Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Democrats' Iraq Civil War

David Corn is the Washington editor of The Nation and the co-author, along with Michael Isikoff, of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War. He is covering the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial for The Nation.

A few days ago , a senior Capitol Hill Democratic aide called to tell me he was worried. The aide feared that his party would soon find itself split over the Iraq war.

Progressive House Democrats are pushing for a cutoff in funding, he said, not caring that such legislation would put their colleagues from less-liberal districts in a bind. Moderate Democrats, the aide said, will not likely want to vote against military spending for Iraq and face the criticism (justified or not) that they are not supporting the troops. Even though the war is unpopular and Bush and the Republicans are on the run, we’ll be dividing ourselves, said the aide, who works for a legislator who favors a funding cutoff.

The following day, a prominent liberal thinker in Washington told me he was concerned that Democratic leaders and antiwar activists are swinging behind Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha’s plan to attach restrictions to Iraq war funding. Murtha’s proposal would prohibit money from being used to deploy troops to Iraq who are not fully equipped, fully trained and fully rested. That plan cannot win a majority, this thinker said; putting it up to a vote would only rip apart the party. The Democrats, consequently, would look weak and not achieve anything, but they still would give the Republicans the chance to accuse them of undermining the soldiers in the field. Couldn’t antiwar Democrats and activists, this liberal asked, find a more mature and sophisticated strategy?

A civil war may be brewing in the Democratic Party over Iraq. There are Democrats who want to take immediate and concrete steps to end the war. They want to force withdrawal through legislation. And there are Democrats who essentially do not want to go first. They want to push President George W. Bush to clean up the mess he made so that he, not the Democrats, will bear responsibility for how the war ends (which could be nastily). Both sides were able to agree on a nonbinding resolution decrying Bush’s surge and declaring support for the troops. But now that such a resolution has passed in the House and died in the Senate, the issue is, what’s next?

In the House, the main Democratic action at the moment centers on the Murtha plan, which would attach his severely limiting conditions to the newest round of funding for the Iraq war. “We’re gonna stop this surge,” Murtha said during a recent interview with, an antiwar group.

Republicans have gleefully dubbed this approach a “slow bleed”—as in wounding the troops. And it is a way of ending—or limiting—the war without calling for withdrawal. Since the Pentagon could not meet the standards Murtha would set—for instance, there are not sufficient numbers of armored trucks for the troops being deployed to Iraq as part of the surge—the surge could not go forward.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed Murtha’s proposal, but it is far from clear that she can steer the entire Democratic caucus behind Murtha, who chairs the defense appropriations subcommittee. Thus, there will be a debate among House Democrats—and it may be a hot one—when Congress in a few weeks considers Bush’s $93 billion funding request for Iraq. (Murtha also intends to attach a condition to the appropriations legislation that would prevent the president from attacking Iran without congressional authorization.) And as the Murtha fight ensues, there will be House Democrats who will be pushing for a more direct and total cutoff of funding—a position Murtha does not support.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have their own divisions. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called for initiating a withdrawal but has rejected a cutoff in funding. “I think that sends the wrong message to our troops,” he said a few days ago. “We're going to support our troops, and one way to support them is to find a way out of Iraq earlier, rather than later."

Levin and Sen. Joseph Biden Jr., D-Del., who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee and who is running for president, are considering modifying the authorization for the invasion of Iraq Congress granted Bush in October 2002 to limit American troop missions there to supporting and training activities, not combat. Levin noted that such an approach would avoid a constitutional showdown with the Bush about presidential war powers and would be more politically palatable than turning off the funding tap.

So the Democratic leaders of the key committees in the Senate are opposed to the plan Pelosi is backing. That certainly is a good start for an intraparty mud wrestle. And Republicans—who were scared by the apparent antiwar message of last November’s elections—are now enthusiastically preparing to exploit this split and attack the Democrats for “bleeding” American GIs in the field. The GOPers have an obvious political strategy: Make the issue not the war but the Democrats’ response to the war.

