proves that he's not the Scary Liberal Boogeyman many feared he'd be.

Update: Dave Weigel emailed me this:

Apropos of your post about Dean failing as a Republican bogeyman, I wanted to share some context about how the Virginia GOP tried to use Dean in our elections this year. Before Dean was elected, the GOP linked him to Tim Kaine.

The GOP linked Kaine with Dean again as soon as Dean was elected.

The GOP was also quick on the trigger with press releases demanding Tim Kaine respond to Dean's "outrageous" comments. Here's one example.

They kind of gave up on this as the race closed, but it's fun to look back and see how little momentum they got out of this. After all, the Virginia GOP got a ton of mileage in the 90s linking Democrats to Bill Clinton."-Kos on Kos.

Monday, November 28, 2005

''Seattle Weekly merger goes through''

Geov Parrish is disturbed by changes in ownership at The Weakly--from Eat the State! Thanks to Brenda at Washington State Political Report.

''The Democrats get a face''

"No journalist, no human being is truly objective. Most do try to be fair. Let me be upfront: I like and respect Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania. And not only for what he has done -- forsaking the safe harbor of his college student deferment at 19 during the Korean War to enlist in the Marine Corps, then after becoming a husband and the father of three, volunteering at the age of 33 for combat in Vietnam, where he was twice wounded and received the Bronze Star with Combat "V," two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

I like him, because he has never forgotten where he came from. Long before he retired as a colonel, he had been an enlisted man. He knows that the most important people in the U.S. military are not the generals with their drivers and their fawning attaches, but the sergeants and the junior officers to whom he has always talked directly and whose cause, and their families', he has made his own.

I like him because, having been with him, I know he goes every week to Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Navy Hospital to encourage the young Americans who have lost their limbs, their eyesight, and their youth in the occupation of Iraq. And because, unlike so many of the Washington Warriors sporting their Old Glory pins on their lapels, Jack Murtha goes to the wakes and the funerals of the fallen, whose names he knows and whose families he seeks to console.

I like him because he is very good in his chosen profession, because he fights resourcefully for every available buck, public and private, for his untrendy, lunch-bucket hometown of Johnstown and his district. Don't get me wrong: Jack Murtha is no plaster saint. He has his faults and character defects -- but he is authentic.

My record on predictions is worse than the car-crashing Billy Joel's on driving. Who else guaranteed that a.) the 1998 TV show " Sports Night " would run longer than "Cheers" and b.) President John Kerry would not seek a second term? But I recently got one right, two days before Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., single-handedly transformed the national debate about the wisdom and duration of the commitment of U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq.

In a personal interview before his public statement, Murtha spoke passionately about the plight of Marines and soldiers in Iraq "who cannot speak for themselves," of how immediately after U.S. abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, attacks on Americans multiplied and American casualties doubled.

On his most recent trip, he found that U.S. "commanders are truly discouraged" and clearly angry. He reported U.S. "generals are living in the palaces" that had been the property of Saddam Hussein's regime. He quoted a poll indicating that 82 percent of Iraqis want the United States out of their country and 45 percent believe that attacks on U.S. troops are justified. It came back always to the Americans in uniform having "become the target of the insurgency."

I predicted that the speech he was about give to would have the same impact on the debate over Iraq that former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite had on February 27, 1968, when he spoke of the near-certainty that "the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate." President Lyndon Johnson said: "That's it. If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America." Murtha did not believe me.

What made it all true was the venality and stupidity of the Republicans. From the personality-challenged White House press secretary accusing him of "surrender" to the clueless, but venomous, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, unaware of his combat record, accusing Murtha of being a " coward," Republicans made Jack Murtha the most prominent Democrat in town.

As one astute Senate Republican aide observed to David Rogers of The Wall Street Journal, "If the House Republicans want to make Jack Murtha the face of the Democratic Party, then Republicans will really be trounced next year."

Congressional Democrats, a large majority of whom need vertebrae transplants and are terrified of taking any position on Iraq, mostly kept their distance from Murtha until they realized that public reaction had swung his way. They then embraced him. The gentleman from Pennsylvania has changed the terms of the national debate, and Democrats should be so lucky as to have Jack Murtha as their party's 2006 face."-Mark Shields, on


Seymour Hersch's new article in The New Yorker is making waves for its suggestion that the war in Iraq will become an air war, much like Vietnam did, as the current administration draws down the troop levels. It's a long piece. "ademption" comments on Kos about its main points, for the ADDs like me out there. Update: Crooks and Liars has video and commentary about "Seymour Hersh with Blitzer."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

''Governor race may set course for nation''

"Lines are drawn as Ohio prepares for '06 showdown; experts say win here may buoy victorious party in battle for White House---Next year's race for Ohio governor hinges on just how much voters care about this year's scandals in Columbus.

Democrats see the Republican troubles as their best chance in more than a decade to reclaim state offices, while Republican candidates are divorcing themselves from the past to maintain their 16-year stronghold. Both sides are predicting an expensive, high-stakes battle that will gather plenty of national attention. And Ohio voters' choice of red state or blue state in 2006 will serve to set the stage for the 2008 presidential race.

Herb Asher, retired political science professor at Ohio State University and an expert in Ohio politics, put it this way: ``The road to the White House in 2008 goes through Ohio in 2006. This will be among the most significant statewide elections in the country. This will be a pitched battle.''

National focus

The troops already are parachuting in. The Democratic National Committee already has paid $500,000 for the salaries of five additional staffers in Columbus -- four field organizers and an extra communications person -- as an investment toward 2008. ``The way we put money in is to pay competent, qualified people from Ohio to be in Ohio for a couple of years,'' said former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, now chairman of the DNC. ``We have five people on the ground now. We think we're going to win Ohio top to bottom.''

And like a general preparing for a fight, Dean is planning a visit to Ohio this winter to survey the battleground. ``Politics in Ohio is pretty rotten and I think people are going to want that changed,'' he said."-excerpted from the story in the Akron Beacon Journal (OH).

''Gov. Gregoire gives radio address''

"This morning, Governor Christine Gregoire delivered the the Democratic response to President Bush's weekly radio address. It was aired on stations across the nation, including affiliates of ABC, AP, C-SPAN, NBC/Mututal/Westwood One, NPR, UPI, USA, American Urban Radio Network, Armed Forces Radio Network and Standard News Radio.

Here is the text of the governor's address:

"Good morning. This is Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire.

We Americans have much to be thankful for this holiday weekend. We are especially grateful for the courage and patriotism of American men and women serving away from home and overseas, who weren't able to be with their loved ones this Thanksgiving.

As a nation blessed with so many gifts, it is fitting that we also assist those among us who are in need. With record high energy prices, Democratic Governors across the country are helping those who can't afford to heat their homes. In Washington State, I have asked legislators for additional state funding for low-income home energy assistance to keep our neighbors warm.

