On Haitus

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I apologize Y’all, I had to take a few mental health days and not even look in the direction of this site.  I’ll  be back strong Sunday.   What’s on your mind?  Tell me somethin’ good-as Chaka Khan used to say.

The deadline for the first quarter of fundraising for Presidential candidates will pass in about one hour from now.  I expect an announcement from Obama and Hillary that they both cleared $25 million, what do you think?

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U.S. Senate backs troop withdrawal in ’08

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Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)

HAT TIP: HUFFINGTON POST DAVID ESPO  |  AP  |  March 27, 2007 07:31 PM EST

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Senate narrowly signaled support Tuesday for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by next March, triggering an instant veto threat from the White House in a deepening dispute between Congress and commander in chief.

Republican attempts to scuttle the nonbinding timeline failed, 50-48, largely along party lines.

The vote marked the Senate’s most forceful challenge to date of the administration’s handling of a war that has claimed the lives of more than 3,200 U.S. troops. It came days after the House approved a binding withdrawal deadline of Sept. 1, 2008, and increased the likelihood of a veto confrontation this spring.

After weeks of setbacks on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid said the moment was at hand to “send a message to President Bush that the time has come to find a new way forward in this intractable war.”

“It is a choice between staying the course in Iraq or changing the course in Iraq,” he said.

But Republicans _ and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent Democrat _ argued otherwise.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a presidential hopeful, said “we are starting to turn things around” in the Iraq war, and added that critics “conceive no failure as worse than remaining in Iraq and no success worthy of additional sacrifice. They are wrong.”

Bush had previously said he would veto any bill that he deemed an attempt to micromanage the war, and the White House freshened the threat a few hours before the vote _ and again afterward. “The president is disappointed that the Senate continues down a path with a bill that he will veto and has no chance of becoming law,” it said.

Similar legislation drew only 48 votes in the Senate earlier this month, but Democratic leaders made a change that persuaded Nebraska’s Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson to swing behind the measure.

Additionally, GOP Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon sided with the Democrats, assuring them of the majority they needed to turn back a challenge led by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. “The president’s strategy is taking America deeper and deeper into this quagmire with no exit strategy,” said Hagel, the most vocal Republican critic of the war in Congress.

Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to the Capitol in case his vote was needed to break a tie, a measure of the importance the administration places on the issue.

The debate came on legislation that provides $122 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as domestic priorities such relief to hurricane victims and payments to farmers. Final passage is expected Wednesday or Thursday.

Separately, a minimum wage increase was attached to the spending bill without controversy, along with companion tax cuts that the Republicans have demanded as the price for their support of the increase in the federal wage floor. The House and Senate have passed different versions of the minimum wage-tax package, but they have yet to reach a compromise.

The House has already passed legislation requiring troops to be withdrawn by Sept. 1, 2008. The Senate vote assured that the Democratic-controlled Congress would send Bush legislation later this spring that calls for a change in war policy. A veto appears to be a certainty.

That would put the onus back on the Democrats, who would have to decide how long they wanted to extend the test of wills in the face of what are likely to be increasingly urgent statements from the administration that the money is needed for troops in the war zone.

“I hope he will work with us so we can come up with something agreeable for both” sides, Reid said at a post-vote news conference. “But I’m not anxious to strip anything out of the bill.”

As drafted, the legislation requires a troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days, with a nonbinding goal that calls for the combat troops to be gone within a year.

The measure also includes a series of suggested goals for the Iraqi government to meet to provide for its own security, enhance democracy and distribute its oil wealth fairly _ provisions designed to attract support from Nelson and Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

Despite the change, Pryor voted with Republicans, saying he would only support a timeline if the date were secret.

The vote was a critical test for Reid and the new Democratic majority in the Senate nearly three months after they took power. Despite several attempts, they had yet to win approval for any legislation challenging Bush’s policies.
 

Obama does Florida

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Photo by Hanoian

By BRIAN SKOLOFF
Associated Press Writer

March 25, 2007, 3:00 PM CDT

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Iraq war is diminishing America’s standing in the world and diverting millions of dollars that should be spent on health care, education and alternative energy research in the United States, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama said Sunday.

“We have to recognize that if we don’t make some fundamental changes right now that we could be the first generation in a very long time that leaves an America behind that is a little poorer and a little meaner than the one we inherited from our parents, and that’s unacceptable,” Obama told a crowd of about 600 supporters at a fundraiser in West Palm Beach.

The Democratic presidential hopeful said all Americans should have universal health care, vehicles should be getting up to 60 miles per gallon, workers should get wage increases and education should be fully funded so the next generation can compete in the world market.

“But here’s the thing, we can’t initiate all these creative ideas to solve our domestic challenges if we don’t bring this war in Iraq to a close,” Obama said.

Several public opinion polls show Obama trailing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, with former vice president Al Gore in third, even though Gore has said he has no plans to run.

Obama lashed out at the Bush administration for an energy policy that gives money “to some of the most hostile nations on Earth,” while unchecked greenhouse gas emissions threaten the world’s climate.

Hillary goes after the sistah vote

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DSC_0077.jpg

photo by columbia

Hat Tip: NY Mag

Hillary Clinton’s campaign apparatus is now in full swing to court a part of the electorate she thought she had locked down in pre-Obama days: black women. According to one campaign source, Minyon Moore, a Hillary operative and former political director in Bill Clinton’s White House, held a strategy session last week with influential black women, like Marva Smalls (a top exec at Nickelodeon) and NYPD chaplain Suzan Johnson Cook, at Hillary’s Manhattan headquarters. “We’ve always said we need to earn every vote,” Moore says, and hopes the women will act as cheerleaders for Hillary. An ABC–Washington Post poll released last month shows that Hillary’s support among blacks has dropped dramatically (from 60 percent to 33 percent), and her support among women overall has dipped as well (from 49 percent to 40 percent)—owing almost exclusively to the fact that black women are now supporting Obama. “Black women will be key,” says Donna Brazile, a Dem strategist (still unaffiliated) and Al Gore’s former campaign manager. “What drives politics in the black community is the early support of black women. They drive the discourse. They pick a candidate, and stick with it.”

To be young, gifted, black, and locked up

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Prometheus 6 tipped me off to the situation involving Shaquanda Cotton.  Steady yourself before you read this.  Take your blood pressure pill and your nitro glycerin, have a drink, a smoke, a massage, or whatever you have to do to relax because after you read it, you’ll want some answers and won’t be quite up to hearing about, “The Audacity of Hope.”