God's Politics

the latest news on Remembering 9/11, the Petraeus testimony, Sen. Hagel’s retirement, Congress’s domestic policy, Immigration, the Mexican pipeline bombings, and Dobson clearance by the IRS
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Remembering 9/11. Remembering 9/11 “across the United States, Sept. 11 will have much of the same emotional impact that has gripped the American psyche and dominated U.S. political discourse for six years, an impact that will not soon ease,” Post-9/11, ‘safer today’ but ‘not safe’ “Six years after the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil, the United States is in many ways unprepared to stop another major strike against the homeland, which Al Qaeda appears intent on carrying out in the near future, four of the nation’s top counter- terrorism officials told a Senate panel Monday.” U.S. More Prepared but Faces Ongoing Threat “The U.S. government is better prepared to disrupt terrorist plots than it was six years ago, but the country continues to face a serious terrorism threat that could persist for a generation, top intelligence and counterterrorism officials testified yesterday.”

Iraq-Petraeus testimony. Petraeus Warns Against Quick Pullback in IraqGen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, warned in stark terms against the kind of rapid pullback favored by the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, in a day of testimony that drove home the continuing inability of the Democrats to force a change in strategy in Iraq.” Petraeus Backs Initial Pullout “Army Gen. David H. Petraeus told Congress yesterday that the deployment of 30,000 more troops to Iraq has made enough progress that the additional combat forces can be pulled out by next summer, but he cautioned against “rushing to failure” with a larger and speedier withdrawal.” What Crocker and Petraeus didn’t say “The Bush administration’s top two officials in Iraq answered questions from Congress for more than six hours, but their testimony may have been as important for what they didn’t say as for what they did.” Petraeus upbeat over troop levels “America’s top officials in Iraq yesterday claimed the surge strategy had produced real gains, and that 30,000 troops could be withdrawn by the summer of 2008, beginning with a modest redeployment this year.” Iraq hearing heats up the hallways “Interest in the hearing was hot, likened by some to Army Gen. William C. Westmoreland’s performance on Vietnam a generation ago. But some tempers were hotter. There weren’t enough seats. The acoustics were bad. The overflow room was two buildings away and it was muggy outside. Clearly, a lot of people were sick of this war, and a lot of other people were sick of the people who were sick of this war.” Iraqi govt welcomes Petraeus report “Iraq’s government on Tuesday welcomed long-awaited testimony to Congress by the U.S. commander in Iraq and said it would have less need for foreign forces to carry out combat operations in the “near future”.

Iraq-News Analysis General Proposes Bigger Role in Protecting IraqisUnder the timetable embraced Monday by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the number of American combat brigades would decline by one-fourth by next summer, to 15 in July from 20 now, with the prospect of deeper, if as yet unscheduled, reductions to come.” Petraeus’ report is a potential minefield for both parties “With his proposal to end the troop “surge” by next summer, the top U.S. commander in Iraq may have upended the debate in the Capitol, causing both parties to recalibrate their positions.” The General’s Long View Could Cut Withdrawal Debate Short “Iraq’s armed forces are improving, Petraeus told Congress yesterday. Overall violence is down. Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq, and many Baghdad neighborhoods are more peaceful. Political reconciliation, said Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, who testified alongside the general, is a now-visible light at the end of the tunnel. But the two men offered no clear pathway or timeline to reach the end.” Bush policy to bequeath Iraq to successor “The talk in Washington on Monday was all about troop reductions, yet it also brought into sharp focus President Bush’s plans to end his term with a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq, and to leave tough decisions about ending the unpopular war to his successor.”

Sen. Hagel to retire. Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel says he’s leaving Congress “Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, a thorn in his own party’s side when it comes to Iraq, announced Monday he would retire from the Senate and not seek any elected office in 2008.”

Congress-domestic policy. Democrats on Hill aim to aid middle class “Even if Democrats can’t decisively shift the course of US involvement in Iraq, they aim to build a record of solving problems that make a difference to average families. The issues range from cutting college costs and increasing insurance coverage for children to curbing a runaway Alternative Minimum Tax, now on track to hit some 23 million taxpayers next year. Also in the pipeline: an energy bill, a farm bill, and the reauthorization of a big education funding bill.”

Iran . ‘We Are Moving Rapidly Towards an Abyss’ “United Nations chief weapons inspector Mohamed ElBaradei spoke to SPIEGEL about Iran’s last chance to convince the world of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, his problems with the US government and his fear of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.”

Israel-Palestine. Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Meet in Jerusalem to Move Toward Peace Talks “Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and the Pakestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, met Monday and agreed to set up a team of negotiators to flesh out their understandings of what a permanent, two-state solution would look like and require.”

Immigration. Immigrant groups launch Western Union boycott “158 immigrant advocacy groups from around the country are accusing Western Union, the largest U.S. money-transfer company, of charging exorbitant fees while failing to adequately reinvest in immigrant communities. In Los Angeles on Monday, the groups launched a nationwide boycott of Western Union,” Immigration unit’s fast start “In its first month, the Colorado State Patrol’s Immigration Enforcement Unit had results that “exceed anyone’s expectations,” according to the executive director of the Department of Public Safety. In an Aug. 31 memo to Gov. Bill Ritter, public-safety director Peter Weir reported that the team in July encountered more than 150 illegal immigrants, including four identified as aggravated felons and 15 other criminals.”

Mexico. Mexican pipeline bombings heighten energy fears “Bombers attacked at least six oil and natural gas pipelines in Mexico’s southeastern state of Veracruz overnight on Monday, sparking concern that the energy sector of the second largest supplier of oil to the United States may be increasingly vulnerable to attacks from a fledgling Marxist rebel movement.”

Dobson cleared by IRS. Probe by IRS absolves Dobson “Focus on the Family chairman James Dobson was cleared of accusations that he endangered his organization’s nonprofit status by endorsing Republican candidates in 2004, an Internal Revenue Service audit found. The IRS said Mr. Dobson, who backed President Bush’s re-election bid, was acting as an individual and not on behalf of the conservative Christian ministry.”


Democrats’ Last, Best Hope (EJ Dionne, Washington Post) “Even before Gen. David Petraeus began his account of the “substantial” progress brought about by the troop increase in Iraq, congressional critics of President Bush’s policy had come to the depressing conclusion that the surge has done what the administration needed it to do. It has not won the war. It has not achieved reconciliation at the national level in Iraq. But it has bought more political time in Washington,”

A War Still Seeking a Mission (George Will, Washington Post) Before Gen. David Petraeus ‘s report, and to give it a context of optimism, the president visited Iraq’s Anbar province to underscore the success of the surge in making some hitherto anarchic areas less so. More significant, however, was that the president did not visit Baghdad. This underscored the fact that the surge has failed, as measured by the president’s and Petraeus’s standards of success.”

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