Sen Harry Reid appears to be caving in to GOP refusal to set a deadline for troop withdrawal Personally, I have had it with the two party system and this is why…

Reid convened an all-night session that infuriated Republicans, who blocked a Democratic withdrawal measure. Despite antiwar stirrings within the GOP, just four Republican senators broke ranks on the vote, and several chastised Reid, saying he wasted the Senate’s time on a publicity stunt.

Reid then dropped the war debate, hoping to highlight Republican obstructionism. But the delay has provided the administration with breathing room to build its case that Bush’s strategy is working. Petraeus is expected to report to Congress next month that there are some signs of progress in Iraq and that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal could be disastrous.

“I don’t think we had any choice,” Reid said, shrugging off past skirmishes. “I have no regrets about the way that I have tried to marshal the troops. It’s been hard to keep all the Democrats together, but we’ve done that.”

But looking forward, Reid said he will encourage new coalitions to develop, with a more bipartisan hue. “There is no reason that this be Democrat versus Republican,” he said. But his GOP colleagues, he added, must be willing to stand up to Bush, as few have so far.

Meanwhile, Petreaus glorifies the unglorifiable

THE US troop surge in Iraq has thrown al-Qa’ida off balance and produced a dramatic reduction in sectarian killings and a drop in roadside bombings.

David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said the build-up of American forces in Baghdad since late January had produced positive outcomes. These included the killing or capture of al-Qa’ida fighters, causing the terrorist group to lose influence with local Sunnis.

The strategic gains against insurgents would lead to a changed and possibly longer-term role for Australian troops, shifting from security operations to a focus on training Iraqi soldiers and police.

General Petraeus told The Australian during a face-to-face interview at his Baghdad headquarters there had been a 75 per cent reduction in religious and ethnic killings since last year, a doubling in the seizure of insurgents’ weapons caches between January and August, a rise in the number of al-Qa’ida “kills and captures” and a fall in the number of coalition deaths from roadside bombings.

This rosy assessment contradicts other reports to the contrary and has divided military leaders at the Pentagon

A draft of the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was leaked to the Washington Post by an official “who feared that its pessimistic conclusions would be watered down” by the Department of Defense and other government agencies prior to the release of the final report, the Post reported on Thursday.

Then we have this tidbit which hardly demonstrates a surging success. Thank goodness some of our lawmakers finally got a real taste of what our troops are going through every day.

A military cargo plane carrying three senators and a House member was forced to take evasive maneuvers and dispatch flares to avoid ground fire after taking off from Baghdad on Thursday night.

The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes as they left for Amman, Jordan.

“It was a scary moment,” said Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who said he had just taken off his body armor when he saw a bright flash outside the window. “Our pilots were terrific. … They banked in one direction and then banked the other direction, and they set off the flares.”

What has our democratic majority done to end this war?