Come see what $280,000 buys you.
It renews my faith in America.
The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded.
The American military did not even take the elementary step of recording the serial numbers of nearly half a million weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that might be in the wrong hands.
Exactly where untracked weapons could end up — and whether some have been used against American soldiers — were not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad, and official Iraq Army and police uniforms can easily be purchased as well, presumably because government shipments are intercepted or otherwise corrupted.
Mr. Bowen found that the American military was not able to say how many Iraqi logistics personnel it had trained — in this case because, the military told the inspector general, a computer network crash erased records. Those problems have occurred even though the United States has spent $133 million on the weapons program and $666 million on Iraqi logistics capabilities.
In its assessment of Iraqi weaponry, the inspector general concluded that of the 505,093 weapons that have been given to the Ministries of Interior and Defense over the last several years, serial numbers for only 12,128 were properly recorded. The weapons include rocket-propelled grenade launchers, assault rifles, machine guns, shotguns, semiautomatic pistols and sniper rifles.
There are standard regulations for registering military weaponry in that way, governed by the Department of Defense small-arms serialization program. The inspector general’s report said that when asked why so many weapons went to Iraq with no record of serial numbers, American military officials in Baghdad replied that they did not believe the regulations applied to them.
Democrats must gain six seats to win control, and have strong leads in Rhode Island and Montana as well as Pennsylvania and Ohio.
4. A mantra: What happens during the last week of the election matters as much as what happened during the last month; what happens during the last three days matters as much as the last week. Republicans might catch a break from exogenous events; they might win news cycles in critical areas.
7. This final reason is perhaps the most important. If Karl Rove evinces one shred of doubt about the fate of Republican congressional control, he’d be lucky if half of the volunteers who diligently show up to Republican victory centers across the country pack up and go home. Optimism breeds faith. And more importantly, optimism could mean the difference between losing 14 seats and losing 35.
After two national elections in which Republicans’ sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation helped them triumph over their opponents, Democrats have invested heavily in catching up.
Other Democratic leaders disputed Mr. Dean's view, saying they were increasingly confident about their party's ability to achieve parity, and perhaps regain its dominance, against the Republican get-out-the-vote machinery. Democrats pointed to evidence of what the party's $35 million in spending on turnout programs, nearly matching Republicans, has given them in tight races like the Senate campaign here in Missouri, where Senator Jim Talent, a Republican, won office in 2002 by just 21,000 votes.
Democrats are getting help this year in recruiting volunteers from an arena that has more often taunted Democratic officialdom, bloggers and groups like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and MoveOn.org, which has started sophisticated Internet-based turnout operations that rival what even some party committees are doing.
"We're in about 40 districts right now," said Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org. Mr. Pariser said his group had trained 70,000 people to use its Web-based program to call prospective Democratic voters on lists that MoveOn.org had assembled.
Corporate America is already thinking beyond Election Day, increasing its share of last-minute donations to Democratic candidates and quietly devising strategies for how to work with Democrats if they win control of Congress.
The shift in political giving, for the first 18 days of October, has not been this pronounced in the final stages of a campaign since 1994, when Republicans swept control of the House for the first time in four decades.
Lobbyists, some of whom had fallen out of the habit of attending Democratic events, are even talking about making their way to the Sonnenalp Resort in Vail, Colo., where Representative Nancy Pelosi of California is holding a Speaker’s Club ski getaway on Jan. 3. It is an annual affair, but the gathering's title could be especially apt for Ms. Pelosi, the House minority leader, who will be on hand to accept $15,000 checks, and could, if everything breaks her way, become the first woman to be House speaker.
"Attendance will be high," said Steve Elmendorf, a former Democratic Congressional aide who has a long list of business lobbying clients. "All Democratic events will see a big increase next year, no question."
For the first nine months of the year, for example, Pfizer’s political action committee had given 67 percent of contributions to Republican candidates. But October ushered in a sudden change of fortune, according to disclosure reports, and Democrats received 59 percent of the Pfizer contributions.
Republicans still received 57 percent of contributions, compared with 43 percent for Democrats, but it was the first double-digit October switch since 1994. "A lot will hold their powder for now," said Brian Wolff, deputy executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "But after the election, we will have a lot of new friends."
The Tennessee Senate race, one of the most competitive and potentially decisive battles of the midterm election, became even more unpredictable this week after a furor over a Republican television commercial that stood out even in a year of negative advertising.
The commercial, financed by the Republican National Committee, was aimed at Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., the black Democrat from Memphis whose campaign for the Senate this year has kept the Republicans on the defensive in a state where they never expected to have trouble holding the seat.