And there’s another political dynamic at work: Democratic presidential politics. There is no matter more important for most Democratic primary voters than ending the war. So each of the party’s presidential wannabes is compelled to distinguish him- or herself from the others on the war. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., explaining that nonbinding resolutions are not enough, proposed setting a legislative cap on the number of troops in Iraq to block the surge. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., last month introduced legislation that would commence a phased withdrawal from Iraq on May 1. Former senator John Edwards, trying to elbow his way into the Hillary & Barack Show, has suggested that current legislators in Congress ought to defund the war. All this positioning will shape how the public perceives the Democrats’ approach to the war—and make it all the tougher for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to lead his troops. It’s difficult for a colonel to order captains who are trying to become generals.

The GOP does have its own splits. Seventeen Republican House members voted with the Democrats in favor of the nonbinding resolution, and seven Republican senators sided with the Democrats in a losing effort to pass an identical measure. (Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who is considering a presidential bid, has said that he is “open” to the Murtha plan.) But since the Republicans no longer control Congress and the numbers of their Iraq defectors are not great, their internal divisions at this point are not as consequential as those within the party in charge of Congress.

It will be nearly impossible for the Democratic Party to derive a unified position regarding what to do in Iraq—mature or not—with so many moving pieces, competing views and different needs. There is, in a way, a race against the clock—and that clock is the ground reality in Iraq. If the situation in Iraq does not improve and the surge does not succeed, there will be even more public disenchantment with the war and more political opportunity for a tougher stance, such as direct defunding. But that opportunity will likely not present itself before Democrats have to consider the new funds for the war. Can they have an internal disagreement over what to do without it becoming ugly, without alienating grassroots Democrats who want the party to pass binding legislation to stop the war now, and without handing Republicans potent political ammo to use against them now and in the future? Ending a war—even an unpopular one—is not easy work for politicians.


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

"Ending a war—even an unpopular one—is not easy work for politicians."

Even harder for the troops getting their limbs blown off or killed. Not easy for the Iraqi's caught in the middle of community and world events as bombs are dropped on them and their children.

"without handing Republicans potent political ammo to use against them now and in the future?"

The potentcy of the "political ammo" is packed by the pundocracy. Seems too many of the SCLM are switchy hitting for the neocons.

Thanks for all of your work!


capt said...


From the last thread - I think we end up getting what we deserve.

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."
~ H. L. Mencken


Please sir, may my billionaire and another billion?


capt said...

Headlines for the State

We continue to march towards war with Iran. Lately there has been some news story almost every day warning us about the danger that Iran poses to us, as if to prepare the American people for why this war will be necessary. Below is a sample of some headlines from the last few weeks taken from mainstream news websites. The second column has additional text lifted from the story.


*****end of clip*****

A very insightful piece. How long will the common folk put up with this kind of BS?

As long as it is more profitable to tell lies the lies will not stop - so says the prophet profit.


capt said...

A few headlines from the end of the piece above:

British Rob Iran Blind for Decades

CIA Foments Coup to Replace Elected Iranian Leader with King

CIA Helps King of Iran to Establish Secret Police to Torture Dissidents

US Support of King and Secret Police Radicalizes Iranians

Iranians Take Over US Embassy Fearing Repeat of 1953 Coup

US Assists Iraq in Brutal War with Iran

US Navy Shoots Down Civilian Airliner


Where is any honesty in the media?


capt said...

Rapture Wreaks Havoc On Local Book Club

MARION, IN—Following last week's rapture, which transported four members of the Marion Mockingbirds Book Club to heaven in order to be with Jesus Christ, the three remaining members have reportedly been scrambling to maintain a regular Wednesday meeting schedule as well as the usual coffee-and-pastry rotation.

"It's a shame because I think Shirley had the most stimulating opinions, and I was really looking forward to hearing what she'd have to say about [Fannie Flagg's Standing In The Rainbow] right before her ascension," said club member Diane Valinsky Monday. "And we were supposed to meet at Lucas' house this week, but I guess that's out now, seeing as the armies of Satan are on the march."