In New Mexico, Governor Richardson called a special legislative session to help citizens deal with high energy costs, and they're now receiving rebate checks to help cover rising energy costs. Pennsylvania Governor Rendell announced an agreement to build the nation's first waste-coal-to-diesel plant - a project that will reduce energy bills for Pennsylvania's residents and reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil.

Democratic Governors are implementing strong, innovative energy policies in our states. We're controlling rising prices and reducing our use of foreign oil by embracing alternative energy sources. For our nation to keep pace with the energy demands of the coming century, we need a comprehensive energy policy - with commitments from the states and federal government.

Sadly, we simply can't rely on the Republican-controlled Congress to create a national energy policy that works.

President Bush and the Republican Congress have the wrong values and the wrong priorities. They continue to cut spending for programs Americans value and need the most.

They are cutting medical care to the most vulnerable. They are cutting education programs and they are putting the dream of a college education out of reach for many people.

Our American values are pretty basic. We want to know their families are safe, that we have access to health care, and that our children can get a good education that will allow them to pursue their career dreams.

But the President and the Republican Congress are out of touch with these values. They are abdicating their responsibility by cutting homelandsecurity, health care and education programs.

It doesn't stop there.

Here in Washington State, the President and Congress have shortchanged the cleanup of the federal government's Hanford nuclear reservation.

The cleanup is the largest in the nation and essential to protecting the environment and economy of the Northwest. But now the Administration is cutting vital funds and is in full retreat from its commitment to clean up the dangerously polluted site.

The Republicans also continue to ignore the dramatic increase in health care costs. In Washington State, I made sure this year that 40,000 children have insurance coverage, and I intend to cover every child by 2010.

Governor Minner of Delaware has launched the first-in-the-nation program to pay for cancer treatment for those who can't afford it. Thanks to Governor Vilsack's leadership, 94 percent of Iowa's children now have health care. And 10 days ago, Illinois became the only state in the nation to offer health care to every single child with the governor's "All Kids" program. These policies are making a real difference for Americans across the country. But we cannot do it alone.
American values are clear. We want a better education for our children, affordable health care, help with skyrocketing heating bills, and good jobs.

Democrats are working to meet those goals. Because we know that together, America can do better.

Thank you and God bless the United States."-from Andrew's post on the Northwest Progressive Institute Blog. Kinda bland and boring, but the substance is good. Remember back in late 2004 when Kerry and Dean and Moveon joined forces with Democrats from all across the country to finance the recount?

''What A Good Idea Josh''

John Feit in The Stranger wants to dump Congressman Jim, but Carl Ballard at Washington State Political Report thinks that's not such a good idea. Let the liberal bloodletting and Stranger bashing begin.

Friday, November 25, 2005


"We woke up yesterday morning to this news: Sunni tribal leader and his sons shot dead.

“Gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms shot dead an aging Sunni tribal leader and three of his sons in their beds on Wednesday, relatives said…”

Except when you read it on the internet, it’s nothing like seeing scenes of it on television. They showed the corpses and the family members- an elderly woman wailing and clawing at her face and hair and screaming that soldiers from the Ministry of Interior had killed her sons. They shot them in front of their mother, wives and children… Even when they slaughter sheep, they take them away from the fold so that the other sheep aren’t terrorized by the scene.

In war, you think the unthinkable. You imagine the unimaginable. When you can’t get to sleep at night, your mind wanders to cover various possibilities. Trying to guess and determine the future of a war-torn nation is nearly impossible, so your mind focuses on the more tangible- friends… Near and distant relations. I think that during these last two and a half years, every single Iraqi inside of Iraq has considered the possibility of losing one or more people in the family. I try to imagine losing the people I love most in the world- whether it’s the possibility of having them buried under the rubble… or the possibility of having them brutally murdered by extremists… or blown to bits by a car bomb… or abducted for ransom… or brutally shot at a checkpoint. All disturbing possibilities.

I try to imagine what would happen to me, personally, should this occur. How long would it take for the need for revenge to settle in? How long would it take to be recruited by someone who looks for people who have nothing to lose? People who lost it all to one blow. What I think the world doesn’t understand is that people don’t become suicide bombers because- like the world is told- they get seventy or however many virgins in paradise. People become suicide bombers because it is a vengeful end to a life no longer worth living- a life probably violently stripped of its humanity by a local terrorist- or a foreign soldier.

I hate suicide bombers. I hate the way my heart beats chaotically every time I pass by a suspicious-looking car- and every car looks suspicious these days. I hate the way Sunni mosques and Shia mosques are being targeted right and left. I hate seeing the bodies pile up in hospitals, teeth clenched in pain, wailing men and women…

But I completely understand how people get there.

One victim was holding his daughter. "The gunmen told the girl to move then shot the father," said a relative.

Would anyone be surprised if the abovementioned daughter grew up with a hate so vicious and a need for revenge so large, it dominated everything else in her life?

Or three days ago when American and Iraqi troops fired at a family traveling from one city to another, killing five members of the family.

"They are all children. They are not terrorists," shouted one relative. "Look at the children," he said as a morgue official carried a small dead child into a refrigeration room.

Who needs Al-Qaeda to recruit 'terrorists' when you have Da’awa, SCIRI and an American occupation?

The Iraqi Ministry of Interior is denying it all, of course. Just like they’ve been denying the whole Jadriya torture house incident and all of their other assassinations and killing sprees. They've gone so far as to claim that the Americans are lying about the Jadriya torture house.

In the last three weeks, at least six different prominent doctors/professors have been assassinated. Some of them were Shia and some of them were Sunni- some were former Ba’athists and others weren’t. The only thing they have in common is the fact that each of them played a prominent role in Iraqi universities prior to the war: Dr. Haykal Al-Musawi, Dr. Ra'ad Al-Mawla (biologist), Dr. Sa'ad Al-Ansari, Dr. Mustafa Al-Heeti (pediatrician), Dr. Amir Al-Khazraji, and Dr.Mohammed Al-Jaza'eri (surgeon).

I don’t know the details of all the slayings. I knew Dr. Ra’ad Al-Mawla- he was a former professor and department head in the science college of Baghdad University- Shia. He was a quiet man- a gentleman one could always approach with a problem. He was gunned down in his office, off campus. What a terrible loss.

Another professor killed earlier this month was the head of the pharmacy college. He had problems with Da’awa students earlier in the year. After Ja’afari et al. won in the elections, their followers in the college wanted to have a celebration in the college. Sensing it would lead to trouble, he wouldn’t allow any festivities besides the usual banners. He told them it was a college for studying and learning and to leave politics out of it. Some students threatened him- there were minor clashes in the college. He was killed around a week ago- maybe more.

Whoever is behind the assassinations, Iraq is quickly losing its educated people. More and more doctors and professors are moving to leave the country.

