Jun 05 2008

It's Official, THEY LIED

Posted by Steve Ross in lies
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TPM is reporting that the Senate Intelligence committee has released their Phase II report on pre-war intelligence. The report confirms what has long been suspected by the “unpatriotic” liberal blogoshpere, that many of the assertions of the administration were not consistent with intelligence data. Here’s a sample from the Senator Jay Rockefeller’s press release:

–Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

–Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

–Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

–Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

–The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.

–The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed

Can we start the indictments now?

The Reports:
Wether Public Statements by US Government Officials were substantiated by Intelligence Information
Intelligence Activities related to Iraq Conducted by the Policy Counter-terrorism Evaluation Group and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Nov 16 2007

Senate Republicans Block Troop Funding

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

In a show of brazen partisanship, Senate Republicans voted against cloture on HR 4156, a bill that provides emergency spending for troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The measure, which would provide $50 billion of additional funding, failed on cloture by a vote of 53-45. 4 Republicans, Collins and Snowe of Maine, Hagel of Nebraska, and Smith of Oregon, joined the majority in support of the measure. Smith and Collins face tough re-election battles in 2008, which may have contributed to the break with their party.

In addition to the 44 Republicans, Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) also voted against the measure. Lieberman has long been a supporter of administration policy in Iraq, despite his decision to caucus with Democrats.

In response to the vote, White House Deputy Press Secretary, Tony Fratto said: (Source)

“DOD would have to eat into their annual budget and I believe that still presents difficulties in getting the troops in the field the resources they need to carry out their mission.”

“We’d rather see the Department of Defense, the military planners and our troops focusing on military maneuvers, rather than accounting maneuvers as they carry out their mission in the field,” Fratto said. “I think Congress should send this money, allow these troops to get the equipment they need. There is no reason why they should not get the money. This isn’t like this is a last-minute effort and call for funding.”

In rejecting the emergency spending Senate Republicans have put the security of our military forces, deployed in harsh circumstances, at risk.

This is my attempt to show that news can be spun either way if one so desires. Cherry picking information is easy. Nowhere in the above article did I mention anything but troop funding. This places the Republican minority in a position of defense, which is exactly where they need to be. Our Democratic leaders in both the House and the Senate need to get better at this.

In the same article, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are quoted as saying:

“Our troops continue to fight and die valiantly. And our Treasury continues to be depleted rapidly, for a peace that we seem far more interested in achieving than Iraq’s own political leaders,” said Reid, D-Nev.


“The days of a free lunch are over,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

While I support both of these statements, they represent a poor use of the bully pulpit their leadership in the Senate provides. Both of these statements support the frame that we need to get out of Iraq, which we do, however, both need to be followed up with declarations supporting the troops over a disastrous administration policy.

By framing the Republican minority against troop funding we further marginalize the minority and exert pressure on them to change their votes in future conditional funding battles. No it ain’t pretty, but it’s past time that we start playing hard ball, both on the floor and in the media.

Until we start holding their feet to the fire, Republicans will continue their obstructionist maneuvering in the Senate, potentially hampering our ability to maintain the momentum we gained in the 2006 mid-terms.

Nov 13 2007

$3.5 Trillion

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

As reported in the AP via Yahoo! The total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by 2017 could reach $3.5.

If both occupations, because that’s what they are kiddies, not wars, last until 2017 someone’s getting an butt kicking.

The report states that $1.6 trillion has already been spent on the actions (war and occupations) since 2002. That constitutes exactly half of the new deficit spending since W got into office. My take is that $3.5 trillion by 2017 is a conservative estimate.

With the dollar trading around or below the Canadian Looney we can expect the cost of maintaining these actions to increase as our economy experiences the mass inflation that currency devaluation brings.

See because that’s what all the jingoistic junk this administration has brought us, a weak dollar.

Our weak dollar, badly broken military, and Boltenized kindergarten foreign policy will inspire nations all over the world to revere us as the true leaders that we are.

A weak dollar is the thing I think of when considering upward mobility and economic freedom that has made our nation great.

A weak dollar is what the Republicans want, because they, with their internationalist nonchalance spent the 90’s buying cheap Euro’s. (I can’t confirm that, but it makes for some great tin foil conversations.)

Look folks, when I can’t even get some enjoyment from my own snark that means something is horribly wrong. I find it maddening that when a Democrat is in the White House Republicans FREAK OUT at every dime that is spent in or out of the country, but when a Republican is in the White House we gotta go invade someone, damn the consequences, and the people at large don’t give it a thought. REALLY?

We can’t pull out of Iraq any more than we could superglue Ming Dynasty china back together and call it good. But we have to start easing ourselves out of the equation because pointing at someone else ain’t gonna work and what we’re doing now SURE AIN’T WORKING.