Valinsky said she and the remaining members were not surprised that the Antichrist turned out to be Mitch Albom, calling his latest fiction effort, For One More Day, "disappointing."


*****end of clip*****

The rapture is happening one person at a time and much more slowly than predicted.


Robert S said...

Consider, if, "Ending a war—even an unpopular one—is not easy work for politicians." then, the responsiveness of our political system needs review. For, if the representitives of the people find it difficult to do the will of the people, then the term representitives is meaningless, or there are alternative forces at work which interefere with mechanics of government. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, can we show off some more of a dead playmates' cleavage while we're at


Maybe We Deserve to Be Ripped Off By Bush's Billionaires
by Matt Taibbi | Feb 21 2007 - 9:46am

"Now, after she shaved her head in a bizarre episode that culminates a months-long saga of controversial behavior, it's the question being asked by her fans, her foes and the general public: What was she thinking?"-- Bald and Broken: Inside Britney's Shaved Head, Sheila Marikar,, Feb. 19

What was she thinking? How about nothing? How about who gives a shit? How's that for an answer, Sheila Marikar of ABC news, you pinhead?

I'm not one of those curmudgeons who freaks out every time that Bradgelina moves the war off the front page of the Post, or Katie Couric decides to usher in a whole new era of network news with photos of the imbecile demon-spawn of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I understand that we live in a demand-based economy and that there is far more demand for brainless celebrity bullshit than there is, say, for the fine print of the Health and Human Services budget.

But that was before this week. I awoke this morning in New York City to find Britney Spears plastered all over the cover of two gigantic daily newspapers, simply because she cut her hair off over the weekend. To me, this crosses a line. My definition of a news story involves something happening. If nothing happens, then you can't have "news," because nothing has changed since the day before. Britney Spears was an idiot last Thursday, an idiot on Friday, and an idiot on both Saturday and Sunday. She was, shockingly, also an idiot on Monday. It will be news when she stops being an idiot, and we'll know when that happens, because she'll have shot herself for the good of the planet. Britney Spears cutting her hair off is the least-worthy front page news story in the history of humanity.

Apparently, from now on, every time a jackass sticks a pencil in his own eye, we'll have to wait an extra ten minutes to hear what happened on the battlefield or in Congress or any other place that actually matters.

On the same day that Britney was shaving her head, a guy I know who works in the office of Senator Bernie Sanders sent me an email. He was trying very hard to get news organizations interested in some research his office had done about George Bush's proposed 2008 budget, which was unveiled two weeks ago and received relatively little press, mainly because of the controversy over the Iraq war resolution. All the same, the Bush budget is an amazing document. It would be hard to imagine a document that more clearly articulates the priorities of our current political elite.

Not only does it make many of Bush's tax cuts permanent, but it envisions a complete repeal of the Estate Tax, which mainly affects only those who are in the top two-tenths of the top one percent of the richest people in this country. The proposed savings from the cuts over the next decade are about $442 billion, or just slightly less than the amount of the annual defense budget (minus Iraq war expenses). But what's interesting about these cuts are how Bush plans to pay for them.

Sanders's office came up with some interesting numbers here. If the Estate Tax were to be repealed completely, the estimated savings to just one family -- the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune -- would be about $32.7 billion dollars over the next ten years.

The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same time frame? $28 billion.



March on the Pentagon/Everywhere March 17!

Robert S said...