The problem with this situation is not just major brain drain- it's the fact that this diminishing educated class is also Iraq's secular class… "-Riverbend, on her blog, Baghdad Burning. I'm still hoping the New Yorker will see fit to publish her. Thanks to The Smirking Chimp for the tip.

''Hacker to try to attack state voting machines''

"A computer hacker will be trying to break into one of California's electronic voting machines next week, with the full cooperation of the secretary of state. Harri Hursti, a computer security expert from Finland, will be trying to demonstrate that voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems are vulnerable to attacks by computer hackers seeking to manipulate the results of an election.

"This is part of our security mission,'' said Nghia Nguyen Demovic, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office. "We want to make sure that every vote is counted and registered correctly.'' The stakes are high for Diebold, one of the nation's largest manufacturers of electronic voting systems. The company is trying to get its new voting system approved for use in California, the nation's biggest market, but Secretary of State Bruce McPherson refused certification after 20 percent of the new, printer-equipped voting machines malfunctioned during a July test in San Joaquin County.

"The secretary said that performance wasn't good enough,'' Demovic said. The new security test, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, will play a role in Diebold's future certification efforts. Last May, Hursti and another computer security expert tested a Diebold system for the elections supervisor in Leon County, Fla. They quickly broke into the system, changed the voting results and inserted a new program that flashed the message "Are we having fun yet?" on the computer screens.

"Granted the same access as an employee of our office, it was possible to enter the computer, alter election results and exit the system without any physical record of this action,'' said Ion Sancho, the election supervisor, in a report on the county's Web site. The California test will use a randomly selected voting machine from one of the 17 counties that use a Diebold system -- either touch screen or optical scan machines. The original plan for the test would have used a machine provided by Diebold, something opposed by the state and the critics of the company. "We want to test a machine that's already been used in a California election,'' said Jim March, an investigator for Black Box Voting, the consumer group bringing in Hursti for the test. "We want to avoid a so-called 'lab queen,' a voting machine specially rigged for the test.''

Black Box Voting and other groups have complained that the programs loaded into the Diebold machines can be undetectably changed to provide a specific election result. Officials of the company argue their machines provide secure, accurate results. Officials of the company did not return telephone calls Wednesday. Diebold has been a popular target, for those worried about the security of electronic voting and for Democrats complaining about the company's links to the Republican Party.

In 2003, the head of Diebold's parent company, a major backer of President Bush, wrote a fund-raising letter to Republicans, saying he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." The company was trying to sell voting machines in Ohio at the time and Democrats saw the letter as more than just the usual effort to raise campaign cash. The complaints grew even louder when Bush edged Democratic Sen. John Kerry in Ohio in the 2004 election marked by widespread complaints in that state of alleged voting irregularities.

The company also has a checkered record in California. Problems with the company's electronic voting system caused disruptions at 180 Alameda County precincts during the March 2004 primary election. During the October 2003 recall election, several thousand votes for Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante in Alameda County were somehow electronically transferred to Southern California Socialist John Burton.

In May 2004, then-Secretary of State Kevin Shelley yanked certification of the Diebold machines in four counties and restricted their use in 10 other counties until their security and reliability could be improved.

The state has mandated that all electronic voting machines have a paper-ballot backup to record votes by the June 2006 primary.-from the story in the San Francisco Chronicle. Thanks to Jason Call for the tip.

Update: Brad Blog is now disputing some of the facts in this article: "It seems that the reports from California are less than accurate. They say that the test machine will be chosen from among machines used in 17 counties. That has never been agreed to by the state or Diebold. In fact, Hari Hursti has never been invited to fly over from Finland and no details have been set-up with BBV, according to Bev Harris. For some reason either the state or Diebold, or both, are misrepresenting the facts. A call to the California Elections Division found that everyone seems to be taking the day off...."

"Democratic lawmakers lament Iraq war vote"

"Three years ago, Massachusetts congressmen Martin Meehan, Stephen Lynch and Edward Markey bucked their state Democratic colleagues and cast votes to give President Bush a green light to go to war in Iraq.

Since then, the three have renounced their votes and emerged as critics of the way Bush has handled the war. Unlike the dramatic public change of heart by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam, the three congressmen said they began gradually re-evaluating their views soon after the U.S.-led invasion, when no weapons of mass destruction were found.

"The war was based on the false premise that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons program," said Markey, who accused the administration of "manipulating facts." They are not the first to express regret about their pro-war votes. Several members of Congress, including Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Robert Wexler, D-Fla., have had changes of heart about Iraq.

But for Meehan, Lynch and Markey, the shift has paid political dividends, helping them mend fences with top state Democratic leaders such as Sen. Edward Kennedy, and anti-war liberals who are active in the party ranks. "I'd say that we have been the most vocal state delegation in the entire country in criticizing the president's handling of the war in Iraq," said Meehan, an early advocate of a phased troop withdrawal.

As Bush's popularity slumps, public support for the war crumbles and U.S. casualties mount, Democrats nationwide are stepping up their attacks on the president and pressing for a clearer exit strategy. "There's been a rift in the Democratic Party about Iraq from the beginning," said Amy Walter, a congressional expert for the Washington-based Cook Political Report. "As the American public changes its views, it makes it easier for these guys (to change)."

Meehan, Lynch and Markey were among 126 House Democrats who voted for the Iraq war measure one year after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Their seven Massachusetts House colleagues opposed the resolution, which passed by a vote of 296-133. Their votes put them at odds with Kennedy, the state's senior Democrat and one of the party's leading anti-war voices. The votes also rankled many liberal activists.

Such core support is vital for Democrats seeking to run statewide. Meehan, Lynch and Markey, who were seen as potential Senate candidates when John Kerry ran for president in 2004 and the prospect of an open seat arose, are all considered politically ambitious.

"For those contemplating a presidential effort, this helps to get out in front of that issue three years before the first primaries, so they are on record and not waiting until the primaries to change," said Earl Black, a Rice University political scientist. "That goes for others who are not running for president as well." Back home, the three congressmen drew flak at times for their pro-war votes. Massachusetts is home to an active network of peace groups who have held several protests and vigils denouncing the war. Howard Dean's rise during the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries also stoked anti-war sentiment across the state. One Boston Common anti-war rally in fall 2002 drew an estimated 15,000 people.

Since none of the three faced major re-election challenges, they had a freer hand than most lawmakers to alter their views on the war."-from the AP story today.

''Defense hawk Dicks says he now sees war as a mistake''

"WASHINGTON — It was after 11 p.m. on Friday when Rep. Norm Dicks finally left the Capitol, fresh from the heated House debate on the Iraq war. He was demoralized and angry.
Sometime during the rancorous, seven-hour floor fight over whether to immediately withdraw U.S. troops, one Texas Republican compared those who question America's military strategy in Iraq to the hippies and "peaceniks" who protested the Vietnam War and "did terrible things to troop morale."

