Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Round-up........

NYT Devastates Dems on Earmarks01/12 06:05 PM - The Markup

Credit where it's due: the New York Times today did a superb job of holding Harry Reid accountable for his obstruction of earmarking transparency reform. The Porkbusters and even liberal blogs like TPMMuckraker also did great work on this story, but Reid knows that a Democratic Senate Majority Leader can't lose the New York Times this early into his tenure. An excerpt:

After campaigning for months on a promise to tighten ethics rules, Senate Democratic leaders tried unsuccessfully Thursday to block a measure that would shine a light on the shadowy practice of earmarking federal money for lawmakers’ pet projects.

Last week the House Democrats passed an unexpectedly broad change to their chamber’s rules that would disclose the size, purpose and sponsor of any earmark.

But on Thursday, when Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, introduced the same thing in the Senate, Democratic leaders moved quickly to squash it, calling the House bill ill thought out.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said he was happy to see the House “moving things along very quickly.” But, Mr. Reid said, “frankly, I don’t think they spent the time on this that we have.”


Reid Waves White Flag With this CQ article ($), it seems like this is official. What's thoroughly surprising is that the new DeMint Amendment is even stronger than the original one. Excerpt:
After losing a critical floor vote Thursday and scrambling in vain to reverse the decision, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., found the spirit of bipartisan compromise more to his liking Friday morning.

Reid offered an olive branch to Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., agreeing to embrace his amendment to a pending ethics and lobbying overhaul (S 1) with some modifications. DeMint’s amendment, which Democratic leaders tried but failed to kill on Thursday, would expand the definition of member earmarks that would be subject to new disclosure rules.

[...] Reid admitted Friday that he was caught off guard when nine Democrats and independent Joseph I. Lieberman voted against his motion to table, or kill, the DeMint amendment. His effort failed, 46-51.

[...] Friday morning, a chastened Reid said, “Yesterday was a rather difficult day, as some days are. We tend to get in a hurry around here sometimes when we shouldn’t be. Personally, for the majority, we probably could have done a little better job.”

DeMint, who was flabbergasted Thursday by Reid’s maneuvering to change the outcome of the vote, was happy to accept the compromise Friday.

“DeMint has been happy to work to come to a bipartisan compromise that solidifies the reforms done by [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] and House Democrats,” said DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton.

Other Storys on Reids EarmarkBenifit/Reform:


Reid interview with Jim Lehrer:

IM LEHRER: What I'm getting at, I think, Senator, is it's a little bit of an "oh, I'm so shocked" element to this that a lot of people are having trouble understanding because this kind of practice of lobbyists trying to influence legislation is part and parcel of the system.

SEN. HARRY REID: Jim, your question is very valid, and I'm sorry I didn't get to the answer sooner. Here's the situation we have though. We are in the minority. There's an arrogance of power here in Washington that is untoward. Republican White House, Republican House, Republican Senate. Seven of the nine members of the Supreme Court have been appointed by Republican presidents.

JIM LEHRER: Do you think that is in the wind, based on what Speaker Hastert and other Republicans have said - Sen. McCain, Sen. Santorum and others?

SEN. HARRY REID: Having Sen. Santorum talk about reform is like having John Gotti talk about doing something about organized crime.

SEN. HARRY REID: Jim, the Republican spinmeisters in this town are really quite good. This is a Republican scandal. Jack Abramoff I've never met, I've never have seen him. As far as I know, I've never been in the same building that he has been in. He gave about a quarter of a million dollars to Republicans, not a single penny to Democrats.



As might be expected, the New York Times is trying its unlevel MSM best to portray Iraqi reaction to President Bush's recently-announced proposal in the most negative possible light. But the Gray Lady has already been forced to acknowledge that it blatantly misrepresented a key fact in its recent article on the matter. Now, new doubts have arisen about its characterization of Iraqi reaction.

