Sunday, December 10, 2006

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST December 10, 2006

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Democrats have plans, but they'll need to pay
The spending initiatives being envisioned for the next Congress are on acollision course with high budget deficits.
By Joel Havemann
Times Staff Writer

December 10, 2006

WASHINGTON - After being out of power for 12 years, Democrats will takecontrol of Congress next month with a wish list of new programs, includingmore money for college student aid, the No Child Left Behind schoolsinitiative and Medicare prescription drug benefits - plus tax relief formiddle-income Americans.

But there's a hitch: The Democrats also have promised to restore fiscalresponsibility and not increase the federal deficit.

"The debt is spiraling out of control," Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), incomingchairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said last month. "The needs andwants are limitless, but our power to meet them is highly limited."


Two really scary words: politics and the Internet

Political blogs are changing the rules of engagement. As they are beingrewritten, are we better or worse off? Or are things just different now?
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published December 10, 2006

"You listen to eBay and e-mail and all that junk, and you all kept writingabout it, and that fans it and makes it grow and grow, and it becomes acancer." - Bobby Bowden, talking to reporters recently.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Florida State football coach is hardly alone in hisangst about the new Internet-driven media world.

Of course, I can't say I listen much to eBay, but seven days a week I clickon the St. Petersburg Times' popular Buzz political wondering whether the comments posted by politicaljunkies across Florida will offer insight, partisan banalities or anonymous,sleazy attacks to be deleted.

We're moving fast into a sometimes scary new world for politics and media,and there's no turning back. Lately I've been reminded constantly of howdramatically the Internet is changing the landscape:


Dems' dream ticket doesn't include Hillary
By George McEvoy

Palm Beach Post Columnist

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Now that the Democrats have taken over both the House and the Senate, theyare practically salivating at the thought that only the White House awaits.

And talk about being part of history, they have a chance to elect the firstfemale president or vice president, the first African-American president orvice president, or have both on the ticket at the same time.

Personally, I don't see it working out quite that way. But let me explain.

The talking heads on TV have been drooling over a possible Democratic ticketof Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., andnot neccessarily in that order.


The Advocate

Poll shows problems for Clinton, Giuliani if they seek presidency

Democratic senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is popular within her party butcould have trouble winning the presidency, according to a poll that alsoidentified potential hurdles within the GOP for former New York mayor RudyGiuliani. The former first lady held a double-digit lead over possiblerivals in the survey released Thursday by Marist College's Institute forPublic Opinion.

Clinton, who has taken steps suggesting a 2008 bid, had the support of 33%of Democrats to 14% for former senator John Edwards. Former Vice PresidentAl Gore was at 13% and Sen. Barack Obama 12%. Other Democrats were in singledigits.

Still, Clinton remains a polarizing figure, with 47% of registered voterssaying they would definitely not consider voting for her. Twenty-fivepercent said they definitely would consider voting for her, while 28% saidthey would possibly consider it.


The New York Times

December 10, 2006

Dems Vow Change As Congress Ends Session
Filed at 1:15 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The 109th session of Congress, frustrated by partisanshipand criticized for its meager record of accomplishment, ended with flurry ofbill-passing and promises of change when Democrats take over the House andSenate in January.

Before the predawn finish Saturday, departing House Speaker Dennis Hastertacknowledged that after eight years, the longest stretch for a Republican inthe job, he will welcome a return to the rank and file. ''On Jan. 4, I willbe privileged to rejoin you on these benches where my heart is,'' he said,

The Illinois Republican will be succeeded on that day by Rep. Nancy Pelosi,D-Calif. She becomes the first female speaker and the first Democrat in thepost since Newt Gingrich of Georgia led the Republicans to power in 1995.


The New York Times

December 10, 2006

About Those Other Problems

No one could ever suggest that James Baker lacks ambition orself-confidence. So it is not surprising that along with its effort tosalvage Iraq, the report from Mr. Baker's Iraq Study Group offers somestrong advice on how to fix George W. Bush's dysfunctional Washington - andthe president's dysfunctional relations with the rest of the world.