The House was in a frenzy over comments by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who had called for the troops to leave Iraq in six months. In response, the White House initially likened Murtha, a 37-year veteran of the Marines and an officer in Vietnam, to lefty moviemaker Michael Moore.
Then a new Republican representative from Ohio, Jean Schmidt, relayed a message to the House that she said she had received from a Marine colonel in her district: "Cowards cut and run; Marines don't."

During much of the debate, Dicks, a Democrat from Bremerton, huddled in the Democrats' cloakroom with Murtha, a longtime friend. Both men are known for their strong support of the military over the years. Now, they felt, that record was being questioned. "There was a lot of anger back there," Dicks said in an interview this week. "It was powerful. I can't remember anything quite as traumatic as this in my history here."

Near midnight, he drove to his D.C. home, poured a drink and wondered how defense hawks like he and Murtha had gotten lumped in with peaceniks by their colleagues and the administration.
And he thought about all that had happened over the past couple of years to change his mind about the war in Iraq.

Voted to back Bush

In October 2002, Dicks voted loudly and proudly to back President Bush in a future deployment of U.S. troops to Iraq — one of two Washington state Democratic House members to do so. Adam Smith, whose district includes Fort Lewis, was the other.
Dicks thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and wouldn't hesitate to use them against the United States. After visiting Iraq early in the war, "Norm told me the Iraqis were going to be throwing petals at American troops," Murtha said in an interview this week.

Dicks now says it was all a mistake — his vote, the invasion, and the way the United States is waging the war. While he disagrees with Murtha's conclusion that U.S. troops should be withdrawn within six months, Dicks said, "He may well be right if this insurgency goes much further." The insurgency has gotten worse and worse," he said. "That's where Murtha's rationale is pretty strong — we're talking a lot of casualties with no success in sight. The American people obviously know that this war is a mistake."

Dicks, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, says he's particularly angry about the intelligence that supported going to war. Without the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), he said, he would "absolutely not" have voted for the war.

The Bush administration has accused some members of Congress of rewriting history by claiming the president misled Americans about the reasons for going to war. Congress, the administration says, saw the same intelligence and agreed Iraq was a threat. But Dicks says the intelligence was "doctored." And he says the White House didn't plan for and deploy enough troops for the growing insurgency. "A lot of us relied on [former CIA director] George Tenet. We had many meetings with the White House and CIA, and they did not tell us there was a dispute between the CIA, Commerce or the Pentagon on the WMDs," he said.

He and Murtha tended to give the military, the CIA and the White House the benefit of the doubt, Dicks says. But he now says he and his colleagues should have pressed much harder for answers.

"Norm ... has agonized"

"All of us have gone through a difficult period, but Norm really has agonized," Murtha said this week.

Murtha and Dicks were appointed to the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee in 1979, three years after Dicks first was elected to Congress. They rarely have disagreed, especially in their support of the military. In October 2002, Dicks made an impassioned speech during the House debate over whether to authorize the president to send troops to Iraq without waiting for the United Nations to act.

"Based on the briefings I have had, and based on the information provided by our intelligence agencies to members of Congress, I now believe there is credible evidence that Saddam Hussein has developed sophisticated chemical and biological weapons, and that he may be close to developing a nuclear weapon," Dicks said at the time.

By spring 2003, U.N. weapons inspectors said they hadn't found hard evidence of WMDs in Iraq. But Dicks remained convinced of Iraq's threat. "We're going to find things [Saddam] had not disclosed," he said shortly before the war began in March 2003. "There is no doubt about that. Period. Underlined."

By June of that year, with no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons found, Dicks remained steadfast in his support for the war but called for a congressional inquiry into the intelligence agencies' work on Iraq. "I think the American people deserve to know what happened and why it happened," he said at the time.

That same month, Dicks was upset when a good friend, Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, was forced into retirement after telling Congress that the secretary of defense was not sending enough troops to win the peace.

Growing doubts

On July 6, 2003, Dicks awoke to read the now-famous New York Times opinion piece by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had been sent on a CIA mission to investigate a report that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear materials in Africa. Wilson wrote that he had found no evidence of such Iraqi intentions and criticized Bush for making the claim in his State of the Union address two months before the invasion. "That Joe Wilson article was very troubling," Dicks said.

Dicks grew somber about Iraq. Rep. Jim McDermott, who represents Seattle and had opposed the war from the start, talked with him about it. "Norm is a lot like Jack Murtha. These are guys with a somewhat different philosophy than me," McDermott said recently. "This an extremely difficult time for them because they have to reassess what they were led to believe" about prewar intelligence.

The White House maintains it did nothing to mischaracterize what it knew about Iraq and its weapons. Dicks' private concerns became more public two months ago. At a breakfast fundraiser on Capitol Hill, Dicks surprised the guests with a tough talk against the war. The White House last Friday called Dicks to gauge his support. House GOP leaders were pushing for a vote on a resolution they hoped would put Democrats on the spot by forcing them to either endorse an immediate troop withdrawal or stay the course in Iraq. Dicks said he told the White House that "their attack on Murtha was the most outrageous comment I've ever heard."

The resolution, denounced by Democrats, ultimately was defeated 403-3. Dicks says the Pentagon should begin a phased withdrawal and leave some troops to help maintain order and train a new Iraq army. "We've got to be very concerned that Iraq comes out of this whole," he said. But he added, "We can't take forever." Some people say it takes eight to nine years to control an insurgency, Dicks said.

"I don't think the American people will give eight to nine years, and I sure as heck won't."-from the Seattle Times story today.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

''Not Yet United for Peace''

"A Fractured Anti-War Movement---The polls leave no doubt that the sentiment against the war in the U.S. is overwhelming. Fully 60% of Americans want some or all troops withdrawn from Iraq at once; military recruitment is down and it is clear to all but the most hidebound Bush loyalists that the country was lied into war. And yet the war goes on with little sign that top Republicans or Democrats are feeling sufficient heat to call it quits. Many Dems are willing to say Bush lied, but aside from Teddy Kennedy, no major figure in either party is willing to call for immediate and total withdrawal, as opposed to exit strategies, exit discussions, etc. The Dems like the Republicans are for "staying the course."

Lefties would do well to recognize that they share more with Libertarians than with the Democratic establishment. Go to the Libertarian web site and take the test telling you whether you are a libertarian. There are ten questions and most Lefties will give a Libertarian's answer to at least six of them. The Libertarians are staunchly against the war, much more so than the Democrats and about the same as the Greens and Naderites.

One may argue that the Libertarians, traditional Right and the Left do not need to come together, that each can fight against the war in its own way. But this is not adequate for several reasons.

