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BLOG ARCHIVE: JANUARY 1-15, 2007.

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

LEGISLATORS BREAKING WITH PARTY LEADERSHIP ON PREZ'S IRAQ ESCALATION PLAN.
President Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 US soldiers to Iraq -- touted as a "surge" strategy to gain control on the ground -- has prompted some unexpected stances from legislators on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. Frankly, I'm fascinated by the willingness of legislators -- R and D alike -- to break with their party leadership on this key issue. Last week we mentioned how US Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Congressman Jerry Moran (R-KS) announced their opposition to the surge. Hagel called it "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam." US Senator Joe Lieberman (Independent Dem-CT), by contrast, strongly supports the surge plan as "necessary." Since then, here are more who are openly breaking with their party leaders:

REPUBLICANS AGAINST THE "SURGE":

  • Congressman Ric Keller (R-FL): "The American people have paid the ultimate price for this war, and now is not the time to escalate the tragedy even further";
  • Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL): "I advised against the proposed troop surge. The best way forward for the United States in the Middle East is to assemble a diplomatic surge that far exceeds any troop surge";
  • Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL): "It's not about Democrats and Republicans -- it's about doing what's right";
  • Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL): "It's too little, too late";
  • Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX): "I am not interested in sending in more troops just to have more boots on the ground. I am not interested in doing more of what has not been working";
  • Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA): "This proposal is a military solution to an internal, political problem";
  • Congressman Tim Johnson (R-IL): "It is not in the best interest of our country to contribute additional troops to this war ... The primary goal [should be] to bring our troops home as quickly and safely as possible";
  • Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN): The surge "would be counterproductive";
  • Congressmen Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Howard Coble (R-NC), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Ron Paul (R-TX) co-signed a letter to President Bush urging him to "reject any ... short or long term increase in the number of U.S. troops";
  • Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM): "It is not vital to America that Iraq be able to defend itself from outside powers";
  • Congressman Jimmy Duncan (R-TN): "I think that this is a desperate attempt to turn around what was an unfortunate policy in the first place. It really sounds just like a continuation of the failed policies of the past four years"; and
  • Congressman Jim Walsh (R-NY): "No increased amount of American military power can force the Iraqi people to work out their differences."

DEMOCRATS SUPPORTING THE PRESIDENT'S PLAN:

  • Congressman Jim Marshall (D-GA): "It is something that can be done and can help"; and
  • Congressman John Barrow (D-GA) isn't sure the surge is a good idea but will vote for funding for the additional troops, saying it would be "irresponsible and dangerous" to oppose it.

US Senators Dick Lugar (R-IN), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Larry Craig (R-ID), David Vitter (R-LA), Pete Domenici (R-NM), George Voinovich (R-OH) and a significant number of House Republicans expressed skepticism and said they remained undecided on the proposal. Several Democrats -- including Congressmen Chet Edwards (D-TX) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) -- said they were against the surge, but would still support adequate funding for it if the President pushes forward on his escalation plan. Congressman Virgil Goode (R-VA) supports the surge, but opposes the President's plan to spend $1 billion in additional funds to rebuild Iraq's economy to promote political stability "until a like amount is appropriated for rebuilding the economy of [my] District, which saw its anchor [textile] industries disappear because" of free trade treaties.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.15.07 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Your daily open thread for the MLK holiday.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.15.07 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

RON PAUL JUMPS IN; FLORIDA MOVING UP; DEMS PICK DENVER; GOP GRABS MS SENATE.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) last ran for President in 1988 as the Libertarian Party nominee, winning 400,000 votes and earning ballot status in 46 states. On Thursday Paul filed federal exploratory committee paperwork to make a second run for President, this time as a Republican. Still an outspoken libertarian iconoclast, Paul stridently fights to slash taxes and reduce the role of the federal government. He also has opposed the Iraq War from the inception and opposes the President's domestic surveillance program and the Patriot Act as unconstitutional. On many House votes -- even routine ones of seemingly uncontroversial matters -- Paul frequently casts the lone dissenting vote. That is why Paul, a physician, earned the moniker of "Doctor No." Paul's campaign chair concedes Paul is "an underdog ... but we think it's well worth doing and we'll let the voters decide" ... A bill with bipartisan sponsors is advancing in the Florida legislature to move the state's Presidential primary to January 29. The bill, which was the subject of committee hearings this week, would make Florida the fifth Presidential primary of 2008 ... The Democratic Party designated Denver on Thursday as the site of their 2008 Presidential convention. Dems will likely use the location to emphasis the party's growing strength in the West. The party now holds governorships and/or US Senate seats in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Nevada and Montana. The GOP convention will be held days later in Minnesota ... Mississippi State Senator James Walley (D) changed parties this week, giving the GOP a 26-26 tie in the State Senate. With Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck (R) breaking the tie, the switch allowed Republicans to grab control of the chamber for the first time since the post-Civil War Reconstruction era.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.12.07 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
The daily open thread.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.12.07 | Permalink |

