Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lieberman: U.S. May Be Attacked In 2009

This is wishful thinking on the part of the neocon leader from Connecticut.

In describing the reasons he believes the Republicans' presumptive nominee for president would be better prepared than the Democrats' to lead the nation next January, Sen. Joe Lieberman said that history shows the United States would likely face a terrorist attack in 2009.

"Our enemies will test the new president early," Lieberman, I-Conn., told Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer. "Remember that the truck bombing of the World Trade Center happened in the first year of the Clinton administration. 9/11 happened in the first year of the Bush administration."

Lieberman nonetheless distanced himself from remarks by McCain chief strategist Charlie Black, who came under criticism for suggesting in an interview that McCain's election chances would be improved if a terrorist attack occurred before November.

"Sometimes even the best of them say things that are not what they intended to say," Lieberman said. "Certainly the implications there I know were not what Charlie intended. And he apologized for it. Senator McCain said he didn't agree. And, of course, I feel the same way.

"But here's the point. We're in a war against Islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11. They've been trying to attack us in many, many ways since then."

A former Democratic nominee for vice president, Lieberman endorsed McCain for president because, he says, the Democratic Party he joined in the early 1960s is not reflected by the party's current leadership.

He also said that he feels McCain is better prepared to be commander in chief than Barack Obama. "[McCain] knows the world," Lieberman said. "He's been tested. He's ready to protect the security of the American people."

Lieberman also assailed Obama and fellow Senators who called for a timetable of withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and opposed the "surge" of additional U.S. forces pushed forth by President Bush.

"It's now working," Lieberman told Schieffer. "If we had done what Senator Obama asked us to do for the last couple of years, today Iran and al Qaeda would be in control of Iraq. It would be a terrible defeat for us and our allies in the Middle East and throughout the world. Instead, we've got a country that's defending itself, that's growing economically, where there's been genuine political reconciliation, and where Iran and al Qaeda are on the run. And that's the way it ought to be."

However, McCain's readiness was disputed by retired General Wesley Clark, who is backing Obama for president, despite McCain's storied military experience in Vietnam. "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," he said.

"I think Joe has it exactly backwards here," Clark told Schieffer. "I think being president is about having good judgment. It's about the ability to communicate. And what Barack Obama brings is incredible communication skills, proven judgment. You look at his meteoric rise in politics and you see a guy who deals with people well, who understands issues, who brings people together, and who has good judgment in moving forward.

Meet The Press Transcript: Schwarzenegger Grilled

Tom Brokaw has taken over for Tim Russert. And during this program he proved he could be just as tough a questioner. Read the entire transcript.

MR. BROKAW: I can continue the tough questions.


MR. BROKAW: When you ran for governor in 2003, you ran as a fiscal conservative who would change the system. You would bring businesslike techniques. Now you're facing a $15 million deficit here in California. Unemployment is running at about 6.8 percent. You've got the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. If you were the CEO of a public company, the board would probably say, "It's time to go."

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: Are you always that positive? I can't believe it. Well, first of all, let just say that we are very happy that since I've come into office that we've changed a lot of things and improved California and got California back on its feet, and started paying off some of the debt and started to rebuild California for the first time in four decades, and fixed worker's compensation, and all kinds of great things happened. And the most important thing is that I was able to bring Democrats and Republicans together. Now, that doesn't mean that when you are doing a good job that the economy doesn't go down eventually. What goes up must come down, and I think that we see that nationwide. We see other states are struggling, the country is struggling, people are struggling, and I think we see it now all over the world. And I think the key thing for it is to again, bring everyone together and just start right away with an economic stimulus package, which of course is done on a national level, but also each state has the responsibility to do that.

MR. BROKAW: But when you came in, Governor, you said that spending was out of control here, and your rate of increase in spending is about the same as your predecessor, Governor Gray Davis. It's running about, what, 34 percent since you took office upward.

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, Tom, as you know, you've been around long enough to know that the numbers are misleading, because we've paid off a lot of debt, and that is counted in the spending. So I'm very proud that we paid off a lot of the debt, and that we got the economy going again, and that we also got the state jump-started in rebuilding again, the roads, the levees, the schools, expanding our universities, building more career educational facilities. And we're now in the middle of negotiating, also, water infrastructure so that we can secure the water and provide reliable, safe, good water for the people of California, not two or three years from now, but 40, 50 years from now. So I think there's all kinds of great things happening. The key thing is to continue moving on and moving forward. If it is infrastructure, if it is health care reform, education reform, and all the things that we set out to do, and we're going to continue on. Like I said, the most important thing is that both of the parties work together to accomplish all of those things, because with just one party you could never do it.

MR. BROKAW: It appears that the people, however, have some real questions about your leadership. Your approval rating has gone from, what, 60 percent in December down to about 40 percent recently. It's tough to govern under those circumstances.