Arrested! Oregon Senator has 61/73 yo women arrested
by Wolverines
Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 04:45:21 AM PST

Wolverines's diary :: ::
Kathleen's post:

For a 61 year old woman, I had a terrifically interesting day. On Wednesday, February 20, 2007 I got arrested - along with a 73 year old woman named Dot. We entered Sen. Gordon Smith's office and asked the receptionist if we couldn't speak to Senator Smith or one of his aides. We were informed that Senator Smith was in Salem today - and no aide except one involved with immigration issues was present in the office today. I asked if Sen. Smith or his aides would be in his office tomorrow and I was told that in order to speak to the senator a voter would have to submit a request in writing. The receptionist's answer was an acceptable response - but she ignored the fact I had just indicated that we would be willing to speak to one of his aides in consideration of the busy senator's schedule. I did not believe a "written request should be necessary to speak to one of the senator's aides so at this point I wondered, "Does this senator believe he has any obligation to the citizen - to his fellow Oregonians?" Why wouldn't a telephone call provide the senator OR one of his aides with sufficient notice that one of his constituents had a desire to express an opinion on an important and pressing issue such as the Iraq war. I felt that the receptionist was being evasive - and that the senator was prepared to duck and dodge any request for a serious conversation on the issue. At this point, I did sit down and wrote out a letter requesting some time with the senator, himself, within 7 working days since I felt that the effort of a written request warranted more than a few moments with one of the senator's office staff.

The receptionist asked us to leave, Dot and I refused - and 3 regular police officers came to arrest us - soon joined by 3 bicycle officers. Dot and I must appear awfully dangerous to require 6 police officers - even though I am only about 5'4" tall and Dot's head barely came to the height of my shoulder. (I'd guess Dot is slightly less than 5' tall.) Neither Dot nor I would make a very convincing Amazons, but I felt honored. Each police officer who Dot and I encountered today were courteous, polite, and even apologetic; some seem amused - a few seemed shocked. I feel that they should be commended for their warmth and courtesy - I think Dot would agree that we felt we received better treatment from the hands of PPD than we did from Sen. Smith's office.

One Sen. Smith's aides who arrived about the time the police officers arrived. (I think the gentleman who came out to speak to us was an aide since he was dressed in a suit - not a security uniform.) Dot asked him if he could make a statement about the senator's stance about defunding the war. The man (I fail to recall his name) refused to offer statement on Smith's behalf, and he said, "You should have more respect for a U.S. senator than to refuse to leave his office". At his point I turned this man's rudy complexion a neon red because of something that I said.... Oops. In the presence of the police officers he'd called I said, ""Gee I woulda thought that a democratically elected politician should have more respect - for the voter - for his constituents... Should a senator play hide and seek with his constituents?" and I asked the police officers if we looked like we "two little old ladies looked dangerous?" and I made a statement to the affect that the senator must be very easily intimidated to be afraid of 2 elderly constituents.

Dot spoke movingly to Smith's representative of hearing and seeing a very recent Iraq returnee who was medicated for PTSD and visibly quite shaken by a slight noise and another veteran who said that his children do not have health insurance. The Smith representative said that the senator wants to talk with those people and to help them. Senator Smith's representative did offer to help the veterans that Dot had seen at the David Wu's town hall meeting, but he said the senator would need to talk with them "directly" - and his dismissive tone seemed to exclude the senator's need to speak further with either one of the two of us about any topic.

On the elevator to the parking garage one of the six officers asked if Dot or I had ever been arrested before. I said, "No ....we're first timers." That got a laugh so I recycled the remark when we were being booked.

Later in the process of being searched for weapons, I made the statement "My most lethal weapon is a sharp tongue." - with a smile to indicate that I was indeed harmless. (Providing an Irish woman with an audience was perhaps not the best strategic decision that Gordon's political advisers may have made today.) With each officer with whom I came into contact at the jail, I asked "What do you think of a senator who'd arrest his constituents for making an attempt to speak to him?" I did not hear a single negative response to that question and several officers actually indicated they were shocked. One of the female police officers who dealt with us told me that she is a Portlandindiemedia photographer and she told me that she'd see us at the next peace demonstration!!

When it was time to have my mug shot taken I was talking, of course - I do love an audience. The policewoman told me, "Keep a straight face and look into the camera." Of, course that made it impossible for me to keep a straight face - I laughed and they had to take the picture again until I could keep my mouth closed. When it became evident that this procedure could take all day - they finally got a mug shot of me - obviously stifling laughter with a good deal of effort.

