"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
When the Americans depart and Sunnis join the Iraqi government, some of the foreign jihadis in Iraq may try to continue the struggle—but they will have committed enemies in both Baghdad and the Shiite south, and the entire Sunni triangle will be against them. They will have nowhere to hide. Nor can they merely take their battle to the West. The jihadis need a failed state like Iraq in which to operate. When they leave Iraq, they will be hounded by Arab and Western security agencies.
The Tax Policy Center, run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that the bottom 80 percent of households would receive 15.8 percent of the House tax cut's benefit. The top 20 percent would receive 84.2 percent of the benefit. Households earning more than $1 million would get 40 percent of the tax cut, or an average cut of nearly $51,000.
While most of her friends and neighbors are amusing themselves with Christmas decorations and holiday gifts, Patricia Arndt is fretting over far more serious matters.
The single mother from Medford has been unexpectedly pulled from the inactive Army reserve and ordered to report for active duty by Feb. 5.
As Christmas nears, Arndt, 43, is trying to sell the Medford home she says she will not be able to keep on an Army salary of approximately $60,000 a year, and is searching for someone to care for her 13-year-old son, Shane. She expects to train for an 18-month tour of duty that could take her to Iraq or Afghanistan.
She said she never saw her return to active duty as a possibility. "Never in a million years," she said.
As Atrios points out, the beautiful minds at the White House do not appear to consider themselves members:
I don't know what's more disturbing -- that Rumsfeld is lying when he claims that he doesn't know of anybody who made cost, casualty, and length predictions about the war or that THE FUCKING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DIDN'T THINK IT WAS IMPORTANT TO MAKE COST, CASUALTY, AND LENGTH PREDICTIONS ABOUT THE WAR. That isn't to say those predictions would have to be perfect, but at least you would, you know, make them for planning purposes.
War, you betcha. Let's do it! We'll worry about the details later. SHOCK AND AWE BABY!
An exit from Iraq is the only rational course of action. How and when we do it must become the central point of discussion in American politics. Timetables for that withdrawal must be established, and a real plan must be agreed upon. This administration, which has no interest in withdrawal for its own nefarious reasons, must be forced to accept this.
Democrats who aspire to higher office must not derail this process by accepting GOP talking points, talking points which serve to do little more than ensure that we will still be in Iraq when our great-grandchildren are old enough to vote.
Take all the rhetoric you've heard from Republicans and Democrats alike regarding "winning" in Iraq, wad it up, throw it into a metal wastecan, and set it on fire. Put all the talk about weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda alliances and Hussein was a bad man and bringing democracy to the torch. Give this nonsense a good, old-fashioned Viking funeral, which provides far more of a dignified departure from this world than it deserves. Cast the ashes to the wind. Salt the earth where the ashes fall so that nothing so pestilently wrong can grow there.
We can win nothing in Iraq. We can only hope to survive the incredible disaster that has been foisted upon us. Rejecting the premise of "winning" is the first step toward that survival. Rejecting wrong-headed, deliberately misleading GOP talking points would be a good idea, as well. Getting out of Iraq is the only sane, sensible, responsible course of action. Any Democrats who hope to be President should heed this. They are ten steps behind the rest of the country, and when they buy into the nonsense, they only ensure their electoral doom.
For the customs of the people are worthless, they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel, they adore it with silver and gold, they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.
The House is expected to consider the Ways and Means Committee tax-cut reconciliation bill this week. The bill would cost $56 billion over five years and provide a two-year extension of the capital gains and dividend tax cuts, starting in 2009. But three additional tax-cut proposals have also been added to this week's House schedule: a one-year extension of relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax, costing $31 billion; tax incentives for Gulf Coast states affected by Hurricane Katrina, expected to cost about $7 billion; and a package of five small tax provisions that were not included in the reconciliation tax bill.
Together, these four tax-cut bills would likely cost a total of at least $90 billion over the next five years. Because the capital gains and dividend tax cuts continue to lose revenues outside the five-year window covered by reconciliation, the cost of these tax-cut measures would likely exceed $115 billion over ten years.
These tax cuts would significantly benefit upper-income households. More than three-quarters of the overall tax-cut benefits from these different measures -- some $70 billion over five years -- would go to households with incomes above $100,000, a group that makes up 14 percent of all U.S. households. And households with incomes over $1 million would receive an average tax cut of $32,000 in 2009 from the capital gains and dividend tax cut alone.
Expect reports of cutbacks on education, healthcare, and first-responders to follow...
Although Bush administration officials have denied that they transfer terrorism suspects to countries where they are likely to be abused, a classified memorandum described in a court case indicates that the Pentagon has considered sending a captured militant abroad to be interrogated under threat of torture.
The classified memo is summarized — its actual contents are blacked out — in a petition filed by attorneys for Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad, a detainee held by the Pentagon at its Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility.
The March 17, 2004, Defense Department memo indicated that American officials were frustrated in trying to obtain information from Ahmad, according to the description of the classified memo in the court petition. The officials suggested sending Ahmad to an unspecified foreign country that employed torture in order to increase chances of extracting information from him, according to the petition's description of the memo.
The precise contents of the Pentagon memo on Ahmad were not revealed, but the memo was described in the petition by New York attorney Marc D. Falkoff, who contested the transfer of Ahmad and 12 other Yemenis in U.S. District Court in Washington this year.
Falkoff's description was not disputed by U.S. government lawyers or by U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, who read the actual Pentagon document. The judge ruled in favor of the Yemenis on March 12, and Ahmad has not been transferred from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
The memo appears to call into question repeated assertions by the administration that it does not use foreign governments to abuse suspected militants — what critics call "torture by proxy."
Pentagon officials did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment on the memo.
The number of U.S. workers filing new jobless claims last week rose unexpectedly by 6,000, the government said Thursday. Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits climbed to a seasonally adjusted 327,000 in the week ended Dec. 3 from an upwardly revised 321,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said.
In 2003, Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen, was taken off a bus at the Macedonian border, reportedly because his name was similar to that of someone linked to the 9/11 attacks. Macedonia handed him over to US agents who allegedly drugged him and them shipped him out of the country. Speaking through an interpreter at an ACLU press conference in Washington on Tuesday, el-Masri tells his chilling story (video).
Some of the Who's in Whoville who received the above card from the White House this month are grumbling that something was missing, Christmas. I've been trying to avoid posting on this ridiculous conjured-up wedge issue, but with the festive hypocrisy of it all, I couldn't resist.
Fitzgerald had a nearly three-hour grand jury session today; he was accompanied by three deputies and an FBI agent. The legal advisors at Think Progress confess no inside information, but say this sort of an event usually precedes an indictment being handed down.
Congressman Murtha asserts that it's going to take at least 20 years to stabilize Iraq. Murtha also states that the Pentagon will be asking for another $100 billion, raising the current total to $420 billion (video, transcript).
Iraqi oil exports fell to their lowest level in two years in November 2005. Bad management of the reconstruction effort, widespread corruption among government figures, and sabotage by insurgents are the reasons for the decline. Experts say that the US strategy of military intervention in oil-rich regions can only diminish, rather than increase, the supply to world markets.
RNC Chair Kevin Mehlman echoes Rush Limbaugh's statement inferring that John Kerry called our troops "terrorists" for his reference to the report that soldiers broke into Iraqi homes and "terrorized" women and children (video).
Yesterday Michael Reagan asserted that Howard Dean should be "arrested and hung for treason or put in a hole until the end of the Iraq war" for his comments regarding the likelihood of losing the war in Iraq. When given the opportunity on Fox News, Reagan chooses not to back down from his statement (video).
Can you even imagine the shitstorm the Republicans would create if such a statement was made regarding RNC Chair Kevin Mehlman?
