Sunday, August 26, 2007

NYT: Congressional junkets to Iraq

First, a few points. Ruth doesn't have a report this week. She phoned Saturday afternoon and mentioned she was planning on focusing on GreenStone Media to which I replied, "Great, we can link to it in the piece for Third." She then noted that she'd like to take part in that piece and, I'm sorry, I'm not going to let her miss out on all the sleep (I've been up since 6:00 am Saturday morning). I told her to forget the report and that we'd love her help at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Isaiah called Saturday around midnight (his time) because he'd just noticed that he was out of drawing paper. I told him not to run out and get any, that we could run his comic on Sunday. So anyone upset about either should be aware that the blame goes to me.

With that out of the way, let's move quickly to the New York Times. On first glance, it can be disappointing. There's no round up of the violence in Iraq yesterday. What it does offer is a front page article by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Damien Cave entitled "Hear a General, Hug a Sheik: Congress Does the Iraq Circuit." This is a really strong article. The focus is on the attempts to woo Congress to support the continued illegal war. (If their past record can be any guide, no arm twisting will be required.) Congress is taking trips to Iraq and, as the reporters note, it leads to a lot of "'how I spent my summer vacation' sameness" with some, such as House Rep Peter Roskam doing a conference call from Baghdad with 6,000 constituents.

They note that the Congressional trips have led US House Rep Brian Baird to support the continued, illegal war. Baird is House Rep Crazy to Senator Crazy (McCain) because he tells the reporters how great it was to be able to speak with the mayor of Yusufiya and two sheiks and be there as they "embraced us in front of everybody out on the street". Though the reporters don't note whether Baird was panting heavy and had a wet spot on the front pants, they do quote House Rep Crazy explaining he had his "flack jacket on, and your Kevlar helment and you're surrounding by guys with automatic weapons as you're standing there, talking to the mayor." Yeah, just your typical no-security visit, right? Baird's not the 'anti-war' voice he's repeatedly portrayed as. He slimed Barabara Lee (without naming her) in a 2006 press release. He's a Blue Dog who repeatedly votes Republican although he is in name a Democrat (link goes to Washington Post voting record for Baird). He did not change his mind on Iraq due to a recent August trip and his voting record bears that out (despite what the press says). He voted for HR 2206 which was funding for the illegal war without timetables (May 24th and his position was the same as the GOP). He was one of 86 Dems voting for it (140 voted against it) and 194 Republicans also voted for it. (11 didn't vote for anyone doing math.) On HR 553 which (Robert Gates should begin reducing the number of US forces in Iraq) the GOP voted no and so did he, on July 12, 2007. HR 601 and HR 3159 had to do with mandating downtime for troops between deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan -- he was rone of 3 Democrats to vote with the Republican minority on the former and one of 12 Democrats to vote with the Republican minority on the latter. So let's stop calling him an "anti-war" Rep because he's nothing of the sort. These votes were all before NPR reported (August 21st) on Baird's trip "last week" to Iraq that the press keeps telling you changed his mind. His voting record demonstrates he changed his mind before that trip. It's a nice little spin and what would Congress be without it's Big Liars?

He voted against the illegal war before it started (many say that vote required UN authorization -- many say that's a naive take on it). He's voted with Republicans on the illegal war repeatedly. He grasps the p.r. in playing it like he visited Iraq and then changed his mind (a lot of people learned to pull the Lieberman Turncoat on). But the reality is that he is not "anti-war" and that he has repeatedly voted with Republicans (and against the Democratic majority) on the issue of Iraq.

You also learn what Gen. David Petraeues recently served Congressional visitors: asparagus soup and lobster tortellini. Isn't that just lovely? While troops exist on MRIs and really bad fast food, while Iraqis are malnutritioned, Petraeus dines on lobster and asparagus. Congressional visitors as well. How sweet that must be. Of course, not so sweet to the tax payers because that's who bought that meal. They didn't get to eat it, they just paid for it.

New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: IVAW supports war resisters, do you?
TV: Fox tried to tell news 'jokes', no one laughed...
Thoughts on GreenStone Media and the real lesson
Bully Boy lies about Vietnam -- who calls him out?...
FAIR late to the party and a little lost
Obama sucks up again
Supermarket check out?

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