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Archive for July, 2009

Keeping Troops in Iraq Not Worth the Effort, Memo Advises

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, July 30, 2009

Colonel Timothy Reese, a senior US military adviser in Iraq, has issued a memo urging the US to dramatically speed up its pullout from Iraq, saying it should be announced that all troops will be out of the nation by August 2010.

Col. Timothy Reese

In the blunt memo, Col. Reese says keeping 132,000 US troops in Iraq “isn’t yielding benefits commensurate with the effort and is now generating its own opposition,” he also noted that “guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,” while reminding the reader that US troops have now been in Iraq for over six years. He also mocked the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for “childish chest pounding.”

During the campaign the Obama Administration had originally had a similar pullout strategy, saying they would have all troops out by May 2010. This was quickly revised after taking office, however, to removing all combat troops from the nation. This was further revised to note that the troops remaining would still be conducting combat missions, but wouldn’t be officially called combat troops.

Though his administration has hardly removed any troops at all since taking office, President Obama maintains that the pullout remains “on schedule.” The Reese memo will almost certainly raise further questions of whether that schedule needs dramatic revision, particularly at a time when Maliki is openly talking about keeping the troops in Iraq past 2011.

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House passes $636 Billion$ defense bill

The Hill

By Roxana Tiron
Posted: 07/30/09 07:47 PM [ET]
The House on Thursday bucked President Barack Obama’s veto threats and overwhelmingly approved a $636 billion Pentagon spending bill for fiscal 2010.

The bill, passed on a 400-30 vote, does meet Obama’s demand to cap the F-22 fighter jet program, something he personally lobbied for. But the measure still contains funding for two programs that have drawn veto threats from the administration.

In particular, the White House this week threatened to veto the bill over $560 million for an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as well as $485 million for new helicopters to fly the president on short trips from the White House. The Obama administration did not request funding for either program.

House Panel Reaches Deal on Health-Care Bill

NY Times

By ROBERT PEAR and DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
Published: July 31, 2009

WASHINGTON — The chairman of a pivotal House committee announced Friday that he had reached an agreement with other Democrats that would allow the panel to approve sweeping health legislation later in the day.

The chairman, Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, said the agreement supplements a deal struck Wednesday with the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats on his panel, the Energy and Commerce Committee.

To avoid cutting subsidies for low-income people, Mr. Waxman said, Democrats would find additional savings elsewhere in the bill.

Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of California, said the Blue Dog deal would hold down costs. But she said, “It was paid for on the backs of people who cannot afford health insurance,” so liberals raised concerns.

President Obama speaks to the Press after visiting the Pentagon/ Talks about Iraq

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Beer Summit Details: Obama Hails “Friendly, Thoughtful Conversation” (VIDEO)

HuffPo- First Posted: 07-30-09 06:46 PM   |   Updated: 07-30-09 07:34 PM

As a very private “beer summit” gets underway in the Rose Garden, details remain scant since the “teachable moment’ is closed to the press.

But, according to this pool report, Sergeant Crowley seems to be doing most of the talking, Henry Louis Gates is listening intently and President Obama seems to be in a good mood. And Vice President Biden has joined them – drinking Buckler, a low-alcohol brew.

Obama issued the following statement after the occasion:

“I am thankful to Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley for joining me at the White House this evening for a friendly, thoughtful conversation. Even before we sat down for the beer, I learned that the two gentlemen spent some time together listening to one another, which is a testament to them. I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode.”

Here is video:

And here is the pool report:

Beers in the Rose Garden
It was, alas, only a photo op. The pool had no opportunity to ask questions as we were roped off about 50 feet from the group.

The big surprise: Vice President Joe Biden was at the table with the men. POTUS invited him to join the group this afternoon.

MORE HERE

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Emails Show Rove’s Role In U.S. Attorney Firings

TPM Muckraker- By Zachary Roth – July 30, 2009, 3:14PM

Karl Rove did his second and final day of testimony before Congress about his role in the U.S. attorney firings today. And we’re getting more confirmation that that role was more extensive than he’s yet let on.

The Washington Post and New York Times have obtained emails that offer glimpses into Rove’s role in the firing of certain of the U.S. attorneys. They jibe closely with many similar emails that were released last year as part of a Justice Department inspector general report which essentially found that the firings were engineered by Rove and other White House officials.