Bob Baer, a former covert CIA field officer with 20 years in Iraq and the Middle East, weighs in on: our use of torture, the non-threat that Hussein posed before the invasion, the destabilization we have created in Iraq, the upcoming Iraqi elections, Iran's support of the Shias, and the likelihood of regional war spreading throughout the entire Middle East (video).
Craig Crawford hits the nail on the head regarding the Bush Administration's ongoing campaign to resell the war to the American public -- particularly with his reference to Einstein's definition of insanity (video).
The Bush administration admitted it wrongfully abducted a German citizen on suspicion of terrorism, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday after a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Berlin.
President George W. Bush criticized Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean on Tuesday for saying it is wrong to think the United States will win in Iraq, calling him a pessimist trying to score political points.
"I know we're going to win, and our troops need to hear not only that they are supported but that we have got a strategy that will win," said Bush, who is trying to restore American confidence in his Iraq plan amid waning support for the war.
In the interview with Matt Lauer of the NBC News program "Today," conducted on Saturday but shown on the opening day of the Republican National Convention, Mr. Bush was asked if the United States could win the war against terrorism, which he has made the focus of his administration and the central thrust of his re-election campaign.
Reagan's NSA Director: If We Stay, Iraq Will Only Get Worse
General Odom, Reagan's head of the National Security Agency, asserts that once we invaded Iraq we set in motion a group of forces that has taken us to a point of chaos, we can't change that by staying longer -- we can only make it worse. We essentially invaded for other people's interests, without understanding it. This in turn created a situation inside Iraq that's leading to a regime that will most likely be an Islamic Republic similar to Iran. Odom also states that the idea of a "War on Terrorism" is ridiculous, and diverting our attention to Iraq greatly undermined our defeat of al-Qaida. The best course of action we can take now is to get out of Iraq and build a coalition with our allies to oversee the region (video).
President George W. Bush will delay a major push for revamping the tax code because administration officials concluded the changes are too tough to sell to the public and lawmakers, two people familiar with the matter said.
As a side note, maybe if the administration's economic policy benefited more than just the top 1-3% it wouldn't be so "tough to sell."
In his major speech this week outlining a strategy for Iraq that might turn around public opinion on the war, President Bush used the word victory 15 times against a backdrop of dozens of "Plan for Victory" signs. Is victory really in our grasp -- and was the talk based more on changing poll results than really setting a wise course in Iraq?
The questions will gain even more relevance with a revelation coming in Sunday’s New York Times. It seems that in a part of the 35-page "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" document posted on the White House web site, a few key strokes by those in know reveal that the document’s originator or author, is one "feaver-p."
This person is Dr. Peter D. Feaver, a 43-year-old Duke University political scientist who joined the National Security Council staff as a special adviser in June. White House officials, while saying the document contained contributions from many federal departments, confirmed, according to the Times, that "its creation and presentation strongly reflected the public opinion research" of Dr. Feaver.
Feaver, the Times' Scott Shane writes, "was recruited after he and Duke colleagues presented to administration officials their analysis of polls about the Iraq war in 2003 and 2004. They concluded that Americans would support a war with mounting casualties on one condition: that they believe it would ultimately succeed."
The press corps managed to ask McClellan some pointed questions during Friday's gaggle. One of the questions concerned the 10 Marines who lost their lives, and Bush's subsequent lack of address during his Rose Garden remarks on the economy; another regarded the obfuscation of the "War on Terror" with the war in Iraq; and lastly, several questions concerning the administration's use of torture (video).
Chris Wallace gives National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley multiple opportunities to admit Cheney made a mistake when he said the Iraqi insurgency was in its last throes last May; Hadley deflects them all (video).
Congressman John Murtha and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley individually debate the conditions for withdrawal (video).
As expected, Hadley repeats the same old tired talking point of staying the course -- if we leave now we are surrendering to the terrorists. Hadley also acknowledged that Bush has not yet ordered a shutdown of the Pentagon's propaganda campaign in Iraq.
Murtha rightfully asserts that the US military presence is helping to feed the insurgency, and he predicts we will be out of Iraq by the fall of '06.