Archive for April 5th, 2007

by Jay Stevens

Okay, first I was rabid in one direction, then measured in the other. What does seem clear is that there are two possible methods to end the war: through funding, or through a revised war resolution.

(By the way, it seems that the War Powers Act of 1973 – which I assume Iraq falls under – gives Congress a clearer role in ending the war. Check it out.)

In any case…I finally got a peek at the Reid/Feingold bill:

a) Transition of Mission – The President shall promptly transition the mission of United States forces in Iraq to the limited purposes set forth in subsection (d).

(b) Commencement of Safe, Phased Redeployment from Iraq – The President shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq that are not essential to the purposes set forth in subsection (d). Such redeployment shall begin not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(c) Prohibition on Use of Funds – No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after March 31, 2008.

(d) Exception for Limited Purposes – The prohibition under subsection (c) shall not apply to the obligation or expenditure of funds for the limited purposes as follows:

(1) To conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.

(2) To provide security for United States infrastructure and personnel.

(3) To train and equip Iraqi security services.

I found this at Bob Geiger’s blog, who has this to say about Jon Tester:

“Senator Tester will not vote for any measure that he feels may compromise the safety and security of the troops on the ground,” said Matt McKenna, Communications Director for freshman Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

But putting the onus on Democrats to keep funding this war, versus placing the weight on Bush to pull the troops out of that quagmire before the money is gone, means that Tester is almost reciting Republican talking points for a response. Jon Tester’s a good man and I have faith that he will rethink this before the vote actually comes to the Senate floor.



The Nation features Montana in its article on “Bottom-up Power.”

Marc Racicot emerges as a player in the prosecutor purge. Ochenski explains.

Baucus admits that the U.S. health system is “near collapse.” Interesting…

Much needed initiative reform passes on a bipartisan vote in the state House.

Montana Main Street blog has posed an excellent question: how to deal with the legislature’s increasing workload?

Missoula eatery denies a Saudi student serviceallegedly for racial reasons. Hubbub ensues.

Missoula city officials consider raising parking tickets fines, which are currently 2 dollars.

Between a rock and a hard place: Shane takes a look at utility regulation and doesn’t like what he sees.

Idaho ranks 54th in power in the US government, because of all those Republicans. (Check out the rankings: Baucus is 7th and Tester 83rd in the Senate; Rehberg 387th in the House. Montana is 16th overall!)

Larry LaRocco to announce his candidacy for Idaho’s Senate seat current held by Larry Craig. Julie Fanselow assesses the situation. Personally, I like Larry Grant. (The three “Larrys”? What’s up with that? What are the odds?)

Blogger Josh Wolf freed after striking a deal with prosecutors. Basically he has to turn over his tape, but he won’t have to testify in front of a grand jury. Wolf has posted the disputed video on his blog.

Now that Exxon-funded CEI admits that climate change exists and is likely caused by human activity, look for a shift in rhetoric from the nay-sayers.

Obama’s got the grassroots support and the money; Edwards has the people. Clinton’s got…panache?

The Great White Hunter Mitt Romney – the same man who said “I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life” – has hunted exactly twice.

Meanwhile, the New York Sun urges Dick Cheney to throw his hat into the presidential ring! I agree with Ezra: what an awesome idea! “Place a constant reminder of George W. Bush on the campaign trail [that] will wreck the Republican Party for a generation.”

Russ Feingold defends his bill pulling funding for the Iraq War if Bush vetoes the present bill.

Remember the claim at the heart of the Plame affair, about how Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger? The administration knew it was bogus.

Administration says it fired prosecutor David Iglesias for being an “absentee landlord” during his tenure. Because he was off fulfilling his Naval reservist obligations. Oops! It’s against the law to discriminate against members of the military…

Meanwhile, the administration crony replacing US attorney Bud Cummins – Timothy Griffin – apparently lied about his prosecutorial career.

Steve Benen analyzes Bush’s recent press conference, which he used to attack Congressional Democrats.

Digby on Grover Norquist’s claim that Bush’s base doesn’t care about Iraq; they’ll do whatever Bush wants: “So [President Bush] is not subject to normal political pressure. As Norquist says, the base will stick with him come hell or high water. (I believe it’s a mistake, however, to think it has anything to do with him personally — the base of the Republican party are authoritarians who will blindly follow their leader no matter who he is, which is why they need to be kept away from the brown shirt section of Macy’s.) This is now a mind game between the Democrats and Bush/Cheney. The Republicans in congress are nearly irrelevant except to the extent a couple of them can help get legislation passed and feed the GOP disarray. All negotiations going forward will necessarily be strategized with that in mind.”

Not that Bush would do anything scummy, like bypass the Senate to install Swiftboater Sam Fox into his ambassadorship. (Shane’s take.)

Creepy: video of Cheney lurking in the bushes during the President’s press conference.

Glenn Greenwald on big-media’s assumption that, if they say it, it must be reliable: “…do you have sufficient faith in the judgment and integrity of ABC News to rely blindly on its assessments, made in secret, about who is and is not credible when it comes to claims that could contribute to spawning a new war against Iran?” No, I don’t. Who would after the media’s stumbling on WMD?

