Beliefnet
God's Politics

The latest news on the federal budget, the Superbowl, Iraq-Senate, new strategy, intelligence estimate, refugees-, President and Dems, Dem candidates, GI resistance, Iran, Middle East, and the working poor.

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Super Bowl. Dungy reaches summit without sacrificing values. – “And that’s one of the reasons he’s a worthy recipient of the distinction of being the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl, even if it should not have had to come to him. Proud as he might be, as he stood on the stage to receive the Lombardi Trophy, Dungy said his thoughts were of longtime black assistant coaches such as Jimmy Raye, Sherman Lewis and Lionel Taylor, “Great coaches that I know could have done this if they would have gotten an opportunity.” It’s disgraceful that it took Dungy so long to get his opportunity.” Two Coaches, Two Friends, but Only One Prize – “I’m proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American coach to win this,” Dungy said. “It means an awful lot to our country.”


Federal budget. Pentagon Big Winner in Bush Budget Plan – “The Pentagon is the big winner in President Bush’s proposed budget for next year, while domestic items such as aid to schools and grants to local governments will get only the slightest of increases. Medicare and Medicaid, the health program for the poor and disabled, would shoulder modest but politically difficult cost curbs in the budget.” Bush calls for budget restraint– “When the president releases his fiscal 2008 budget Monday, he is expected to call for cuts in Medicare and renew his plea for Social Security private accounts while urging Congress to hold the line on spending–except for the military and homeland security.” Record $622 Billion Budget Requested for the Pentagon– “The Bush administration is seeking a record military budget of $622 billion for the 2008 fiscal year, …. The sum includes more than $140 billion for war-related costs.” Bush to Request Billions for Wars – “President Bush will ask Congress for close to three-quarters of a trillion dollars in defense spending on Monday, including $245 billion to cover the cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and other elements of the “global war on terror,” Tank-size defense request – “But if the military’s top officers have their way, today’s proposal may be only a precursor to a future of even larger defense budgets. The chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force are gearing up for a long-term campaign to convince Congress and the public that the growing demands of the Iraq war – plus the administration’s aggressive global security ambitions – require tens of billions more each year to meet the nation’s defense needs.”


President & Dems. At Democrats’ Meeting, Bush Appeals for Cooperation– “President Bush, forced by circumstance to reach out to some of his strongest adversaries, appealed directly to House Democrats to work with him to reform the immigration system, limit the cost of Social Security, curb the consumption of gasoline and balance the federal budget.”


Iraq-Senate. Senate rebuke on Iraq is loud and unclear – “the immense symbolism of what may be the first formal rebuke of Bush’s war strategy has produced the most passionate war debate on Capitol Hill since the invasion of Iraq nearly four years ago.” Iraq Vote Could Resonate In 2008 – “While the resolution will test the mettle of every member of the chamber, none will be challenged more than Sununu and the 19 other Senate Republicans facing reelection in 2008 — many from states where voters are angry with Bush’s war policy and want the troops to begin heading home.”


Dem candidates. Pecking order emerging for presidential wannabes – “The screams from the crowd at this weekend’s Democratic National Committee convention were so boisterous that they often drowned out the words being spoken by Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.” DNC Turns Focus to White House – “With Congress in their control and their eyes now on the White House, Democratic Party leaders took their first look at the party’s field of presidential candidates at a forum in which the three front-runners presented their positions on Iraq and jockeyed over who can defeat the Republicans in 2008”In Democratic race, Iraq frames debate – “on the biggest issue – Iraq – all the prospective and declared Democratic hopefuls speaking to party activists last weekend were also in basic agreement: that the US must extricate itself from the Iraq war. Where they differed was over one question: How?” Democrats Split on How to End the War – “After 10 candidates’ speeches over two days at the winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, the war proved again to be the central point of differentiation among the party’s presidential contenders.”


GI resistance. Court-martial set in objector case – “Denied a chance to debate the legality of the Iraq war in court, an Army officer who refused to go to Iraq now goes to trial hoping to at least minimize the amount of time he could serve if convicted.”


Iraq-new strategy. U.S. threatens crushing offensive to calm Baghdad – “A U.S.-Iraqi offensive against militants in Baghdad will begin within days and take place on a scale never seen during four years of war, American officers said yesterday.” Doubts Run Deep on Reforms Crucial to Bush’s Iraq Strategy – “The success of the Bush administration’s new Iraq strategy depends on a series of rapid and dramatic political and economic reforms that even the plan’s authors have little confidence will work.” U.S. Copters Were Shot Down – “Four American helicopters that crashed in Iraq in the past two weeks were shot down, a U.S. military spokesman said Sunday, prompting officials to reevaluate how troops move around in an increasingly hostile war zone.”


Iraq-Intelligence Estimate. Analysis Is Bleak on Iraq’s Future – “The assessment, by American intelligence agencies, expressed deep doubts about the abilities of Iraqi politicians to hold together an increasingly balkanized country, and about whether Iraqi troops might be able to confront powerful militias over the next 18 months and assume more responsibility for security.” Bleak Iraq Report Is Sent to Congress – “The U.S. intelligence community yesterday released a starkly pessimistic assessment of the situation in Iraq, warning that even if security improves, deepening sectarian divisions threaten to destroy the government and ultimately could lead to anarchy, partition or the emergence of a new dictatorship.”


Iraq-refugees. War in Iraq Propelling A Massive Migration – “Nearly 2 million Iraqis — about 8 percent of the prewar population — have embarked on a desperate migration, mostly to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The refugees include large numbers of doctors, academics and other professionals vital for Iraq’s recovery. Another 1.7 million have been forced to move to safer towns and villages inside Iraq, and as many as 50,000 Iraqis a month flee their homes,”


Iran. U.S. can’t prove Iran link to Iraq strife – “Bush administration officials acknowledged Friday that they had yet to compile evidence strong enough to back up publicly their claims that Iran is fomenting violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.”


Middle East. ‘Quartet’ backs revived Middle East peace efforts – “But in private talks, European officials signaled that they wanted to move faster than the Americans toward a deal to create a Palestinian state, diplomats said. And the Russian delegation urged the group to lift its economic boycott of the Palestinian government, saying the measure punished ordinary Palestinians without forcing Hamas to reform.” Palestinians Say Clashes Hurt Their Cause – “The fierce internal clashes between Palestinian factions have shocked many Palestinians and Arab governments, who fear that the continuing bloodshed is damaging the Palestinian image before the world, Palestinians say.”


Working poor. Thinks Big About the Little Guy “American business culture tends to focus on employees at the top, not at the bottom. And many don’t want to be told that they pay workers poverty-level wages. Mr. Bigari says he thinks that they will see the light when they see the return they can get from helping the working poor, both as employees and as customers. … He created a system to help resolve the problems of the working poor who staffed his restaurants by pulling together or creating an array of services, from arranging day care to organizing transportation to making small emergency loans. The goal, he said, was to keep his employees on the job and focused on customers.”

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