First, such separation is a set-up for a divide-and-conquer approach, at which the two War Parties are very adept. The Republicans can appeal to the Libertarians and traditional conservatives to support them as a lesser evil;and the Democrats can appeal to the Left to support them as the lesser evil. The net result is the dominance of the War Parties and the continuation of war, empire and the suppression of liberties embodied in the Patriot Act. And this tactic has worked well for the War Parties who have alternated in the making of war and supervision of the empire while the anti-war forces are left without a real political home. And without contact, each side is left with the stereotypes of the other, stereotypes that only reinforce their separation.

Second, at times the Left cannot reach people with an anti-war message, because of cultural factors or different philosophical outlooks. But very often these same people can be reached by others, especially by the Libertarians. In the end, a Leftist might reject the unity I am proposing, saying we need to be united not just for peace but United for Peace and Justice, the latter as the Left sees it. But this is not only bad politics but immoral to boot. Politics is not theology and we must be able to unite in the face of a grave danger as happened with the anti-colonial struggles like the one in South Africa or the anti-fascist struggles before and during WWII. The neoconservatives and their wars pose a danger to democracy every bit as threatening as fascism which neoconservatism closely resembles in many ways. And such disunity is immoral because it permits the threat to our liberty, our democratic republic to grow and the killing of innocent Americans and Iraqis to continue.

So it is time to unite. In the near future I hope we can discuss how to do this in this space and elsewhere. If all the different persuasions have confidence in their views, they will welcome the chance for discussion with those of a differing outlook. There are already grassroots groups like the Antiwar League in Massachusetts taking this approach. No one need hide his philosophical views for the sake of this unity-- merely work together in the struggle against this damned war. In the process we may all learn a lot.

If we do not unite to advance our founding vision for peace, we will perish by advancing our technology for war."-excerpted from JOHN WALSH's commentary on CounterPunch via I am putting this issue on the table only because I think it it is worth considering.

"Thanksgiving in Crawford Underway"

"Activists from around the country have begun arriving in Crawford, Texas and the Crawford Peace House for a simple Iraqi-style dinner to mark Thanksgiving this afternoon. The dozen activists who were arrested yesterday while challenging the ban on camping, or even parking, along any road near the Bush vacation ranch were released after a few hours. For setting up a tent in a ditch, each person was charged with two criminal misdemeanors, trespass and blocking an access road. Each charge carries a possible 180 day jail sentence. All were ordered to appear in front of a local judge on January 4. Cindy Sheehan is expected to arrive this evening and resume her vigil to win a meeting with Bush. Photo: Gold Star Families for Peace co-founder Bill Mitchell speaking to Mike, a 1991 Gulf War veteran from Fort Worth, Texas at Camp Casey II this morning."-from Crawford Update.

''Inslee hopes troops begin return next year''

"Having just completed a three-day trip in Iraq, Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., said Wednesday that he hoped U.S. troops would start coming home early next year and that the number of forces on the ground there is "substantially reduced" by the end of 2006.

Inslee returned to Sea-Tac Airport Wednesday afternoon after he and a bipartisan delegation of five other members of Congress visited with top U.S. generals and Iraqi political leaders to assess matters there. It was Inslee's first trip to Iraq.

Inslee, who said he has been a dedicated opponent of the war from the beginning, urged the Bush administration to focus on extricating American troops and ensuring an orderly transition to a stable Iraqi political and military leadership.

First, the only way to placate the vast center of the country -- which is non-radicalized, he said, but increasingly resentful of a seemingly indefinite U.S. presence -- is to set and stick by a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops. Just as important, Inslee said, U.S. forces needed to do a better job helping "stand up" a viable Iraqi military. That includes doing a better job supplying them with communications and transportation equipment and basic infrastructure.

"The key to the exit door of Iraq is having a working Iraqi army and police force," he said.

Toward that end, Inslee said, Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is in charge of training Iraqi security forces, told him that a fully functioning army should be up and running by the end of 2006. A stable police force should be in place by early to mid- 2007. The congressional delegation went to Baghdad and Tikrit and to a U.S. Army base. They also visited injured American troops at a military hospital at Ramstein Air Base in Germany before returning.
Inslee said he believed that morale was surprisingly high, given the casualties and the uncertainty as to when the troops might come home. He couldn't say the same about his congressional colleagues, whose partisan squabbling over the course of the war and the Bush administration's rationale for starting it has turned ugly in recent weeks.

Inslee decried the remarks of Rep. Jean Schmidt, a freshman Republican from Ohio, who Friday slammed Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., saying on the House floor that "cowards cut and run, Marines never do. There was a lot of tension that night," said Inslee, who termed Schmidt's remarks as "very loathsome. We can't have a debate where there are 'warmongers' on one side and 'cowards' on the other," he said."-from the P-I today.
Either there was nobody available at the Seattle Times to cover this, or the paper is just so chock full of ads today there isn't any room for another word. Or they decided it wasn't newsworthy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Craigslist Founder Slams U.S. Press, May Launch New Online News Project"

"Saying U.S. newspapers "are afraid to talk truth to power," Craigslist founder Craig Newmark hinted that he's about to launch a major online journalism project within the next few months that will copy the successful "wisdom of the masses" approach to classified advertising and apply it to journalism.

When talk turned to the problems plaguing the U.S. news industry, Newmark let fly: "The big issue in the U.S. is that newspapers are afraid to talk truth to power," the Guardian quoted him as saying. "The White House press corps don't speak the truth to power -- they are frightened to lose access they don't have anyway. ... The American public has lost a lot of trust in conventional newspaper mechanisms. Mechanisms are now being developed online to correct that."

Newmark also said coverage of the Iraq war and the press' involvement in the Valerie Plame case had damaged American journalism.

Writing on his blog, Newmark offered only more hints:

"I'm working with some folks on technologies that promise to help people find the most trusted versions of the more important stories... and this is personal, helping out another group not associated with craigslist. This kind of technology is intended to preserve the best of existing journalistic practices, and should help retain newsroom jobs."-from the story in Editor&Publisher.

Cindy Sheehan Goes Back to Crawford for Thanksgiving

The Lone Star Iconoclast (TX) begins their coverage here. The AP story "12 war protesters arrested near Bush's ranch" starts the mainstream media coverage. You can watch video there from MSNBC, too.

"Obama Calls on Bush To Admit Iraq Errors"

"In a 35-minute speech scheduled just days ago, Obama argued that public opinion has raced ahead of politicians in seeking a clearly etched policy that helps produce stability in Iraq and the Middle East without exposing the United States to "a war without end -- a war where our goals and our strategies drift aimlessly, regardless of the cost in lives or dollars spent."

"Those of us in Washington have fallen behind the debate that is taking place across America on Iraq. We are failing to provide leadership on this issue," Obama said."-from the Washington Post story today, covering Obama's speech yesterday. Thanks to Sirotablog for the post, "I Agree With Barack Obama," that tipped me to the story.

"Will Democratic Charges That Bush 'Lied' Lead To His Impeachment?"

"The 2006 election is shaping up to be a bitterly fought referendum on President Bush - to the point where, if Democrats win, they just might impeach him.

The "I-word" so far is mainly tossed around in the left-wing blogosphere: Barbra Streisand is calling for impeachment on her Web site, for example, as is an unofficial "progressive" site called But Democratic accusations that Bush lied to get the United States into the Iraq war would seem to lead logically to demands for his removal from office.

The level of venom infusing the Iraq debate, already toxic, has escalated in the past few days as Bush defends himself against charges of lying and Democrats accuse him of "smearing" them and questioning their patriotism.

On Monday, for example, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) charged that Bush "dishonored America's veterans and those serving today" by playing "attack politics" in a Veterans Day speech.

In the speech, Bush quoted Kerry, before he voted for the Iraq war, as saying that Saddam Hussein's "deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is a threat, and a great threat, to our national security." Bush added that it is "irresponsible" for Democrats to "rewrite the history" of how the United States went to war.

He said that the Democrats' "baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and an enemy that is questioning our will." Kerry accused Bush of charging that Democrats were "unpatriotic." Kerry also asserted that Bush did not rely on faulty intelligence before the war, "as Democrats did," but waged "a concerted campaign to twist the intelligence to justify a war (he) had already decided to fight."

And, said Kerry, "How are the same Republicans who tried to impeach a president over whether he misled a nation about an affair going to pretend it does not matter if the administration intentionally misled the country into war?"

So, here we have the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate using the I-word in an attack on Bush, albeit indirectly. I'd bet it was a trial balloon, designed to get the idea out on the table without having to accept responsibility for actually recommending it.

The idea has been floated previously by some House liberals. Last month, Congressional Quarterly reported that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said it "would be an impeachable offense" if evidence proved that Bush or Vice President Cheney authorized aides to mislead lawmakers.

In June, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, held a mock impeachment inquiry based on the "Downing Street memo" that claimed Bush had made up his mind to go to war even as he was saying that Hussein could still come into compliance with United Nations resolutions.

Kerry repeated that allegation on Monday in the course of charging that "the war in Iraq was and remains one of the great acts of misleading and deception in American history."

Newspapers also have quoted Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) as saying that "this administration has committed more impeachable offenses than any other government in history" and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) as saying that "lying to the Congress about a large public purpose such as Iraq" fit the constitutional test of "high crimes and misdemeanors" better than lying about sex, the offense that led Republicans to impeach former President Bill Clinton.

To be sure, no party leader has mentioned impeachment, but it's clear that Democrats are eagerly searching for "smoking guns" - positive proof that Bush deceived Congress and/or that Cheney helped leak the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of Bush critic Joseph Wilson.

The "special investigations division" of the minority staff of the House Government Reform Committee has produced a 30-page report alleging that in 125 appearances before the war, Bush, Cheney and other top officials "made 11 misleading statements about the urgency of Iraq's threat, 81 misleading statements about Iraq's nuclear activities, 84 misleading statements about Iraq's chemical and biological capabilities and 61 misleading statements about Iraq's relationship with al Qaeda."

In response to Bush's assertions, backed by voluminous citations, that Democrats, too, looked at U.S. intelligence and declared that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Democrats have shifted ground, declaring either that Bush had privileged information or purposely denied Congress evidence conflicting with his assertions.

The GOP response to that has been to accuse Democrats of partisanship - of accepting Clinton administration WMD assertions as true while now challenging Bush's. Some Republicans also are producing evidence to rebut charges that Bush withheld evidence that would have disproved his WMD claims.

Regardless of whether Democrats ever file articles of impeachment, it's now almost inevitable that Bush will be Topic A in the 2006 election, much as Clinton was in the 1994 and 1998 off-year elections.

In 1994, Republicans capitalized on the collapse of Clinton's health care agenda to win a net 52 House seats and regain control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. But in 1998, even though Clinton's approval rating descended as low as 39 percent after disclosures that he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Democrats gained five House seats after Republicans forecast that they would impeach him after the election - as they did.

"We overplayed our hand," said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who later became chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "The Democrats had better watch out that they don't do the same."

So far, Democrats are at the edge of overplaying their hand. They are riding a wave of popular distrust with Bush's war policy, and they're doing everything possible to boost it. This week, as Senate Minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was interpreting the Senate as having cast a "vote of no confidence" in Bush's war policy, his spokesman, Jim Manley, declared that "the contrast between Democrats and Republicans could not be clearer.

"On the same day that Senate Democrats outlined a path for success in Iraq, Republicans launched another round of misleading smears in order to improve their fortunes," he said. Manley told me he had heard no discussion among Democratic Senators about impeaching Bush. But the level of contempt for Bush among Democrats certainly rivals that among Republicans for Clinton. If they think they have a "smoking gun," I doubt Democrats can restrain themselves."-by Mort Kondracke in Roll Call, via RealClearPolitics. He thinks it's a bad thing. I don't. Going to war versus oral sex?? We need to impeach Cheney at the same time. Then it's Pelosi for president!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

''How Do We Get Out of Iraq?''

"Yesterday, for the first time, Iraqis collectively called for the withdrawal of foreign troops on a timetable. But Sunni, Shiite and Kurd leaders did not specify when that might be. Last week Representative John Murtha called for a six month timetable on withdrawing U.S. troops. He says the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. Murtha says the U.S. troops are the primary target of the insurgency. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says withdrawal plans send a message to terrorists — that if they wait, they can prevail. Should there be a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq or is it a mistake to talk about bringing home the troops when security is so bad that no one can safely drive from downtown Baghdad to the airport?"-listen to today's show in the KUOW archives. Guests include Jim McDermott and Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.). Hat tip to Susan Hu on Booman Tribune. Gen. William Odom (ret.) has posted this, "What’s wrong with cutting and running?" Tidbit: "Everything that opponents of a pullout say would happen if the U.S. left Iraq is happening already, says retired Gen. William E. Odom, the head of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration. So why stay?"

"Obama calls for troop reduction in Iraq"

CHICAGO -- Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday called for a troop reduction in Iraq and criticized the Bush administration for questioning the patriotism of people who speak out against the war.

"I believe that U.S. forces are still a part of the solution in Iraq," according to a prepared text of Obama's speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. "The strategic goals should be to allow for a limited drawdown of U.S. troops, coupled with shift to a more effective counter-insurgency strategy that puts the Iraqi security forces in the lead and intensifies our efforts to train Iraqi forces."

Following the Dec. 15 Iraqi elections, Obama said the United States should focus over the course of the next year on how to reduce its troops there.

"Notice that I say 'reduce' and not 'fully withdraw,'" Obama said.

The freshman lawmaker also joined the chorus of politicians defending decorated Vietnam War veteran Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who was criticized by the Bush administration, other Republicans and the public after calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"We watched the shameful attempt to paint John Murtha - a Marine Corp recipient of two purple hearts and a Bronze Star - into a coward of questionable patriotism," Obama said.

Obama said Americans want to find solutions to the "difficult and complicated situation in Iraq."

"The President could take the politics out of Iraq once and for all if he would simply go on television and say to the American people 'Yes, we made mistakes. Yes, there are things I would have done differently. But now that we're here, I am willing to work with both Republicans and Democrats to find the most responsible way out,'" Obama said."-from the AP story.

''Biden seeks to articulate Iraq strategy; Senate Democrats resist pullout''

"While Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) delivered a landmark speech in terms of outlining his party's strategy for Iraq, Democratic senators have yet to embrace the pullout goal of Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), who made waves in the House last week.

Aides to several Democratic senators tell RAW STORY they had not seen specific changes among Democrats' positions since Murtha's emotional call for withdrawal.

"We're waiting to see what the next steps are, but whether senators are embracing Murtha or Feingold’s (D-WI) position, I don’t think that’s out there yet," one Democratic leadership aide said.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has called for the U.S. to begin withdrawing troops at the end of 2006.

Biden's speech, delivered to the Council of Foreign Relations, sketched out a strategy that included (1) forging better alliances between Iraqi factions (the senator said he thought the current constitution had the power to divide the country) (2) strengthen the Iraqi government and its reconstruction efforts and (3) accelerate the transfer of the country's security to Iraqis.

Each of Biden's goals have already been embraced and trumpeted by the Bush Administration. Whether his specific vision -- which is illustrated in great detail -- provides a clearer articulation of the Democrats' Iraq position remains to be seen."-from RAW STORY, where you can also see the text of Biden's speech.

''Dems need serious withdrawal plan ASAP''

"I think the Dems need to claim collective ownership of a serious withdrawal plan ASAP. By this I mean a general working plan, whether John Murtha’s “beyond the horizon” redeployment or something else, upon which more specific nuts-and-bolts withdrawal procedures can be built. Such a plan should be a well-publicized feature of Brand Democrat going into 2006. And Democrats need to claim ownership of this plan now, before Republicans beat them to it.

Bush has a history of turning on a dime and assimilating former opposing positions as his own. For example, he fought the creation of the Department of Homeland Security tooth and nail, until one day in (I think ) June 2002 he declared he was for it. From that moment forward he spoke of it as if it had been his policy all along. And by adding a “poison pill” anti-Union provision, he took the issue away from the Democrats, who were for the DHS all those months that Bush was against it.

Some time soon — maybe after the December elections — Bush could announce that the “mission” is sufficiently accomplished to begin withdrawal from Iraq. And then Karl Rove and the noise machine will turn the centrist Democrats’ “cautious half-steps” into talking points arguing the Dems are against withdrawal. That sounds may farfetched, I know, but I think it is entirely in line with Bush’s past behavior.

Whether Bush likes it or not, whether he realizes it now or not, U.S. troops cannot stay in Iraq in perpetuity. One way or another we’re going to leave before Bush’s second term has expired."

Read it all here." -from PYZCH,


"THE CASE against Scooter Libby is up in the air, but the case against the press is solid."-from JOAN VENNOCHI's column in the Boston Globe, "A black mark for media."

''Lawmaker Returns Home, a Hawk Turned War Foe'' (UPDATED)

"JOHNSTOWN, Pa., Nov. 21 - Representative John P. Murtha, the hawkish Democrat who spent his political career as a staunch Pentagon supporter, came home Monday as something entirely different: an antiwar symbol.

His call last week for an American troop withdrawal from Iraq within the next six months took aback many of his own constituents and made the plainspoken former Marine colonel's homecoming on Monday a moment for re-evaluation - of the congressman, as well as of the Bush administration's strategy for Iraq.

"It's really surprising that you would see Mr. Murtha speaking out and saying that it's time to get out, and if he's saying it then it's probably so," said Becky Wicks, a Johnstown resident who said she and her family had supported President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

As recently as last year, Mr. Murtha was warning that "premature withdrawal" of American troops could lead to a civil war in Iraq and leave American foreign policy in "disarray," the exact critique Republicans lodge against him now.

The evolution of his views, he said, has been driven both by the pain of frequent visits to see injured soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center outside Washington and by his steady disillusionment with the Bush administration's handling of the war. But in some ways he is unsuited temperamentally to the role he has assumed.

"I just came to the conclusion finally that I had to speak out," he told reporters on Monday. "I had to focus this administration on an exit strategy."

"I'm hopeful I don't go too far," he said, adding that he "felt bad" last week after bringing up Vice President Dick Cheney's "five deferments" in the Vietnam era.

Mr. Cheney, in a speech on Monday in Washington in which he defended the administration's handling of the war, called Mr. Murtha "a good man, a marine, a patriot," and said Mr. Murtha was "taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion."

An insider most comfortable in the backrooms of Congress, Mr. Murtha said his goal was only to force a dialogue with President Bush on the need to draw down American forces - not lead his party's antiwar wing. Many fellow Democrats are uneasy about his call for an immediate withdrawal, fearing it will give Republicans a chance to brand them as weak on national security.
Not everyone in Johnstown is comfortable with Mr. Murtha's new role.

At a speech Monday morning to local executives and elected officials, Mr. Murtha received three standing ovations. The talk focused almost entirely on all the federal aid Mr. Murtha has been able to deliver to his district from his seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

But when he spoke briefly about Iraq, the audience seemed unsure about how to react to their congressman's public break with the Bush administration. When Mr. Murtha invited questions after his remarks, no one in the audience of several hundred came forward.

"We're all kind of perplexed," said Robert A. Gleason Jr., an insurance executive and chairman of the local Republican Committee, who said he had put aside party loyalties and voted for Mr. Murtha in the past.

The first Vietnam veteran elected to Congress, in 1974, Mr. Murtha rose to become the top Democrat on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, a post he has used to look after average soldiers' needs. He keeps a running count of the number of his constituents killed in Iraq: now 13.

Since shortly after the American invasion of Iraq, he has frequently visited wounded troops at Walter Reed, an experience that he said had gradually convinced him that the American troop presence was exacerbating the violence by giving insurgents more targets to attack.

In speeches over the last week, he has repeatedly referred to a constituent, Pfc. Salvatore Ross Jr., a combat engineer from Dunbar, Pa., who was badly wounded while landmines he was clearing near Baghdad went off. The explosion blinded him in both eyes and tore off his leg below the knee, Private Ross said in an interview. He spent more than a month in a coma at Walter Reed and later underwent more than a dozen surgeries.

Mr. Murtha visited him twice in the hospital and later arranged a ceremony in Private Ross's hometown, where he received a Purple Heart. He also arranged for Walter Reed to pick up many of his medical bills for special treatment at a private hospital, Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

Only a year ago, though, Mr. Murtha wrote in the epilogue to the paperback edition of a biography he wrote with a former aide that "an untimely exit could rapidly devolve into a civil war, which would leave America's foreign policy in disarray as countries question not only America's judgment but also its perseverance."

