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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Reid Herring and Good News from Iraq

After the Senate and the House passed "show" bills, stuffed full of pork to buy and bribe enough votes to get them passed, the President made it very clear he would veto them if and when they came to his desk.

In order to override a Presidential veto the houses need a two third majority, which is something they do not have, they could barely squeeze out a slim majority even after stuffing the bill with billions of unrelated pork.

Yesterday the Republicans sent a letter to the White House assuring the president that they would support his veto on the emergency supplemental spending bill, blocking any attempt to override the Presidential veto.

“We are greatly concerned about the extraneous and excessive non-security related funds contained within the Global War on Terror supplemental spending bill currently under consideration in the Congress,” the letter read. “If you choose to veto this measure over this spending, we will sustain your veto.”

One hundred fifty-four lawmakers signed the letter; two-thirds of House members must vote to override a presidential veto and the Democrats do not have those votes.

“If Democrats insist on sending the White House a bloated war-spending measure loaded with billions in pork, House Republicans will sustain the president’s veto,” Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. “This letter sends a strong message that Republicans will continue to fight for a clean troop-funding bill, without tying funding for our generals and our troops to arbitrary restrictions or pork-barrel projects.”

Which brings us to the Feingold/Reid sponsored bill that Reid has threatened to promote, this one having no chance at all to bypass a filibuster and Reid knows it, but he will at least be able to say to his base "hey, I tried"....which if we remember the David Obey incident caught on video, the base doesn't take the "I tried" excuse very well at all.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid yesterday endorsed the Senate's toughest antiwar bill yet, a bid to cut off funding within a year, sending a clear signal to President Bush that the Iraq debate will continue in Congress regardless of whether he carries through on his veto threats.

Reid (Nev.) announced that he had teamed up with Sen. Russell Feingold (Wis.), one of the Democrats' strongest war critics, on legislation to set a deadline of March 31, 2008, for completing the withdrawal of combat forces and ending most military spending in Iraq.

Reid's decision came as House and Senate Democrats were just starting to deliberate a compromise war spending bill. The package is likely to include language at least calling for troop withdrawals to begin, but the Feingold plan would go much further, essentially giving Bush a year to end most U.S. military activities before the money dries up.

Reid had previously opposed setting a firm end date for the war, a stance he has backed away from in recent months as others in his party moved to increase pressure on Bush.....

Now, lets backtrack for a second here and show everyone of a couple very public statements Harry Reid made previously:

From Harry Reid, speaking at the National Press Club in 2005, who was also against a timeline before he was for it:

‘As for setting a timeline, as we learned in the Balkans, that’s not a wise decision, because it only empowers those who don’t want us there, and it doesn’t work well to do that.’

Statement from November 29, 2006 from Harry Reid:

"Now he's the commander in chief, and we're not going to do anything to limit funding or cut off funds, even though there are some on the outside who suggest that," Reid said. "I think we want to make sure that the troops have everything that they need."

Then again, what does that mean when you are playing political games... nothing to Reid, it seems.

It gets better though.

April 1, 2007 Barack Obama already made it clear that he will not back "playing chicken" with our troops funds, Reid/Feingolds new bill cannot even attract full Democratic support an is nothing more than a show, or even a bluff.

If President Bush vetoes an Iraq war spending bill as promised, Congress quickly will provide the money without the withdrawal timeline the White House objects to because no lawmaker ``wants to play chicken with our troops,'' Sen. Barack Obama said Sunday.

``My expectation is that we will continue to try to ratchet up the pressure on the president to change course,'' the Democratic presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``I don't think that we will see a majority of the Senate vote to cut off funding at this stage.''


Given that Bush is determined to veto a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, Congress has little realistic choice but to approve money for the war, Obama said.

``I think that nobody wants to play chicken with our troops on the ground,'' said Obama. ``I do think a majority of the Senate has now expressed the belief that we need to change course in Iraq.

``Obviously we're constrained by the fact that a commander in chief who also has veto power has the option of ignoring that position,'' Obama said.

President Bush's words here are harsh but very true:

more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than providing our troops what they need."

Captain Ed has an interesting take on this, in thinking this might be the straw that breaks the camels/Lieberman's back and has him switching which side of the aisle he sits on.

It might also lose Reid his majority. Joe Lieberman has spent the last two months warning that his loyalty to the Democrats would end with a forced surrender in Iraq. Reid might believe he could get a Republican to cross the aisle to balance it out, but it's unlikely that Reid could get one to do so in support of a surrender bill. The current rules in the Senate preclude a leadership change even if the majority switches, but don't expect that rule to last too long after Reid loses control of the upper chamber.

Let Reid try to declare surrender from Capitol Hill. He will destroy the Democrats on foreign policy and national security for a generation if he does so. This is one game of chicken where discretion would be the better part of valor.

I usually agree with Captain's Quarters, his analysis is always great and spot on, but in this case, I do not think Lieberman needs to switch at all, everyone, including Reid, knows where Liberman's vote will be on the Iraq issue.

I do agree though that Reid should introduce this bill because it will publicly show him getting spanked from Democrats and Republicans alike as it dies a slow death.

