The Illogic of Phased Withdrawal

I'm glad to see Carl Levin say that changing course in Iraq is "the first order of business," and his renewed calls for a phased withdrawal to begin in four-to-six months are welcome. It's a beginning, and any beginning to the end of this war is a good one.

Only problem is -- where's the end?

Despite all the nonsense about how "corruption,""conservative Democrats," and "religious voters" swung the 2006 elections for the Democrats, there can really be no argument, among honest minds, that Iraq was the signature issue of this campaign. Even though most prominent national Democrats had to be dragged by their hair into engaging the issue, the candidates and staffers and volunteers on the ground, especially in the newly blue districts, will tell you that voters are tired of the war, they want something done about it, and they want it done soon.

But what to do?

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Bush Doesn't Want to Screen Terrorist Mail

Senators Criticize Bush Administration's Failure to Monitor Communications of Deadly Terrorists in U.S. Custody

WASHINGTON - In a letter to President Bush, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today said that the Administration's failure to monitor the communications of deadly terrorists already in U.S. captivity calls into question the ability of this Administration to conduct the intelligence operations required to effectively fight terrorism.

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Time to hammer Harry Reid on Lieberman

Folks, this may be obvious, but I don't see a diary on it, so I'll take the plunge.

As noted on the front page, at FDL, at Kos, etc. Lieberman is now campaigning for GOP candidates. And Harry Reiud has not punished him yet. Lieberman must be stripped of his seniority and committee appointments. It must happoen, and we must hold Reid's feet to the fire.

Time to start bombing Harry Reid with e-mails, phone cals, etc. Lieberman must be stripped of the seniority and committee assignments that are connected to his affiliation with the Democratic Party.

Contact Harry Reid. Here is the URL for contacting him: http://reid.senate.gov/

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Lives Hang in the Balance, I Urge Sen. Reid to Negotiate a Compromise

Growing up in New Jersey, I made many friends who came from an assortment of different countries.  I loved going to the Filipino cotillions, eating empanadas, or just hearing about old Poland from my friend's grandparents. One friend whom I developed a particularly strong relationship was with my friend Luis. We did everything together,and both developed strong relationships with each other's families.  A particular episode that I will never forget was the college fair at school. We were both touring the different booths, I was talking up a storm about which colleges were good, which had the best parties, which ones sucked, etc. Luis was noticeably quiet. When we left, I continued bantering about college life. He simply replied, "I'm not going". He then cleared the gulp in his throat and explained to me slowly, with his voice shaking how his family had overstayed their visa and were here in the country illegally, college was not an option.  Naively, I replied, "Why don't you just apply for citizenship". Little did I know about our arcane immigration laws.  I graduated and eventually came to New York to study business . Luis on the other hand graduated and found a job as a mechanic. He still lives at home and yearns for the opportunity to go to college.

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The Democrats "Real Security" Media Event

Senate & House Democrats unveiled a "Real Security" plan at a well attended media event in Washington today.  In front of a backdrop of over 50 Democrat Members of Congress (Kerry, Biden, Obama, no Hillary Clinton or Feingold, a flag the size of an SUV and a group of firefighters and veterans, speakers (in order) Sen. Harry Reid, Gen. Wes Clark, Sen. Jack Reed, Sec. Madeline Albright, Firefighters Union President Harold Schaitberger, National Association for Black Veterans President Joe Wynn and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi painted in broad brush the outlines of a Democrat "Real Security" plan.  The words of the day were "incompetence" to describe the Bush record and that Democrats offer something "better".  To this fly on the wall, the contrasts painted were real, but in pastels, not clshing primary colors.

Democrats deserve credit for offering a Security plan and broadening the debate.  It's hard to do this sort of thing by committee.  Today was a good first step but it's just a start.  

Albright and Clark were there to highlight the national security successes of the Clinton years, i.e. the successful NATO "war" in the Balkans -- an international effort lead by NATO that stopped ethnic cleansing of over a million Bosnians without the loss of a single American soldier in combat.  Albright noted that the Balkan effort did not always go exactly as planned but when things went wrong leaders actually talked to each other about the real situation on the ground and made policy changes in response.  In contrast, the Bush administration has been characterized by a "fantasy" policy of denial and faulty "intelligence".  Reed also hammered on the wishful thinking "intelligence" of the Bush years.

There were a few specifics discussed about the Democrats "Better Way" -- the main point was that Democrats see security in a broader way, in short that broader is better.  Firefighters Union President Schaitberger highlighted the failures of the administration to train & equip first responders and the abysmal federal response to Hurricane Katrina.  In particular, Reed said that 100% of inbound goods at US ports will be "screened" under the Democratic plan.  Veteran leader Wynn highlighted that all health care needs for Veterans will be covered under the Democratic plan.  Those last two sounded like real news and specific contrasts to this blogger.  Clark also noted proposed Bush budget cuts in funding for the National Guard, which has borne much of the burden in Iraq.  The Democrats also drew a contrast between the "War on Terror" and the "Iraq War." Details of the Democratic plan are at www.democrats.gov

I had two nitpicks about the event.  First, finding a web link to the Democrat plan was hard and might elude some of the less aggressive media types.  One might think that the multiple blue backdrops with "Real Security" plastered at great expense throughout the room, or the podium, would include a web link to the Democratic plan.  At a minimum one would expect links on handouts to the media -- NOT.  Over an hour after the event a google search with the terms "real, security, Democrats" turned up only an AP story about the event.  I finally found a link from Nancy Pelosi's site.  Second, why must challengers be invisible at Democratic events like this one?  I was asked to remove a James Webb for Senate sticker (VA) that I had leftover from Wes Clark's endorsement of him earlier in the day -- no problem, but why should anyone care about what I had on my lapel? The event featured hundreds of years of Democratic seniority on the stage among Members of Congress.  Great!  Why not feature also some Democratic candidates with something to say about "Real Security" who have yet to get to Washington.  Sure, in places where there are active primary contests Democratic leaders should let the voters decide, but there are plenty of Democratic challengers who are running hard already against Republicans, not fellow Democrats.  Democrats need new voices and they need to be spotlighted.

(crossposted to DailyKos)

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