Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Morning copy 12.06.2005

The war over the war in Iraq

Two female suicide bombers detonate themselves inside an Iraqi police academy, at least 27 dead, A.P.

Borzou Daragahi writes, in the Los Angeles Times, about the Iraqi everyman who spoke out against Saddam Hussein on the first day of testimony yesterday.

General Wesley Clark has an Op-Ed in the New York Times, dateline is Doha, Qatar:
I was able to see the issue through the eyes of America's friends in the Persian Gulf region. The Arab states agree on one thing: Iran is emerging as the big winner of the American invasion, and both President Bush's new strategy and the Democratic responses to it dangerously miss the point. It's a devastating critique. And, unfortunately, it is correct.

While American troops have been fighting, and dying, against the Sunni rebels and foreign jihadists, the Shiite clerics in Iraq have achieved fundamental political goals: capturing oil revenues, strengthening the role of Islam in the state, and building up formidable militias that will defend their gains and advance their causes as the Americans draw down and leave. Iraq's neighbors, then, see it evolving into a Shiite-dominated, Iranian buffer state that will strengthen Tehran's power in the Persian Gulf just as it is seeks nuclear weapons and intensifies its rhetoric against Israel.
Rumsfeld's critique of the U.S. media, A.P.:
''To be responsible, one needs to stop defining success in Iraq as the absence of terrorist attacks,'' Rumsfeld said. He added, ''It's appropriate to note not only how many Americans have been killed -- and may God bless them and their families -- but what they died for or, more accurately, what they lived for.''
The Washington Times quotes large chunks from Rumsfeld's comments yesterday, essentially writing a press release.

Howard Dean says that the U.S. cannot win in Iraq and that forces should deploy out of the country in the next two years, A.P.

Senator Barack Obama says that the Democrats are divided on Iraq, perhaps to the extent that a unified message is not possible before elections in 2006, Chicago Tribune.

Hundreds of Muslim groups have called for the release of Canadians and others held hostage in Iraq, Toronto Star.

Tom DeLay

Note these ledes.

Washington Times:
By Stephen Dinan
A Texas judge yesterday threw out a campaign finance conspiracy charge against Rep. Tom DeLay, but ruled that the prosecutors' money laundering charge should go forward.
USA Today:
By Jill Lawrence
WASHINGTON — A Texas judge threw out a conspiracy charge Monday against former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay but refused to dismiss a money-laundering charge, moving him closer to a criminal trial.
The Houston Chronicle:
Some Republicans already are pushing for a House leadership vote in January to permanently replace DeLay. Priest has said he could not hold a trial in DeLay's case before early next year.

DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin of Houston, said he will ask Priest to hear additional motions to get the case thrown out of court next week. And if that fails, DeGuerin wants a trial to begin in January.

"The longer he's out of his position, the less chance there is that he can regain it. Others are going to come in and take over," DeGuerin said.
Bloomberg News reports that a new leadership vote is now more likely:
``We need a real majority leader who runs from a field of candidates with a real election and has the imprimatur of the job,'' Representative Charles Bass, a New Hampshire Republican, said before the court decision. ``We have a very strange and somewhat murky leadership structure, and I'm not sure that's good for the discipline and our ability to work together.''

USA Today on a new poll of Texans: Democrat ahead of Delay 49 to 36.

Samuel Alito

One new ad campaign portrays Alito as a friend to religious holiday displays, New York Times.

Peter Canellos in the Boston Globe writes about anti-abortion groups supporting both Alito and the ambiguity on his abortion position.

Hillary Clinton

New York Daily News:
WASHINGTON - Anti-war activists furious with Sen. Hillary Clinton are vowing to bird-dog her everywhere she goes, starting with a swanky Manhattan fund-raiser tonight.
"Bird-dog" is new to me...

New York Daily News:
Jeanine Pirro is preparing to call off her challenge to Sen. Hillary Clinton, but she might be boxed out of the state attorney general's race, too, Republican insiders said yesterday.
McCain torture amendment

The USA Today is reporting a near deal on the amendment, but the fact that Duncan Hunter is the source makes me wonder how thrilled John McCain will be:
WASHINGTON — Congressional negotiators are close to agreement on anti-torture provisions of a defense spending bill, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Monday in an interview with USA TODAY.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said a final version of the bill should be ready this week. "I think we have enough votes to have a good bill that would satisfy everyone."
September 11 commission

The Washington Post:
The 10-member bipartisan panel -- whose book-length report about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks became a surprise bestseller -- issued a "report card" that included 5 F's, 12 D's and two "incompletes" in categories including airline passenger screening and improving first responders' communication system.

The New York Times has a story on Congress returning to order:
But to reach that goal, the Republican leadership will have to overcome the reservations of moderate Republicans and united resistance from Democrats, who indicated on Monday that they remained opposed to the spending cuts and much of the Republican tax agenda.
Bush continues his push on economic matters (anything but Iraq*), Washington Post:
KERNERSVILLE, N.C., Dec. 5 -- Intensifying his efforts to focus more public attention on the economy, President Bush on Monday renewed his demand that Congress extend tax cuts on investment dividends and capital gains, saying they are vital to keeping the nation's economy growing.
* This point needs to be refined. Bush's administration continues to focus on Iraq, Cheney and Rumsfeld. However, the president seems eager to remain more diversified in his presentations.

Rush Limbaugh and New Orleans

The New Orleans Times Picayune:
Countering Ray's contention that New Orleans isn't progressing toward normalcy, Limbaugh then mentioned that he has friends here.

"And I'm not hearing this from them," he said. "I know it's bad but . . . I'm under the impression that the main problem that the local officials have is that they don't have enough Democrats coming back who fled or who were evacuated and they're worried about the next elections."

Limbaugh added that he'd heard about lots of good-paying recovery jobs going unfilled.

"There's no place for people to live," Ray said.

"The whole city?" Limbaugh countered. "There's nowhere to live? The French Quarter?"

You know, the town sector filled with reasonably priced efficiency accommodations. The kind that a laborer's wage, here in the post-Katrina worker's paradise, could easily afford.

"They're going to do Mardi Gras for crying out loud," Limbaugh said.

Eventually, Limbaugh blamed the failure of the federally designed levees on New Orleanians.

You know, the ones who waded out of their neighborhoods in neck-deep swill.

"You're not going to want to hear this," Limbaugh said after Ray mentioned the billions needed for levee restoration. "The problem with that is that you did that once and they didn't hold."

Finally, Limbaugh questioned Louisiana's ability to fiscally manage its own recovery.

"The taxpayers of this country sent gobs of money down there to the Corps of Engineers, to the local and state departments that are in charge of building those levees, and the money didn't all get spent on the levees and we see what happened as a result," he said.

"Now we're being asked to do it again. I think they're taking some time to make sure that the money that does go there goes this time where it's intended to go, not through the same old hands that are going to siphon some of it off for themselves and their buddies in the process."

On that point, he's probably got a point.

Ray managed to work in a criticism of the war in Iraq, which caused Limbaugh to groan and question the caller's true motivation.

But Ray clearly prompted Limbaugh to question some of his sourcing on the state of New Orleans, which the host did out loud right after a commercial break.

It almost sounded like backtracking, a first for Limbaugh, whose earlier comments likely chapped most of the local listeners -- many no doubt loyal Dittoheads -- who heard them.

But the misinformation continued Thursday, when Limbaugh read from a story in the Arkansas Leader newspaper that reported -- incorrectly -- that a Times-Picayune reporter had been "discredited and fired" for a story exaggerating the death count in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in the days after Katrina.

The story's source: The Arkansas National Guardsman -- quoted accurately in The Times-Picayune -- who first floated the notion of dozens dead in the Convention Center.

The point of Limbaugh reading the story: To discredit the liberal media who would concoct such a horror story to discredit the swell job George Bush's FEMA did -- and is still doing -- to save the city.

All of which begs the question: After aggregating an enormous cache of goodwill among local listeners for the past three months, has WWL blown it by reinstalling a distant and obviously misinformed syndicated star?

And what of the national impact of such just-plain-wrongness, uttered by an icon whose fans consume his pronouncements as gospel?

And coming so hot on the heels of "60 Minutes' " New Orleans-is-the-new-Atlantis debacle?

And just who are these New Orleans friends of Limbaugh's for whom everything is going so swimmingly?

Diane Newman, the WWL operations manager and program director who bumped local talk hosts to return Limbaugh to the New Orleans airwaves, listened to the Wednesday segment twice and concluded that "there was a disconnect," she said. "He did sound uninformed. But he's not here."

And so Newman vows to formally invite Limbaugh for a visit.

"I will do my damnedest to get Rush Limbaugh to broadcast from here, to drive through Lakeview, through Gentilly, drive through Mid-City, drive through New Orleans East, drive through St. Bernard, drive through the 9th Ward," she said. "I believe that Rush -- as I believe about anybody on a big stage, like Rush, like Oprah, like Al Franken, like Bill O'Reilly, like Bill Maher -- I think they all owe it to their audience in New Orleans and the Gulf South and really to America to come and see it and feel it."

Newman added that some of Limbaugh's points weren't too far off the mark.

Locals have "questioned ourselves and our ability to manage the (recovery) situation," she added. "(Limbaugh's) reality is a national reality. Some of the things that Rush said are things that local hosts have said on WWL."


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