Christmas preparations are going slow this year. I do have our son's stocking stuffed with good things, though. And Starbuck's is serving my annual seasonal favorite coffee drink - peppermint mocha. So, there's that.
So, I watched the press conference this morning President Bush had with the White House Press vultures. Nothing but negativity from those folks. One guy actually apologized before he asked his question. All the news is bad, they have to have a Dem in the White House again.
Here's a little wrap up of it.
First, the President said he was happy that the Senate was taking up the Peru free trade agreement today.
Second, the President said there are three groups of people that are all waiting for Congress to get off the dime and do their work : the American troops are waiting for their funding, the Intelligence professionals are waiting for Congress to re-up on the legislation set to expire in February, and the taxpayer is waiting for Congress to take care of the AMT so thousands of middle class families won't be stuck with an additional $2,000, at least, tax bill or late refunds.
Today in the Union Leader, Senators McCain and Lieberman wrote an op ed together. The article's title tells you all you need to know: "It's inexcusable for Congress not to fund troops in Iraq." "As every major new outlet now acknowledges, security has improved dramatically across Iraq since Gen. Petraeus took command and began implementing a bold new counterinsurgency strategy - the so-called "surge". Today, rocket and mortar attacks have dropped to their lowest levels in 21 months. Car bombs and suicide attacks in Baghdad have plummeted 70 percent. Iraqi civilian casualties are sharply down throughout Iraq. And the number of U.S. soldiers killed in action has fallen for five straight months and is now at the lowest level in nearly two years." The surge is progressing well. Troops are coming home. Well you wouldn't know that to see the news, but they are. Get the money to them to finish the job and let them all come home.
"Just as we demand Iraqi leaders take advantage of the success of the surge to set aside their sectarian agendas and pursue peace, so too it is time for Congress to stop playing senseless partisan games and instead fund our troops - who have accomplished so much - without delay. They deserve nothing less". Well said, Senators.
Next, the President mentioned that 11 out of 12 annual spending bills are unfinished, not to mention historically late. He said the taxpayers deserve better than the megabill that the Dem leaders think will be a swell solution, putting them all together with lots of additional pork spending. He continues to vow to veto it if that happens.
Then he took questions. Iran was the first thing on their minds, with the NIE report coming out in the press yesterday. The Intelligence Community has come together as a multi-agency entity and declared that Iran stopped their nuclear program in 2003. Though they state there was no program in the first place, but never mind that. According to the President, the intelligence community reforms make this report's findings reliable. Yes, that was a question from the press. The very people so doubtful and critical of the intelligence community after they were shown to be incompetent about Saddam's wmd program now embrace this report as the gospel since they think it'll prove there is no need to be concerned about Iran.
Not so fast. Iran continues to learn about uranium enrichment, necessary for a nuclear weapon program, and the report does warn that the program can be re-started if enough enrichment were to occur. President Bush said it is important for the American people to know the facts. David Gregory asked if the President had this report 3 months ago why did he make the WWIII remark in the press conference last month, you stupid lying neocon? OK, the stupid lying neocon was muttered in his head. It was distinctly implied. Well, the President didn't see or wasn't briefed on the report until a couple of days ago. Butthead. OK, the butthead was muttered in his head. It was distinctly implied.
"Iran was dangerous. Iran is dangerous. Iran will be dangerous," President G.W. Bush.
The President said now is the time to convince the Iranians that there is a better way forward.
Michael Ledeen, an expert in all things Iranian and U.S. intelligence, thinks the report is flawed as the report implies that if there is no active nuclear program then there is no rush to go up against the mullahs. From the report: "Although the officials as a rule, respecting the norms of their craft, declined to offer policy prescriptions based on their findings, the most senior official present did cite the finding that the Iranians are susceptible to international pressure and say that such pressure should "continue" as a way to "allow IAEA to have significant visibility into the program." Ledeen cites this as blatantly unprofessional.
The question is why would the Iranians abandon a program in the first place? The report claims the Iranians are rational and respond to international pressure. The pressure was so great from outside that they just shut down their program, you see.
What planet are these 'intelligence professionals' on anyway? The all male panel, by the way, so much for the progressive intelligentsia, thinks the mullahs are rational human beings? Ledeen thinks the document will be unable to stand up to serious criticism. No real solutions or policy ideas are present in the report. Only the attitude that there is no real need to be concerned with Iran.
Never mind the 'death to America' chants. Never mind the cult within radical Islam that believes in the 12th Imam, though Iran bases its domestic and foreign policy on that belief, according to Ledeen. And, as Ledeen points out, if the uranium enrichment program has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, why do they continue to hide such activity? And deny it outright, too.
Serious times call for serious people. It's distinctly implied.