Saturday, May 5, 2007

More 20's

Another poll with Bush in the high 20's. Boy, David Broder's boy is sure staging that comeback! Seems like many of the polls are starting to show high 20's.

Oh. And by the way. All media types need to take a look at this. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, 70% of Americans want Dems to continue or increase their level of confrontation of Bush.



I find coverage like this quite puzzling:

Some Democrats are worried that the debate over Iraq war funding has become a legislative quagmire, impeding progress on their "Six for '06" agenda. Despite an early bill-writing blitz, none of their proposals for homeland security, the minimum wage, tuition, prescription drugs, and energy—to name a few—have become law. Dems aim to have more done by Memorial Day, but several told the WP not to count on it.
First, is there really any other issue than the war? Ok, so there is. But the war is arguable the most important issue facing this country right now. The fact that it would eat up Congressional time is not surprising. The war is eating up everything else, why should Congressional attention be any different?

Second, what about Republicans? The House of Representatives met it goals of legislation for the first 100 days. In the Senate, Republicans have been using the parliamentary levers to stop virtually all of the legislation. This is normal practice and typically occurs in a closely divided Senate.

Finally, how about Bush? The hard work done on the war is shot down with a veto, as is hate legislation. Does anyone actually believe that any real quality legislation that could be passed by the Democratic (after overcomming Republican parliamentary maneuvres) Congress will be not be vetoed by Bush with the support of Congressional Republicans blocking any override? Anyway, the pervasive corruption of the Bush administration is also eating up legislative time, as it should.

Any hand wringing over the "lack of legislation" is ridiculous and shallow. Until we get rid of the "commander guybot", nothing will get done. The victory of 2006 was to stop the bleeding. Healing will occur after 2008 when the country is rid of the bastard.


Friday, May 4, 2007

Flood Gates

Not that we really need it, but here's more evidence of the corruption involving the White House in the prosecutor/DOJ scandal:

Three hours before Goodling visited his fourth-floor office, Margolis told House and Senate investigators that Sampson dropped by to say he had information Margolis needed to know, one congressional aide said.

Margolis recounted that Sampson read his e-mail exchanges with White House aides that showed the decisions on firing the prosecutors were closely coordinated with members of the president's staff, the aide said.

Margolis recalled that he was stunned to learn the extent of White House involvement in the dismissals, congressional aides said. Margolis testified that preparation for McNulty's Senate testimony -- which took place more than a month before his meetings with Goodling and Sampson -- was based on the assumption that the White House only became involved at the end of the firing process, the aide said.
He also testified about Monica Goodling falling apart at the seams when the story broke. Boo hoo.


Prosecutor On The Street

One of Josh Marshall's readers, who is a prosecutor himself, wrote in about the ongoing investigations/revelations in prosecutor-gate:

I've read TPM for years, and appreciate your work. I email you because I read something today about the firing of John McKay that finally put me over the edge.

Apparently during Comey's testimony today he said that one of the reasons McKay got himself in hot water with the DOJ heavyweights was because he was pushing for additional resources to investigate the murder of Tom Wales, who was an Assistant US Attorney in Seattle. Tom Wales was shot and killed in 2001. What nobody has talked about, and what you may not be aware of, is the fact that Tom Wales was extremely active in attempting to get tighter gun control laws passed here in Washington.

Think about that for a second. A pro-gun control federal prosecutor was shot and killed. John McKay was agitating for more resources to bring his killer to justice. That pissed off DOJ, who apparently thought that McKay should spend his time going after bogus voter fraud prosecutions rather than solve the murder of a guy who was in favor of gun control. If you don't think the fact that Tom Wales' political views weren't taken into consideration by the higher ups at DOJ when they decided to punish McKay for fighting to find his killer, you haven't been paying attention to the way these guys have operated for the last 6 years. Every single thing they do is about politics, and the political views of those they help or hurt.

The bottom line of this whole McKay firing could be summed up in this way: try to catch killers, you get fired. File BS charges of voter fraud, you keep your job.

It's a slap in the face to every prosecutor in the country. It's our job to seek justice for those that aren't able to seek it for themselves. None of us should give a damn what the political views are of the victims we try to protect. It's beyond reprehensible for them to punish McKay for doing this. But for this administration, it's par for the course.
'Nuff said.


Republican Debate

I didn't watch it, but so far what I've read suggests that this cartoon pretty much covers it:

Update: Kevin Drum adds some thoughtful commentary:

I note that tonight's Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan library has provoked an even greater gusher than usual of Reagan nostalgia among GOP hopefuls. A few days ago, for example, Tom Bevan wrote that the search for a new Reagan is "hanging especially heavy over the current presidential race."

No surprise there. After all, what choice do they have? Bush Jr. is radioactive; Bush Sr. was an apostate; Ford was an accident; Nixon was a crook; Eisenhower was practically a socialist by modern Republican standards; and Hoover was....


A Natural State of Psychopathy

Interesting article.

It isn't just a question of ignorance, but a question of the long-term thoroughness of the propagandizing that began in the early days of the last century. It was proposed that this propaganda is so complete that not only are most people in the US ignorant of what is taking place on the US political scene, and in the world as a direct result of US policy, they are ignorant of the fact that they are ignorant. They have been inculcated with the view that their view is the only "right" one" and, consequently, they really "don't know any better". In short: "What do you do if you don't know that you don't know something?"


The Stupid Bin

On the surface anyway, this looks like a pretty stupid idea:

USA Today leads with word that the Department of Homeland Security is looking into outfitting cell phones with equipment that could detect "radiological isotopes, toxic chemicals, and biological agents." If it's successful, officials are confident it could revolutionize the way the country detects and deals with a potential attack.
Can you imagine everyone running around with these detectors? If the police think they have a problem with false car and home alarms, imagine the multitude of nutbars running around yelling that they've detected a terrrasist attack !! when in fact they've detected their spouses pacemaker.



Job growth is starting to reflect the slowing economy. New jobs last month at 88,000, were half what is necessary to keep up with population growth.

Added: Oh, I neglected to mention that both the previous months were also adjusted downward.


Thursday, May 3, 2007

Out Of The Loop

I didn't know she was being intimidated under investigation?

Monica Goodling's lawyer hits back at the Justice Department, saying that the announcement yesterday that she's under investigation "smacks of retribution and intimidation."
Go ahead, piss her off. Would be nice to see her angry and then talking a bit about the real goings-on inside the DOJ.


Just For Lynne

Hey Lynne, just for you:

Check this out -- the offices of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are denying a Washington Post story today saying that Congressional Democrats have backed down to the White House by offering to remove Iraq withdrawal language from the now-vetoed Iraq bill.

Pelosi just went before the Democratic caucus and informed them that the story's false, a Pelosi aide tells me. WaPo is standing by the story, and the lead writer of the Post piece, Jonathan Weisman, told me that leadership aides told him that the withdrawal language had to go. But the WaPo story goes further than that, saying explicitly that Dems have already "backed down" and offered the concession of removing the withdrawal language. Those aren't the same thing.
Maybe less despair now?

Here's my take. This is a trial balloon. The Democratic leadership wants to know just how big of a backlash there will be if they back away from timelines.

If you don't want Congress to back off in the face-off with the Preznit, this would be a good time to contact your Senator and Congress-critter:





As I've mentioned before, jobs (and job losses) are lagging indicators of economic health. While other indicators show a slowing economy, recent job numbers have actually looked pretty good (albeit with poor internals such as the quality of jobs declining, but that's another discussion). Given the normal cycle, the job losses should begin occurring and getting larger as the economy slows with the highest unemployment right about the time the economy begins to improve.

Here is a post outlining the recent job losses announced. As you can see, numerous large companies, who have been decreasing spending on their capital equipment, are also starting to cut back in employment. Coupled with the biggest employment growth area of the last several years, construction, it's likely that there is the beginnings of a downward cycle, ie.: slowing economy = more unemployment = lower consumer spending = slower economy. Lather, rinse, repeat.

That is, unless all those rich Bentley buyers have enough spending power to maintain the national GDP, which I doubt. Tomorrow will be the release of the latest employment numbers. I wouldn't expect much from it as the layoff announcements are just now occuring.