The controversy erupted over one of the people featured: an attractive white woman, bare-shouldered, who declares that she met Mr. Ford at a “Playboy party,” and closes the commercial by looking into the camera and saying, with a wink, “Harold, call me.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Ford, who is single, said he was one of 3,000 people who attended a Playboy party at the Super Bowl last year in Jacksonville, Fla.
In the Northeast the appeal to racism involves a general association between being black and urban criminality.
In the South it apparently involves the notion that black men are jungle animals who are going to sleep with all "your" white women, who will all be overcome by their animal magnetism.
It actually has what sounds like tom-tom drums playing in the background every time the ad talks about Dem Harold Ford, Jr. The ad -- which says it was paid for by the campaign of GOP Senate candidate Bob Corker -- can be heard right here. When the ad mentions Corker, the music soars and no tom-toms are audible. Throughout the entire minute-long ad, you hear the rumble of tom-toms every time Ford is mentioned.
At least two Tennessee stations are refusing to run a new Republican National Committee ad attacking Dem Harold Ford, Jr., saying that they want more factual documentation of the ads from the RNC before running them, a Ford senior adviser, Tom Lee, has told Election Central.
Late today the Republican National Committee said the controversial commercial will be dropped, and while officials still defend it, they acknowledge the negative response forced their hand.
During an interview today on ABC's This Week, President Bush tried to distance himself from what has been his core strategy in Iraq for the last three years. George Stephanopoulos asked about James Baker's plan to develop a strategy for Iraq that is "between 'stay the course' and 'cut and run.'"
Bush responded, "We've never been stay the course, George!"
"I was a crack baby," Ms. Pearson said by telephone from Baltimore. "I was, like, three pounds, and I had to get fed with an eyedropper." She started selling drugs at 10 and at 14 was locked up for more than seven years after shooting a woman. "I grew up not giving a damn about anything, because why give a damn if you are in a foster home and your parents didn’t care anything about you?" Ms. Pearson said. She added that she had so many drugs in her system when she was born that she was cross-eyed as a child. "Kids would tease me, saying that I’m cross-eyed and don’t have a real mother, and all those kids who said those mean things, I beat the hell out of them," she said.
In the case of the Republican Party this year, the skirmish among conservatives over what is going wrong has begun unusually early and turned unusually personal.
“The Republicans are talking about things like gay marriage and so forth, and the Democrats are talking about the things people care about, like how do I pay my bills?” he said.
“Economic conservatives,” he argued, were emerging as the swing voters in need of attention, in part because they had become more likely to vote Democratic in the years since President Bill Clinton was in office. “A lot of people believe he brought us from deficits to surpluses, and there is a certain empirical evidence there,” Mr. Armey acknowledged.
“There is a bit of a battle between people who say, Hey, your tax cuts wrecked our war and people who say, Hey, your war wrecked our tax cuts,” said David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter who was among the war’s proponents.
Christian conservatives began complaining last year that the Republicans had put proposed Social Security changes and tax changes ahead of issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, risking the support of social-issue voters.
Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet-high marijuana plants.
"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he (General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff) said.
"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.
Bunning is a Hall of Fame pitcher who, during his eight years in office, has shown "little interest in legislation that doesn't concern baseball," writes Time magazine.
This May, the tow-headed son of the ruddy senior senator from Massachusetts plowed his car into a barrier—and himself into infamy—while under the spell of an Ambien-fueled hallucination. He then attempted to convince Capitol police he was late for a floor vote at 3 o'clock in the morning.
One favorite was his reference, in an immigration speech, to the "nice little Guatemalan man" who does yardwork around his estate (the long-suffering Burns press office was forced to issue a follow-up statement clarifying the cute little brown fella's legal status).
First there was her notorious encounter with a Capitol Hill police officer who dared to ask her for ID. After brazenly ignoring several polite requests, the caterwauling congresswoman responded by walloping the officer in the chest. During the ensuing fracas she complained that she was persecuted for "being in Congress while black."
"The Iraqi's perception is that we're all powerful," Schmidt wrote in a recent newsletter, offering her thumbnail portrait of the noble savages. "We watch them from space with technology they cannot even imagine ... They know we can do anything."
"Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, 'Thank God I'm still alive.' But of course those who died, their lives will never be the same again."
Over the years, he racked up more than $150,000 from Jack Abramoff's clients, $64,520 in the last election cycle alone, second in the House only to Majority Leader Dennis Hastert. Alone among Congress members, though, Hayworth has refused to return any of the tainted funds, offering only this rationale: the donors don't want the money back.
