The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
Kuhl, a freshman locked in a competitive race against Democrat Eric Massa, is one of the dozens of House Republicans for whom Cheney has campaigned this year. And he couldn't agree more with the vice president's assessment that combating terrorists around the world stands as the top issue of this campaign.
A flow of bad news from the war zone needs to be countered by a frank discussion of reality, he said.
A flow of bad news from the war zone needs to be countered by a frank discussion of reality? I agree with the need for a frank discussion of reality. There is no good choice left in Iraq. And staying the course, as Cheney and Kuhl suggest, simply isn't working. I have been recommending a Bosnian solution. Here is a section from an interview I recently did with, DragonFlyEye, one of the local blogs (link):
DFE: Bluntly, do you believe that Democracy is possible in Iraq?
EM: No, I do not.
DFE: If not, what do you believe is the next best alternative? Or the next most-likely alternative?
EM: Well, let's just review some fundamental realities: first off, the Iraqi people are not ignorant, they are not uneducated, they are not incapable of governing themselves. Something called the Hammurabi Code which was the first code of civil law written in the world that we have record of, some 3000 years ago, originated in Iraq. So there's a very long historical tradition of very highly-advanced cultures and governments in that part of the world. The fact that this did not include Jeffersonian Democracy does not diminish their capability to govern themselves.
It is a tribal, religious society where [power] and influence [flows] not only along religious and ethnic lines, but also along family and tribal lines. To interrupt and abruptly change and break that with the forced imposition at gunpoint of a Jeffersonian Democracy is to dismiss the very nature of the society and culture in which we have now thrust ourselves.
Based on that reality, the only way forward I see today - and it is not a very promising way forward, at that - is to apply what I call, based on my own personal experience, a Bosnian solution. In Bosnia, we faced a three-way ethnic, civil, religious war very similar to what we face in Iraq today. In Bosnia we created three semi-autonomous, economically viable states and allowed them to choose their form of federal government, and by-and-large, it has been very successful.
I can't tell you that Iraq is going to unravel and allow us to even attempt that, but what I can tell you is that if we do not announce today that we are leaving, and in the time it takes us to depart, do our best to implement the Bosnian solution, then I see no solution at all, certainly not "stay the course."
We just got in the latest round of polling data on my race to represent New York's 29th District in Congress and it looks very good. In April, when the race was first polled by Seacrest and Co., it showed us in a statistical tie. Now, five months later, after the Independence and Conservative party endorsements have been thrown to my opponent, and despite a five-point bump in President Bush's national approval rating, we are one of only a few challenger races that has not lost ground. According to the preliminary numbers I received at the end of the week, we are still in a statistical dead heat with Randy Kuhl.
There are a number of possible reasons for this, each more encouraging than the last. If the endorsements of the Independence and Conservative parties are worth approximately 9 points, as some Washington insiders assume, then that means either we have persuaded some of those voters to break party ranks, or we have offset that number by persuading an equal number of other voters. I tend to think that a combination of the two is most likely, especially in light of the most promising statistic yet: among voters who are familiar with both myself and my opponent (about 40% of registered voters) I enjoy a 2-to-1 lead. If you couple that with the figure that suggests that nearly 2/3 of voters would like to see a Democratic Congress, then the meaning is clear. Once we get the word out to more voters, their dissatisfaction with Randy Kuhl and his rubber-stamp politics will come out in full force. This already heated race just got a lot hotter.
I'd also like to tell you about an incredible event we held this past Friday in Rochester, NY. As I already alluded to above, my opponent, in an act of desperation, decided to bring Vice President Cheney to a secret fundraiser at the Rochester Convention Center (just outside the district, I might add). He'd already brought President Bush a while ago to try to sell the Medicare Part "Disaster" prescription drug plan to seniors, but that event, at least, was designed to be a way to speak to the community. This time, the only way anyone found out about Kuhl's high-profile, high-dollar event was from me. At a press conference a few weeks ago, when Senator Max Cleland was in town to discuss veterans issues, I personally released to the press a copy of an invitation to the secret Kuhl-Cheney fundraiser.
What rapidly became apparent was WHY they would want to keep this from the general public: an admission fee of $150/person, and a photo opportunity with the Vice President for an outrageous $1000/person or $2000/couple (to make sure no one got away with a freebee by buddy-ing up.) Asked for comment by the press, my opponent's office refused to answer. The Vice President's office confirmed a fundraising event on that day, but would not provide details. Apparently, the only people who were supposed to know about it were the super-rich Cheney fans who would want to pose for a photo with the least popular man in American politics. It was certainly meant to be kept a secret from the ordinary, hard-working men and women of the 29th District, at least until the flight plan for Air Force 2 was announced, and I can understand why--if Randy Kuhl wants to keep his seat, he needs to convince us that he is: A) one of us, and B) not just a Bush Administration rubber stamp. It undercuts all of that to bring Dick Cheney for a $1000/photo fundraiser that is well beyond the means of anyone who has to juggle rising costs for health care, education, and gasoline.
At any rate, on Friday, the day of the Vice-Presidential visit we decided to do something a bit different--a barbeque fundraiser in a town park with free hot dogs, hamburgers, and live music. To make it even more meaningful, and to remind everyone (including my opponent if he cared to take notice) what this is really about, we made the event a fundraiser not for my campaign, but for a local veterans charity. Instead of $1000 (or $2000) photos, I posed for pictures with anyone who wanted one--and the best part was we proved that we didn't need to bribe anyone into giving money. In just two hours, the crowd of 150 people raised nearly $1,200 for the Veterans Outreach Center. It may have been just enough to buy one photo with the VP, but it meant far more to me personally, and far more to the veterans of our community, than a five second photo op ever could.
I also want to mention the great work being done by local bloggers. In addition to great diaries by Ellicatt, optimusprime has written a lot about our race. He has some great photos of protests that were going on during the Cheney event here. Although she actually doesn't live in my district, Buffalo Girl has written a lot about our race. She has her own blog here. In addition, there are a lot of local blogs that write about the 29th district. I've already mentioned DragonFlyEye. Zinnian Democracy has also written about the race. Rochester Turning covers our race a lot. The Fighting 29th is dedicated specifically to the 29th district. The Rural Patriot also covers our race a lot. Art of the possible mostly covers Elmira and Corning, both in the 29th district. Thanks to all of them and to whatever others I might have missed.
All in all, this has been an excellent week for Team Massa. Our Netroots push to out-raise Cheney may not have quite surpassed the mark, but at the $5,000 a minute that he can raise by just standing and smiling (or not scowling, anyway), we were going to be hard-pressed to get there. Even so, it looks like the Cheney event fell far short of the $175,000 that Kuhl's campaign had predicted in advance, with early reports putting the total take from the event coming in closer to $87,000. We'll have to wait until the next round of FEC reports to know for sure. Our online fundraiser is ongoing (donate here) and next week we hope to have some numbers to share. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.
Also, I was honored to be the subject of a fundraising email from my friend, and former boss, General Wes Clark. WesPAC sent a call to its extensive list of supporters to tell them about my campaign and to ask for their assistance. As always, I appreciate their help and continue to be deeply honored by Wes Clark's friendship and support. You can see discussion of this at his site SecuringAmerica.com.