Friday, October 28, 2005

Morning copy 10.28.2005

Scooter and Karl

David Johnston and Richard Stevenson have their second big scoop of the week in the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 - Lawyers in the C.I.A. leak case said Thursday that they expected I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, to be indicted on Friday, charged with making false statements to the grand jury.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. As a result, they said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration on Friday.

Jim VandeHei and Carol D. Leonnig in the Washington Post have this:

Two sources said I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, was shopping for a white-collar criminal lawyer amid expectations of those close to the case that he might be indicted for providing false statements or other charges.

Miers withdraws

The Los Angeles Times has an array of articles about Miers.

Analysis by Ronald Brownstein:

The selection of a nominee with a clear conservative record — such as federal appellate court judges J. Michael Luttig, Priscilla R. Owen or Edith H. Jones — would meet the right's demand for a confirmation fight with Democrats that would energize the conservative grass roots.

But at a time when Bush's approval ratings among independents have fallen to the lowest point of his presidency, a polarizing fight to fill the seat of moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor could further narrow the president's appeal.

News report by Maura Reynolds:

But a source close to the White House said that when Miers learned that her nomination was not being received favorably by senators, she offered to step aside.

"Harriet, being a good soldier, knows the president would never ask her on his own to withdraw," the source said. "So she saluted and fell on her sword."

More news by Janet Hook and Peter Wallsten:

The broad conservative movement, which includes evangelicals and economic and intellectual conservatives, is "only going to be emboldened by getting Harriet Miers' scalp," said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster. "They stared down the White House and won."

The message was clear to ambitious Republicans who wish to succeed Bush in the White House: With the exception of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), senators aspiring to run for president were among those asking the most skeptical questions about Miers.

Conservatives also sent a message to the White House to be more attentive to the party's right flank during Bush's three remaining years in office, said David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union. "If they want the conservatives to play on their team, they have to treat them like members of the team rather than outsiders," Keene said.

The editorial page:

The day after Miers' nomination was announced, we wrote that presidents should deviate from the norm of picking sitting judges for Supreme Court openings only in extraordinary circumstances — for a leading legal scholar, say, or a thoughtful politician. Bush deviated from the norm to pick a buddy from Texas, a corporate lawyer and White House insider with a thin resume. The last few weeks made it painfully clear that her resume wasn't lying.

Bush's stance on Miers' withdrawal is a sack of lies, as the Cunning Realist notes. In the Christian Science Monitor we see the real reason for the defeat of this nominee (besides Bush's incompetence):

But the fierce opposition from some of Bush's usually loyal conservative supporters - opening up a rare fissure in the Republican coalition - was just as central to Miers's withdrawal, analysts say.

"It was the intellectual elite of the conservative movement that expressed the most concern, not the religious conservatives or the business conservatives," says Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, in Virginia.

"It may give them more power to dictate the next nominee. Do they get a veto? Or does it mean you do a better sell job, like they did on Roberts," he adds, referring to the new chief justice, John Roberts. "But [the selling of Roberts] took them a year."

Opinion Journal on Miers:

The best way Mr. Bush can counter the "capitulation" charges is to show that he's not afraid of a political fight. He said yesterday that he will act quickly to name a new nominee, and we hope he'll select someone who can't be challenged on grounds of credentials--even if it means a Senate battle over judicial philosophy. There is a long list of candidates who, like John Roberts, fit that description. No one should get an automatic veto because he or she once said or wrote something potentially controversial on abortion or some other subject.

The Hill highlights some brief reactions from Senators:

"She seemed like a decent, honorable woman who got put in a horrible spot and got whipsawed by the religious right," said Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), a former Judiciary Committee chairman who sits on the panel.

The miscalculations in the Washington Post:

By nearly all accounts, the 24 days of the Miers nomination was hobbled by a succession of miscalculations. President Bush bypassed his own selection process to pick Miers, his onetime personal lawyer and White House counsel since February. His aides ignored warnings by some of the administration's closest conservative allies that she would prove difficult to confirm, and took for granted that its base would ultimately stick with the president.

Looks like another bubble to me.

The Presidency

Thomas DeFrank in the New York Daily News has a bunch of interesting, blind quotes today:

At the very least, several Bush sources said, that means a dramatic White House staff shakeup, not just a shuffling of his current cast of burned-out handlers, some of whom are more loyal than capable.

Asked what Bush's first personnel move should be, a GOP strategist with close ties to the White House shot back:

"Make Colin Powell chief of staff. He's enough of a soldier to say yes."

Just making such a gesture to the popular general who tired of sparring with Vice President Cheney and the neocons would send an unmistakable message that the President understands just how difficult a rebuilding task he faces.

I am inclined to think that Bush will just reshuffle the deck. Bringing Powell in would be a masterstroke, but this president does not have it in him.

More prominent GOPers are calling for a staff shake up, in the New York Times:

Some scholars and Republican elders say it is now time for Mr. Bush to do what Ronald Reagan did when the Iran-contra scandal threatened to derail his second term: shake up the White House staff, retool his domestic and foreign policy agenda and move on. But most say they see few signs that Mr. Bush intends to do so.

"Assume there are several indictments," said Richard Norton Smith, the head of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Ill., and a biographer of several prominent Republicans.

"The question becomes: Is there a Howard Baker moment?" Mr. Smith added, referring to the former Tennessee senator whom Mr. Reagan tapped as chief of staff to clean house. "And if there's a Howard Baker moment, who's Howard Baker? There aren't as many 'wise men' around Washington as there were 20 years ago."

Dan Balz and Juliet Eilperin examine the weakened presidency in the Washington Post:

Twenty-four excruciating days later, the supposed safe choice crashed, exposing the president as even weaker than before.

