Monday, October 17, 2005

Morning copy 10.17.2005

Bush and Katrina

The Los Angeles Times has this important story:

WASHINGTON — Almost two months after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and a month after promising in a nationally televised speech to help rebuild the region "quickly," President Bush has settled on a cautious, piecemeal approach that even many members of his own party fear will stall reconstruction and sow economic disarray.

"Valerie Flame"

Patrick Fitzgerald's CIA Leak investigation is focusing on, at least in part, Vice President Dick Cheney's role in the campaign against Joe Wilson. Bloomberg News:

Fitzgerald has questioned Cheney's communications adviser Catherine Martin and former spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise and ex-White House aide Jim Wilkinson about the vice president's knowledge of the anti-Wilson campaign and his dealings on it with Libby, his chief of staff, the people said. The information came from multiple sources, who requested anonymity because of the secrecy and political sensitivity of the investigation.

The Washington Post places this Sunday Talkie recap on page A03:

"If he said that he had not talked to Judy about these things or didn't talk about the wife, then he's got a problem," Bennett said, referring to CIA operative Valerie Plame, the woman at the center of the leak investigation. Miller told prosecutors that "to the best of her recollection she did not know of" Plame's employment at the CIA "before she spoke to Mr. Libby," he said.

An interesting Scooter profile in the USA Today.

Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post on the Grey Lady:

Others disagree. Craig Pyes, a former contract writer for the Times who teamed up with Miller for a series on al Qaeda, complained about her in a December 2000 memo to Times editors and asked that his byline not appear on one piece.

"I'm not willing to work further on this project with Judy Miller," wrote Pyes, who now writes for the Los Angeles Times. He added: "I do not trust her work, her judgment, or her conduct. She is an advocate, and her actions threaten the integrity of the enterprise, and of everyone who works with her. . . . She has turned in a draft of a story of a collective enterprise that is little more than dictation from government sources over several days, filled with unproven assertions and factual inaccuracies," and "tried to stampede it into the paper." also assails the Grey Lady for poor decision making:

But many details in the report are mystifying. In particular, it's unclear why the Times allowed Miller -- a reporter whose discredited work on weapons of mass destruction had recently embarrassed the paper -- to be put in charge of the Times' response to investigators looking into the Plame leak. Some revelations are astonishing: Apparently nobody at the newspaper asked to review Miller's notes in the Plame case before allowing her to defy Fitzgerald, and before the paper's management made her a high-profile symbol of press freedom in peril.

Slate has the "best" Karl Rove cartoons.


"Very Bad Idea Not Working Out So Well After All"


The dichotomy between the public optimism and private remarks by administration hawks continues. In the Washington Post:

Publicly, administration officials hailed the result but privately some officials acknowledged that the road ahead is still very difficult, especially because Sunni Arab voters appeared to have rejected the constitution by wide margins. As one official put it, every time the administration appears on the edge of a precipice, it manages to cobble together a result that allows it to move on to the next precipice.

The latest administration tone, which the New York Times headlines as a long-haul of a war, is a result of troubling analysis:

But inside the administration, that belief provides less solace than it once did. Senior officials say the intelligence reports flowing over their desks in recent months argue that even if democratic institutions take hold, the insurgency may strengthen. And that possibility has created a quandary for an administration that desperately wants to equate democracy-building with winning the war, but so far has not been able to match the two.

The Christian Science Monitor on Iraq war strategy:

Yet after staying largely silent on the issue throughout much of the Iraq war, Congress is now questioning whether the ongoing military operations in Iraq are guided by any unified strategy to secure the country. In a Sept. 29 congressional hearing, Rep. Ike Skelton (D) of Missouri asked General Casey: "What are we seeking to achieve? Are we fighting a counterinsurgency mission, or is our mission simply to train and equip the Iraqis?"

Two weeks ago, Sen. Jack Reed (D) of Rhode Island proclaimed that "what the administration is talking about is not really a strategy to succeed, but simply a strategy to leave."

The Miers nomination

Mike Allen in TIME provides the first vote count I have seen and we see also see a "banal" nominee:

After enjoying the 78-to-22 confirmation breeze for Chief Justice John Roberts, congressional Republicans are now sweating the Miers vote count and tell TIME that it could be as low as 52—embarrassing but still good enough for a lifetime appointment. Lawmakers and staff contend that during her first round of courtesy calls, Miers had anything but a commanding presence, looking more like a prom date next to the confident Senators. Republicans said she seemed unwilling or unable to answer questions about whether she viewed particular cases as important precedents and said she offered little beyond banal chatter.

Yesterday, this blog cited David Brooks' analysis of Miers' writing. It ain't pretty. Most.Vapid.Nominee.Ever.

Miers will try and shift the focus of her nomination today, the New York Times:

Strategists close to the White House, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, say they hope that Ms. Miers can use open-ended questions about subjects like "judicial activism" to lay out her approach to constitutional issues and to placate her conservative critics without providing ammunition to potential liberal opponents.

What did James Dobson know and when did he know it? John Fund in Opinion Journal:

It might, however, have been part of another discussion. On Oct. 3, the day the Miers nomination was announced, Mr. Dobson and other religious conservatives held a conference call to discuss the nomination. One of the people on the call took extensive notes, which I have obtained. According to the notes, two of Ms. Miers's close friends--both sitting judges--said during the call that she would vote to overturn Roe.


Now is the autumn of GOP discontent.

The Washington Post:

Beginning this week, the House GOP lawmakers will take steps to cut as much as $50 billion from the fiscal 2006 budget for health care for the poor, food stamps and farm supports, as well as considering across-the-board cuts in other programs. Only last month, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) and other GOP leaders quashed demands within their party for budget cuts to pay for the soaring cost of hurricane relief.

George F. Will in Newsweek:

Agriculture subsidies increased 40 percent while farm income was doubling. Conservatives concerned about promiscuous uses of government were appalled when congressional Republicans waded into the Terri Schiavo tragedy. Then came the conjunction of the transportation bill and Katrina. The transportation bill's cost, honestly calculated, exceeded the threshold that the president had said would trigger his first veto. (He is the first president in 176 years to serve a full term without vetoing anything. His father cast 44 vetoes. Ronald Reagan's eight-year total was 78.) In 1987 Reagan vetoed a transportation bill because it contained 152 earmarks—pork—costing $1.4 billion. The bill President Bush signed contained 6,371, costing $24 billion. The total cost of the bill—$286 billion—is more, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than the combined costs of the Marshall Plan and the interstate highway system.


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