Of course I spoke to all my fellow prisoners as well - and urged them to vote. They all expressed shock that two old ladies were arrested for attempting to talk to their senator. (I think I should have been a politician or a preacher cause proselytizing comes so naturally. :-D)

Let me encourage you - I had a great time meeting all the other women. I begin to think that some of the most interesting, independent and intelligent women are not necessarily "model little housewives" or entirely respectable ones from society's viewpoint, though more than a few have had very difficult lives and backgrounds. I must say that I liked Daniel, Monica, Katrina, a beautifull young 18 year old, and all the other women I met "behind bars".

After nearly 5 hours in detention, I was chauffered home by Tom Hastings a local peace activist who teaches Conflict Resolution at Portland State University - the perfect end to a very interesting day.


What have we done for peace today?

capt said...


OMG - and great posts!

Gordon should be ashamed.

I have the March 17 (St Patty's day) firmly planted for some local march action.



capt said...

The Lies They Tell: How to Stop the Fox Propaganda Machine


Fox's ability to be blatantly partisan, yet be treated like serious news journalists, is an unprecedented and thus far successful, juggling act. Furthermore, Fox critics are perpetually frustrated with the counter-productive collusion of Democrats and some activists to cooperate with Fox by appearing on its shows, aiding Fox's claims of the legitimacy of its new organization.

But bloggers and activist groups are fighting harder to discredit Fox News for its bias. Just last week, it was announced that Fox News Channel, working with the Nevada Democratic Party and the Western Majority Project, will host an August 2007 Democratic Debate in Reno, Nevada, "which is expected to attract the top Democratic contenders for President."

Not so fast says MoveOn, Free Press, and others. Petition campaigns are under way, aimed at the Nevada Democrats and the DNC, applying serious heat to drop Fox's control of the event because it is not a legitimate news organization. There are also plans to target Fox's advertisers in a campaign reminiscent of an earlier successful one against Sinclair Broadcasting for its nightly rabid right-wing harangues that were forced upon their affiliate's news shows.


*****end of clip*****

"(Fox News) is not a legitimate news organization" but it "is with the counter-productive collusion of Democrats and some activists to cooperate with Fox by appearing on its shows, aiding Fox's claims of the legitimacy of its new organization." is why I always have wondered why do some (including Corn) give Fox News fake legitimacy by appearing on bias non-news pundit shout-downs?


Gerald said...

Although I believe that differences within a party is healthy, it does create problems.

Jane Smiley, one of my foxes, says that the Nazis (my word for the GOrPs) have a mob mentality. They are more for the party than America.

Maybe the Democrats should have a mob mentality but that will never happen because the Democrats at least in the past have cared more for American than the party.

Gerald said...

Praying Each Day: February 22

Gerald said...

The Difficult Side of Leadership

Public figures whose opinions are based on polls or popular views do not understand genuine leadership. Consider Eleanor Roosevelt’s championing of the African-American contralto Marian Anderson in 1939.

Anderson had been invited by Howard University to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) owned Constitution Hall. The DAR refused to rent its hall to African-Americans.

Appalled, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR. In an open letter she wrote that they had wasted the chance “to lead in an enlightened way.” Next, the First Lady arranged for her friend Marian Anderson to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Lastly, she chose not to attend the concert lest her presence detract from Marian Anderson’s singing or triumph.

How often do public figures show such courage? Do you remind them to do so? Do you show such courage yourself?

In passing judgement on another you condemn yourself. (Romans 2:1)

Spirit of Courage, guide leaders and all of us in doing what is right.

Gerald said...

Sharing Food with Friends

Evelyn Hamann was lonely in a big city. Newly married to her college sweetheart, Scott, she’d moved to his hometown of Spokane, Washington. Other than his family, she knew no one.

“‘Lord,’ I prayed one day,” she recalls, “‘I need a friend.’”

After that prayer, she decided to prepare her family’s dinner favorite, pasties, hearty pies stuffed with meat, potatoes and rutabaga.

