Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Poll

The Lycoming College Polling Institute released its first poll for the 10th Congressional District.

The poll sampled 460 likely voters and found that Chris Carney (45.7%) holds a ten-point lead over Chris Hackett (36.1%). The margin of error for the poll being 4.6%.
The Institute's Director Jonathan Williamson added that Carney's efforts to build support among Republicans and Independents appears to be paying dividends.

Just looking through some of the polls that Lycoming put out in the 2006 race:

September '06 (804 likely voters):
Carney -- 46.7%
Sherwood -- 38.2%
Undecided -- 14.7%
*Margin of Error -- 3.5%

October '06 (643 likely voters):
Carney -- 47%
Sherwood -- 38.4%
Undecided -- 14.6%
*Margin of Error -- 3.9%

Of course, the '06 race turned out to break 53% to 47% in Carney's direction. Therefore, the two polls that Lycoming put out before the race were statistically correct in their victory margin for Carney (assuming the margin of error).

It has to frustrating for the Hackett campaign to square this poll with the Survey USA poll which showed a statistical dead heat in the race. Essentially a month after that poll, with further expectiations building for a Republican upset, the new Lycoming poll shows Hackett to be in the same statistical position that Sherwood was in two-years ago.

However, two points to keep in mind. First, Don Sherwood was not able to make up any ground on Carney largely due to self-inflicted wounds (i.e. his affair and abuse allegations) whereas Hackett is relatively new to the political scene and has wild card ability to change the race dynamics in the next month.

Second point of consideration, the number of undecided voters is larger in this poll than it was in 2006. Mark Harris is correct in noting that Hackett still has five weeks until election day to get his message out, and it could be that those five weeks that make or break the Hackett campaign. Assuming the polling percentages are firm, Hackett would need to woo 8 out of every 10 undecided voters in the district. May seem like a tall order, but in a district that is relatively heavy in the Republican department, you have to appreciate--if not like--your campaign odds.

Vote Reaction

I'm sure you have heard enough, but some reaction to yesterday's bailout vote:
  • Carney: "I could not vote for a measure that bails out years of unmitigated Wall Street failings at the expense of our hardworking taxpayers. This bailout bill does not provide any source of revenue to pay for its enormous costs, which is not fair to our middle class families that have played by the rules, but are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of their daily expenses. Where is their bailout? It allows the payment of regular inflated salaries to executives of bailed-out firms. Any executive that feels his bonus is too low can ask his firm for a multi-million dollar increase in base salary that is simply unacceptable to the taxpayers who are shouldering the burden of paying for Wall Street’s greed. This type of tough legislation requires genuine oversight in the process. As it stands now, the oversight board can make suggestions for improvements, but has no means to enforce them. We need tough regulations with real teeth. We need to assess the current situation and thoughtfully consider long-term solutions to stabilize our economy, not pass hurried legislation. It might calm the markets today, but the underlying problems remain. We cannot allow Wall Street to borrow its way out of the current fiscal mess. I could not support this legislation, nor could I support measures to allow Congress to adjourn when it is clear that more work needs to be done to ensure the stability of our nation’s economy."
  • Peterson: "Having served in the United State Congress for six terms - 12 years - this was one of the toughest votes in my legislative career. My decision to cast a vote in favor of this economic rescue package was a decision that I wrestled with for days, and today reluctantly supported... The option to support or oppose this legislation in my eyes is the difference between possible success and driving further into a recession. While this legislation did not guarantee stabilization of the financial markets, it was the only solution on the table to address a looming crisis....Let me be clear, the legislation that was voted on today (Monday) was not the Bush Administration proposal, rather, it was a bipartisan compromise that protected the taxpayer by eliminating excessive executive pay and so called golden parachutes and was designed so that Wall Street, not Main Street, would be responsible for any potential losses."
  • Kanjorski: "Today the House of Representatives voted down the economic recovery plan that the President, Treasury Secretary Paulson, and bipartisan leaders in both the House and Senate told us was necessary to avoid the collapse of the American economy. People must understand that we are not bailing out Wall Street; we are rescuing the middle class on Main Street. Congress must get this job done no matter how long it takes. It is my hope that over the next several days we can all work together to agree upon a plan which puts the interests of average Americans first, as their retirement savings, pensions, and investments continue to dwindle by the minute. Already I have spoken with local businesspeople who are having difficulty obtaining credit to cover their payrolls or borrow money to expand their operations. Unless we unfreeze our credit markets very quickly, these problems will only increase. I will work for as long as it takes until we are able to reach a majority to enact legislation which both protects American taxpayers and stabilizes the American economy."

