“The Wyoming Republican Party Thursday evening released a final list of 31 individuals who had submitted applications to replace the late Sen. Craig Thomas (R) by the 5 p.m. Mountain Time deadline — and Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Cheney, was not among them.”
“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed Thursday that he told liberal bloggers [this] week that he thinks outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace is ‘incompetent.’”
Reid said he told Pace face-to-face recently that he had performed poorly as an adviser on the conduct of the Iraq war.
“I believe that General Pace would not be if he had come forward to be reappointed the chairman of the Joints Chiefs. It wouldn’t have happened and I’m not going to get into what I said or didn’t say. There is a long list of people including Senators (Carl) Levin and (Jack) Reed and others who have talked about General Pace long before I did. I think we should just drop it. The fact is, he’s not going to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, for which I’m happy,” Reid said. [...]
Reid ripped Petraeus for an interview published in Thursday’s USA Today describing progress in Iraq. … “I was a little disappointed, to say the least, today reading USA Today newspaper, where he’s saying things are going fine, kids are playing soccer. The truth is, you look at another newspaper and look at a different page of USA Today, the bloodiest three months of the war has been since the surge took place,” Reid said.
Reforming the de-Baathification process in Iraq is viewed as a critical step to quelling violence and reconciling estranged factions in Iraq. Under Paul Bremer, the Coalition Provisional Authority removed thousands of former Baath party members, despite many having no ties to Saddam Hussein, a move which helped spawn the vigorous Sunni insurgency today.
Sweeping de-Baathification reforms have been proposed to reconcile differences in the wake of Bremer’s failures. But progress on this front was “sabotaged” by U.S. ally Ahmad Chalabi, who is in charge of the process:
[T]he law was stymied by Ahmad Chalabi, who headed Iraq’s de-Baathification commission. Mr. Chalabi, the former Pentagon prot©g©, relies on the commission for an official role in Iraq’s government. Having just renovated a spacious office in the Green Zone, he has strongly opposed any effort to weaken his position or the country’s policy on former Baathists.
According to a senior official with the commission, Mr. Chalabi and members of his organization sabotaged the American-backed plan by rallying opposition among Shiite government officials in southern Iraq, then taking their complaints to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most powerful Shiite cleric.
On April 1, Mr. Chalabi visited the ayatollah’s office in Najaf. He later appeared at a news conference, declaring that Ayatollah Sistani told him the law was incomplete and that “there would be other drafts.” A day later, an aide to the reclusive cleric confirmed that there was “a general feeling of rejection” about the proposal.
Paid by the U.S. to muster pre-war intelligence, Chalabi drummed up claims that Hussein had nuclear weapons, helping lead the U.S. into war. More recently, he has promoted the escalation in the Iraqi government, serving as an “intermediary between Baghdad residents and the Iraqi and U.S. security forces mounting an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign across the city.”
I’m going with Mike from Austin who has a thoughtful post beginning:
This photo shows the storm surge at the Paris Road bridge during Hurricane Katrina. It has been circulating on the internet and has recently become the subject of some debate over its authenticity. I believe this photo to be authentic. This page explains why.
If anybody knows different, please speak up.
Glenn Greenwald highlighted this series of questions from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last night:
Does [Fred Thompson] have sex appeal? … Gene, do you think there’s a sex appeal for this guy, this sort of mature, older man, you know? … Can you smell the English leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man’s shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of — a little bit of cigar smoke? You know, whatever.
What can even be said about that? And nobody really seems to find this odd or disturbing or objectionable at all — that night after night, one of the featured “journalists” of a major news network goes on television and, with some of our most prestigious journalists assembled with him, speaks admiringly about the smells and arousing masculinity and the “daddy” qualities of various political officials, and that this metric is, more or less, the full extent of his political analysis.
In an interview with USA Today yesterday, Gen. David Petraeus, top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, claimed that he sees “astonishing signs of normalcy” in Baghdad:
“I’m talking about professional soccer leagues with real grass field stadiums, several amusement parks — big ones, markets that are very vibrant. … The Iraqi army has, in general, done quite well in the face of some really serious challenges.”
Petraeus painted a similarly rosy picture of progress in Iraq last week, when he declared on CNN that “what is taking place in Anbar is almost breathtaking.”