Inhofe is best known for his categorical claim that global warming is "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people"—a rhetorical flourish he recently refined by likening climate change theories to Nazi propaganda. And here's the scary part: Those are the sentiments of our chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Congressman Don Young, already in office for 20 years, is on the stump preaching the virtues of Newt Gingrich's Republican revolution to a group of high school students. Just look at all the wasteful things the federal government does with taxpayers' money, he tells them. The National Endowment for the Arts, for example, funds art involving "people doing offensive things ... things that are absolutely ridiculous." One student asks, "Like what?"
"Buttfucking," replies the great scourge of obscenity and instructor of youth.
If dumb Congress members were the X-Men, Harris would be their Wolverine—a mutant possessing fearsome skills, the product of a demented government experiment gone horribly wrong...
...Running for re-election in 2004, she told voters in Venice, Florida, that a "Middle Eastern" man had been arrested for trying to blow up the power grid of Carmel, Indiana. Neither the mayor of Carmel nor the governor of Indiana—nor anyone else acquainted with reality—had any idea what Harris was talking about.
At his daily briefing today at the White House, Press Secretary Tony Snow fielded a barrage of questions related to the recent upsurge in U.S. deaths in Iraq and worries that the Iraqi government is failing to stem the tide of violence. Suddenly one reporter put the issue squarely: “Sorry. Just the simple question: Are we winning?”
“We're making progress,” he replied. “I don't know. How do you define ‘winning’?
On practically any weekend from 1974 to 76 you could see one or more of the following groups (here listed in approximate chronological order) in the often half-empty 300-capacity club: Television, the Ramones, Suicide, the Patti Smith Group, Blondie, the Dictators, the Heartbreakers, Talking Heads, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and the Dead Boys. Not to mention some often equally terrific (or equally pathetic) groups that aren't as well remembered, like the Miamis and the Marbles and the Erasers and the Student Teachers. Nearly all the members of these bands treated the club as a headquarters -- as home. It was a private world. We dreamed it up. It flowered out of our imaginations.
The administration's use of Rovian catchphrases is nothing but propaganda designed to stifle the loyal opposition. We Democrats are determined to restore our nation's military strength, refocus on the real terrorist threat, bolster security safeguards at home and reestablish the credible standing we once had in the world. That is not defeatist. It is a call to formulate and execute a winning game plan for the War on Terror.
In the past nine months alone, $962 billion has been appropriated for the Defense Department, $190 billion for the war effort. A vast majority of Democrats voted for the funding. Democrats also identified shortfalls in body armor, armored vehicles and electronic jammers to defeat roadside bombs. Democrats uncovered problems with the military readiness of our ground forces in the United States and fought for measures to restore it. That's hardly defeatist.
The United States is about to begin its fifth year of occupation and fighting in Iraq. That makes this war longer than U.S. participation in World Wars I and II, and longer than the Korean War and our own Civil War. With every year of occupation, our efforts to fight global terrorism and our military's readiness to fight future wars have further deteriorated, along with our standing in the world. Meanwhile, the radical Islamic cause wins more and more recruits.
Now, Karl Rove may call me a defeatist, but can anyone living in the real world deny that these statistics are heading in the wrong direction? Yet despite this bleak record of performance, the president continues to stand by his team of failed architects, preferring to prop them up instead of demanding accountability.
Democrats are fighting a war on two fronts: One is combating the spin and intimidation that defines this administration. The other is fighting to change course, to do things better, to substitute smart, disciplined strategy for dogma and denial in Iraq.
That's not defeatism. That's our duty.
Let's get the disclaimer out of the way: there are 25 days between now and the November 7 election and things could well change, making what follows obsolete.
That said, this is without question the worst political situation for the GOP since the Watergate disaster in 1974. I think a 30-seat gain today for Democrats is more likely to occur than a 15-seat gain, the minimum that would tip the majority. The chances of that number going higher are also strong, unless something occurs that fundamentally changes the dynamic of this election. This is what Republican strategists' nightmares look like.
On a conference call today, James Carville suggested that the Democratic Party should expand beyond just the top targeted races. He believes the party should help fund previously ignored Democratic challengers in second- and third-tier districts--the next 30 to 50 Republican-held seats--to fully capitalize on this environment and help those candidates maximize their chances of winning. Carville went as far as to suggest Democrats go to the bank and borrow $5 million. If I were them, I'd make it $10 million and put $500,000 each of these 20 districts.
Faced with a deteriorating political climate, Republican Party officials are hoping to keep control of the House and Senate with a strategy aimed at shoring up enough endangered incumbents to preserve their majorities, while scaling back planned spending on races that now appear unwinnable.
The national GOP isn't giving any money to help GOP Senator Rick Santorum hang on to his seat against Dem Bob Casey, raising questions about whether national Republican strategists have privately given up on the incumbent's campaign. Today's Patriot-News reports that neither the RNC nor the NRSC has reserved any air time at Pennsylvania TV stations for "independent expenditure ads for Santorum or against Casey.
