Capitol Hillbillies

Democrats get butts kicked…again

The Senate Thursday crushed a latest, and largely symbolic attempt by anti-war Democrats to cut off funding for most Iraqi combat operations by next June.

Only 28 Senators, all Democrats, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama backed the measure, which fell 32 votes short of the 60 vote supermajority it needed to pass.

The bill, co-sponsored by Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and Senator Russ Feingold, would have allowed funding only for a strictly limited US mission, based on training Iraqi forces and targeted counter-terrorism operations.

Leaving the GOP

Lincoln D. Chafee, who lost his Senate seat in the wave of anti-Republican sentiment in last November’s election, said that he has left the party.

Chafee said Sunday he disaffiliated with the party he had helped lead, and his father had led before him, because the national Republican Party has gone too far away from his stance on too many critical issues, from war to economics to the environment.

“It’s not my party any more,” he said.

Another terrorist training ground

Outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces have been targeted by hostile fire in just one other place on the planet recently.

Though little noticed outside of the Pentagon, the attack occurred last week (Sept. 11) in Mali, a northwest African state that the Pentagon fears could become home to training bases or other havens for terrorists.

A U.S. C-130 transport plane was hit by machine-gun fire after it dropped seven tons of food to Malian government soldiers fending off Tuareg rebels near the border with Algeria. No U.S. troops were injured and the plane suffered minor damage.

McCain: Bush was unrealistic about Iraq

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Saturday that voters are frustrated with the war in Iraq because of the Bush administration’s unrealistic projections early in the conflict.

The Arizona senator told reporters he was pleased with Gen. David Petraeus’ testimony before Congress this past week because it “did not present this totally rosy scenario. That’s why Americans are frustrated today.”

He blamed “different administration officials” for that. “It’s all the president’s responsibility,” McCain said, but those reporting to him were also responsible.

Iraq report leaves Dems scrambling

Democrats on Wednesday battled to scotch the notion that General David Petraeus’s upbeat report on his troop surge strategy had punctured their drive to bring US troops home from Iraq.

Party leaders said they would launch a new attempt in the Senate next week to change the mission of the war, though Petraeus’s marathon testimony in Congress appeared to have bought more time for President George W. Bush.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Bush’s expected announcement in a televised address Thursday that he would reduce US troop levels by 30,000 to pre-surge levels by mid-2008 did not go far enough.

“This is unacceptable to me, this is unacceptable to the American people,” Reid said.

‘I did have sex with that man…Senator Vitter’

A former New Orleans prostitute who will be featured in Larry Flynt’s Hustler magazine appeared at his office Tuesday to accuse Sen. David Vitter of having a sexual relationship with her in 1999. Wendy Ellis told reporters that Vitter visited her two to three times a week for sexual relations between July and November 1999.

Flynt produced parts of an Aug. 22 polygraph test that he said confirmed her account, but Ellis could provide no financial records, photographs or other evidence to support her assertion that the Louisiana Republican was a client during that time.

Still hurting from the Mark Foley scandal

They were the ones who got hurt the most.

They watched admiringly as their hero climbed the political ladder. They gave him pats on the back, hugged him and sent roses to his office in Washington. One group even created a fan club because they believed he could do no wrong.

Now, they refer to Mark Foley in the past tense.

Show & tell time on Iraq war

Democrats and moderate Republicans in Congress have tough questions for a top military commander in Iraq who is warning against major changes to President Bush’s war strategy.

Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker were scheduled to testify Monday in the first of three hearings this week on the future course of the unpopular 4-year-old war. Officials familiar with their thinking told The Associated Press over the weekend that the advisers will acknowledge disappointing progress in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bid to achieve national reconciliation but would urge Congress to maintain the U.S. troop buildup to preserve local security gains.

Congressman loses it at airport

Rep. Bob Filner stormed into a United Airlines baggage office at Dulles International Airport, barged past other customers, screamed at employees and repeatedly pushed a female baggage worker, according to a criminal complaint.

“You can’t stop me!” the California Democrat yelled.

“The police can,” replied the baggage worker, Joanne Kay Kunkel.

Filner backed off only when he heard another employee on the phone with airport police, says the complaint, which offers more details on an Aug. 19 incident that resulted in misdemeanor assault and battery charges against Filner.

Hagel says he’s had enough

Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a persistent Republican critic of the Iraq war, intends to announce on Monday he will not seek a third term, according to Republican officials.

The officials also said Hagel does not plan to run for the White House in 2008, despite earlier flirting with a candidacy.

The 60-year-old senator arranged a news conference for Monday in Omaha, Neb., to make his formal announcement. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the event.