In other economic news, I've mentioned before how the Federal Reserve keeps pumping money into the economy. Here's a chart showing the growth of money:

Is there really any question why the stock market is rallying despite the signals of a slowing economy? Or any question as to why real world inflation is a problem?

Oh well. Carry on. Party like it's 1969!


Energy In Two Graphs

Here are two update graphs from The Oil Drum that tell the whole story of the current energy situation:

The first chart is a measure of the amount of oil in inventory:

As you can see, there is plenty of oil in inventory. Rising/falling prices in oil are occurring because of "risk" premium, of which there is plenty. Nevertheless, oil prices are currently in a narrow range. Gasoline, on the other hand, is going through the roof. Why?

Gasoline inventories continue to fall although it appears we might be near a bottom. Wholesale prices (and retail) reflect the shortage. The oil industry has various excuses like refineries being serviced, blah blah blah, that you may or may not believe. It's always interesting how oil company profits go sky-high when they have problems with refineries. Either way, it's unusual for gasoline supplies to be so low before the driving season. It will be interesting to see if high prices deter summer driving or not.


Benchmark Flaw

Bush is operating in Iraq on a number of flawed assumptions. One of them is that political benchmarks can be achieved, showing progress in Iraq:

The New York Times leads with word that the Iraqi national oil law is likely to face some strong opposition in parliament as Sunni and Kurdish officials seem reluctant to support the legislation that would determine how oil revenue is distributed. This is bad news for the White House, which was hoping the issue, long touted as a key mark of progress in Iraq, would be resolved quickly.
I have three problems with benchmarks.

1). I have never seen a goal successfully imposed on someone. The goal must be self-imposed in order to be successful. Any time a goal is "imposed", the imposee (new word!) will usually find a way to thwart the goal unless they fully accept it as their own.

2). Iraqi benchmarks are fluid, and those who are responsible for measuring them will lie. The administration (both in the U.S. and Iraq) are in-credible. Any reporting of progress is suspect and usually wrong. Therefore any benchmarks will continually be the subject of controversy, allowing a big opening for further Friedman Units.

3). For the Iraq politicians to agree to benchmarks requires that they accept the American occupation (a "chicken and egg discussion that is rampant between U.S. liberals and conservatives). Because Bush needs benchmark success, a sure way to torpedo the guy is to never agree and never implement benchmarks. One thing that most Iraqi's agree on is that they want the U.S. out. The exception to that is the highest Iraqi leadership that would certainly be exiled if not killed without U.S. support. Ironically, Bush has achieved one of his goals, a democratically elected parliament that is representative of the Iraqi people. Who among any of the coalitions has any big motivation to hand Bush a success? Example:
"The whole problem is because this law was made in a hurry, and the Americans were rushing everyone to do it," a Kurdish legislator said. Meanwhile, the NYT notes, the main bloc of Sunni legislators said the law shouldn't even be discussed at a time when the country's security situation is so dire.
So look to the situation to remain stable .... and deadly .... in Iraq until we're out. And we won't be out until either Bush leaves office or Congressional Republicans revolt.

Stay tuned!


Democratic Bitches

This is why I am totally fed up with the Democrats.

President Bush and congressional leaders began negotiating a second war funding bill yesterday, with Democrats offering the first major concession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.

The reason Bush and the neocons hold the Democrats in such contempt is because the Democrats act like prison bitches. I'm feeling the same level of contempt for the Democrats and won't support them in the future. I'm adjusting to the realization that I have no representation at any level of government.


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Quote of the Day

"There are people in Washington ... who never intend to withdraw military forces from Iraq and they're looking for 10, 20, 50 years in the future ... the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region, and I have never heard any of our leaders say that they would commit themselves to the Iraqi people that 10 years from now there will be no military bases of the United States in Iraq."— former President Jimmy Carter, Feb. 3, 2006




Negotiate Chatter

Froomkin has a couple of interesting tidbits today. First this from Bush today:

"[S]lowly but surely, the truth will be known. Either we'll succeed, or we won't succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that's what we're trying to achieve."
This is a classic example of Bush ratcheting down expectations. A car bomb each day will qualify as being like downtown Philly or something. I'm not sure anyone will buy it, but Bush is flailing around like Helen Keller trying to find something that will work.