In its article of January 11th, unsubtly entitled In Baghdad, Bush Policy Is Met With Resentment, the Times claimed that the Iraqi government had "offered only a grudging endorsement" of President Bush's proposal and that its response was "tepid."

As supposed evidence of the alleged "resentment," the Times claimed that "the Iraqi leader, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, failed to appear at a news conference," suggesting that he had spurned a scheduled appearance. This notion was reinforced by the legend appearing beneath the Times' photo [displayed here]: "Iraq’s prime minister sent a spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, to address President Bush’s latest policy."

There was only one problem with the Times depiction of PM Maliki having failed to appear at a scheduled appearance: it wasn't true. The press briefing was a regularly-scheduled weekly event with Government of Iraq spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh and the Prime Minister was never scheduled to appear.

The Times was forced to acknowledge its misrepresentation in a correction published today:

Corrections Published: January 13, 2007An article yesterday about the Iraqi government’s response to plans by President Bush to deploy additional troops referred incorrectly to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s absence from the government’s news conference. Mr. Maliki was never scheduled to speak; it was not that he “failed to appear.

Now comes a further challenge to the Times story, regarding the way the paper depicted the tone and mood of Dr. al-Dabbagh's comments. According to the Times, al-Dabbagh spoke "tartly" and in a "dyspeptic tone" in discussing the new security plans.

The press conference was conducted exclusively in Arabic. Were the Times reporters Arabic speakers, or were they offering their reading of the tone of remarks?

In any case, a senior U.S. government official located in Baghdad informs me that a US colonel who works with the government of Iraq and who attended the press conference had a very different take on Dr. al-Dabbagh's comments. According to him, rather than tart and dyspeptic, al-Dabbagh's voice and gestures were "forceful and complimentary" about the proposal.

One press conference; two diametrically opposed takes on the spokesman's tone. Given the Times' blatant misrepresentation of a key fact concerning the conference, I'd say the paper's crediblity on the event has been seriously undermined. If anyone is suffering from dyspepsia, it could be the folks at the Times.


Op-Ed ContributorBush’s Iraq Plan, Between the Lines By ANTHONY H. CORDESMAN
Published: January 12, 2007

PRESIDENT BUSH has presented a new strategy for the war in Iraq that he feels can reverse the country’s drift toward large-scale civil war. The new plan focuses on stabilizing Baghdad by adding thousands of American troops with newly expanded powers to take on Shiite as well as Sunni rebels. It also includes a limited increase in United States forces in Anbar Province, and calls for Iraqi forces to take formal control of the security mission in November. The president was refreshingly candid, saying that “where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.”

But taken as a whole, the speech raised more questions than it answered. I’ve selected a number of important phrases from the address that beg for more detailed discussion, and included my own analysis of the validity and practicality of what the president seems to have in mind.

Nice to know how much our "paper of record" supports American interest. (Rovinsworld will add further comment here soon)


Iraqi PM, Bush Share 'Common Vision'
By SAMEER N. YACOUB Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The Iraqi prime minister's office on Saturday expressed support for President Bush's new war strategy but stressed the government would maintain control over military action in Baghdad.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has remained quiet about the strategy, which was unveiled on Thursday, amid questions about his commitment to confronting Shiite militias that have been blamed in much of the sectarian violence.

But his spokesman said the Shiite leader sees Bush's plan to send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq as representing "a common vision and a mutual understanding between the Iraqi government and the American administration."

The American forces would be working in support of the Iraqis as they implement al-Maliki's security plan to restore peace in Baghdad, spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.
"This plan is being backed by the multinational forces," he said.

The Latest & Greatest On Jamil Hussein Posted by Curt on January 13, 2007 at 1:25 AM

I decided to step away a bit, but not completely, on the Jamil Hussein story and get back to the crux of the story. The whole thing has become convoluted and twisted to the point where people are not sure which way is up so I figured a little history on the story would be worth my time to convey with some additional commentary.


Video: Olbermann’s special comment — the condensed version

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