But in several trips to Iraq in the last year, he said that he became convinced that the military was not making progress at defeating the insurgency. Yet, he said, the Bush administration ignored his efforts to open private discussions on devising a bipartisan course change.

A letter on Iraq that Mr. Murtha said he sent to Mr. Bush last year did not get a reply until five months later, and then from a underling at the Pentagon, he complained.

"I deserve more respect than that," he said.

Mr. Murtha said he began discussing his growing unease with the military presence in Iraq with longtime advisers, including two retired generals and a former secretary of the Army, whom he would not identify. They urged him not to call publicly for a withdrawal, he said, but as his doubts about the war grew, "they finally came around."

Even Mr. Gleason, the local Republican chairman, predicted that Mr. Murtha's stance would cause him no significant political problems in next November's elections.

Though most voters lean Democratic in this blue-collar region, they are generally conservative. President Bush only lost the district by 8,000 votes in 2004.

Even so, no Republican has yet announced a run against Mr. Murtha, although that may speak as much to Republican concerns over the political climate and the 2006 election as it does about Mr. Murtha's popularity in his district.

His break with the Bush administration could still entice a candidate into the race. But years of delivering federal money from his Appropriations Committee seat has made him all but invulnerable, Mr. Gleason conceded.


Colonel Denies Disparaging Murtha

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 - A colonel in the Marine reserves has taken issue with how his views were represented in a Republican attack last week on Representative Murtha.

Speaking on the House floor on Friday, Representative Jean Schmidt, Republican of Ohio, asserted that the colonel had "asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, marines never do."

But a spokeswoman for the colonel, Danny R. Bubp, said Ms. Schmidt had misconstrued their conversation.

While Mr. Bubp, a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives, opposes a quick withdrawal for forces, "he did not mention Congressman Murtha by name nor did he mean to disparage Congressman Murtha," said Karen Tabor, his spokeswoman. "He feels as though the words that Congresswoman Schmidt chose did not represent their conversation."

Asked to respond on Monday, the congresswoman's office said only, "Mrs. Schmidt's statement was never meant to disparage Congressman Murtha."-from the New York Times article. "Mean Jean lied when smearing Murtha" is how Kos put it.

Update: From the AP story, "Murtha Says Americans Agree With Him": "Murtha said he specifically asked more liberal members of his party not to step forward to support him because "I didn't want (the public) to think this was a Democrat position plotted from the left wing." And he expressed confidence that terrorist bombings in Iraq would cease once U.S. troops were gone and Iraqis became solely responsible for their destiny."

Monday, November 21, 2005

''Iraqi leaders stand with Democrats, against Republicans'' (UPDATED)

"How else to interpret this?

'Iraqi leaders, meeting at a reconciliation conference in Cairo, urged an end to violence in the country and demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq.

In a final statement, read by Arab League chief Amre Moussa, host of the three-day summit, they called for "the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces." No date was specified.'

Democrats have increasingly joined the chorus for a withdrawal timetable. The American public want us out. The Iraqi leadership want us out. The Iraqi people clearly want us out. The Pentagon has even begun work on withdrawal plans.

It's only Republicans who want to keep us there indefinitely."-from Kos. Update: The AP has a new story out, "Iraqi Leaders Call for Pullout Timetable." Tidbit: "Reaching out to the Sunni Arab community, Iraqi leaders called for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance."

''Leaving Iraq, the right way''

"The status quo in Iraq is untenable. It is slowly but surely eroding American power and weakening our ability to keep Americans secure. But simply shifting gears into reverse and implementing a hasty withdrawal from Iraq is not the answer.

The only measure of where and when to use our military forces is: Does it make us safer? Nearly 31 months into the continuous deployment of more than 100,000 troops to Iraq, the clear answer is that having such a large number of troops on the ground is actually diminishing our security and not making Iraqis more secure.

The United States must begin redeployment in January, right after Iraq has its next election - whether to elect a permanent government or an assembly to draw up a new constitution. The Bush administration has left us with no better choice.

We believe the United States needs to pursue a plan of strategic redeployment - a threat-based strategy to target U.S. efforts against global terrorist networks and bring greater stability to Iraq and its neighborhood.

Strategic redeployment is a phased plan for drawing down U.S. troops starting in January. U.S. troops would completely withdraw from Iraq's urban areas, finishing the handover of responsibility already begun in Najaf, Karbala, parts of Baghdad and other major cities.

By the end of next year, 80,000 of the 150,000 U.S. troops currently deployed in Iraq would be redeployed from the country. All National Guard and Reserve units would be demobilized and returned to the United States next year. The other active duty troops scheduled to be deployed to Iraq in 2006 would be sent to other hot spots around the globe in the fight against terrorists, with nearly two divisions going to Afghanistan to fight a resurgent Taliban insurgency and other troops going to the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia to meet emerging threats there.

In addition, an additional 14,000 troops redeployed in 2006 would remain over the horizon in Kuwait and in a Marine expeditionary force situated off-shore in the Persian Gulf to conduct strikes in coordination with Iraqi forces against any significant threats that might emerge.

Throughout 2006, continued U.S. military presence in Iraq would focus more sharply on its core missions: completing the training of Iraqi forces; improving border security; providing logistical and air support to Iraqi security forces; serving as advisers to Iraqi units; and tracking down insurgents and terrorist leaders with smaller, more nimble Special Forces units operating jointly with Iraqi forces. The continued presence would also reduce the chances for a full-blown civil war, although Iraqi leaders such as Ayatollah Ali Sistani have much more power to prevent civil war than U.S. troops do.

By the end of 2007, the only U.S. military forces in Iraq would be a small Marine contingent to protect the U.S. embassy, military advisers to the Iraqi government and counterterrorist units working with Iraqi forces.

Strategic redeployment differs from other plans for what to do in Iraq by recognizing that Iraq is now connected to a broader battle against global terrorist networks - even though it wasn't before the Bush administration's invasion.

Strategic redeployment rejects calls for an immediate and complete withdrawal, which would only serve to further destabilize the region and embolden our terrorist enemies. But strategic redeployment also rejects the current approach, right out of Osama bin Laden's playbook, for a vague, open-ended commitment that focuses our military power in a battle that cannot be won militarily, as Gen. George Casey, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, recently told Congress.

Our military presence in Iraq continues to feed the notion of occupation and extends the time for Iraqi forces to become self-sufficient. The time has come for strategic redeployment of our forces."-from the Newsday op-ed by LAWRENCE KORB AND BRIAN KATULIS, that Howard Dean referenced today on "Majority Report."
Thanks to Susan Hu on Booman Tribune for digging it up.