The other item was delicious quote:
"'Some kind of compromise has to be worked out between the administration and the Democrats,' said Sen. George V. Voinovich (Ohio), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. 'That's how it's done. Everybody holds their nose and maybe a couple of times vomits, but you get it done.'
What's not included in this quote is "Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio). The key word is "everybody", and Voinovich has been around long enough to know better. Or he's still in total denial. It's Republicans like Voinovich who keep painting lipstick on that pig that is causing the Republican party to march toward the cliff. So far, the only people vomiting are people who have to deal with Bush and deal with the consequences of Bush. It won't be until the Republicans are puking in the aisles of the Senate that anything will happen. Just keep it up Voiny.


What Digby Said

Here's another edition. He's discussing a cover article by Jon Chait in The New Republic.



From ThinkProgress:

National Review is on a roll. Here’s columnist Thomas Sowell: “When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.” Kevin Drum writes, “in case you’re wondering, there’s no further context. That’s the whole quote. It’s one bullet point in a long series of dyspeptic observations about how liberals have ruined the country.”
Keep in mind that this periodical is one of the most widely read and respected right-wing rags in the country.

I think Sowell makes one (of many) mistakes in his thinking. Who in the military would agree that Bush or the right-wing is their savior? I would think that at this point it's even money that a coup would be to remove Bush, not to install conservatives.

Either way, I'm now waiting patiently (without holding my breath) for the media outcry that such a suggestion would be made by a pundit. Oh. I'm sorry. That's right. Pundits don't chastize right-wingers, only liberal dirty hippies.


This Figures

You knew this was coming. Actually, I'm surprised it took so long:

“The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops’ online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.”


Spinning Off A Cliff

Leave it to Fox News to support the GOP talking points:

Democrats Feel Pressure After Bush Veto of Iraq War Spending Bill
If Dems "feel pressure" then they're delusional.

The pressure is solidly on the Preznit. Only a narrow margin of nutbars fully support him. But never let it be said that Bush yields to pressure. He usually does the opposite. So watch for the current pressure to result in a further escalation and committment to the war. There are already little news tidbits being released that indicate that the White House and Pentagon are preparing for deployment in Iraq well into 2008 and beyond, and with more troops. There are also indications (you'd have to be not paying attention to not see them) that the White House continues to ratchet down expectations for the escalation setting the stage for claims of "it's working!".

Which brings us back to the Republicans. Democrats have now for years faced an unyielding Bush and Republican party. They've had to toughen up and learn some hard political lesson about the dangers of enabling the addict-in-chief. Republicans, on the other hand, have been the co-addicts enjoying the fruits of the party-boy. The 2006 election, and not incidentally public opinion, changed all that. Now Republicans find themselves in opposition to the addict-in-chief for the first time. Oh, sure, they've had other skirmishes that could be easily explained (or bought off), but now they're facing election armaggedon.

This is why I think that Republican watch is so crucial. It is going to require a party revolt in the form of overriding a Bush veto, or removing to SOB, to move Bush. Nothing short of an unequivocal legal slap down is going to deter Bush. Beyond late summer-early fall, comprise will not happen if the Democrats continue to accept their election mandate and Republicans will be looking down the barrel of an election gun.

We shall continue to monitor if they are lemmings following off the cliff, or self-serving enough to be patriots.


Driving Down Sales

Barry Ritholtz had an interesting post today on auto sales. It seems that they are showing the effects of a slowdown, including foreign automakers:

Slowing auto sales is a story. But inside the story is a real tell. Barry adds this tidbit:

Against the overall trend? Bentley and Ferrari are sold out for the year, but they are a hand-crafted, small volume, luxury exception.
Yet another small datapoint that suggests that the rich are doing just fine thank you very much, while everyone else is pulling in their horns on spending.