The Nation makes a financial plea on behalf of bloggers: throw us a bone! (Man, I would love to be able to do this full time…)

South Park – literally – skewers Bill Donohue.

The British hostage crisis:

How Iran used the capture of 15 British Navy members to score points with the people of the Middle East.

The crisis displayed Ahmadinejad’s hypocrisy, and was engineered for Iran’s political gain, but now progess in the Middle East is possible.

And look at that — dialog produced results, a lesson the US government can learn.

Andrew Sullivan: “Iran, that disgusting regime, is showing much of the world that it treats prisoners more humanely than the U.S. That’s the propaganda coup they are achieving. And you know who set them up to score this huge victory in the propaganda war? Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld, who authorized all the abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere throughout the war….Tehran never had a better friend than George W. Bush. He has given Islamist thugs the moral highground.”

Glenn Greenwald critiques the way neo-cons wanted to handle the crisis.

Newt Gingrich, on threatening Iran if he were President: “But frankly, if you’d prefer to show the planet that you’re tiny and we’re not, we’re prepared to simply cut off your economy….” Sounds like a man who reads too many penis enlargement emails.

by Jay Stevens

Yesterday Jeff Mangan had some harsh words for the Missoulian — actually it was more like harsh implications – over the yanking of 50 missiles from Malmstrom’s mission.

Mangan is understandably upset about the loss of jobs in the Great Falls area that’s associated with those missiles.

But — and now I’m forced into the uncomfortable position of defending the Missoulian editorial board — I think they’re right when they say it’s not a bad thing that those missiles are gone. Here’s the rub:

Triggering [Dennis Rehberg’s] ire was the Pentagon’s decision to press ahead with plans to eliminate 50 of the 200 Minuteman III nuclear missiles based in Montana. The decision follows an extensive Defense Department review concluding that the nation’s nuclear arsenal can be maintained more effectively in the decades ahead by scrapping 50 of the Montana missiles that have “unique configuration” requiring different maintenance, operation, parts and training than the other 450 missiles scattered across Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota.

The sentence missing from the bottom of Jeff Mangan’s selected quote?

National defense ought to transcend pork-barrel politics and even local economic considerations.

Apparently these missiles were obsolete and exceedingly expensive to maintain. That is, this is not a question of national security. These missiles are Montana’s Bridge to Nowhere. Getting rid of them represents the kind of fiscal responsibility that most of us want the Pentagon to display.

Yes, it’s a hit to Great Falls’ economy, but I don’t think the people of Montana want what would amount to be a handout from the federal government.

Yes, it would be nice to win another and useful mission to Malmstrom (another fighter wing?), but if we’re interested in fiscal responsibility from our government, we must be prepared to withstand the consequences.

Don’t be fooled by faux conservative Dennis Rehberg’s support of the 50 missiles. They represent all that’s wrong with wasteful government spending. The thing is, the issue revolves around military spending, so the issue gives our spendthrift Representative the illusion of being tough on defense, when in fact he’s leading the state to the public teat of big government.

by Jay Stevens

The predictable outcome over the funding remarks made by Barack Obama has come to pass – the media has eagerly snapped it up and used it against the Democratic party. Check out this headline: “Anti-War Crowd Turns on Obama.”

What the article fails to mention is that the “anti-war crowd” is around 70 percent of the electorate. Instead it reduces us to a “rabble,” with animal-like qualities (“turns on” refers to a trained animal, of course). I’m sure the resident conservative commentors will enjoy the allegory, but the rest of us are smoldering a little.

In any case, I’m beginning to back down on my attack on Obama for his comments for a couple of reasons.

First, readbetween had some excellent points to make about the subject, namely that it’s possible Obama is being sincere about the issue.

Second, after talking with Tester’s office, they said Jon would not vote for a bill that would leave U.S. military troops underequipped.

Let’s be frank. Congress knows the funding bill is going to be vetoed, and that Bush will do everything to stay in Iraq until his term ends, even if that means vetoing funding bill after funding bill and letting the soldiers rot in Baghdad. After all, if he really cared about the condition, morale, and equipment of the troops in Iraq, he would have made strategic and logistical changes, oh, about four years ago.

Remember, this is the President that sends troops into battle without proper armor, that cuts benefits for veterans, that overextends units, that sends men still unfit for combat back to Iraq, that has lowered enlistment standards drastically, and prefers letting the Iraqi wounded recover in squalor rather than admit privatized medical care doesn’t work. I could also compare the treatment of the troops with the administration’s largesse when it comes to defense contractor cronies. In short, this President doesn’t give a rat’s *ss about the men and women who serve. Why should Congress think this President will swallow withdrawal in order to fund his troops? He’d rather let them starve than admit he was wrong.

Montana Headlines and I have debated the constitutionality of denying funding to Iraq in order to end the war. In the end, I think it’s moot, and I agree with his conclusion: Congress needs to amend or draft a new Iraq Resolution bill.

In fact, there were reports in late February that such a resolution was being drafted by Senate Democrats, Carl Levin (MI) and Joe Biden (DE).

Tester’s office said Jon would consider such a resolution, and I think that’s the way to go.

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