I’m glad that Pelosi and Reid are talking big finally, but Hoyer is waffling, and there’s lots of junk in that waffle, lots of power, lots of “not rounding up any votes” for the majority. With all of that, there is a failure that the mass media will lick up like ice cream on a warm summer day.

It’s making me feel like my head is about to asplode, though that could be the being up for 24 hours thing that work made me do this time around.

I think I’ll order pizza with my weak dollars and go to bed lest I make a mess with my head asploding and all in a Columbus Holiday Inn Express.

And I thought these hotels were supposed to make you smarter! Maybe I’ll be better tomorrow.

Oct 08 2007

Pelosi Gives Up

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

As reported in The Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has given up on legislation that would mandate the redeployment of troops from Iraq.

The article, from an exchange on Sunday’s Fox News Sunday, says that voters want the war to end and had an expectation that Congress had that power. “You know we can’t without a Presidential signature”, Pelosi concluded.

So ends a battle that has divided the Democratic Caucus in the House and has been further hamstrung by the slim Democratic majority in the Senate.

Since the May funding that included a timeline for withdrawal was vetoed, the Democratically controlled Congress has struggled to find a common strategy to withdraw or redeploy troops currently serving in Iraq. The May 24 supplemental, which was passed and signed by President Bush, but had no real teeth, was viewed by many on the left as a concession of defeat. Since that time there has been considerable debate and commentary on how the Democratic leadership of the Congress should proceed. Still, no consensus has emerged.

Proponents of a congressionally mandated withdrawal argue that the Congress should continue to hold a hard line on the Administration. Moderates fear the reprisals that any delay on funding might bring them in their 2008 campaigns. These circumstances have left conservative Democrats and Republicans who are content to continue funding the war with few conditions with the most power going forward.

Some 68% of the American people feel the war has been mishandled according to a recent poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post. In that same poll, 55% of respondents felt that the congress should do more, up from 53% in late August, and 67% feel that funding should be reduced in the upcoming supplemental. Clearly there’s widespread support for Congress to step up. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be what’s in the cards going forward.

Since the landmark election of last November, Pelosi has made statements that have diminished the power given her and her leadership team. It started in mid-December when she declared, “Impeachment was off the table”. While the intention of that statement was explained away as “Congress has too many things to deal with”, one never takes any option off the table when in a position to negotiate. In doing so, Pelosi weakened her position and may have hamstrung efforts to oversee departments within the executive branch, as is the duty of the Congress.

This was a tactical error on her part, one that she has repeated in various ways over the past 8 months. As these self-inflicted losses mount, elements within the party and independent organizations have mounted campaigns to highlight the failures of leadership in the Executive, with mixed results. One can only assume that these campaigns will continue, and perhaps become more frequent and fevered over the coming weeks and months.

It is unfortunate that Pelosi has chosen passivity over the rhetoric that helped hand the Congress over to the Democratic Party. By backing down now, she has effectively neutered any effort to check this administration policy, and that’s just sad.

Sep 21 2007

Move On’s Miscalculation

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

Yesterday the Senate, in a show of brazen balllessness, condemned an ad by Move On. The now infamous “Betray Us” ad, a witty play on a general’s name stirred up more junk than it was effective. Somewhere in all that junk the message was lost, and any impact the ad may have had on the debate in Congress about Iraq was held hostage to manufactured outrage. Good going guys.

I think the person that has the best perspective on this is General Wesley Clark. In the linked interview with Matt Stoller of Open Left, Clark calls the ad a “big mistake tactically”. I agree with him.

The Move On ad distracts us from the real culprit in the deception, George W. Bush. Patreaus may be presenting the best face of a terrible situation, but he is not the one that put us there, George W. Bush and an overly compliant and complacent Congress did. In attacking the General, Move On effectively blamed the manager for the actions of the corporation. Or, more plainly, blamed the guy in charge of executing bad policy from above.

The unwavering resolve of the Bush Administration was never going to be swayed by an attack on a surrogate. President Bush is the individual responsible for what is going on, and should forevermore be the target of our ire. Additionally, General Patreaus has a responsibility to carry water for the Administration if so directed by the executive. He complied. The spokesman should never be held accountable for the actions of the client. He’s just doing his job.

To their credit, Move On did go after Bush a day or so later, but by then it was too late. The damage had been done, and all anyone was talking about was this stupid ad.

If the progressive movement wants to gain any traction in the nation, we need to start moving away from these one night stand advertising take downs. Sure they’re fun, and give us a thrill, but ultimately, we’re still sleeping alone. We need to be committed to a focused message. With that message we can actually start to influence the people and by extension, influence the debate. Without that, we’re just one step away from the Tin Foil Hat club.

I support any action to stop this stupid assed foreign policy we have in Iraq so long as the people making the decisions are the ones held accountable. Doing anything else is wasting our time, money and more importantly an opportunity to shift the debate by influencing others in our favor. That should be the ultimate goal.