Thursday, December 29, 2005

Morning copy 12.29.2005

The war over the war in Iraq

Peter Baker and "Diamond" Jim VandeHei, in the Washington Post, have a story on the Bush administration's internal debate concerning the war on Iraq. What is not surprising is Karl Rove's plan. What is worthy of note is the other voices to whom George W. Bush listened:
President Bush shifted his rhetoric on Iraq in recent weeks after an intense debate among advisers about how to pull out of his political free fall, with senior adviser Karl Rove urging a campaign-style attack on critics while younger aides pushed for more candor about setbacks in the war, according to Republican strategists.

The result was a hybrid of the two approaches as Bush lashed out at war opponents in Congress, then turned to a humbler assessment of events on the ground in Iraq that included admissions about how some of his expectations had been frustrated. The formula helped Bush regain his political footing as record-low poll numbers began to rebound. Now his team is rethinking its approach to his second term in hopes of salvaging it.
The (Horrible) Washington Times reports that Bush and Cheney are "closer" now. Their source is an anonymous official in Cheney's office:
"I don't think the relationship is strained at all," said a senior administration official in the vice president's office on the condition of anonymity. "Every once in a while, I see stuff written to that effect, but ... I think it's closer than it has ever been."
Not only is a blind quote as the basis for a story dubious at best, but that quote should not come from a clearly interested party. At least the Washington Times went so far as to leave the conflict of interest present by citing the source so clearly.

The U.N. backs the Iraq vote, A.P.

The housing market in Iraq is explored in the Washington Post, hat tip to Abhinav Aima.

The Christian Science Monitor reports on the potential deal making in the next Iraqi government.

Los Angeles Times: Pentagon believes its pro-America websites to be legal, but their efficacy is called into question.

New Orleans and the Gulf region

When it comes to news, nothing can trump Iraq. However, the slow and problematic recovery efforts in the Katrina region are shameful.

The New Orleans Times Picayune goes to great lengths to mention what the Marshall plan meant to Europe, and the implication is clear: Do more for the Gulf.

A.P.: Major management problems are symptomatic to Homeland Security and FEMA, so says an internal report.

Border security

Chris Hawley has a must read in the Arizona Republic:
U.S. spending on military and police aid to Mexico has more than tripled in the past five years to $57.8 million with the hope it will help protect America's southern flank. But the funding also marks a dramatic shift in the relationship between the two countries, as Mexico, long wary of accepting military and police aid from its northern neighbor, becomes the third-biggest recipient in Latin America behind Colombia and Peru.
The press and alliteration

Yes, Virginia, there is a "Bistro Bandit," San Diego Union Tribune.

Robert Novak (or: The press and notable quotables)

Chicago Sun Times:
If there ever was a golden age of Congress, it preceded my time in Washington. More likely, Bismarck's admonition that "laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made" always applied to Congress. Nevertheless, with bipartisan responsibility, Congress functions more poorly today and looks worse doing it.

Typical of what ails Congress was consideration of the Patriot Act last week as Congress finished for the year. A strong consensus wanted to extend the act that broadened anti-terrorist police powers. An outsider watching the Dec. 21 debate on the Senate-House conference would have heard mostly sloganeering without exposition of the issues, a congressional failing that is worse than ever.

When Democrats were joined by four conservative Republican senators to reject ending debate on the conference report, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist immediately suggested the absence of a quorum -- a device increasingly used to avoid debate. Nothing happened on the Senate floor during a quorum call lasting nearly seven hours.

Typically, the real debate took place outside of public view as senators agreed on a six-month extension of the act pending final negotiations.


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