The challengers:
  • Barletta: "I like that the bailout bill included some punishment for failed CEOs. But the bailout bill doesn’t include a clear call for an independent investigation into why this happened, which is what I called for from the beginning."
  • Hackett: "[While glad Carney voted against it] But let’s not be fooled; Chris Carney has voted for numerous corporate welfare handouts, including $25 billion for the auto industry just last week. I wish Carney would side with taxpayers when the public spotlight isn’t on him and an election is right around the corner."
[As a side note, The Hill had an interesting article yesterday--which specifically referred to the 10th District--on how challengers in competitive races (as well as open-seat candidates) were quick and early to offer up hard "no's" on the financial rescue measures while vulnerable incumbents were forced to ponder their vote, but eventually succumbed to the political pressure. ]

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Vote

The financial rescue measure failed in the House this afternoon by a vote of 205-228.

Along the Pennsylvania delegation line, the vote was pretty split with the majority--ten members--voting against it. The only Republican who voted for it was John Peterson:
Brady (D-1st): Yes
Fattah (D-2nd): Yes
English (R-3rd): No
Altmire (D-4th): No
Peterson (R-5th): Yes
Gerlach (R-6th): No
Sestak (D-7th): Yes
Murphy (D-8th): Yes
Shuster (R-9th): No
Carney (D-10th): No
Kanjorski (D-11th): Yes
Murtha (D-12th): Yes
Schwartz (D-13th): Yes
Doyle (D-14th): Yes
Dent (R-15th): No
Pitts (R-16th): No
Holden (D-17th): No
Murphy (R-18th): No
Platts (R-19th): No

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Club For Growth Ad

Today, The Club For Growth put out an ad attacking Chris Carney.

Of course, these are the attacks that Carney has fought to correct. Last week, the Daily Item had a story entitled "What is your opponent saying about you that is untrue?".

The Hackett campaign responded by hammering home the earmark issue:

“By stopping the corrupt earmark system, we will save the taxpayers of our district from having to pay for a Mule Museum in California, a Lobster Institute in Maine and thousands of other wasteful projects all across the country that Chris Carney has supported because of his allegiance to the pork spending system.”

However, Carney responded by trying to correct the tax issue:
“Taxes: The truth is, Carney has fought for middle-class tax cuts, and across-the-board tax cuts for small businesses and veterans. He introduced Made in America tax cuts for manufacturers and businesses aimed at keeping and creating jobs right here in America. Hackett called the bill a campaign gimmick instead of acknowledging the bill’s bipartisan support and the need for Congress to do everything in its power to stimulate and strengthen our economy. Carney also introduced the Caregiver Tax Credit — which allows families to better take care of aging relatives; tax cuts for veterans and military families, and has voted for tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class including a fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The only taxes Chris Hackett wants to cut are those for millionaires — like the ones he pays.”

Update On Carney Autism Briefing

It appears Chris Carney (or staffer) did not attend the Rep. Maloney's vaccine-autism briefing.

The sign-in sheet does show that staffers from other PA delegation offices were in attendance:
  • Robert Brady (D-1st)
  • Charlie Dent (R-15th)
  • John Murtha (D-12th)
  • Todd Russell Platts (R-19th)
  • Bill Shuster (R-9th)

On The Bailout

Daily Item article regarding Carney and Hackett on the financial rescue.

Carney argues that the bailout must include more regulation, federal oversight, insurance against executive compensation, and protection for homeowners. Said Carney, “Most of us are not inclined to give a blank check to (Treasury Secretary Henry) Paulson on his word of ‘Trust me’.”

Hackett was also skeptical that the bailout could end the financial crisis on its own, but made reference to the budgetary implications by stating that “some types of actions would make our long-term economic outlook much worse, and should be rejected."

The 5 Hackett Principles for any bailout package

  • Guarantees that if these bailouts are successful, any taxpayer cost would be offset by returns that return to taxpayers rather than company executives and shareholders;

  • Reform of government policies that contributed to the financial meltdown, including terminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s status as Government Sponsored Enterprises, to prevent the kinds of high-risk mortgages that led to the current crisis.