Bush now has an opportunity to recover from one of the biggest political miscalculations of his term, the failure to anticipate the backlash Miers would cause with his own conservative base. But in repairing that breach, he risks a new confrontation with Democrats and further estrangement from the political center -- precisely the situation he hoped to avoid when he tapped his loyal and unassuming personal lawyer in the first place.

I guess you could argue that Miers was a "weakness" choice, but I think it had more to do with Bush going with his gut. Further, some GOPer warned that Miers would be a tough pick to confirm. Staff shake up is necessary, for the good of the country. Add that to Bush's full plate.


23,000 more U.S. troops are in Iraq, Los Angeles Times.

Sunnis are forming a political alliance and now so are the Shiite. Washington Post:

The agreement was reached after the Shiite alliance reportedly had been on the verge of splintering in recent days. The two parties that control Iraq's transitional government -- Dawa, led by Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- will now work with political affiliates of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr. Sadr has a strong following among young, poor Shiites, but until recently he had rejected politics and referred to the last elections as illegitimate because of the U.S. occupation.

Dawa, Sadr and SCIRI. If you have the time, read Rory Stewart's history of these three movements. They once splintered and have now reformed albeit tentatively.

The Sunnis are turning to Iyad Allawi, according to the Los Angeles Times:

But Ahmed Hussein, a Falloujan businessman whose family was among the displaced, didn't take the siege personally because Allawi, who is a secular Shiite Muslim, also approved an assault on the predominantly Shiite holy city of Najaf to put down a rebellion there.

"After seeing the current government, I think Iyad Allawi is much better," Hussein said. "He never distinguished between Sunnis and Shiites. He just cared about security."

That could be an appealing message.

Juan Cole in Salon writes about the cabal who brought us to war:

"Cheney Assembles Formidable Team," marveled a Page One article in the Feb. 3, 2001, edition of the New York Times. It turns out that Cheney had 15 military and political advisors on foreign affairs, at a time when the president's own National Security Council was being downsized. The number of aides who counseled Cheney on domestic issues was much smaller. In contrast, Al Gore had been advised by a single staffer on security affairs.

The leader of the team was Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. Libby had studied at Yale with Paul Wolfowitz, who brought him to Washington. He co-authored a hawkish policy document with Wolfowitz in the Department of Defense for its head, Dick Cheney, after the Gulf War in 1992. When it was leaked, it embarrassed the first President Bush. Libby was a founding member of the Project for a New American Century in 1997 during the Clinton years, when many neoconservatives were out of office. The PNAC attempted to use the Republican-dominated Congress to pressure Clinton to take a more belligerent stance toward Iraq, and it advocated significantly expanding military spending and using U.S. troops as "gendarmes" in the aftermath of wars to "shape" the international security environment.

That cabal is just starting to crack. The National Journal reported online yesterday that Libby and Cheney withheld documents from the Senate about pre-war intelligence.

Volcker's report

The distinguished former FEC chairman has released his report on the oil-for-food scandal. In the present climate, anything about Saddam, Iraq, the U.N., Russia, France and MP Galloway is certain to get a dose of spin. The Times of London:

Saddam Hussein received $1.8 billion in bribes from more than 2,200 companies in the scramble for lucrative contracts under the United Nation's Oil-for-Food programme, investigators claimed today.

Russia harboured the most companies involved in the programme, followed by France, according to the inquiry led by Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board.

Many of the firms which benefited were obscure front companies which had been set up specifically to manipulate the UN programme. But the report also includes major names, including Volvo, Siemens and DaimlerChrysler.

Mr Volcker emphasised that because of the complex nature of Oil-for-Food, these may not have known that they were involved in a corrupt scheme.

George Galloway MP is named among four "political beneficiaries". The report says he directly and indirectly received allocations of 18 million barrels in total. He denies the allegation.

Hurricane relief

The American Red Cross has to take out large loans, the first time in its history, New York Times.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Los Angeles Times:

With a new poll showing his ballot agenda in jeopardy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday made a sharp strategic shift just 12 days before the election, releasing a new television ad in which he concedes shortcomings on the job.

"I've had a lot to learn, and sometimes I learned the hard way," he says in the 30-second spot, which features the governor speaking directly to the camera. "But my heart is in this, and I want to do right by you."

Bush fundraising indictments


TOLEDO, Ohio — A coin dealer and major GOP donor at the center of a scandal in Ohio state government was charged Thursday with illegally funneling $45,400 in contributions to President Bush's reelection.

Tom Noe was accused in a federal indictment of giving money directly or indirectly to 24 friends and associates, who then made the campaign contributions in their own names. In that way, he skirted the $2,000 limit on individual contributions, prosecutors said.

Georgia ID cards for voters

A controversial (read: horrible, wrong, stupid) law requiring voters in Georgia to have an ID before they can vote (read: polltax) from the Los Angeles Times:

Under the law, voters would have to show either a driver's license or a state-issued photo ID, which can cost as much as $35.

Budget cuts

Fiscal conservative pull shows its strength in the latest cuts from the Congress. CNN/AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans voted to cut student loan subsidies, child support enforcement and aid to firms hurt by unfair trade practices as various committees scrambled to piece together $50 billion in budget cuts.

More politically difficult votes -- to cut Medicaid, food stamps and farm subsidies -- are on tap Thursday as more panels weigh in on the bill.

Film industry

Los Angeles Times: M. Night Shyamalan warns that the end of the movie theater is nigh. But a sudden and predictable plot twist will save the day.


Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Anyone who is a grown man that still sports the nickname "Scooter" deserves to be indicted, period.

On Miers: Let's hope Bush selects an aggressive activist judge that the liberals hate. I badly need some good entertainment.

10:03 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Oh woe is the Democratic party!

4:20 PM  

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