Monday, September 26, 2005

Morning copy 9.26.2005


Perhaps today's best written line comes from James Carroll's story in the Boston Globe:

In this first home of the new world order, the burdens of idealized violence are all too real.

And with that: Violence continues to kill scores of innocents in Iraq, Washington Post.

Oil woes in the Los Angeles Times:

QARMAT ALI, Iraq — The failure to rebuild key components of Iraq's petroleum industry has impeded oil production and may have permanently damaged the largest of the country's vast oil fields, American and Iraqi experts say.

The deficiencies have deprived Iraq of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue needed for national rebuilding efforts and kept millions of barrels of oil off the world market at a time of growing demand.

The Washington Post editorial page offers the following as the "real" problem in Iraq:

The fundamental source of trouble is not the Islamic extremists President Bush usually speaks about; nor is it the presence of American soldiers. If the protesters visiting Washington this weekend succeeded in forcing a quick U.S. troop withdrawal, the bloodshed in Iraq, and the damage to the United States, would grow far worse. That is because the real problem is the absence of an agreement about Iraq's future between the majority Shiite and Kurd communities and the minority Sunnis, who ruled the country from the time of its establishment until the fall of Saddam Hussein. That disconnect is expressed in the overwhelming rejection by Sunni leaders of the constitutional draft.

Assorted stories in no particular order

At this hour, there are 95 hits on Google News for "kabuki dance". The Nevada Appeal leads the list with this paragraph:

Roberts' political kabuki dance before the Judiciary Committee was a scene-setter for the next battle over a Supreme Court nominee, which will occur when President Bush nominates someone to replace moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been the court's "swing vote" on many 5-4 decisions.

TIME magazine asks the question "are there more Michael "Brownie" Browns?

The Office of Personnel Management's Plum Book, published at the start of each presidential Administration, shows that there are more than 3,000 positions a President can fill without consideration for civil service rules. And Bush has gone further than most Presidents to put political stalwarts in some of the most important government jobs you've never heard of, and to give them genuine power over the bureaucracy. "These folks are really good at using the instruments of government to promote the President's political agenda," says Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University and a well-known expert on the machinery of government. "And I think that takes you well into the gray zone where few Presidents have dared to go in the past. It's the coordination and centralization that's important here."

Bureaucratic foul-ups keep FEMA reservists from helping, Washington Post.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney tacks right in South Carolina, "making [Massachusetts] the butt of his jokes". Someone ought to remind the Governor, who may be reading from Santorum's playbook, that you have to win your reelection before you go into the presidential race. Washington Post:

"Being a conservative Republican in Massachusetts," he told a GOP audience in South Carolina, "is a bit like being a cattle rancher at a vegetarian convention."

"Borrow and spend" now generates with Google 111,000 pages, up from 108,000 last week. Google's blog search now has 261 pages for "borrow and spend", though this blog is no longer the most relevant. Last week there were 218 entries for this search.

A must read in the Christian Science Monitor:

By Scott Baldauf and Ashraf Khan

KHOST, AFGHANISTAN; AND CHAMAN, PAKISTAN – An internal debate within the Taliban - whether to launch increasingly aggressive attacks against the US-led coalition or to allow the insurgency to bleed the Afghan government over time - has been settled this year, according to a rebel commander and Afghan security officials.

In the most violent year of their insurgency to date, the Taliban have gone on the offensive, launching more pitched battles in an effort to persuade the international community and Afghans that this remains very much a nation at war, says Mullah Gul Mohammad, a front-line commander for Jaish-e Muslimeen, a recently reconciled Taliban splinter group.


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