A whopping 99% of today's expenditure was for negative advertising.
At least 44 U.S. troops have been killed so far in October. At the current pace, the month would be the deadliest for U.S. forces since January 2005. After falling to 43 in July, the U.S. toll rose in August and September before spiking this month. The war's average monthly U.S. death toll is 64.
The number of U.S. troops wounded in combat also has surged, with September's total of more than 770 the highest since November 2004, when U.S. forces launched a ground offensive to clear insurgents from Falluja.
Suspected Shiite militiamen, some dressed as police, broke into a television station and gunned down 11 Iraqi executives, producers and other staffers Thursday Â the deadliest attack against the media in this country, where at least 81 other journalists have been killed in the past three years.
The station, Shaabiya, was new and had not started full broadcasting.
Most of the victims found dumped in Baghdad's streets had been shot in the head execution-style and bore signs of torture, typical features of sectarian death squad killings that the Interior Ministry says claim about 50 lives a day. A ministry official had earlier reported the discovery of 60 bodies in the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday morning, but a further 50 were found during the day, officials said.
The situation is deteriorating so fast that even radical militia leaders are said to be complaining about the anarchy. Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite firebrand who heads the militia known as the Mahdi Army, recently told a top official of the Iraqi intelligence service that "an increasing number of Shia death squads, operating under the name of his Mahdi Army, are Iranian pasdaran [Revolutionary Guards] staff officers and Hezbollah fighters, who are executing operational activities that he is not aware of, nor can he control," according to one U.S. source.
Bush administration officials have been puzzling over why the coup rumors have become so widespread in Baghdad. One reason is that Iraqis remember the country's history of coups, including the 1958 putsch that overthrew the monarchy and the one in 1968 that brought the Baath Party to power.
Of the total 655,000 estimated "excess deaths," 601,000 resulted from violence and the rest from disease and other causes, according to the study. This is about 500 unexpected violent deaths per day throughout the country.
The survey was done by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. The findings are being published online today by the British medical journal the Lancet.
It's pretty bold of them to have gone down the path of offering up such a straightforward Iraq analogy. In particular, they've done what really nobody's been willing to do in American politics which is try to cast a sympathetic eye on the insurgency. Of course, this is easier to do allegorically where you get a chance to paper over the fact that the Iraqi insurgency's substantive ideas about the nature of a just Iraqi state are rather repugnant. Nevertheless, I think it does do a good job of capturing the basic logic of occupation and rebellion. The cylons say they're seizing control of New Caprica for humanity's own good.
But who on the human side is going to believe them, especially given their past history (and note the USA's previous support for Saddam's regime, betrayal of the '91 intifada, decades-long indifference to the question of Arab democracy, view of Israel-Palestine universally regarded as anti-Arab by Arabs)? So people fight back. So the cylons fight back in turn. But cylon efforts to tighten their control merely reinforces their pre-existing bad image. The insurgents have much more leeway in adopting extreme tactics because they're not an alien force. They have a presumption of legitimacy while the occupiers have a presumption of illegitimacy. That Baltar is, in fact, the democratically elected leader of the Colonies is neither here nor there, for the simple fact of collaboration with the occupiers trumps the legitimacy of elections.
Mr. Bush clearly faces constraints as he seeks to address the public concerns about Iraq that have shrouded this midterm election: 83 percent of respondents thought that Mr. Bush was either hiding something or mostly lying when he discussed how the war in Iraq was going.
On Sept. 19, 2005, North Korea signed a widely heralded denuclearization agreement with the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea. Pyongyang pledged to "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs." In return, Washington agreed that the United States and North Korea would "respect each other's sovereignty, exist peacefully together and take steps to normalize their relations."
Four days later, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sweeping financial sanctions against North Korea designed to cut off the country's access to the international banking system, branding it a "criminal state" guilty of counterfeiting, money laundering and trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.
The Bush administration says that this sequence of events was a coincidence. Whatever the truth, I found on a recent trip to Pyongyang that North Korean leaders view the financial sanctions as the cutting edge of a calculated effort by dominant elements in the administration to undercut the Sept. 19 accord, squeeze the Kim Jong Il regime and eventually force its collapse. My conversations made clear that North Korea's missile tests in July and its threat last week to conduct a nuclear test explosion at an unspecified date "in the future" were directly provoked by the U.S. sanctions. In North Korean eyes, pressure must be met with pressure to maintain national honor and, hopefully, to jump-start new bilateral negotiations with Washington that could ease the financial squeeze. When I warned against a nuclear test, saying that it would only strengthen opponents of negotiations in Washington, several top officials replied that "soft" tactics had not worked and they had nothing to lose.