Walled In

This is no surprise:

The NYT fronts a look at how U.S. officials are trying to figure out a way to prevent British citizens of Pakistani descent from being able to enter the country without a visa. Officials say they are concerned that many of the terror plots uncovered recently involve Britons who have ties to Pakistan, and just like any British citizen they could enter the United States without a visa. For some reason the paper decides to refer to this, in the story and headline, as a "visa loophole."
I've got an idea. Let's have a "skin darkness test" that determines if you get in or not. Better yet, how about just not letting anyone in.

Seriously, this story is an example of how Bush has spread terrorism. Now "home grown" al Qaeda types are showing up throughout Europe and the rest of the world motivated by the jihad against the imperialist Americans. Now they're coming from Briton, our strongest ally, not just the middle east. There is no way they'll be able to stop a terrorist from entering the country. The solutions have to be more subtle, with more international support and will take quite a while to implement ... thanks to G.Dub.


Call. Now.

Pelosi is taking a tally from the American public on the impeachment issue. Call. Now.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Time For Another Shipment Of Friedman's

Via Froomkin:

David E. Sanger wrote in Friday's New York Times: "The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush's top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration officials.

"In interviews over the past week, the officials made clear that the White House is gradually scaling back its expectations for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The timelines they are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year."
Republicans other than Bush think Bush will come to his senses by September.

I. Don't. Think. So.

That's why Republican watch is so fun.


One Picture .....



I was going to publish this post here but decided against it. Please go to the link if you want to read it.

I don't know about you, but I remember feeling like I wanted to upchuck when I watched this event and the punditry coverage. I think it may have been the last straw when I decided that watching the cable news was bad for my health. I also want you to notice that in reading this time-capsule piece, all the players involved are still prominent pundits telling us exactly what things mean.

I thought it was pretty easy to say what it meant. This is what stupid looks like:

But, hey. At least we know one reason Chris Matthews got all hot and bothered:



Best Laid Plans Division

Just four years ago ........

By Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt

BAGHDAD, May 2 -- The Bush administration is planning to withdraw most United States combat forces from Iraq over the next several months and wants to shrink the American military presence to less than two divisions by the fall, senior allied officials said today.

The United States currently has more than five divisions in Iraq, troops that fought their way into the country and units that were added in an attempt to stabilize it. But the Bush administration is trying to establish a new military structure in which American troops would continue to secure Baghdad while the majority of the forces in Iraq would be from other nations.

Under current planning, there would be three sectors in postwar Iraq. The Americans would keep a division in and around Baghdad; Britain would command a multinational division in the south near Basra; and Poland would command a third division of troops from a variety of nations.
Ah, that Michael Gordon. Always on top of the real story .....


Quote of the Day

“Congress is back in session. This always helps to boost business.”
Deborah Jeanne Palfrey, the “DC Madam,” in January 1994


Pardon Me Madam ....

.... but I am a bit confused:

NEW YORK As the so-called "D.C. Madam" case unfolds in the nation's capital, with alleged prostitution ringleader Jeane Palfrey claiming a list of thousands of prominent clients, Washington-area editors say they are following the story, but remain reluctant to print such a list, were it available, without serious scrutiny.

"You would have to evaluate it to the extent humanly possible and verify it," said Michael Tackett, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune. "If one of the names is wrong and you print it, how do you unring that bell for that person?" He said reprinting a list from another news outlet is not an excuse for getting it wrong. "You've got to verify it yourself," he said.
From what I've heard, there are some pretty prominent government officials on this list. Lots of them. Likely from both parties. But I suspect it's skewed toward Republicans. That's the only reason I can think of that would justify the reluctance of the Washington press corpse to pursue this story like dogs in heat. Wasn't it just a few short years ago that they pursued stained dresses, stories of cigars and murder conspiracies against Clinton with great abandon?


Rich Get Richer

Here is a handy dandy chart showing some disparity in the American economy. The ML index is an index of wealthy spending. The MSCI is all consumer spending. Guess who's spending more?

According to Barry Ritholtz's post, some between 37% and 70% of consumer spending comes from the top 20% of wage earners. While that's a fairly large range, even at the lower end you can clearly see who's propping up consumer spending. We are, indeed, in a new gilded age. And the pundits wonder why people are pessimistic about the economy?


