Breaking: MSNBC reporting that Senator Edwards will drop out of the Presidential race. Here’s more from the AP:

The two-time White House candidate notified a close circle of senior advisers that he planned to make the announcement at a 1 p.m. EST event in New Orleans that had been billed as a speech on poverty, according to two of his advisers. The decision came after Edwards lost the four states to hold nominating contests so far to rivals who stole the spotlight from the beginning — Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

From commenter MikeMc:

I’m an Obama supporter, so this is hard to say. John Edwards, in my opinion, won every debate. I can’t understand how he could never seem to gain any traction. Even though he isn’t my guy this is kind of spirit crushing. Everyone on the boards here know how hard the Clinton/Obama people attack each other. It gets fucking ugly! The Edwards folks, always passionate, never seem to draw their guns. All of Edward’s supporters should be extremely proud of the way they conduct themselves on this site. You are a class act, as was your candidate. John Edwards was, and is, a truly honorable man. I’ll miss him!


On the economic stimulus front, while the House yesterday passed the package Speaker Pelosi and Boehner "negotiated" last week, Democratic Senators proposed a $10 billion bigger plan that includes unemployment benefits and more money for food stamps, but also removes the income caps on the tax rebates — meaning that even the very wealthy will get $500 – $1000 rebates.

In his SOTU speech, Bush warned Congress against loading up the stimulus bill and increasing the deficit, but if you’re worried that we might ruin the economy over this fight, you can relax. As Krugman and other economists are pointing out, the Bush Administration has had a massive economic stimulus program in effect since 2001: cutting taxes by trillions and using deficit spending to fund a multi-trillion dollar war. With the possible exception of World War II, it may be the most expansionist fiscal policy in our history — and we’re still slipping into a recession because of other factors.

So whatever one thinks about the merits of individual components, and how they’re tilted towards those who don’t really need it as much, the $10 billion difference between the Senate and House stimulus packages probably doesn’t make much difference to the economy.


File under pet peeves: this AP story carries the headline, "US troop reductions may slow or stop," while the same story at the NYT by Stoleberg and Shanker proclaims, "At White House, Second Look at a Plan to Reduce Troops." When will the media get it straight that the regime has no plans to end the occupation?

The thrust is that Bush might have to slow down "his plans" to remove even more troops from Iraq than he put in for the surge, if the progress produced by the surge doesn’t continue. What plans?

For the umpteenth time, the limitations on total US forces and the mathematics of 15 month tours require that the US withdraw about one Army combat brigade and a Marine Battalion or so every month until June. It has nothing to do with whether or not we’re making progress, whether the Iraqi security forces can pick up the slack (they can’t), or anything else. And whatever flexibility Petraeus hoped to have after June is gone because at least one brigade is already being sent to Afghanistan, again leaving us with little strategic reserves. Why can’t the media get these basic facts, which have been out there for months?

All the talk about withdrawing substantially more troops than the surge added is just misdirection. Today’s NYT editorial notes the signing statement Bush attached to the twice passed, once vetoed Pentagon funding appropriation signals an endless occupation.

It’s glaringly obvious why Mr. Bush rejected the fourth provision, which states that none of the money authorized for military purposes may be used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq.

It is more evidence, as if any were needed, that Mr. Bush never intended to end this war, and that he still views it as the prelude to an unceasing American military presence in Iraq.

Any supposed "plan" to withdraw more troops is completely inconsistent with the Administration’s policy to remain in Iraq indefinitely, to sign a permanent "status of forces" agreement without Congress’ consent, and to undermine restrictions on permanent bases. The realitiy is the regime must retain a large combat force in Iraq to keep the 80,000 man Sunni militia we’ve armed and paid for from turning on the Shia government that refuses to accept them; and they want to keep a strategic force in Iraq as a check on Iran.



John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley