Thursday, September 13, 2007

John Edwards' Response to President Bush

Boehner Calls Supreme Sacrifice "Small Price"

GOP House minority leader John Boehner thinks that over 4000 deaths of American troops (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of serious physical and psychological military casualties suffered in this war) are a "small price to pay" for his partisan brand of ghost-chasing.

This is the kind of talk that Dante Zappala was telling us he's sick and tired of in my last blogpost.

I wanted to talk about the humanity of this war. My brother died in Iraq. He died looking for WMD. He died because this country capitulated to fear, because the people in power were hell bent on an ideology, because the principles of reason were tossed for negligent policy.

The General says give us time. Where others see 12 months, or 18 months, I see bodies. I see 900, 1300 dead troops. I see tens of thousands injured, wives who will see their husbands again—someday—but never know them again. A million firsts will pass without witness. A baby's first steps, a first word, a first day of school. The consequences extend beyond this generation. The consequences are right there, in my nephew's eyes, who has the unmistakable gaze of his father.

What Dante Zappala Wanted to Say on Hardball

"I wanted to talk about the humanity of this war."

Dante Zappala appeared on Hardball last night and said a lot, but there was even more that he wanted to tell us.

Let Dante tell you in his own words...

The ONLY Way: Bush Must Change Course in Iraq

Immediately following George W. Bush's speech tonight, tune in to MSNBC.

John Edwards has something to say that he thinks is so important for you to hear that his campaign has purchased air time on MSNBC to say it.

From TPM Election Central:

John Edwards isn't going to use the usual method — a dry press release, followed by speeches at campaign rallies the next day — to rebut President Bush's speech tonight about Iraq. Instead, Edwards will run a two-minute ad tonight on MSNBC, set to air right after Bush's speech.

"Unfortunately, the president is pressing on with the only strategy he's ever had — more time, more troops, and more war," Edwards says in the ad, regarding Bush's expected plan to withdraw 30,000 troops from Iraq, conditioned on progress in the country.

"Tell Congress you know the truth," Edwards says. "They have the power to end this war and you expect them to use it. When the president asks for more money and more time, Congress needs to tell him he only gets one choice — a firm timeline for withdrawal."

Here's a preview of what Senator Edwards will say this evening (tip of the hat to TPM):

Listen at MSNBC directly after the President's speech tonight to hear John Edwards' message in its entirety.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Two Soldier-NYT-OpEd-Authors Dead in Iraq

It is being reported at the group blog Daily Kos that two of the seven soldiers who wrote the August 19, 2007 New York Times op-ed piece criticizing the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy have been killed in Iraq.

Daily Kos writer Brandon Friedman reports:

Yance T. Gray and Omar Mora died Monday in a vehicle accident in Baghdad. The AP has reported on Yance Gray here, and KHOU, a Houston-area TV station has reported on Omar Mora here. Their families have been notified.

I have confirmed through a source in Iraq that these are indeed the same soldiers who penned the op-ed piece

Gray and Mora, along with five others serving in Iraq, had written these words last August:

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are - an army of occupation - and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

To show you an example of how much the right-wing values the opinions of their own brave fellow military personnel, see this August comment from the Free Republic about the New York Times op-ed by a former U.S. infantryman, MNJohnnie:

"Curious, what was the political orientation of these “Soldiers” before they went to Iraq? Who is paying the bills for them to go out and propagandize like this? Could it be they are just the latest in a long line of Democrat Party propaganda stooges?
Amazing how the same people who are so cynical about commerical marketing fall hook line and sinker for this short of political marketing.

But even if they are sincere, which I doubt, they have an ego centric view based on their tiny slice of the battle field. Nothing surprising here that they happened to be in a crappy part of Iraq. However, to look out your window and claim you now understand how the whole world works is absurd and childish. Yet that is what these clowns do.

Interesting isn’t it that these clowns get coverage from the NY Times, yet these guys don’t. Curious, what was the political orientation of these “Soldiers” before they went to Iraq. Who is paying

I'd assure this bitterly partisan commentator that these troops who he considered to be "absurd childish egocentric clowns" will never be paid enough to get their lives back...lives they sacrificed for our nation in this war that they dared to criticize.

MoveOn Ad Controversy=Right-Wing Diversion

The question of the propriety of the "Petraeus or Betray Us" ad is a red herring for the Republican attack machine in what seems to be these days a campaign against an enemy more dangerous to Republicans than al Qaeda - - the Democratic party.

General Petraeus is a career military man who understands what he must say on behalf of the Commander in Chief, lest he lose his career. Alas, there may be no saving his reputation in the long run. The problem is, General Petraeus' job is no easier nor clear-cut than the strategy for the Iraq war itself. Think of General Colin Powell, the good soldier and the loyal cabinet member who likely destroyed his own future political career by having willingly gone to the United Nations to complete a big sale with loose and cherry-picked data about WMD. How sorry we now know he is that he did that as he looks back today.

George W. Bush is the kind of leader who, most unfortunately, has a unique way of destroying anyone who works loyally on his behalf. The president, in the case of the Petraeus report, is the one who is betraying our trust, as he'[s done throughout his presidency.

General Petraeus is doing his tapdance for a President who would just as soon throw him to the wolves if he spoke any hard truth to that disastrous power.

U.S. Congressman James Moran said something recently about a trip to Iraq that has me concerned about General Petraeus. Read the folling statement from Rep. Moran and ask yourself how much you think you can trust a General of Petraeus' rank who's creating the illusion of a situation where we, as a nation, are precluded from being able to withdraw from Iraq in any reasonable period of time because he "doesn't know how.."