We were particularly drawn to Recommendations 46, 72 and 78. Under separateheadings dealing with the military, the federal budget and the nation'sintelligence agencies, they share one basic idea: Government officialsshould not lie to the public or each other, especially in matters of war.

One should not need a blue ribbon commission to know that. But the fact thatit had to be said, and so often, in the report goes a long way towardexplaining how Mr. Bush got the country into the Iraq mess and why it isproving so hard to dig out of it.


The New York Times

December 10, 2006
DNA Gatherers Hit Snag: Tribes Don't Trust Them

SOUTH NAKNEK, Alaska - The National Geographic Society's multimillion-dollarresearch project to collect DNA from indigenous groups around the world inthe hopes of reconstructing humanity's ancient migrations has come to astandstill on its home turf in North America.

Billed as the "moon shot of anthropology," the Genographic Project intendsto collect 100,000 indigenous DNA samples. But for four months, the projecthas been on hold here as it scrambles to address questions raised by a groupthat oversees research involving Alaska natives.

At issue is whether scientists who need DNA from aboriginal populations tofashion a window on the past are underselling the risks to present-daydonors. Geographic origin stories told by DNA can clash with long-heldbeliefs, threatening a world view some indigenous leaders see as vital topreserving their culture.


The Washington Post

Our 'Messianic Impulse'

By Robert Kagan
Sunday, December 10, 2006; B07

As Americans struggle to find an answer to the serious problems in Iraq,larger and broader questions beckon. How did we wind up in Iraq in the firstplace? Some argue that we were too aggressive and self-righteous inpromoting our principles, too meddlesome, too arrogant in seeking totransform the world, too quick to intervene militarily in crises far fromour shores and remote from our interests. If the United States would onlychange its approach to the world, if it understood the virtues of limits,modesty and humility, we could avoid foreign policy debacles and the worldwould be a safer place.


The New York Times

December 10, 2006

The Pattern May Change, if ...


AFTER a 217-year march of major presidential nominees who were, withoutexception, white and male, the 2008 campaign may offer voters a novel

But as Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois whose father is from Kenya,spends this weekend exploring a presidential bid in New Hampshire, andHillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman to represent New York in the Senate,calls potential supporters in Iowa, the question remains: are Americansprepared to elect an African-American or a woman as president?

Or, to look at it from the view of Democrats hungry for victory in 2008, isthe nation more likely to vote for a woman or an African-American forpresident?


The Washington Post

Meanwhile, Reality In Iraq

By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, December 10, 2006; B07

LONDON -- President Bush has finally heard some realistic, even brutal,ideas about finding a path out of Iraq. But few of them came from thepolitically interesting but strategically flawed Iraq Study Group's report.

The future of Iraq came calling at the White House three times during anextraordinary 72-hour period last week. History (or perhaps White Housechief of staff and visit-scheduler Josh Bolten) was taking no chances: Itwas announcing clearly to Bush a last chance to salvage some advantage andhonor out of this administration's error-riddled occupation of Iraq.


The New York Times

December 10, 2006
Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid For by Taxes

Life was different in Unit E at the state prison outside Newton, Iowa.

The toilets and sinks - white porcelain ones, like at home - were in aseparate bathroom with partitions for privacy. In many Iowa prisons, metaltoilet-and-sink combinations squat beside the bunks, to be used withoutprivacy, a few feet from cellmates.

The cells in Unit E had real wooden doors and doorknobs, with locks. Morebooks and computers were available, and inmates were kept busy with classes,chores, music practice and discussions. There were occasional movies andevents with live bands and real-world food, like pizza or sandwiches fromSubway. Best of all, there were opportunities to see loved ones in anenvironment quieter and more intimate than the typical visiting rooms.

