Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Morning copy 8/3/2005

A very, very close election victory for the GOP in a prominent GOP district, Cincinnati Enquirer LINK.

Republican Jean Schmidt beat Democrat Paul Hackett for the 2nd Congressional District seat Tuesday - though by far less than the GOP had anticipated.

With all precincts reporting, Schmidt had 52 percent of the vote to Hackett's 48 percent - the closest election in the district since 1974.

How close was this election? Here are the results from 2004:

Rob J. Portman * (R) 221,785 votes 72%
Charles W. Sanders (D) 87,156 votes 28%

John Roberts nomination

Roberts answered a 67 page questionnaire from Senators. excerpt:

"A judge needs the humility to appreciate that he is not necessarily the first person to confront a particular issue," Roberts wrote in his first extended explanation of his judicial philosophy since Bush nominated him on July 19. "Precedent plays an important role in promoting the stability of the legal system, and a sound judicial philosophy should reflect recognition of the fact that the judge operates within a system of rules developed over the years by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath."

LA Times excerpt:

"Judges must be constantly aware that their role, while important, is limited," he wrote in response to a 67-page questionnaire from the Senate. Roberts also reported a personal net worth of $5.2 million, most of it in stocks and mutual funds.

Bill Clinton to praise, but still only with a caveat of caution, John Roberts. story, excerpt:

Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Former President Bill Clinton praised Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts as "highly intelligent," while voicing reservations about a memo Roberts wrote in 1984 that called for stripping the high court of some of its power.

"I don't think we should in any way prejudge Judge Roberts," Clinton said in an interview to be aired today. "He is a very impressive man."

It must be a nice luxury to have two prominent voices capable of shifting between center and the base as is politically necessary.

CIA Leak investigation

First reported by ABC, two Rove aides were called to testify on Friday. The Times has some in-the-room sourcing. NY Times LINK. Excerpt:

The telephone conversation between Mr. Rove and Mr. Cooper is one of two conversations in a one-week period in July 2003 that the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has focused on. The second was between Mr. Rove and Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist, as Mr. Novak was preparing a column in which he named the C.I.A. officer.

Mr. Fitzgerald has focused on whether in the identification of the officer, Valerie Wilson, there was a deliberate effort to retaliate against her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, for his criticism of the Bush administration's policy on Iraq. In an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, Mr. Wilson, a former diplomat, wrote that when he traveled to Niger in 2002 as a government emissary, he found little evidence to support a claim made by Mr. Bush a year later that Iraq had tried to acquire nuclear fuel there.


Dan Balz of the Washington Post grapples with Hillary's new task: grappling with party policy/platform/direction. WP LINK. Excerpt:

Some Democrats wonder whether Clinton can grapple with what ails the party today and come out of the experience as a candidate with an appeal and an identity distinct from her husband's administration -- one that fits far different times than existed when he was president.

"There's a feel of nostalgia creeping into her message that she has to be particularly sensitive to," said one veteran of presidential campaigns, who declined to be identified as publicly critical of the senator. The strategist added: "I think there's a sense of let's go back and revisit the Clinton model and that's the way to get elected. . . . I think it's going to be very hard for her to get out of the comfort zone of the Clinton administration."

New president in Iran

Reuters LINK.

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became Iran's new president on Wednesday, taking office amid international turmoil over Tehran's nuclear ambitions and his own past.

He's been called "hard-liner" and enters the office as Iran is squaring off with the West. He has indicated that he believes the East may be the direction for Iran, read China, Iran, read Middle East influence. Read: Iraq.

And, I think this is a reference to Sufi Islam, drop in an ocean, though I am no scholar:

"As a servant of the republic and a drop in the endless ocean of the Iranian nation ... I commit myself to respond to the trust and hopes of such a nation by serving them honestly," he told Iran's leading figures assembled at his investiture.

I'll tell you who is a scholar: Resa Azlan. I just concluded his book, "No god but God". LINK.

Shi'ite Islam, with its allowance for more reasoned learning, may be a nice counter-point to the violent extremists of Wahhabi Islam.

More international news

A potential coup in Africa. AFP LINK.

Niger continues to suffer from Famine. Some explanations (weather related) here, LINK.

President Bush is going on a vacation while hundreds of thousands of (Muslim) children are starving and dying.

Al Jazeera: "A former intelligence officer has warned of terror attacks in Australia, saying that up to 60 Islamic militants are operating in terror cells in the country and an attack is inevitable." LINK.

Riots continue in Sudan. BBC News LINK.

Oxfam warns of a crisis developing in Mali. Guardian LINK.


More US/China business battles are likely, reports the LA Times. LINK. Excerpt:

Yet the billions of dollars sitting in Chinese banks from exports to the United States virtually guarantee that there will soon be new bids, making it likely that U.S. policymakers will confront the same uncomfortable question.

The Unocal bid put into some perspective by the Ed Page of the Washington Post. LINK. Excerpt:

But the truth is that Chinese strategists are at least as capable of blunders as Americans. In the case of the Unocal bid, that supposedly savvy chief executive gave an interview to The Post's Peter S. Goodman in which he asserted, implausibly, that his firm was independent from the Chinese state. Equally, China's case was damaged by an outburst from its government, which lectured Congress on meddling in commerce -- a rich accusation from a communist dictatorship and one guaranteed to produce an unfriendly congressional backlash.


A city-by-city strategy to witdraw troops from Iraq. Forbes LINK.

Bloody week thus far for US Marines. LINK.

Classified documents detail interrogation tactics used, including tactics resulting in the death of one Iraqi general in US custody. Washington Post LINK. Excerpt:

It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents.

The sleeping bag was the idea of a soldier who remembered how his older brother used to force him into one, and how scared and vulnerable it made him feel. Senior officers in charge of the facility near the Syrian border believed that such "claustrophobic techniques" were approved ways to gain information from detainees, part of what military regulations refer to as a "fear up" tactic, according to military court documents.


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