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: Not at all. I'm having a great time as governor of California, and it is a very challenging job and I've always known that when I get into that it would be a challenging job, but it's the most exciting job and it also is a job that gives me the satisfaction to serve the people of California, because I think that California has given me everything that I have. If it is my body building career, my acting career, the money that I've made, everything, my family, everything is because of California. So this is a way of giving something back. And I don't shy away from the challenges, never did. I'm very, you know, persistent in continuing moving forward. So, you know, it's, it's all about leadership and bringing people together and solving those problems. That's the key thing. And California is the greatest place in the world, and we're going to keep it that way.

Say What!? How is this not doublespeak?
MR. BROKAW: You have a lot of propositions on the ballot again this fall. One of them would mean a constitutional ban on gay marriages. Do you support that?

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I think the Supreme Court made a decision there. It was apparently unconstitutional to stop anyone from getting married. It's like 1948, the interracial marriage, when the Supreme Court of California has, you know, decided it was unconstitutional and then later on the Supreme Court of the United States followed, I think 10 or 12 years later. So I think it is, it's good that California lead--is leading in this way. I personally believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But at the same time I think that my, you know, belief, I don't want to force on anyone else, so I think we should stay with the decision of the Supreme Court and move forward. There are so many other more important issues that we have to address in California. So I think to spend any time on this initiative I think is a waste of time.

Congress Debates While Housing Crisis Gets Worse

This article is from the NY Times:

When Congress started fashioning a sweeping rescue package for struggling homeowners earlier this year, 2.6 million loans were in trouble. But the problem has grown considerably in just six months and is continuing to worsen.

More than three million borrowers are in distress, and analysts are forecasting a couple of million more will fall behind on their payments in the coming year as home prices fall further and the economy weakens.

Those stark numbers not only illustrate the challenges for the lawmakers trying to provide some relief to their constituents but also hint at what the next administration will be facing after the election. While the proposed program would help some homeowners, analysts say it would touch only a small fraction of those in trouble — the Congressional Budget Office estimates it would be used by 400,000 borrowers — and would do little to bolster the housing market.

“It’s not enough, even in the best of circumstances,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s The number of people who will be helped “is going to be overwhelmed by the three million that are headed toward default.”

Last week, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to advance the bill, and the House passed a version last month. Because of procedural delays in ironing out differences between the two houses, the Senate is not expected to pass the bill until after the Fourth of July recess.

The bill would let lenders and borrowers refinance troubled mortgages into more affordable 30-year fixed-rate loans that are backed by the government. Democratic leaders say Congress could send something to the president next month.

The White House, which initially threatened to veto the measure, has indicated that it is open to supporting the bill if certain provisions are removed.

“The Congress needs to come together and pass responsible housing legislation to help more Americans keep their homes,” President Bush said on Thursday.

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and a central force behind the legislation, said on Friday that recent reports about falling home prices have rallied support for the plan. But he acknowledged that the plan may not do enough to help homeowners or the housing market. Mr. Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said that even after a bill like this, “you may need more.”

Other proposals that have been floated in Washington include expanding the current plan to make it mandatory instead of voluntary for certain home loans; having the government buy loans outright from lenders; and providing some way and some incentives to let homeowners become renters in their own homes.

[...]The biggest impediment to helping homeowners is the weak economy. In addition to falling home prices and risky loans, homeowners are now confronting a tough job market. The unemployment rate has risen to 5.5 percent, up from 4.9 percent in January.

U.S. Army History Slams Post-Invasion Iraq Plan-Report

More truth getting out:

A new Army history of the Iraq conflict faults the invasion's top U.S. commander for his sudden decision to overhaul the Baghdad-based military command, The New York Times said in its Sunday edition.

The 696-page report, set for release on Monday, focuses on the 18 months after U.S. President George W. Bush announced in May 2003 that major combat operations in Iraq were over, the Times said.

"On Point II: Transitions to the New Campaign" concludes that Gen. Tommy R. Franks' decision, opposed by the Army's vice chief of staff, led to a short-staffed headquarters led by a newly promoted three-star general.

"The move was sudden and caught most of the senior commanders in Iraq unaware," the military historians concluded, according to the Times report.

The unclassified study, based on 200 interviews conducted by military historians, also says the new headquarters "was not configured for the types of responsibilities it received."

Gen. Franks, speaking through an aide, told the Times he had discussed the Iraq invasion in his book and that he had not yet seen the study.

Meanwhile, the killing continues in Iraq:
A truck bomb detonated by remote control north of Baghdad killed six policemen and a member of a local group of Sunni volunteers who have turned against the insurgents, police said.

The truck was parked along the side of a road in Duluiyah, some 45 miles north of Baghdad, and exploded as police entered the vehicle to search it, said police Col. Mohammed Khalid.

In other violence, gunmen killed the head of Basra's intelligence department Saturday night in a drive-by shooting in eastern Baghdad, local police said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.