Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How Dems lose in November

MR. WILLIAMS: We are back, and because our first segment went long and we are in a large arena -- (cheers, applause) --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Off mike) -- for Hillary!
MR. WILLIAMS: -- we are just now welcoming back both of our candidates to the stage and asking our cooperation of the audience.
We're back live tonight in Cleveland, Ohio.

That's from the transcript of last night's debate and I thought I would open with it because I doubt you'll hear about it. As Ava and C.I. noted in "Radio: Panhandle Media," during the Austin, Texas debate, Hillary received boos and applause for one line but somehow the tired and semi-closeted Laura Flanders would only mention the "boos," would only mention the "boos" twice. So there you have it, "for Hillary!" Again, you probably won't hear about it. Maybe Socialists from England who try to pass themselves off as Democrats think, "I'm already lying about who I am, so what the hell, let me lie about what happened in a debate as well!"

Thomas F. Schaller has a column (from the cesspool that is the Baltimore Sun) and Common Dreams reposts it, so you know it's slamming Hillary. He concludes his garbage with, "A growing number of Democrats, even those who like Mrs. Clinton personally and respect her as a public servant, have seen enough. They want the Clinton machine to just go away -- to forfeit for real." No, Schaller, that's not what Democrats have decided. Democrats have voted for Hillary. Take away the so-called "independents" (apparently including Socialists like Flanders as well as other political parties) and Republicans have delivered Obama to where he is now. It is a Democratic primary for the Democratic candidate. Schaller can lie all he wants but Hillary has the support of the bulk of Democrats across the country.

But if he couldn't lie, he couldn't push his inexperienced and embarrassing candidate. When you grasp how hard they've had to lie just to come close to winning the Democratic primary nomination, you realize how weak a candidate Barack Obama is. Bambi is not ready to be president and the press is not ready to let him be. That is reality. They love John McCain.

Bambi's cult gets peeled off in the general, if he wins the nomination, as a result of attacks. Real ones. None of this John Edwards refusing to challenge Bambi until the week before Edwards drops out. None of this lying "That's racism!" Republicans won't give a damn about that. They will also mock it and rightly so because Bambi's campaign (specifically Jesse Jackson Jr.) have cried racism over and over and, in many cases, there was no racism involved. So the Republicans will have a field day using the false cries Bambi's made.

They may just mock him on the chat & chews. But they could assemble a commercial from it.

Something like this.

Announcer: Bill Clinton called Bambi's Iraq War record a "fairytale." The Obama campaign screamed "racism!" Hillary Clinton noted that it took LBJ as president to make the Civil Rights Act law. The Obama campaign screamed "racism!" Bill Clinton noted that Jesse Jackson won primaries. The Obama campaign screamed "racism!" A photo turns up of Bambi in Kenyan garb. The Obama campaign screamed "racism!" Is America really ready for four years of a president screaming "racism!" everytime he's not happy with the way things are going? This advertisement brought to you by the Vote Senator Crazy in November Campaign.

That is reality. Reality is also that the likes of Robert Scheer and Robert Parry couldn't see what was going on. (Or maybe they were part of the lie.) They kept insisting Bambi never played the race card. But everytime Bambi's unhappy with something, the response from the campaign is to scream "racism!" The photo that emerged at the start of the week seems to have been a turning point for a number of people. By yet again screaming racism, on something that was a photo Obama dressed and posed for, they really begged the country to take a look at how often they've gone to the well on that false charge.

It's equally true that they and their supporters have demonized Muslims. Questions about Obama or lies that he was Muslim have resulted in cries of racism and outrage. As if Muslims are something to be ashamed of? It's very easy for the campaign to make the argument that Obama isn't Muslim (he's not) without resorting to tactics that make it appear there is something wrong with being Muslim.

I've seen how his trash campaigns operate. He destroys his opponents if they let him. Hillary and Bill should have called his crap out. (John Edwards joined in the pile up for anyone who forgets. He was making those false charges as well.) He eliminated the Democratic front runner in the primary for his Senate campaign by spreading rumors that the man beat his wife. After that, he 'won' the nomination. He had to go up against Jack Ryan (GOP) and he eliminated Jack Ryan by whispering to the press non-stop about why Jack Ryan divorced his wife. He spread those rumors. It's no surprise that he couldn't go marital on the Clintons (though, as The Atlantic Monthly reported last year, his campaign did try to do that). So what was left? Racism.