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

BUSH PROPOSES IRAQ ESCALATION; BROWNBACK, OTHER GOP SEN'S OPPOSE IT.
As expected, President Bush on Wednesday evening proposed an escalation of the Iraq War by sending an additional 21,500 US soldiers to Iraq. About 132,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in Iraq. Most Democrats, unsurprisingly, opposed the President's
"new strategy" for Iraq. However, some prominent Republicans were also quick to attack the proposal. "I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer. Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution," said US Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), a 2008 White House hopeful, in a major surprise move. "I oppose the troop surge in Baghdad because it is not a strategy for victory," said US Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN). "I want real evidence that a potential surge in troops will do more good than harm and will not exacerbate the existing violence in Iraq," said US Senator George Voinovich (R-OH). "The President ignored the recommendations of members of both parties, military leaders, foreign policy experts, and the will of the American people by announcing that he intends to escalate our involvement in Iraq by sending more troops there. Congress must bring an end to what has been one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in the history of our nation," said US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI). Congressman Jerry Moran (R-KS) said it "does not make sense to send in more troops if the Iraqi people aren't willing to set aside sectarian differences and commit to rebuilding their country." On the opposite end of the debate is US Senator Joe Lieberman (Ind Dem-CT), who called the surge "necessary" and said he "applaud[ed] the President for rejecting the fatalism of failure and pursuing a new course to achieve success in Iraq." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) promises a roll call vote on sending more troops to Iraq. US Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) introduced legislation requiring the President to get Congressional approval before sending more troops to Iraq. In related news, Great Britain plans to start withdrawing UK forces from Iraq. Reuters reports Prime Minister Tony Blair's government plans to reduce their 7,200 solidier force by 3,000 by the end of May 2007.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.11.07 | Permalink |

DODD JUMPS INTO P2008 RACE; ILL. MAY MOVE FORWARD; FORD TO CHAIR DLC.
US Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is set to announce his Presidential candidacy on Thursday. Dodd, a traditional liberal Dem, has served in DC for over three decades. With little name recognition outside the Beltway, Dodd starts the contest well in the back of the "second tier" pack ... Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D) wants to advance the date of the state's Presidential primary to help US Senator Barack Obama's likely White House campaign ... Radar magazine reports former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) will be named the new Chair of the centrist Democratic Leadership Conference. Ford will replace former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, who is stepping aside to run for President.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.11.07 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
The daily open thread.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.11.07 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

HARKIN NOT YET COMMITTED TO '08 RUN; OLLIE OPPOSES SURGE; JOHNSON IMPROVES..
DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer
(D-NY) made this interesting comment this week to the New York Daily News: "We have now gotten 11 of the 12 Democrats to commit to running again. Tom Harkin (D-IA) is still making up his mind. He's a great Senator. He does more in a couple of years than many senators have done in a lifetime." A visit to Harkin's campaign website, however, makes the 67-year-old populist look very much like a candidate who is seeking re-election in 2008 ... Former Reagan White House aidem TV show host and former US Senate nominee Oliver North (R-VA) is the latest conservative to oppose President Bush's "surge" plans for Iraq. The USMC combat veteran -- during an appearance on O'Reilly Factor -- said Bush's surge plan "sounds eerily like Lyndon Johnson’s plan to save Vietnam in the '60s by gradual escalation as a way not to lose." A new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows the Americans oppose the President's plan to send an additional 20,000 US soldiers to Iraq by a 61% to 36% margin ... The AP reports US Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) was upgraded this week to "fair" condition, following the brain hemorrhage and emergency surgery he underwent last month ... Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL) told Alabama newspapers on Monday he will not challenge US Senator Jeff Sessions (R) in 2008.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.10.07 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
The daily open thread.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.10.07 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