In one email, from November 2006, just a month before the firings, Rove commanded his deputy:

Give me a report on what U.S. Attorneys slot are vacant or expected to be open soon.

The deputy, Scott Jennings, replied: “Yes, sir.”

Another of the new emails shows Rove’s office discussing a GOP senator’s request that David Iglesias be fired, and appearing to suggest that the White House itself, rather than the Justice Department, would be responsible for doing so.

The Post reports:

In an Oct. 10, 2006, e-mail from White House political affairs aide Scott Jennings to Rove, Jennings reported:”I received a call from Steve Bell tonight. . . . Last week Sen. Domenici reached the chief of staff and asked that we remove the U.S. Atty. Steve wanted to make sure we all understood that they couldn’t be more serious about this request.”

A second group of emails shows Rove suggesting that a protege of his, Tim Griffin, might be a good candidate for a U.S. attorney post in Arkansas. The man holding the job at the time, Bud Cummins, was later one of the victims of the firings, and the White House attempted to appoint Griffin in his place.

MORE HERE

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The Rolling Stones – Sweet Neo Con

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There appears to be a simple two-pronged strategy for killing health care reform.

One of those prongs involves, of course, delaying reform until it’s too late. If it’s not passed by the end of the year, there won’t be the political balls to do so because of the fast approaching 2010 midterms when members of Congress will be much more focused on raising money (health care industry money) and pandering to voters.

Another reason for delaying health care reform is it gives the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats plenty of extra time to inject their special cocktail of mind-bending crazy into the discourse and make it stick, furthering both the current delay while also eroding any voter impetus to pick up the issue again after the midterms. That’d be prong number two.

Not a single dose of the aforementioned “mind-bending crazy” actually holds up when run through even the most cursory fact-checking scrutiny, and, in every statement, the obstructionists trafficking in these lies further underscore their already obvious contradictions and ideological hypocrisy.

Regarding the latter, I can’t recall, for example, this degree of nipple-twisting from Republicans and Blue Dogs about spending and fiscal responsibility when the Bush administration was pitching a blank check invasion and occupation of Iraq on the heels of invading Afghanistan — all during a recession — while also passing a $1 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest one percent the year before.

Yet affordable, accessible health care for everyone is a bridge too far, right? (My blood pressure kicks up into the red zone whenever I hear Republicans today suggesting that they were against the Bush administration’s spending habits when, in fact, they supported each program individually. After all, opposing the commander-in-chief in wartime emboldened the enemy, no? Not any more apparently since we’re still at war and the heretofore “patriotic” far-right won’t even admit the president is an American citizen. Consistent of them.)

Back to the mind-bending crazy. I detailed some of these attacks last week, and my friend Michael J. Elston (Washington, DC radio’s “Buzz Burbank”) hit some of the arguments in his new Huffington Post blog as well. But who knew they would top themselves this week with an attack so simultaneously absurd and shameless that it easily fits comfortably in the Birther/Truther wackaloon syllabus.

This is of course the notion that the president’s health care reform plan includes a mandate to kill old people.

First, here’s Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Cuckoo’s Nest) on the House floor:

It’ll make sure we bring down the cost of healthcare for all Americans, and that ensures affordable access for all Americans, and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.

And the de facto leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh:

According to Politico:

Sean Hannity believes it. So does House Minority Leader John Boehner. Talk show host Fred Thompson calls it “the dirty little secret” of the health care reform debate.

Yes, if you believe what these cranks are selling, the Obama administration is engaged in an elaborate plot to rid the nation of its burdensome population of old people. All this fluff about a public option, all the debate about reducing costs and making health insurance more affordable is merely subterfuge in the White House’s scheme to impose a final solution to the nation’s obvious elderly problem.

(more…)

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Virgin Media | 30th July, 2009

purdycourtPA_450x300

Multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy has won a landmark appeal to the highest court in the land in her battle to clarify the law on assisted suicide.

Five Law Lords unanimously backed her call for a policy statement from the Director of Public Prosecutions on the circumstances in which a person such as her husband might face prosecution for helping a loved one end their life abroad.

Ms Purdy, 46, took her case to the House of Lords after the High Court and Court of Appeal held that it was for Parliament, not the courts, to change the law.

The Law Lords agreed that changes were a matter for Parliament, but upheld Ms Purdy’s argument that the DPP, Keir Starmer QC, should put in writing the factors that he regarded as relevant in deciding whether or not to prosecute.

(more…)

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