Yet, a report released yesterday by the Pentagon — “the first comprehensive statistical overview of the new U.S. military strategy in Iraq” — directly contradicts Petraeus’ optimistic assessments:
Overall, however, violence “has increased in most provinces, particularly in the outlying areas of Baghdad province and Diyala and Ninewa provinces,” … In Diyala’s restive capital of Baqubah, U.S. and Iraq forces “have been unable to diminish rising sectarian violence contributing to the volatile security situation,” [the report] said. … [I]t cited “significant evidence” of attacks on Sunni Arabs by the predominantly Shiite government security forces, which have contributed to the displacement of an estimated 2 million Iraqis from their homes.
Patraeus’s unrealistic and misleading talk of “professional soccer leagues” and “markets that are very vibrant” mirrors the rhetoric of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who recently claimed that strolling through an Iraqi market with an escort of 100 soldiers, 3 Blackhawk helicopters, and 2 Apache gunships proved that one could “walk freely” in areas of Baghdad.
Additionally, Marwan Ja’afar, a prominent Iraqi soccer player, was killed in a mortar attack last month, and 21 Iraqis who worked in the Baghdad market visited by McCain were ambushed, bound and shot dead the day after he left.
UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman at TPMmuckraker has more on Petraeus’s comments.
“The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported today that ‘the global surface temperature for the combined January-May period tied with 1998″ as the warmest January-May ever recorded.
Climate Progress has much more.
Outside Florida Avenue liquors:
Toothless African-American: Hey, yo, you want some CDs?
Prominent white political blogger: Not really [turns to walk away]
TAA: Yo, yo, hold up man. I got some white boy shit, here; some real weak-ass shit. You’ll love it.
PWPB: No Thanks. [walking away]
TAA: What? You offended? You only want that hard stuff? Who you playin’?
I have to admit that the guy was making a decent point. Still, selling illegal CDs has to be a terrible line of work in the digital era.
natural path for people leaving an Administration is to angle for inclusion in the Council of Elders, the DC permanent-pundit class who spend the following decades wringing their hands about how much nastier and less public-spirited politics is now than the olden days. Politics is plenty nasty now. But is interesting, to put it mildly, to hear one of the Bush Administration’s main rhetoricians locate the lost golden age at 1992 and 2000. Sentences like this, from the Post column, are written as applications for the Council: “The abandonment of Bushism and Clintonism is also leaving many Americans ideologically homeless.” So is a title like this: “Two Parties Fleeing the Center.” Moral equivalence indeed! It would be convenient to think that Bush is a conciliator, whose ideal of harmony is sadly being ignored by the squabbling midgets who hope to succeed him. But donnez moi un break: you know, we’ve been reading the papers these last six and a half years.
Of course, reading the papers might be the problem on some level, since they’re the ones who spent years painting notions like “let’s not wage speculative wars against countries that haven’t attacked us or our allies” as fringe left-wing ideas barely fit for serious discussion.
Early this week, the Pentagon delivered to Congress its “first comprehensive statistical overview of the new U.S. military strategy in Iraq.” Citing “uneven cooperation” and little “concrete progress,” the report concluded that “reconciliation between Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni factions” remains “a serious unfulfilled objective.” Further, the report found that suicide bombings across Iraq have doubled since January, overall violence “has increased in most provinces,” and “civilian casualties rose slightly, to more than 100 a day.”
Today, however, the President attempted to dismiss the report’s conclusions, saying that it is still “too early to judge the results of this new strategy” by repeating the myth that U.S. forces “haven’t even started the full surge yet“:
It is too early to judge the results of this new strategy. General Petraeus recently put it this way: “We haven’t even started the full surge yet.” He just got his troops on the ground. Only at the end of this week will the last of the five reinforcement brigades become fully operational.
It is not “too early to judge” the results of the President’s escalation in Iraq. As the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explained nearly six months ago at the start of the escalation plan, “we’ll have pretty good early indications of their performance” before “very many American soldiers have been sent to Iraq”:
Well, as I indicated, we’re going to know pretty early on whether the Iraqis are meeting their military commitments, in terms of being able to go into all neighborhoods, in terms of the Iraqis being in the lead and carrying out the leadership and the fighting, and for there not to be political interference in the military operations that are going forward.
As I say, this is going to unfold over a period of time, and so I think that as I indicated in my remarks, before very many American soldiers have been sent to Iraq, we’ll have pretty good early indications of their performance. We’ll have to see, in terms of the length of time. It’s really hard to say at this point. It’s viewed as a temporary surge.