Friday, August 31, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: White House press secretary Snow resigns – Yahoo! News

Tony Snow, the highly visible White House press secretary, will leave his job on Sept. 14 and be replaced by his deputy, Dana Perino, an administration official said Friday.

This was, of course, an expected move.

Press Secretary is one of those jobs that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, as it seems that one is in a no win position, i.e., having to be the public voice for someone else and doing so under orders to say certain things, but not others.

I wish Snow well, especially given his struggle with cancer.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Sen. John Warner decides not to run

Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, one of the most authoritative voices in Congress on the military and a key figure in the debate over Iraq, said Friday he will not seek a sixth term in 2024.

Interesting. I must confess, my first reaction to any retirement of a long-serving member of Congress is that it is a good thing as most members simply stay too long. Three full decades is too long for any one person to hold that much power, regardless of skill or party.

In terms of the political implications, one would guess that the Warner’s seat will be one that the Democrats will have a very good chance of capturing.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via CNN: Well-placed GOP sources: Craig likely to quit soon

Several well-placed GOP sources in Washington and Idaho have told CNN that embattled Republican Sen. Larry Craig is likely to resign soon, possibly as early as Friday.

This move would hardly surprise me. Still, the speed with which this has moved to this point has been extraordinary.

And the following is rather remarkable:

A GOP source with knowledge of the situation told CNN’s Dana Bash that the Republican National Committee was poised to take the extraordinary step of calling on Craig to resign.

Even when party hierarchies want someone to resign, they usually don’t go public, relying rather on back channels and public pressure. The vehemence here is therefore surprising. Heck, the GOP establishment stuck with Mark Foley for longer than this.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: Panel Will Urge Broad Overhaul of Iraqi Police

An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq’s security forces will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, administration and military officials said Thursday.

The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.

I have tried to start a sentence on this topic about three times and my brain keeps wanting to go in multiple directions. Fundamentally it is striking what a fundamental failure of policy is being indicated here by such a recommendation. Basically over four years into this enterprise a key component of the Iraqi state is so dysfunctional that it is being suggested by a panel of experts sent over to assess the situation that we “start over.”

The problem, of course, is that there is no “reset” button to push. Moreover, the problems that are identified here are endemic to the entire situation, not just to the police. But don’t worry, The Surge has produced some positive results, so pay no attention to the debacle behind the curtain! That seems to be the White House’s official line, anyway:

Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, defended the White House approach, saying: “The real question that people have is, What’s going on in Iraq? Are we making progress? Militarily, is the surge having an impact? The answer’s yes.”

Sadly, Kevin Drum‘s assessment is more accurate:

In other words, except for the fact that Iraq has a disfunctional government, a disfunctional police force, and a barely functional army, things are going great.

A major problem with the way the administration is talking about the surge is that they have rhetorically redefined the objective of the surge to be one of military gains instead of being a means to an end, i.e., more stability to help the political situation. The goal was never simply to increase security, it was to increase security so that other goals could be pursued. The constant harping on how there have been (debatable, btw) security advances while ignoring the fact that the political situation is in shambles is delusional. How can proper policy decisions be made if the policymakers refuse to make a realistic assessment of the problem? The answer is: it isn’t possible. Indeed, it was that kind of thinking (defining the problem and the solution the way the administration wanted them to be rather than how they really were) that got us to this point in the first place.

BTW, as a side note, didn’t Giuliani’s consulting firm help in the initial training of the Iraqi police?

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Thursday, August 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

It just hit me: can you imagine the headlines if it had been Idaho’s other Senator who had been arrested in a bathroom? Indeed, I think that the New York Post would’ve exploded had this happened…

(Yes, its juvenile humor, and I will admit to mental fatigue after a day of writing, but I just felt the need to share.)

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Thompson to announce bid Sept. 6.

It is less that I doubt he is going to run as we have been down this road before.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via law prof Steve Bainbridge:

Senator Larry Craig says he didn’t talk to a lawyer before deciding to plead guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge alledgedly arising out of an attempt to solicit gay sex. He also says he pled guilty “in hopes of making it go away.” Whatever else one thinks of the guy, he’s too dumb to be a US Senator. Did he really think nobody would notice a US Senator pleading guilty to a criminal charge?

Indeed. (Although the answer is: he didn’t think. There was a clear lack of thinking in general in this case).

And, all flippancy aside, this entire affair suggests that Craig has profound personal and psychological issues as the only logical explanation that I can come up with for why he pled guilty is that he panicked. Clearly he didn’t want testimony about past accusations to emerge, not to mention the publicity in general. He was, of course, naive to assume that he could avoid either (or just desperately hopeful).

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By Steven L. Taylor

Speaking of the draft GO report and the benchmarks, the WaPo piece has the following helpful graphic that details which benchmarks have been reached and where there are appear to be disagreements between the White House and the draft report from the GAO.

When one looks at the benchmarks that the GAO assesses as being reached we have one that is linked to the surge (#14), one about forming committees (#8) and one that strikes me as more symbolic than substantive (#16). As such, even the successes are hardly comforting.


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By Steven L. Taylor

One gripe I have about Vista is that it seems never to be satisfied with its last reboot. Every time I shut it all the way down and restart, it tells me that it is in the process of updgrading and needs a restart (even if I just rebooted). Once I rebooted several times in a row to see if that would clear it out and satisfy the great gods of the restart. However, no go. Now I just tell it “no” and move on.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: US economy receives growth boost

The US economy grew at annual rate of 4% in the second quarter of the year, a better performance than first thought.

Revised figures from the Commerce Department showed the economy fared much better than its initial forecast of a rate of 3.4%.

The rise, eclipsing the 0.6% growth seen between January and March, was due mainly to strong business investment.

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