If he gets the nomination, what's he planning to use on McCain?

Be sure that the Republicans are not going to take Obama's crap. The New York Times story basically means McCain can't be touched in terms of his marriage (that and the Bully Boy's 2000 smears). He's going to call McCain a racist?

I don't like McCain and I don't buy the media spin on him. But when you start calling John McCain a "racist," someone that so many Americans (wrongly) see as a "moderate" and someone willing to work with both sides (ibid), it's not going to play well. Republicans also aren't going to give a damn. So the ones you might influence are "independents." That group will be called a "racist" when "Independent" and "Maverick" McCain is called one.

If Obama gets the nomination, prepare to see President John McCain sworn in next January.

"Some Thoughts About the Possible GOP Blindside in the GE (Part 1)" (Lost in Space, Corrente):
Republican Playbook Department of No! They Would Never to Do That! Pete and Repeat Scary GOP SCLM
[Note: I’ve decided to break this into 2 parts to make things much easier for me to deal with. Enjoy, or not]
Watching the SCLM and FRWC start their opening salvos on Barack Obama this week - as well as the responses from his many supporters - made me remember a few things about some of the previous Presidential elections - and how there seemed to be a backdoor slider that made the Democrats (sans W. Clinton) freeze at Strike Three.
1988 - Bush vs. Dukakis.
When discussing this election, the one thing that most people talk about is Lee Atwater's "Willie Horton" ad, which was racist (and for the most part, untrue, but when has the truth stopped the GOP before?) no matter which way you look at it. There were several variations of the ad, including the "revolving door of criminals" to make Dukakis look soft on crime. While this ad received alot of attention, that wasn't the backdoor slider that doomed Dukakis.
That dubious distinction belonged to the "Michael Dukakis on a Tank" ad that Bush ran. If you ever get a chance to see this ad, it is the quintessential GOP spin ad - and it succeeded in making Governor Dukakis look like a total buffoon and helped to pin him as hopelessly lost on defense issues in the process.
The Tank ad was the one that Dukakis had no real answer for and was not really challenged in narrative in the MSM (because the Horton ad was the one getting the "Shock!RACISM" tag around the news). This was the one that Democrats in 1988 never saw coming.

Prepare for it. If Obama gets the nomination, it's coming.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, February 27, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US Congress holds some hearings, a journalist dies in Iraq, the Turkish invasion continues in northern Iraq and more.

Starting with war resisters. Earlier this month,
Paul Boers (The Goshen College Record) reported on war resister Rob Weiss. At age 17, Weiss signed up for the US military and, following high school graduation and basic training, the Army sent him to Germany where he was stationed. For 18 months all was fine until he was home at the end of 2006 when the fiance of his sister died en route to the hospital and, as Boers explains, "This event caused Weiss to start thinking about his own mortality, especially as a soldier." Weiss explains to Boers about how he would explain his death, "What would I say? 'Sorry, I didn't have time to go to church. I was hung over.' I thought, 'maybe it's time that I would do something productive with my life other than getting bar fights and getting hammered drunk'." Exploring these issues and turning to the Bible, Weiss explains, "I was shocked by this message of peacemaking. There is a constant, recurring message of not responding in violence, unlike in the Army where they teach you to kill everything." On June 6, 2007, Weiss filed his conscientious objector status and as he waited for a response, he was sent to Iraq. While in Iraq, the decision came down: his CO application was denied. While on leave, Weiss self-checked out and went underground in the US. Speaking to Boers, Weiss explained, "I think it's better to turn yourself in and get it over with. I don't want to live in people's basements until the day I die."

Meanwhile war resisters who have moved to Canada were dealt a serious set-back when the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC action:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers. IVAW's co-chair Adam Kokesh will, of course, be participating and he explains why at his site, "But out of a strong sense of duty, some of us are trying to put our experiences to use for a good cause. Some of us couldn't live with ourselves if weren't doing everything we could to bring our brothers and sisters home as soon as possible. The environment may be unking, but that is why I will be testifying to shooting at civilians as a result of changing Rules of Engagement, abuse of detainees, and desecration of Iraqi bodies. It won't be easy but it must be done. Some of the stories are things that are difficult to admit that I was a part of, but if one more veteran realizes that they are not alone because of my testimony it will be worth it."