Iraq Milestone Day

For a variety of reasons:

But the good news is tempered by the 104 American soldiers killed in April, the highest total for 2007, which the story notes and the Post leads with. The paper ties the increasing death toll to the 11-week-old surge/escalation—the effort to reduce violence by putting more soldiers in the field. It was also the deadliest month for British soldiers with 11 fatalities.
In addition, today is the day that Bush keeps the war going by vetoing the timeline for withdrawal legislation, and it's the four year anniversary of "mission accomplished".

Meanwhile, the green zone gets hotter:
Things don't seem very safe in the Green Zone, either, as the Post gets this unusual under-fire quote from a military flak: " 'There is a duck-and-cover going on right now,' said Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, before quickly getting off the phone. Later, Garver confirmed there had been an assault on the Green Zone, but it was unclear what had happened. Local Iraqi television stations reported 10 explosions inside the zone."


Monday, April 30, 2007

More Of The Story Comes Out

Murray Waas of the National Journal:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides -- who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys -- extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department. A copy of the order and other Justice Department records related to the conception and implementation of the order were provided to National Journal.

In the order, Gonzales delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and his White House liaison "the authority, with the approval of the Attorney General, to take final action in matters pertaining to the appointment, employment, pay, separation, and general administration" of virtually all non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department, including all of the department's political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation. Monica Goodling became White House liaison in April 2006, the month after Gonzales signed the order.

The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level. Department records show that the personnel authority was delegated to the two aides at about the same time they were working with the White House in planning the firings of a dozen U.S. attorneys, eight of whom were, in fact, later dismissed.

A senior executive branch official familiar with the delegation of authority said in an interview that -- as was the case with the firings of the U.S. attorneys and the selection of their replacements -- the two aides intended to work closely with White House political aides and the White House counsel's office in deciding which senior Justice Department officials to dismiss and whom to appoint to their posts. "It was an attempt to make the department more responsive to the political side of the White House and to do it in such a way that people would not know it was going on," the official said.
Not that it will really matter, but it sure looks like a smoking gun to me. Karl Rove was at the head of an intense deliberate program to politicize the Department of Justice. Not only are these actions immoral, they are unconstitutional.

Another day. Another revelation.



Here is a graphic that depicts the results of a recent Pew research poll (click to enlarge):

Wow. Hillary Clinton seen as more liberal than Gore or Obama? And Republicans seeing themselves more aligned with Gingrich than Guiliani or McCain.




You're hearing some headline nonsense about Wolfowitz not resigning from the World Bank. But I'll bet you haven't heard this:

Secondly, allegedly on June 1st, Wolfowitz becomes eligible for some large financial bonus -- for performance and time on the job. One estimate puts this figure at about $400,000. Wolfowitz wants to make sure those funds are credited to his private bank account before saying farewell to an institution that has come to despise him.
It's all negotiations. Wolfy is trying to cut a deal to be sure and get his bonus before leaving. I wonder how much Bush's cut will be for supporting him?


Republican Watch

We shall see:

"Cracks are starting to show in the near-monolithic Republican support for the Iraq War," according to Roll Call. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), who was one of two Republicans in the House that voted in favor of the Iraq War supplmental bill, said that in the next few months, the number of Republicans "willing to stray from the party line will grow significantly."

Said Gilchrest: "They are going to start popping off...I think by midsummer we could see that happening, breaking the logjam."

Meanwhile, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) "has described his strategy as forcing Republicans to vote 'again and again and again' to back the war until they tell Bush they've had enough. A string of Iraq votes are planned from now to October that will put Republicans on the spot. In addition to the new war supplemental, the upcoming fiscal 2008 Defense authorization and Defense appropriations bills will hit the House floor by the end of June."
Keep it up. Make them vote over and over and over again for the war. Front and center.