I said yesterday:

Because of the recent successes and progress that has accompanied the new security plan and strategy being implemented inIraq by General Petraeus, it makes it even more imperative for the Democrats to do everything in their power to try to force defeat upon America sooner rather than later.

They need to do this before the majority of the American people become aware of how well this new security plan is working so far.

Which brings me to our good news from Iraq, even more reason for Reid to hurry and try to force surrender.

Iraq Reconstruction Update. (The link above is to the PDF file)

Cerp Project Update:

Emergency Response Program (CERP) projects have been completed out of 7,065 planned. CERP is a programoriginally unique to Iraq that was established to give U.S. military commanders the ability to respond to urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction requirements within their areas of responsibilities by carrying out programs that will immediately assist the Iraqi people and support the reconstruction of Iraq.

Electrical Generation Update:Completed:

Gulf Region Division generation projects have provided an additional 1,420MW of potential generation capacity to Iraq’s national grid. At the end of the program, the projects will have added 1,879 MW of potential generation capacity, which can serve an estimated 1.7 million homes. All USG agencies’projects will add or restore a total of 2,555MW at the end of the program.

Underground Distributors Benefit Baghdad Province…

The installation of new 11kV underground distributors from the Jadraito Arasatsubstations in Karadah, Baghdad Province, has increased reliability of electricity to 65,000 local residents.

This one really got me though...there are so many things we take for granted here in America and running water is one of them we do not even think about. We turn our faucets on, water comes running out and no thought is involved, we take it for granted.... the Iraqi's don't.

Water Projects Completed…

Six water projects were completed in various towns in Al AnbarProvince on this week. Combined, they will supply fresh water for over 36,000 people.

This is found on page 4 of the PDF file I link to above, under the heading "A Territorial Army Soldier's Story"

Thousands of Iraqi's in Basrahwill soon be getting access to water at the turn of the tap for the first time in 25 years, thanks in part to a Territorial Army soldier.

For 25 years thousands of Iraqi's have not been able to do the one small thing that we here do without even thinking about.


There are 8 pages to the PDF file, go through them and understand that limiting the violence in Iraq is only a small fraction of what we need to accomplish and are making tremendous progress on.

Schools, water, electric, health much is happening, but it doesn't bleed, so of course with our media it doesn't lead fact, it doesn't even make the last page of our dinosaur media if it doesn't bleed.

Moving right along here we have Sam Johnson, a veteran and former POW in Vietnam, speaks out on the congressional vote to begin bringing troops home from Iraq.

I am bringing this up in response to a few comments and responses from myself in a debate about the differences in how a Vietnam era vet sees things compared to an actual Vietnam War Veteran that fought and was held prisoner.

One speaks to political opinion, the other speaks to the realities on the ground.

There is a huge difference between opinions of those in the know (that were there and witness to these things and speak to those facts) and those not "in the know" because all they understand is what the media tells them that allows them to form opinions.


April 2, 2007 - Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas draws a crowd when he talks about war. Johnson, a 29-year veteran of the Air Force who served in Korea and Vietnam, spent some seven years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his plane was shot down in 1966. As Republicans—anxious about a Democratic drive to start bringing troops home from Iraq—plotted strategy, they turned to Johnson to deliver the final GOP floor speech before the House voted. Now that both chambers have approved measures calling for withdrawal, a battle is looming in conference committee—and President Bush is threatening a veto. NEWSWEEK's Daren Briscoe spoke with Johnson about how his experiences in combat shaped his view of Iraq policy—and what he thinks will happen in the coming months.

NEWSWEEK: How does your personal experience as a vet in Korea and Vietnam, and as a POW in Vietnam for nearly seven years, shape your thinking in the debate about the best way forward in Iraq?

Sam Johnson:
People don't listen to history. If you look back to Vietnam, when we were POWs being held by the Viet Cong, we heard them broadcasting that our Congress had cut off funding. Congress did the same thing then that they're trying to do now—pull money from our war effort. They let the communists overrun South Vietnam after they'd already retreated to the point of giving up. We didn't support South Vietnam, and the communists sensed weakness and moved back in. I'm afraid that's what's going to happen again.

Do you think it's valid to compare what happened in Vietnam to what's going on in Iraq today?

Sam Johnson:I think it's a valid comparison. The only difference was we were fighting communists then in one country, and we're fighting terrorists now, worldwide. If you look at this Iranian capture of those British seamen, they acted the same way the communists did. They're parading them around on TV just like the Viet Cong did with American POWs. I don't think you can call the terrorists we're fighting now communists, but it's obvious that they've taken some lessons from somebody.

And you think what the Democrats in Congress are doing now compares to what the Democratic Congress did during Vietnam?

Sam Johnson:Sure it does. Furthermore, nowadays I think it won't just prompt the takeover of one country or part of one country, but it will stimulate activity worldwide in terrorist environments. They've already said they're out to annihilate the U.S. and Israel.