Staying with veterans, the US House Committee on Veterans Affairs' subcommittee on Health held a hearing today. Subcommittee chair Michael Michaud explained in opening remarks, "Today's hearing is an opportunity for the VA, Veteran Service Organizations and members of this subcommittee to discuss draft legislation dealing with Fiscal Year 2009 VA construction. 38 United States Code requires statutory authorization for all VA major medical facility construction projects over $10 million and all major medical facility leases more than $600,000 per year. This hearing is a first step in this important process." Dennis Cullinan, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US, testified on behalf of the VFW regarding the proposed "Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Facility Authorization and Lease Act of 2008." Cullinan felt the budges were too low and placed the blame for that on "the administration" which "saw fit to halve the major and minor construction accounts from the Fiscal Year 2008 levels, failing to meet the future needs of our veterans." The White House has played it on the cheap with veterans care throughout this decade and they've generally gotten away with that. Cullinan stated the proposed legislation "demonstrates that this Congress is ready, able and willing to correct this situtiona and to advance VA's construction priorities so that future generations of veterans -- such as those currently serving in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Aghanistan -- will have a first-rate VA health care system ready to fully meet their needs." The proposal, as US Dept of Veterans Affairs' Donald Orndoff noted, mainly is about the "authorization for six major medical construction projects and twelve major medical facility leases".

Meanwhile, Dr. Dean Kilpatrick of the Medical University of South Carolina testified to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs yesterday on the subject of PTSD and this morning he testified to the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Kilpatrick is the direcyor of the National Crimes Victims Research and Treatment Center. And for context, the
American Public Health Association's 135th Annual Meeting last November utilized these numbers for PTSD -- 12 percent to 20 percent of all veterans from the Iraq War will suffer from PTSD, over 52,000 veterans have already been diagnosed and treated with PTSD. In December 2006, Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported, "U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Army's first survey exploring hos today's multiple war-zone rotations affect soldiers' mental health." In his opening remarks today, Kilpatrick explained the basics.

Kilpatrick: I will begin with some background information of posttraumatic stress disorder. Briefly described, PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop in a person after a traumatic experience. Someone is diagnosed with PTSD if, in response to that traumatic experience, he or she develops a cluster of symptoms that include
* reexperienceing the traumatic event as reflected by distressing recollections, memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
* avoidance of anything that reminds them of the traumatic event
* emotional numbing or feeling detached from other people
* hyperarousal as reflected by trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, outbursts of anger, and having to always be vilgilant for potential threats in the enivornment
* impairment in social or occupational functioning, or clinically significant distress

The focus of the hearing was not PTSD, however. Kirkpatrick and others were members of the Institute of Medicine committee studying veterans health issues with a primary focus -- today -- on the ratings. Is the Scehdule for Rating Disabilities -- currently used to determine the financial benefits paid to wounded veterans -- adequate or even fair? Former American Medical Association president
Dr. Lonnie R. Bristow gave an overview of areas the committee felt needed futher exploration and these included compensation for loss of quality of life, the differences in employment income for those suffering brain injuries as opposed to physical ones. Scott Zeger, of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health noted veterans with "medical conditions that develope after military service" and the need to for "Congress or the Department of Veterans Affairs . . . to make a 'presumption' of service-connection so that a group of veterans can be appropriately compensated. Presumptions are made in order to reach decisions in the face of unavailable or incomplete information." The Center for Health Research and Policy's Joyce McMahon also addressed compensation and the need for a system that was inclusive, "Congressional language indicates that the intent of VA compensation is to provide a replacement for the average impairment in earning capacity. VA compensation is not an individual means-tested program, although there are minor exceptions to this." As with most studies, by the committee members own statements, the emphasis was on males and before Congress creates an 'inclusive system,' it would be better to actually be inclusive. At this late date, there's really no excuse to set up a system that will treat male as the norm and take decades of pressure to include women in the studies and then to begin addressing health and disability issues specific to women. Aaron Glantz (War Comes Home) reported last month on the continued crisis in veterans health care and noted, "The average wait time for a veteran's disability claim to be decided is now 183 days. More than 600,000 disabled vets are waiting. Tens of thousands more veterans are being totally denied medical care and disability benefits they were promised after serving abroad." The 600,000 waiting should especially stand out to those who remember the 2004 presidential debates. Senator John Kerry noted the crisis -- it was then and it is now a crisis -- in veterans health care and among the lies Bully Boy tossed out (and the likes of quickly swallowed) was that the wait-time was going smoothly, right on track, boom-boom-boom. The reality, as Kerry pointed out repeatedly before the debate and after was that the wait-time was increasing. So when the figure of 600,000 emerges today, it has recent historical roots. Let's return to PTSD to note this from AP (November 2007): "About 42 percent of the Guard and reserves compared to 20 percent of active-duty troops, were identified as needing medical health treatment in two screenings. The first testing was immediately upon return from Iraq and the second six months later. Problems showed up more often on the second screening. . . . For those citizen soldiers, the military's Tricare health insurance benefits expire after six months: VA benefits expire two years after a soldier's return to civilian status." Ron Jacobs (Dissident Voice) reviews Michele Barrett's Casualty Figures and notes of PTSD, "We associate this disorder primarily with veterans of combat. What many people do not know is that this disorder was included into the bible of therapeutic mental health disorders only after a long struggle by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and some other US veterans organizations in the 1970s."

Meanwhile the US House Committe on Oversight and Government Reform's subcommitte (Government Management, Organization and Procurement) held a hearing today where the issue was contractors and focused on three proposals (H.R. 3033, H.R. 3928 and H.R. 4881). Normally, this isn't a committee worth watching but US Rep Chris Murphy was in charge of the bulk of the hearing. Murphy had some serious exchanges with Paul Denett (Office of Federal Procurement Policy Office of Management and Budget) who appeared to be present mainly to throw a road block in front of the three proposed bills. "Your remark in your written testimony was" about stifling competition, Murphy noted, but "we already have this information . . . when it comes to public companies . . . Why are we concerned that simply requiring private companies to disclose a modicum of what we require public companies to disclose" would adversly effect competition?

Denett's reply was, amazingly, given with a straight face, "There are a lot of small busines who would be discouraged . . . [because] they don't want their employees to know what they're making." "Executive compensation" was the issue and Murphy wanted to know why these contracts -- to companies such as Blackwater -- result in executives making more -- in these private companies -- than the executives of public companies. Denett attempted to dismiss the issue by maintaining that "fixed price contracts" don't explore a company's compensation; however, Murphy noted that you can't determine fair price without knowing the profit margin and whether "10% to 20% is being taken off the top for executive compensation." Murphy noted that "any private investor" considering investing in a company would factor these facts into a decision of whether or not to invest in the company, so why doesn't the government factor them in when awarding contracts? US House Rep Peter Welch would also explore this noting that there has to be "some public disclosure" when these business are wanting tax payer dollars. Welch asked the US Government Accountability Office's John Hutton if the proposed legislation would cause Hutton professional problems and Hutton begged off with a lot of words that went no where leading Welch to observe, "I don't understand what you just said." Welch reminded that the money being handed ou twas "tax payers' dollars" and what was being asked for was "public information" -- "We're just simply asking for some information -- in this case salary information -- I don't see how it would in any way interfere with the procurement process." US House Rep Carolyn Maloney (apparently dressed to battle Dr. Doom -- what were those things, wings? -- I'm sorry, you wear that to a meeting, you're asking for your outfit to be discussed) noted that the legislation proposed is not out of the norm and already applies to construction companies. She futher wanted to know what was happening with regards to companies being awarded federal contracts when they didn't pay taxes? By then the hearing was already over because the committee's chair, Edolphus Towns, had finally arrived. The annual CBC report explains Towns but, for those who've never read it, let's just note the first question Towns elected to ask, "What needs to be done to bring you on board?" The question, naturally went, to Big Business and Pork Cheerleader Alan L. Chvotkin (
Professional Services Council). As if that wasn't bad enough, after the hearing, Eldophus Towns would be walking around the hall clutching Chvotkin's beefy right arm. POGO's Scott Amey testifed as well and his opening remarks (PDF format warning) can be found here.

Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) and an interpreter visited the Iranian ambassador in Iraq and the interpreter noted that he was "the second ruler of Iraq . . . After [US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan] Crocker." Fadel notes, "She never mentioned the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al Maliki. She expressed what most Iraqis feel, Iraq is a tug of war for power between Iran and the United States." Which might be a good time to note that al-Maliki's back in London again -- he always seems to flee the country whenever there's a problem. The big problem for him these days is the invasion of nothern Iraq by Turkey. Kevin Whitelaw (US News and World Reports) explains that despite US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calling for Turkey to 'quickly' complete it's invasion, "Turkish diplomats say the incursion will continue as long as the Turkish military deems necessary." Some have described the puppet government in Baghdad as 'anguished' and certainly al-Maliki's cabinet ministers (especially Kurdish ones) have called for Turkey to cease the military invasion. But al-Maliki, out of the country yet again, can't be feeling too much 'anguish.' Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) observes that today is day six of the invasion and that Turkey has rebuffed Iraq's insistance upon a speedy withdraw with Ahmet Davutoglu ("Turkish envoy") declaring, "Our objective is clear, our mission is clear and there is no timetable until . . . those terrorist bases are eliminated." Ben Knight (Australia's ABC) explains the time frame being addressed, "The US says Turkey should end its military campaign against Kurdish rebels in Iraq in a matter of weeks, rather than months."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed the life of 1 person and left another injured, another bombing "targeting a Caprice carrying fuel cans" claimed 1 life and left two more injured, a Mosul bombing claimed 2 lives, two people were wounded in a Diyala Province bombing and, in the latest known attack on officials, Col. Anwar Qadir (chief of police) was targeted for assassination via a car bombing today but survived.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports unknown assailants shot dead 1 border guard outside Tirkit and left two wounded, unknown assailants shot dead police Lt. Raid Khudair in Basra and (Tuesday night for this crime) unknown assailants shot dead a student at Mosul University. Reuters notes an armed clash in Mosul left two people dead and that unknown assailants "attacked a checkpoint manned by Iraqi police and members of U.S.-backed neighbourhood police unit, killing two and wounding three". Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) notes that Shihab al-Tamimi is dead from wounds received this weekend when he was attacked in Baghdad (gunfire) and notes the 74-year-old man "was an independent journalist working for many local newspapers. He was known for his outspoken views against the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the continued presence of U.S. troops on Iraqi soil."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and 1 corpse was found in Babil Province

In the US, how sad it must be to be Dana Perino today (let's be kind and leave it at today). The White House Flack declared earlier this week (Feb. 25th), "The President has been working towards reconciliation between the Sunnis and the Shia, and it's actually working on a political level in some ways. Especially we saw that last month, when they passed three laws in one day, which was quite a significant achievement for the Iraqis." It's no longer "three," it's now "two."
CBS and AP report, "Iraq's presidential council rejected a measure Wednesday setting up provincial elections, sending it back to parliament in the latest setback to U.S.-backed national reconciliation efforts. The three-member panel, however, approved the 2008 budget and another law that provides limited amnesty to detainees in Iraqi custody. Those laws will take effect once they are published in the Justice Ministry gazette." Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) explains, "The Bush adminstration downplayed the setback. 'This is democracy at work,' said White House press secretary Dana Perino." Perino also declared today "I don't know if he has." That was in reply to the question (at today's press briefing), "The US military conducted 19 focus groups throughout Iraq last November, and its report on those focus groups stated that Iraqis from every ethnic and sectarian group are united in the belief that the US invasion is the root cause of the sectarian violence in Iraq and that the departure of the US military is the key to national reconciliation. And I wondered, has the President seen the military's report on those focus groups?"

In US political news,
Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) shakes her head (rightly) at The Nation magazine:

It is incomprehensible that The Nation magazine endorsed Obama after making the following statement. "This magazine has been critical of the senator from Illinois for his closeness to Wall Street; his unwillingness to lay out an ambitious progressive agenda on healthcare, housing and other domestic policy issues; and for post-partisan rhetoric that seems to ignore the manifest failure of conservatism over these past seven years."
If The Nation has so many qualms about Obama, why endorse him at all? The editors could have simplay made a statement of non-support for Obama or Clinton. The sad plight of progressives is all too bovious. "While his rehtoric about 'unity' can be troubling, it also embodies a savvy strategy to redefine the center of American politics and build a coalition by reaching out to independent and Republican voters disgruntled and disgusted with what the Bush era has wrought." The Nation should explain to readers why Democrats ought to "redefine the center" with independents and Republicans instead of having their own agenda and fighting to make it a reality.

For another Nation critique,
see Kat regarding Nader, and last night Bambi lied in the debate. Rebecca notes it here and it was also noted here. We may have time for that in tomorrow's snapshot.