Not Good

This is not good:

"In a serious rebuff to U.S. diplomacy, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has refused to receive Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the eve of a critical regional summit on the future of the war-ravaged country, Iraqi and other Arab officials said yesterday. The Saudi leader's decision reflects the growing tensions between the oil-rich regional giants, the deepening skepticism among Sunni leaders in the Middle East about Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, and Arab concern about the prospects of U.S. success in Iraq, the sources said. The Saudi snub also indicates that the Maliki government faces a creeping regional isolation unless it takes long-delayed actions, Arab officials warn. For the United States, the Saudi cold shoulder undermines hopes of healing regional tensions between Sunni- and Shiite-dominated governments and producing a new spirit of cooperation on Iraq ... "
Put together with the earlier story of Maliki purging those who combat Shiite militia's, it's understandable that the Saudi's are less than thrilled with the direction of the Iraq political situation. The regionalization of the Iraq conflict continues apace. You know that regional Saudi players are pumping money and arms into Iraq as quickly/effectively as Iran is sending in support to the Shiites. But strangely, the Bush administration never seems to worry about Saudi intervention in Iraq.


Major FWIW

Never put it past me to pass along the major DC gossip:“She's staying at the Hay-Adams.

I don't know how many people know...but it's probably not many.”

That’s my Desk DeeCee, hard at busybody work, informing me further of what this column has more than hinted at before: that the U.S. Chief of Grief, George W. Bush, has a wife (by the name of Laura, ‘course) who’s so damn put out by the teetotaling Texan’s return to drinking that she had to get outta the White House. Woo-hoo! That be first-class First Lady dish there, my darlin’ goss lovers!
Who knows? But it wouldn't surprise me.



Ok, we know about partisanship, but this seems a little extreme:

BAGHDAD, April 29 -- A department of the Iraqi prime minister's office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.

Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post.
Maliki is obviously taken lesson from the Bush school of governing.

How in the world can Iraq have any kind of resolution if the leader of the country is a solid partisan on one of the waring sides?

It can't. And it won't.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

DC Punditry

Digby, quote of the day on DC punditry:

I suppose it could also be argued that the DC pundits are just not as smart as the rest of us but I doubt it. They aren't stupid or uninformed. Still, results are results and there must be a reason why so many members of the political media have been so wrong so often for the past decade and a half. Out here in the hinterlands, a whole bunch of us have been able to see through what was going on, while it was going on. It's not just partisanship and it's not just a fluke. From the silly travel office flap in 1993 until David Broder's heinous little screed yesterday, there is a long continuum of establishment petulance, confusion, triviality and error. If it isn't their proximity to those who are spinning them, I can only assume that they are either dumb, craven or Republican. It's got to be something.
I've been reading blogs long enough to remember the "alternative" views of the impending war in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was a widely held view in the so-called "liberal" blogosphere that both were wild adventures. Afghanistan was seen as necessary, but necessary to do right. Iraq was very largely seen as an unnecessary trumped up joke that would not turn out well.

Where's the accountability? The same tired and wrong faces continue to show up as the sage anaylsts in newspapers and teevee. Why aren't some of those who were accurate in their prognositications having careers made on their ability to accurate assess the situation? Why do we continue to be exposed to those same wrong "analysts"?



Headlines from Juan Cole's blog say it all:

9 US Troops Killed;
60 Killed, 170 Wounded in Karbala;
Over 60 Bodies Found;
Sadr Admonishes Bush


Republican Watch

Citing limited evidence, the LAT concludes that Republicans are having trouble persuading their top choices to run for the House next year. More convincing is its observation that the party has lost its edge in fund-raising—Democrats have more money in the bank than Republicans, a stark reversal from last year. George Bush is blamed for both problems, and Republican officials hope that the party's presidential candidate overshadows him in the minds of voters next year.
The Republicans are, thus far, still on the march off the cliff. As long as they keep Bush in his leadership role for the party (and it's position on the war), traction will be quite difficult for Republican candidates.

I figure that a true Republican revolt will begin sometime in the fall. Wonder how many people will die from now until then in Iraq?

On another note, there are all kinds of mixed signals coming from the White House on the war funding bill. Sometimes they sound concilitory, like they might actually budge on their position. For example, Bush yesterday had almost a pleading tone for Dems to come to the White House to negotiate (Reid declined). Today, Condi threw a gernade into the message. To their credit, the Dems seem to be standing firm and consistent on the issue. In the end, they'll give funding without a "timeline", but I don't think they'll give Bush an open checkbook whether it's limited short-term funding, or some type of benchmarks.

We shall see.