  • Structure multiple entities (a minimum of five) to compete for the purchase of troubled assets, limited to residential home mortgages. Rather than Treasury Department control, have an independent board of directors who report quarterly to Congress on progress and results.

  • Do not allow the current crisis to be used as an excuse to push additional special-interest corporate bailouts that have no comparable systemic economic implications, such as the $25 billion being requested by the auto industry.

  • Reduce tax burdens on investments and real estate to attract new private capital to U.S. markets, thereby relieving the pressure to call upon taxpayers to provide public capital.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lot of Trust Involved

From Peter Orszag's--Congressional Budget Office Director--testimony today before the House Budget Committee regarding the budgetary implications of the proposed bailout:
"At this time, given the lack of specificity regarding how the program would be implemented and even what asset classes would be purchased, CBO cannot provide a meaningful estimate of the ultimate net cost of the Administration’s proposal. The Secretary would have the authority to purchase virtually any asset, at any price, and sell it at any future date; the lack of specificity regarding how that authority would be implemented makes it impossible at this point to provide a quantitative analysis of the net cost to the federal government."
"CBO expects that the Treasury would probably fully use its $700 billion authority in fiscal year 2009 to purchase various troubled assets. To finance those purchases, the Treasury would have to sell debt to the public. Federal debt held by the public would therefore initially rise by about $700 billion. Nevertheless, CBO expects that, over time, the net cash disbursements under the program would be substantially less than $700 billion, because, ultimately, the government would sell the acquired assets and thus generate income that would offset at least much of the initial cost."
Added cost:
"In addition to any net gain or loss on the purchase of $700 billion or more in assets, the government would also incur significant administrative costs for the proposed program. Those costs would depend on what kinds of assets were purchased. On the basis of the costs incurred by private investment firms that acquire, manage, and sell similar assets, CBO expects that the administrative costs of operating the program could amount to a few billion dollars per year, as long as the government held all or most of the purchased assets."
Some food for thought...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Where Is Carney On Autism?

The Age of Autism is reporting that Chris Carney will be attending Rep. Carolyn Maloney's (D-NY) briefing on vaccines and autism this coming Wednesday.

Rep. Maloney has long been focused on autism, and her intention to address autism is certainly admirable--one that most members of Congress have not highlighted. Yet, Maloney has been fighting the wrong team on this issue by continuing to attack vaccines and encouraging parents to question their effects. Maloney has said, "I remain committed to passing vaccine safety legislation and to fighting to ensure that the voices of all the parents and children who participated in today’s rally [Green Our Vaccines Rally] are heard within the halls of Congress."

In the scientific community, study after study (also good information here) has demonstrated that there is no causal relationship between vaccines and autism.

From the CDC's own website:
"Many studies have looked at whether there is a relationship between vaccines and autism. The weight of the evidence indicates that vaccines are not associated with autism."

The questioning of vaccines by prominent leaders and groups in the autism circle appears to have already produced unintended, negative consequences. For instance, take the recent outbreak of measles across the country, infecting 131 children to date, over half of whom were not vaccinated by their parents. Even though the MMR vaccine is proven to have no connection to autism in children, resident experts largely cited parents concerns about autism with their failure to get children vaccinated.

This is not productive to the overall autism debate. While this debate has been settled in the scientific arena, it is still causing damage to our children's health.

I would be extremely interested in hearing more about Chris Carney's views on this issue because it is important and largely underdiscussed.

Carney's website makes note of the fact that he is committed "to increase research funding and raise awareness of autism." I would argue that if Carney is earnestly trying to help on this issue, he must break from the Maloney crowd and take this issue in a different direction rather than rehashing debates of the past.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Second Scandal Is The Charm

Republicans are going back after local lawmakers for their connections to Charlie Rangel.

Back in July, the NRCC targeted Democrats who had received money from Charlie Rangel after the story broke regarding his four rent stabilized apartments. Chris Hackett attempted to highlight the scandel further by issuing a press release using Chris Carney's hypocracy against him (i.e. Carney's 2006 call for Sherwood to return money he received from Tom Delay).

Now, a new Charlie Rangel scandal is brewing due to his tax trouble and failure to disclose rental income coming from a Dominican Republic villa he owns.

The NRCC is back hammering the Rangel connections to Carney and Kanjorski.

Carney has received more $21,000 from Rangel's political PACs since 2006 while Kanjorski has received $14,000 this election cycle.

Ken Spain (Press Secretary for the NRCC) said, "When it comes to standing by corrupt politicians, it appears that Paul Kanjorski and Chris Carney have a lot in common. Even the liberal New York Times has called for Charlie Rangel to step down, but neither Kanjorski nor Carney is willing to give up the tens of thousands of dollars in cash that they have pocketed."

However, the Carney campaign responded by saying it will wait until it has more information. Vince Rongione (Carney campaign spokesman) stated, "We will not take any action, except to say that elected officials should be held to a higher standard and it is up to the voters in his district to decide."

The Kanjorski camp took a more offensive approach by citing Barletta's own dirty money from Ted Stevens, which it has previously drawn attention to.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Palin Effect In PA

PolitickerPA reports some rejuvenated expectations coming from state GOP chair Bob Gleason:
Republicans nationally and in Pennsylvania tout the energy vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has injected in the GOP base.

On Tuesday, it caused state party Chairman Bob Gleason to make a bold prediction: Republicans will win back "four or five" congressional seats in the Keystone State.
It seems Gleason explicitly referred to the 10th (Hackett over Carney), the 11th (Barletta over Kanjorski) and the 7th (Williams over Sestak).

I'm sure if Gleason is including Craig Williams over Sestak, he is also banking on Tom Manion over Patrick Murphy in the 8th.

Those four seats would deliver Gleason his prediction assuming they all come through.

However, Gleason doesn't expand on why--or at least the article doesn't mention his reasoning--the Palin pick has the potential to be such a game changer in Pennsylvania aside from the recent injection of energy into the base. It is hard to imagine renewed energy alone delivering those two seats in the Philly corner of the state.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wayne Independent Encounrages More Debates

The publisher of the Wayne Independent, Steve Fountain, issued an open letter to both Chris Carney and Chris Hackett last Friday.

In his letter, Mr. Fountain stated that his efforts to obtain more debates for the voters of the 10th District have been stonewalled by one side--obviously, the party in question is Chris Carney even though Fountain never explicitly states this fact.

However, Fountain presents a fairly compelling argument for why the Wayne Independent provides the ideal backdrop for an additional debate:
"Democracy needs more than what voters have received thus far from both sides: advertising blitzes, sound bites and single-candidate controlled “listening sessions” or “town hall meetings” or whatever may be the latest warm-and-fuzzy campaign jargon for such one-sided events.

Democracy needs open, vigorous debates - plural, not singular -- highlighted by face-to-face meetings.

The Wayne Independent was founded 130 years ago to provide an independent voice amid the partisan rancor of two rival publications.

I humbly draw upon this tradition and history in offering to host a debate."
Of course, this debate issue is still a sensitive topic to Carney. In fact, Carney released a new ad aimed at controlling the damage of Hackett's recent charge against Carney by claiming it is really Hackett who is manipulating the truth.

Hackett was the
first one to respond to Fountain's open letter with an authoritative "yes." No word from the Carney campaign.

The Carney campaign may be too busy celebrating the good news it received on Monday when Hillary Clinton announced she would be supporting Carney. Clinton will be sending out E-mails highlighting important races for Democrats across the country. In her first E-mail to supporters, Clinton will include Carney as one of the four candidates detailed. The E-mail will also coincide with the release of her HillPac candidates (coming soon).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Regarding Debates In The 10th

Chris Hackett released his third general election ad against Chris Carney.

The ad, appropriately called "Debate," focuses on Carney's refusal to accept additional debates against Hackett.

The Carney campaign thought the ad distorted the Congressman's record and Carney campaign manager Vincent Rongione stated, "Unfortunately, this is exactly what we have come to expect from our challenger, a campaign of lies and distortions. This is a desperate attack from a typical negative politician who will say anything to try and get elected, including statements which he knows to be false."

Hackett campaign manager Mark Harris responded by saying, "If Carney dislikes the ad, all he has to do is agree to debates, and we will gladly take the ad off the air."

Seems like a political win-win situation for the Hackett campaign. Either Carney agrees to more debates and Hackett gets his way or Hackett continues to use the issue to hammer home his message that "Washington" Carney is out of touch with the district.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Competitive Races

RealClearPolitics rates the congressional races in the 10th and 11th Districts among the top 25 most competitive races in the country:

Kanjorski vs. Barletta:
11. Pennsylvania 11 -- Kanjorski (D) -- Ethics issues, questionable earmarks and an unremarkable record, coupled with a near-celebrity opponent, put Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D) atop national Republicans' target list. Kanjorski hasn't faced a real race in decades, and John McCain is likely to win the Scranton-based district, aiding Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta (R). It's one race in which the "change" mantra may benefit Republicans.
Carney vs. Hackett:
16. Pennsylvania 10 -- Carney (D): Rep. Christopher Carney represents a Northeast Pennsylvania district that gave President Bush 60% of the vote in 2004, and where Barack Obama did notably poorly in the state's April primary. That's not a recipe for success for a Democrat, especially one who won by challenging an incumbent with serious personal problems. Republicans are enthusiastic about businessman Chris Hackett (R), who won a competitive primary.

The Candidates and Education

Times Leader has an in-depth look at the candidates and the issue of education:
Paul Kanjorski


11th Congressional District

• Supports an increased focus on math and science

• Favors improving early childhood education, expanding literacy programs through school library systems, and helping provide funding to modernize schools

• Supports (and co-sponsored) legislation to fund school modernization projects and improve student literacy

• Supports legislation (which he introduced) to address the credit crunch to help make sure that student loans are available

Lou Barletta


11th Congressional District

• Says the No Child Left Behind legislation had good intentions but said the bill is not working

• Favors a bipartisan solution to the education system

• Cites an innovative program used in the Hazleton Area School District called Partners in Education, which brings together school administrators, teachers and employers and teaches topics such as math and history as well as skills considered essential by local employers

Chris Carney


10th Congressional District

• Says “teaching to the test is wrong”

• Supports (and authored) legislation that ensures students are evaluated for consecutive years rather than annually measuring entire grades

• Supports early childhood education such as Head Start, Reading is Fundamental and the Striving Readers Act

• Vows to fight to protect programs such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provides funds to states for the education of children with disabilities

Chris Hackett


10th Congressional District

• Will work to make college affordable for working families

• Favors local control over federal control and will oppose increased federal regulation and mandates on local schools

• Supports giving maximum opportunities to parents to choose the school that is best for their children, rather than having government dictate to parents which schools their children must attend

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Fight With Me"

John McCain's acceptance speech from last night

Also, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge's speech:

It seemed McCain made a strong attempt to invoke his 2000 "Maverick" image as the candidate willing to tackle the big issues with little regard for political party. Perhaps most impressive, he told the party some things it needed to hear.

The last two minutes of the speech where he begins reciting "Fight With Me" provides a great soundbite with him speaking over the crowd's applause.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

New Carney Ads

Two new Chris Carney advertisements: "Coupons" and "Kids".

"Coupons" discusses Carney's personal experience with a tight budget and suggests more tax cuts targeting the middle class. In order to connect with these voters, Carney also talks about how he and his wife used to clip Sunday coupons to stay ahead.

In "Kids", Carney highlights his legislative fight to help protect America's children by sponsoring a bill that received bipartisan support. Carney put out a press release to accompany the ad:

Clarks Summit, PA—Congressman Chris Carney is up on the air with a new advertisement, Kids, which addresses the work in Congress to protect children from lead in toys and internet predators.

“As a father of five, I have made fighting for our families a top priority in Congress,” said Chris Carney. “That is why I am proud that the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed my legislation, Enhancing the Effective Prosecution of Child Pornography Act of 2007. I will keep fighting for our children, both to keep them safe from harm on the internet and to keep lead out of our toys.”

Responding to a report that 35% of toys on shelves contain lead, Congressman Christopher P. Carney introduced The Lead Free Toys Act in December 2007. The legislation bans lead from toys, toy jewelry, and other products used by children under age six.

According to the results released the Michigan-based Ecology Center, along with the National Center for Health, Environment and Justice, tests on more than 1,200 children’s products found that 35 percent contain lead. According to the report, many of these toys contained lead levels far above the federal recall standard used for lead paint.

Congressman Christopher P. Carney’s legislation, Enhancing the Effective Prosecution of Child Pornography Act of 2007, passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 416 to 0 in November 2007. This legislation allows the Justice Department to more effectively prosecute people who produce child pornography or knowingly access child pornography repeatedly with the intent to view it. It is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate.

Child pornography has become a $3 billion annual industry. According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, more than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted online every week. U.S. Customs Services estimate that 100,000 websites offer illegal child pornography, and according to the National Center for Mission & Exploited Children, approximately 20% of all Internet pornography involves children.

The legislation changes the U.S. Federal Code to improve the efficiency in the prosecution of child pornography cases by including money laundering as a prosecution tool. Additionally, the bill expands the U.C.S. (the code) to make it easier to prosecute those who knowingly and repeatedly view child pornography.

News In The 10th

Chris Carney met with Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden early this week at Scranton's La Festa Italiana.

It seems to the two only spoke briefly, but Carney was pleased to have Biden back on his "home turf."

After the encounter, Carney said, "We look forward to future conversations when he returns to the area. Sen Biden brings an enormous wealth of experience and insight to the office of the vice president. This is a man truly ready to assume the presidency if that were necessary."

It is very likely that Biden will return to the area of Scranton and return frequently. The city was mentioned several times in Biden's keynote address --three by my count not including the video and Beau Biden's intro--at the Democratic National Convention and has already been the subject of an Obama campaign ad.

With the Obama campaign now believing that they can compete in this region thanks in large part due to the selection of Biden, Scranton and Northeast Pennsylvania will figure prominently in the campaign's strategy.
If Chris Carney is any indicator, the selection of Biden is working in Pennsylvania because Biden finally brought a skiddish Carney into the Obama fold.

Carney's opponent, Chris Hackett, returned from his brief stint in St. Paul at the Republican National Convention. Gustav cancelled Hackett's remarks during the Convention's kick-off on Monday. While there was a slim chance he would have time later in the week, Hackett decided to leave the convention and catch a flight back to Pennslyvania.

Hackett did release the full text of his scheduled remarks. To read them, visit Gort.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In Other News

As the country turns its attention to a 17-year-old pregnant girl and Hurricane Gustav hammering the Gulf Coast, one piece of news that seems to be lacking its fair share of coverage is the recent transfer of security responsibilities in Anbar province.

In a ceremony yesterday, the United States military officially handed over the responsibilities to Iraqi forces and is part of the continued military effort to transfer all provinces to Iraqi control.

A few years ago, many thought the security situation in Anbar was not salvageable and demonstrated why the United States could never succeed in Iraq.

Now, the security improvements in Anbar leading to the transfer of power stand as a testament to our brave men and women in uniform.

From the famous Washington Post September 2006 story which leaked a memo from Pete Devlin, the Marine's chief intelligence officer:
"Devlin reports that there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province's most significant political force, said the Army officer, who has read the report. Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar."
Things even reportedly got worse later that year:
"The Marines recently filed an updated version of that assessment that stood by its conclusions and stated that, as of mid-November, the problems in troubled Anbar province have not improved, a senior U.S. intelligence official said yesterday. 'The fundamental questions of lack of control, growth of the insurgency and criminality' remain the same, the official said."
Putting yesterday's event in proper context demonstrates just how much the situation in Iraq has improved.

Today's Wall Street Journal editorial does a better job at aligning that history with yesterday's ceremony:

For U.S. politics, it is worth recalling that that 2006 Washington Post story became part of a Beltway consensus that defeat in Iraq was inevitable. Democrats made withdrawal the center of their campaign to retake Congress, Republicans like Senator John Warner became media darlings for saying the war couldn't be won, and the James Baker-Lee Hamilton Iraq Study Group laid out a bipartisan road to retreat. According to memos disclosed Sunday in the New York Times, even senior officials at the State Department and Pentagon opposed the surge. President Bush, heeding Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno as well as John McCain, overruled the defeatists and ordered a renewed U.S. commitment to Iraq.

The Anbar handover is above all a tribute to the hundreds of Americans who have fought and died in places like Fallujah, Ramadi and Hit over these last five years. Over the horizon of history, we tend to recall only the successes in previous wars at such places as Guadalcanal, Peleliu and the Chosin Reservoir. We forget that those wars and battles were also marked by terrible blunders and setbacks, both political and military. What mattered is that our troops, and our country, had the determination to fight to an ultimate victory. So it is with the heroes of Anbar.