She almost prepared pasties again the next week when Scott’s friend Glen and his wife Tracy came to dinner, but she chose burgers instead. While doing the dishes, Evelyn told Tracy that she almost made another meal, a favorite in her Montana family. Before Evelyn could name the dish, Tracy spoke of a number one choice in her own family’s home – pasties.

“Thank you, Lord,” Evelyn thought. She had found a friend.

Prayers are answered in God’s time.

A thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4)

We are human, Loving Father. Help us be patient until You answer our prayers in the way You know best.

Gerald said...

You shower us with uncountable blessings, Holy Spirit. Thank You.

Gerald said...

In Him We Are Strong

“A chronic illness can be incredibly lonely and isolating. But I refused to let it rob me of the joy of living,” says Maureen Pratt. The Santa Fe, California, woman fights to live a life of beauty.

Pratt was diagnosed with lupus, a serious chronic illness which has altered her life. But she has the support of family and friends as well as a strong faith to keep her going. She also has a hobby she loves, gardening. While everyday is a struggle for her, she says she is grateful: “I believe God is with me. And he is closest to me when I am deepest in my pain.”

We can learn from Maureen Pratt to focus on God at all times. In His presence, we can find the source peace, no matter how difficult or painful our lives may be.

He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness’. So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Compassionate God, help me hold on to Your promise and remain faithful to You through good times and difficult ones.

Gerald said...

A War Conspiracy Documented

Gerald said...

George Hitler is a screw up

capt said...

New Thread!

Gerald said...

Al-Qaeda's favorite president

Over the past six years, the wily and ruthless leaders of al-Qaeda also came to understand that Bush was their perfect foil. The more he was viewed as the "big crusader," the more they could present themselves as the "defenders of Islam." The al-Qaeda murderers moved from the fringes of Muslim society closer to the mainstream.

After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, al-Qaeda's leaders transformed the conflict into both a rallying cry and a training ground. Bin Laden and Zawahiri believed the longer the Iraq War lasted the better it was for al-Qaeda.

So, in fall 2004, with Bush fighting for his political life against Democrat John Kerry, bin Laden took the risk of breaking nearly a year of silence to release a videotape denouncing Bush on the Friday before the U.S. election.

Bush's supporters immediately spun bin Laden's tirade as an "endorsement" of Kerry and pollsters recorded a jump of several percentage points for Bush, from nearly a dead heat to a five- or six-point lead. Four days later, Bush hung on to win a second term by an official margin of less than three percentage points.

The intervention by bin Laden -- essentially urging Americans to reject Bush -- had the predictable effect of driving voters to the President. After the videotape appeared, senior CIA analysts concluded that ensuring a second term for Bush was precisely what bin Laden intended.

"Bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President," said deputy CIA director John McLaughlin in opening a meeting to review secret "strategic analysis" after the videotape had dominated the day's news, according to Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine, which draws heavily from CIA insiders.

Suskind wrote that CIA analysts had spent years "parsing each expressed word of the al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, Zawahiri. What they'd learned over nearly a decade is that bin Laden speaks only for strategic reasons. ... Today's conclusion: bin Laden's message was clearly designed to assist the President's reelection."

Jami Miscik, CIA deputy associate director for intelligence, expressed the consensus view that bin Laden recognized how Bush's heavy-handed policies were serving al-Qaeda's strategic goals for recruiting a new generation of jihadists.

"Certainly," Miscik said, "he would want Bush to keep doing what he's doing for a few more years."

As their internal assessment sank in, the CIA analysts were troubled by the implications of their own conclusions. "An ocean of hard truths before them -- such as what did it say about U.S. policies that bin Laden would want Bush reelected -- remained untouched," Suskind wrote.

Even Bush recognized that his struggling campaign had been helped by bin Laden. "I thought it was going to help," Bush said in a post-election interview about the videotape. "I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn't want Bush to be the President, something must be right with Bush."

Bin Laden, a well-educated Saudi and a keen observer of U.S. politics, appears to have recognized the same point in cleverly tipping the election to Bush.