We have progress being seen in Iraq, we have Reids herring, his bluff and a waste of taxpayers money considering he already knows and has been told by members of his own party that they will not vote to completely cut off funds, which is their real power should they choose to exercise that option and we have Sam Johnson that actually fought and was held captive in Vietnam speaking to the mindset of the troops when they see Congress trying to stab them in the back and not provide them with what they need to achieve victory.

Next we have an LA Times article written by Barry R. McCaffrey, Retired Army Gen. BARRY R. MCCAFFREY commanded the 24th Infantry Division in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He teaches at West Point, serves as a military analyst for NBC News.

I just returned from a week in Iraq and Kuwait, visiting combat units in the field as well as senior U.S., coalition and Iraqi officials. I was sent by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where I'm an adjunct professor, to do a strategic and operational assessment of security operations there. I know that the problems we face are grim indeed, but Petraeus' strategy is sound, and the situation is not hopeless.

Read the whole thing. He does not sugarcoat the difficulties our soldiers or General Petraeus faces, but he understands the ramifications of defeat, forced by the Democrats or otherwise, for the whole region.

I leave you with the Text of the Presidents statement today at a news conference, please click the link to see the questions and answers after his statement.

BUSH: Good morning.

I've just had a good meeting with Secretary of Defense Gates and General Pete Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Secretary Gates and General Pace updated me on the deployment of American reinforcements to Iraq.

At this moment, two of the five additional U.S. Army brigades we are sending for this mission are operating in Baghdad. A third brigade is now moving from Kuwait and will be fully operation in Baghdad in the coming weeks. And the remaining two brigades will deploy in April and May.

It will be early June before all U.S. forces dedicated to the operation are in place, so this operation is still in its beginning stages.

The reinforcements we've sent to Baghdad are having an impact. They're making a difference. And as more of those reinforcements arrive in the months ahead, their impact will continue to grow.

But to succeed in their mission, our troops need Congress to provide the resources, funds and equipment they need to fight our enemies.

It has now been 57 days since I requested that Congress pass emergency funds for our troops. Instead of passing clean bills that fund our troops on the front lines, the House and Senate have spent this time debating bills that undercut the troops. but substituting the judgment of politicians in Washington for the judgment of our commanders on the ground, setting an arbitrary deadline for withdrawal from Iraq, and spending billions of dollars on pork-barrel projects completely unrelated to the war.

I've made it clear for weeks that if either the House or Senate version of this bill comes to my desk, I will veto it. And it is also clear from the strong support for this position in both houses that the veto would be sustained.

The only way the Democrats were able to pass their bill in the first place was to load the bill with pork and other spending that has nothing to do with the war.

Here's what one leading Democrat in the House said, quote: A lot of things had to go into that bill that certainly those of us who respect great legislation did not want there.

It's an honest appraisal of the process that we just witnessed.

Still, the Democrats in Congress continue to pursue their bills. And now they have left Washington for spring recess without finishing the work.

Democrat leaders in Congress seem more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than providing our troops what they need to fight the battles in Iraq.

If Democrat leaders in Congress are bent on making a political statement, then they need to send me this unacceptable bill as quickly as possible when they come back. I'll veto it and then Congress can get down to the business of funding our troops without strings and without delay.

If Congress fails to act in the next few weeks it will have significant consequences for our men and women in the armed forces.

As the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pace, recently stated during his testimony before a House subcommittee, if Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-April, the Army will be forced to consider cutting back on equipment, equipment repair and quality-of-life initiatives for our Guard and Reserve forces. These cuts would be necessary because the money will have to be shifted to support the troops on the front lines.

The Army also would be forced to consider curtailing some training for Guard and Reserve units here at home. This would reduce their readiness and could delay their availability to mobilize for missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-May, the problems grow even more acute.

Army would be forced to consider slowing or even freezing funding for depots where the equipment our troops depend on is repaired.

They will also have to consider delaying or curtailing the training of some active-duty forces, reducing the availability of these forces to deploy overseas. If this happens, some of the forces now deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq may need to be extended because other units are not ready to take their places.

If Congress does not act, the Army may also have to delay the formation of new brigade combat teams, preventing us from getting those troops into the pool of forces that are available to deploy. If these new teams are unavailable, we would have to ask other units to extend in the theater.

In a letter to Congress, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Pete Schoomaker put it this way: Without approval of the supplemental funds in April, we will be forced to take increasingly draconian measures which will impact Army readiness and impose hardships on our soldiers and their families.

In a time of war, it's irresponsible for the Democrat leadership in - Democratic leadership in Congress to delay for months on end while our troops in combat are waiting for the funds.

The bottom line is this: Congress' failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines, and others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to. That is unacceptable to me, and I believe it is unacceptable to the American people.

Members of Congress say they support the troops. Now they need to show that support in deed as well as in word. Members of Congress are entitled to their views and should express them, yet debating these differences should not come at the expense of funding our troops.

Congress' most basic responsibility is to give our troops the equipment and training they need to fight our enemies and protect our nation. They're now failing in that responsibility. And if they do not change course in the coming weeks, the price of that failure will be paid by our troops and their loved ones.

This is todays Iraq Update.