RICHARDSON THE DIPLOMAT; SHARPTON RETURNS; FIRST P2008 DEBATE SET.
Bill Richardson (D) may currently be the Governor of New Mexico, but this 2008 White House hopeful wants to remind Americans he is also a former US Ambassador to the United Nations with extensive foreign policy experience. Richardson is currently in Sudan meeting with government leaders in a private attempt to get them to agree to allow UN peacekeepers into the Darfur region. More than 200,000 have been killed to date in the campaign of genocide being waged in the Darfur region by rebel forces. The Sudanese government has thus far ignored internation pressure to allow a force of 20,000 UN soldiers into the country.
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has a frustrating diplomatic history of seeming to agree to deals with Western governments, then later backing out of the agreements. Richardson is keeping the details of his ongoing talks private, merely telling the media that "the meeting was good, we made some progress"... The first debate of the 2008 Presidential campaign season is set for the Democratic hopefuls on April 26, 2007 at South Carolina State University ... Controversial and colorful civil rights activist Al Sharpton (D-NY) told the AP on Monday he is seriously considering making a second run for President in 2008. "I don't hear any reason not to. If we're talking about the urban agenda, can you tell me anybody else in the field who's representing that right now? We clearly have a reason to run, and whether we do it or not we'll see over the next couple of months," he explained. Sharpton also said a potential candidacy by US Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) would have little impact on his own plans because Obama was offering "little substantive discussion" of his urban agenda.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.09.07 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
The daily open thread.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.09.07 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

POWELL OPPOSES "SURGE"; PELOSI SUGGESTS TAX HIKE FOR WEALTHIEST TO HELP KIDS.
According to conservative columnist Robert Novak, former Secretary of State and retired Army General Colin Powell is the latest Republican to oppose President Bush's proposal for a "surge" in US troops in Iraq. "The colonels will always say they need more troops. That's why we have generals," explained Powell ... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) is suggesting possible tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans to fund improved education and health programs. In an interview with CBS, Pelosi said she thought a repeal of "tax cuts for those making over a certain amount of money -- $500,000 a year -- might be more important to the American people than ignoring the educational and health needs of America's children."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.08.07 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Our daily open thread.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.08.07 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

EX-POLS PASSED-OVER FOR U.N.; POLL SAYS AMERICANS BACK DEM "100 HOUR" AGENDA.
Despite all the speculation that former Congressman Jim Leach, former US Senator Mike DeWine or some other recently defeated GOP incumbent would be appointed to replace outgoing Acting UN Ambassador John Bolton, it was not to be. The White House revealed Thursday that President Bush instead will nominate US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad to be the next US Ambassador to the United Nations. Khalizad will be the highest-ranking Muslim to ever serve in a Presidential Administration ... Former US Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) has been out of office for less than 24 hours, but he's already looking to run for office again. Dayton told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune he's considering a race for Minnesota Governor in 2010 ... A new AP/AOL/Ipsos poll shows that 80% of Americans, including 65% of Republicans, support the House Democrats "100 Hours Agenda" plan to increase the minimum wage. 69% of respondents said they support the Dem plan to legalize the importation of foreign prescription drugs. Also, 56% percent support easing restrictions on federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. US Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), a 2008 Presidential hopeful, says he will fillibuster against any attempts to ease stem cell research restrictions.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.07 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Our daily open thread. FYI: We finished our updating of the fifty state pages. Links to all the newly elected Governors, US Senator and Members of Congress. Sometime over the next few weeks I'll add update on all the little known Presidential hopefuls who have recently jumped into the race.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.07 | Permalink |

WEDESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

WARNER2; RUDY'S PLAN GOES ASTRAY; SENATOR THOMAS AILING AGAIN.
The American Spectator, a conservative publication, reports that former Virginia Governor Mark Warner (D) is conducting polling related to a possible 2008 challenge against US Senator John Warner (R) ... In an embarrassing gaffe, a Rudy Giuliani campaign staffer seemingly lost his 140-page Giuliani campaign plan notebook. The lays out the GOP primary strategy, Rudy's pros and cons, and the fundraising plan. Fortunately, the notebook was found by someone. Unfortunately for Rudy, the person sent a copy to the New York Daily News. Giuliani's campaign claims someone stole the notebook out of the staffer's luggage when it went astray on a trip, photocopied it, then placed it back in the luggage before it was returned to the staffer a few days later ... US Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) is hospitalized again for more treatment related to his leukemia. Thomas announced after his re-election in November that he has cancer. His staff described the new hospitalization as "normal" and part of "more treatment" towards his recovery.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.03.07 | Permalink |

NO GOP SURGE FOR THE SURGE; SOLDIERS SPEAK OUT; EX-JCOS CHIEF SAYS "LET GAYS SERVE"
According to conservative columnist Bob Novak, US Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are all on record now in opposition to the President's call for a "surge" increase in US troops in Iraq. US Senator John Thune (R-SD) backed off his earlier support for the surge, now describing his support for the plan as only being "conditional." US Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) warmly embraced the idea a a few months ago. Now, The Hill reports, he's backed away from it. Kyl explains he would support an increase "only if the commanders on the ground requested it." US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) initially supported the short-term surge proposal, but now says "I don’t believe that more troops is the answer for Iraq ... Apparently even the Joint Chiefs do not support increased combat forces for Baghdad." US Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and new House Intelligence Committee Chair Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) are the leading Dems most openly supportive of the "surge" concept ... In related news, the annual Military Times poll released this week shows that only 35% of US service members approve of President Bush's handling of the Iraq War. Just half said victory in Iraq was likely. In 2004, by contrast, 83% of respondents in the same poll expected the US to win in Iraq. Also, only 41% of the soldiers said the US was correct in going to war with Iraq. Of respondents, 60% identified themselves as Repubicans in 2004, versus just 46% today. The 14-point shift didn't favor the Dems (who remain mired around the dismal 16% mark) as nearly all the shift moved into the "Independent" column. Respondents to the poll are described as coming predominantly from the ranks of the more conservative career officers and long-term enlisted soldiers. ... Retired 4-star Army General John Shalikashvili -- who served as the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman in 1993-97 -- penned an op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times expressing support for allowing gays to serve openly in the military. He opposed the idea in 1993 when he was the JCOS Chairman. "The compromise that came to be known as 'donít ask, donít tell' was ... a useful speed bump that allowed temperatures to cool for a period of time while the culture continued to evolve. The question before us now is whether enough time has gone by to give this policy serious reconsideration. Much evidence suggests that it has. ... I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job," wrote Shalikashvili. A few hours after the column was published, former US Senator and Clinton Administration Defense Secretary Bill Cohen (R-ME) in an interview with CNN expressed support for Shalikashvili's new stance.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.03.07 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Your daily open thread for the first day of the new Congress. Also, FYI, we'll finish updating the 50 state pages to
reflect all the new incumbents within the next few days. We're more than half-way finished already.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.03.07 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

FORD MOURNING PERIOD, NEW YEAR'S HOLIDAY STALLED POLITICAL NEWS.
With the US in an official period of mourning for the death last week of former President Gerald Ford, nearly all political news has dried to a trickle -- and will likely stay that way out of respect to Ford until after the burial service on Wednesday. Sometime after Wednesday, we'll likely soon hear the official announcement from US Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) of his decision on the 2008 White House race. Also expect some additional P2008 announcements before the end of the month from others ... In Iraq, former dictator Saddam Hussein was executed early Saturday morning. Also, on December 31, the US military death toll in Iraq sadly passed the 3,000 milestone.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.02.07 | Permalink |

BUSH REJECTS STUDY GROUP REPORT: AN EDITORIAL IN THE FORM OF SATIRE.
President George W. Bush over the weekend rejected the recent recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Calendar Study Group. The bipartisan group recently suggested that 2006 should end at the close of December 31. "I'll follow those recommendations that make sense, but
we're not going to 'cut-and-run' from 2006 until we finish the job in 2006 that we set out to do -- like winning in Iraq and holding Republican control of Congress. We're making good progress on both those fronts, but much still needs to be done before we can leave 2006 and move forward," Bush explained. The Calendar Study Group suggested that 2006 should be viewed as having been divided into 12 months and 365 days, with the year ending on December 31. "That's just 'Washington bureaucrat thinking.' It's not 'American thinking.' I've made it clear that I'm not gonna pick an arbitrary date like December 31, or announce a timeline for when 2006 should come to an end. If we go down that road, then our enemies will win. You know, there's no federal law that says a year must only have 365 days. There's nothing that says 2006 can't have 400 or 600 days. Let me be very clear: I'm not a quitter and this Administration will not quit on 2006 until we meet our mission objectives and the time is right. We owe that much to the American people," said Bush.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 12.33.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Your daily open thread.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.02.07 | Permalink |

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