But the only way an inmate could qualify for this kinder mutation of prisonlife was to enter an intensely religious rehabilitation program and satisfythe evangelical Christians running it that he was making acceptablespiritual progress. The program - which grew from a project started in 1997at a Texas prison with the support of George W. Bush, who was governor atthe time - says on its Web site that it seeks "to 'cure' prisoners byidentifying sin as the root of their problems" and showing inmates "how Godcan heal them permanently, if they turn from their sinful past."


The New York Times

December 10, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
The Sunshine Boys Can't Save Iraq

IN America we like quick fixes, closure and an uplifting show. Such were thehigh hopes for the Iraq Study Group, and on one of the three it delivered.

The report of the 10 Washington elders was rolled out like a heartwarmingHollywood holiday release. There was a feel-good title, "The Way Forward,"unfortunately chosen as well by Ford Motor to promote its last-ditch plan tostave off bankruptcy. There was a months-long buildup, with titillatingsneak previews to whip up anticipation. There was the gala publicity tour onopening day, starting with a President Bush cameo timed for morningtelevision and building to a "Sunshine Boys" curtain call by James Baker andLee Hamilton on "Larry King Live."


The New York Times

December 10, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
After the Fall

In fall 2007, the United States began to withdraw troops from Iraq, and sobegan the Second Thirty Years' War. This war was a bewildering array ofsmall and vast conflicts, which flared and receded and flared again acrossthe entire Middle East, but which were joined by a common theme.

The essence of all this disorder was that the Arab nation-states lostcontrol. Subnational groups - like Hezbollah and the Mahdi Army - andsupranational groups - like loosely connected terror networks, the new Sunniand Shiite Leagues and the satellite television networks - went fromstrength to strength while central national governments toppled and fell.The collapse of national governments led to a power vacuum that the moreauthentic and deeply rooted social groups sought to fill.


Forwarded from Susan Frishkorn
Tri-County -

Published on Friday, December 8, 2006 by the Los Angeles Times
It's Still about Oil in Iraq

A centerpiece of the Iraq Study Group's report is its advocacy for securingforeign companies' long-term access to Iraqi oil fields.

by Antonia Juhasz

While the Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats stillrefuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmaticmembers of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.

Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importanceto its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has theworld's second-largest known oil reserves." The group then proceeds to givevery specific and radical recommendations as to what the United Statesshould do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq'snational oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.

The report makes visible to everyone the elephant in the room: that we arefighting, killing and dying in a war for oil. It states in plain languagethat the U.S. government should use every tool at its disposal to ensurethat American oil interests and those of its corporations are met.


The New York Times

December 10, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
The Muslim Stereotype

Whatever happens in Iraq, we may be inching closer to a "clash ofcivilizations" between Islam and the West.

There's a fatigue in the West with an Arab world that sometimes seems to putits creative juices mostly into building better bombs. Even open-mindedpeople in the West sometimes feel a sense of resignation that maybe thebigots are right: maybe Islam just is intrinsically backward, misogynisticand violent.

After I wrote recently about reform elements in Islam, I received a longnote from a 24-year-old Chicagoan, Paul Williams, who ventured what manypeople feel: "I went to school in Macalester College and the whole timethere I wrote paper after paper defending Islam," he told me. Now, he says,after reading the Koran cover to cover and living in Turkey, he has lapsedinto political incorrectness: "The more I'm here the more I'm beginning tothink that there's just something wrong with Islam."


The New York Times

December 10, 2006
Report on Iraq Exposes Divide Within G.O.P.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 - The release of the report by the bipartisan Iraq StudyGroup this week exposed deep fissures among Republicans over how to manage awar that many fear will haunt their party - and the nation - for years tocome.

A document that many in Washington had hoped would pave the way for abipartisan compromise on Iraq instead drew sharp condemnation from theright, with hawks saying it was a wasted effort that advocated a shamefulAmerican retreat.

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page described the report as a"strategic muddle," Richard Perle called it "absurd," Rush Limbaugh labeledit "stupid," and The New York Post portrayed the leaders of the group,former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, a formerDemocratic member of Congress, as "surrender monkeys."

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