REP JIM MORAN: Now, to talk about strategy: I’m going to recommend that Mr. Murtha reject the 50 billion entirely, take the 14 billion, and use it solely for withdrawal purposes. I asked Gen. Petraeus in Iraq whether he had made plans for withdrawal, and he said "No! There are no contingency plans for withdrawal." He said: "I don’t know how to do it. It takes six months just to close down one military base, and you can’t do many simultaneously." You can check on how many military bases we have all over Iraq. So basically they’re created a situation that they think precludes any ability to withdraw from that country in any reasonable period of time. I hope that we are going to recommend that the money that the President is requesting for Iraq be used solely for withdrawing our troops, weapons, and facilities.

Democrats have refused to repudiate's ad questioning General Petraeus' character and role in this decidedly bogus hyperfocus on one component of a disastrous overall policy that's failing at every other step of the way.

Jeffrey Feldman describes how even the mainstream is easily suckered into the right-wing misframing of the essence of U.S. citizens' message questioning President Bush's policy in Iraq. The right-wing wishes to silence that message and various right-wing sources have coordinated accusations that critics of the war seek to harm the country, this time by slandering the U.S. military.

This is how unjust wars are perpetuated by those who allow pumped-up controversy to throw them off course.

Meanwhile, a young man or woman will likely die today in Iraq while serving an attention-deficit nation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

NY25 Rep Walsh To Push For Troop Withdrawal

"I think we need to let the president know that if he doesn't start taking troops out, then Congress will use the power of the purse to do it."

- U.S. Congressman James Walsh (R-NY)

Walsh says U.S. must cut troops in Iraq
Posted by Mark Weiner September 10, 2007 11:01PM Post Standard

After months of wavering in his support for the war in Iraq, Rep. James Walsh said Monday he now favors a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops and will support votes in Congress to force the issue.

Walsh, R-Onondaga, said he made his decision to part ways with President Bush and other Republicans after visiting troops in Iraq over the weekend, his first trip since 2003.

"Things have not changed substantially in Iraq," Walsh said after returning to Washington Monday. "It's a very, very dangerous place, if not the most dangerous place on Earth. Governance is a serious issue. They are stumbling toward democracy."

Walsh said he saw some progress, but too little, while visiting Baghdad and an American military hospital in Balad, about 60 miles to the north. He was part of a five-member congressional delegation that visited the country Saturday and Sunday.

"What occurred to me while I was in Iraq is that it's time," Walsh said. "We've done enough. No country has done more than we have for Iraq. The question I kept coming up with is how much do we have to give Iraq to make things work? I think we have given enough."

Walsh said he plans to share his thoughts with President Bush, who in May met privately with him in the White House to discuss the war.

Walsh was part of a group of 11 Republican moderates who told the president their support for the war would not last beyond September unless they saw significant progress.

"I think we need to let the president know that if he doesn't start taking troops out, then Congress will use the power of the purse to do it," Walsh said Monday, adding he hoped to sign on to a bipartisan bill that would set a date for a gradual draw down.

"We need to start reducing our troops," he said. "These guys have done everything we asked them to do, over and over again. They are absolutely brilliant. And it's unbelievably hostile conditions there."

Walsh spoke about his decision on the same day the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus, delivered a progress report to members of the House of Representatives. Petraeus asked Congress to wait six months before making decisions about redeploying the largest numbers of American troops.

"I heard Petraeus," Walsh said. "I agree with much of what he says. But his focus is the military. And as I've said many times before, this will require a political, not a military, solution."

Walsh said a phased withdrawal of troops would send a signal to the Iraqi government that it needs to begin getting its political house in order.

"The big question is whether the Sunni and Shia can get a deal," he said. "I think they can. But the Shia government needs to be pressured by us. And I think the way to do that is to start bringing our troops home."

He added, "That's the message we have to give to the Iraqis. You've got to find a way to power-share and begin to reconcile with the Sunnis."

Walsh said he was discouraged by the lack of progress he saw on several fronts in Iraq. He declined to identify the other members of the delegation, which he said included one Democrat.

Walsh said a power plant in southern Baghdad that he toured in 2003 is still producing an inadequate amount of electricity, virtually unchanged from his last visit.

"The electrical power generation is not a success story," he said. "That was four years ago and they're at the same level of power generation. That's very, very disturbing."

On Sunday, the delegation met with reconstruction teams that included officials from the State Department and Army Corps of Engineers.

At that meeting, Walsh said one military officer told the House members: "Don't give the Iraqi government any more money for reconstruction. They have enough. They have plenty."

Walsh said that assessment is not what he hears in Congress.

"Apparently, the money we provided is in the hands of the Iraqi ministers and they control it," he said. "That may be the single most important information I got on the trip."

A sand storm over Baghdad forced the delegation's C-130 to circle for two hours before diverting to Balad, forcing the group to miss a planned meeting with Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking U.S. general in Iraq, and Sunni political leaders.

Later, the delegation traveled by Humvee with Army troops to visit a joint security station in Baghdad's Khark neighborhood, which includes the markets along Haifa Street. Walsh said he believes the delegation was taken there because it was a "success story." Still, he said, the delegation had to wear helmets and body armor.

Feingold: Why A Surge Focus is Bogus

If there's any lesson to be learned from 9/11, this message (in the form of his questions and comments to Iraq ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus) from Senator Russ Feingold should be it: