Monday, August 27, 2007


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Washington Post

Younger Crowd Losing Appetite For Edwards
By Anne E. Kornblut
Wednesday, August 22, 2007; A03


Tasara Ocheskey is an Iowa Democrat of the active variety -- so enthusiasticabout the upcoming caucuses that she interrupted a reunion brunch with highschool friends at the Waveland Cafe last Saturday to talk about the race.

But Ocheskey, 28, is no longer enthralled with the candidate she supportedlast time: former senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

Instead, she's thrown him over for Sen. Barack Obama. "I decided right atthe beginning of the campaign to support Barack Obama," said Ocheskey, ateacher in Des Moines.

Under a thin layer of smoke that hung at the diner ceiling as dishes clankedand her friends fell quiet to listen to the political conversation, Ocheskeypoured out the reasons for her conversion, all of them pertaining to whatshe described as Obama's strengths and fresh appeal rather than Edwards'sweaknesses.



The New York Times

August 27, 2007
Embattled Attorney General Resigns

WACO, Tex., Aug. 27 - Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure hasbeen marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, hasresigned. A senior administration official said he would announce thedecision later this morning in Washington.

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation, submitted his toPresident Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision wasnot immediately announced, the official added, until after the presidentinvited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch near here.

Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the positionopen long, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because theresignation had not yet been made public.

Mr. Bush had repeatedly stood by Mr. Gonzales, an old friend and colleaguefrom Texas, even as Mr. Gonzales faced increasing scrutiny for hisleadership of the Justice Department, over issues including his role in thedismissals of nine United States attorneys late last year and whether hetestified truthfully about the National Security Agency's surveillanceprograms.



Forwarded from Ron Mills

Might there be some trading up at the Justice Department? According to U.S.News and World Report, "buzz among top Bushies is that beleaguered AttorneyGeneral Alberto Gonzales finally plans to depart and will be replaced byHomeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff."

Officials claim the Chertoff is a likely candidate because he has littleconnection to the Justice prosecutor scandal, has friends on Capitol Hill,and is experienced, having served as a federal judge and assistant attorneygeneral.


The New York Times

August 27, 2007
Ravaging Appalachia

Give the Bush administration credit for persistence. It just won't let a badidea die. On Friday, the Interior Department's Office of Surface Miningproposed new regulations that it hopes will permanently legalize mountaintopmining - a cheap, ruthlessly efficient, environmentally destructive means ofmining coal from the mountains of Appalachia.

By our count, this is the third attempt in the last six years to enshrinethe practice by insulating it from legal challenge. But since the net resultis likely to be more confusion and more courtroom wrestling, the situationcries out for Congressional intervention to define once and for all whatmining companies can and cannot do.

Mountaintop mining is basically high-altitude strip mining. Enormousmachines scrape away the ridges to get at the coal seams below. The residualrock and dirt are then dumped or carted down the mountainside into nearbyvalleys and streams. By one estimate, this serial decapitation of Appalachia's coal-rich hills has already buried 1,200 miles of streams while damaginghundreds of square miles of forests.

No recent administration, Democratic or Republican, has made a seriouseffort to end the dumping, largely in deference to the financial influenceof the coal industry and the political influence of Robert Byrd, WestVirginia's senior senator. But the Bush people have been particularlyresourceful in perpetuating the practice.


The New York Times

August 27, 2007
The C.I.A.'s Open Secrets

WHEN a federal judge dismissed Valerie Plame's lawsuit against the CentralIntelligence Agency earlier this month, she ruled that the agency wasentitled to stop Ms. Plame from publishing the dates of her agency service,even though these dates had been supplied to Congress in an unclassifiedletter from the C.I.A. and had been published in The Congressional Record.Ms. Plame is just one in a long line of ex-C.I.A. employees to lose similarsuits, in which the agency successfully defended the position thatinformation in the public domain was classified.

How can information that's a five-minute Google search away be classified?It's simple. Classified information is not the same thing as secretinformation.

When I worked in the C.I.A.'s directorate of operations (now called thenational clandestine service) in the early '90s, we were told thatinformation was classified when it involved sources or methods. It seemedlogical that sources were classified. These were actual agents who would beput in jeopardy if their identities were revealed.


The New York Times

August 27, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
A Socialist Plot

Suppose, for a moment, that the Heritage Foundation were to put out a pressrelease attacking the liberal view that even children whose parents couldafford to send them to private school should be entitled to freegovernment-run education.

They'd have a point: many American families with middle-class incomes dosend their kids to school at public expense, so taxpayers without school-agechildren subsidize families that do. And the effect is to displace theprivate sector: if public schools weren't available, many families would payfor private schools instead.

So let's end this un-American system and make education what it should be -a matter of individual responsibility and private enterprise. Oh, and weshouldn't have any government mandates that force children to get educated,either. As a Republican presidential candidate might say, the future ofAmerica's education system lies in free-market solutions, not socialistmodels.

O.K., in case you're wondering, I haven't lost my mind, I'm drawing ananalogy. The real Heritage press release, titled "The Middle-Class WelfareKid Next Door," is an attack on proposals to expand the State Children'sHealth Insurance Program. Such an expansion, says Heritage, will "displaceprivate insurance with government-sponsored health care coverage."

And Rudy Giuliani's call for "free-market solutions, not socialist models"was about health care, not education.



The New York Times

August 27, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The MacArthur Lunch
United Nations

Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to the United Nations, is atwinkle-eyed hawk. The defeat of Soviet imperialism in Afghanistan, theunfinished business of the 1991 Persian Gulf war and his own liberatingodyssey from an Afghan childhood to the University of Chicago convinced himthe world needs the transformational power of the United States.

Since 9/11, he has fared better than most of the Bush brigade. As aBeirut-educated, Farsi-speaking Sunni Muslim, he actually has a clue aboutthe Islamic world. He was prepared to sip tea rather than set edicts.

In his shepherding of Hamid Karzai to power in Kabul, his forging of Sunnicooperation now bearing fruit in Iraq's Anbar Province, and in his recentprodding of the U.N. to a fuller Iraqi role, "Zal," as he's known, hassuggested shrewdness explains the twinkle.

So, as the September storm clouds gather over America-in-Iraq, I wasintrigued to find Zal looking back in anguish. President Bush now alludes to"the mistakes that have been made," but is unspecific. There's such anarray, everyone has a favorite: a nonexistent casus belli, skimpy trooplevels, the end of the Iraqi army, aberrant planning.

Khalilzad's anguish centers on May 6, 2003. That's the day he expected Bushto announce his return to Iraq to convene a grand assembly - something likean Afghan loya jirga - that would fast-forward a provisional Iraqigovernment.

Instead, the appointment of L. Paul Bremer III to head a CoalitionProvisional Authority was announced. Khalilzad, incredulous, went elsewhere.In the place of an Afghan-American Muslim on a mission to empower Iraqis, wegot the former ambassador to the Netherlands for a one-year proconsul gig.


The New York Times

August 27, 2007
Liberian Ex-Leader's War Crimes Trial Is Stalled

PARIS, Aug. 25 - When Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, wasarrested 17 months ago on war crimes charges and ordered to faceinternational judges, it was heralded as a milestone for justice in Africa.

His trial, the first war crimes trial for an African president, was to startin April.

But having barely begun, the case has already lost its momentum. LastMonday, hearings were postponed for the fourth time this year, and the courtis now set to reconvene in January.

The latest disruption was the result of Mr. Taylor's dismissal of hiscourt-appointed lawyer, Karim Khan. His new lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths,told the court that his team needed at least four months to study the 40,000pages of evidence already before the court. And he said that Mr. Taylor'spersonal archives, about 50,000 pages, had only just surfaced and needed tobe examined.


The New York Times

August 27, 2007
Senator's Office Is Burglarized

HARTFORD, Aug. 26 (AP) - Burglars broke into Senator Christopher J. Dodd'soffice here late Saturday, taking undisclosed items and leaving evidence atthe scene, the police said.

Investigators declined to say what was stolen or what was left behind at theoffice, which is on Lewis Street.

Jamie Radice, a spokeswoman for Mr. Dodd, confirmed the break-in, but saidshe was not sure what was taken.

The police said they believe that the suspects jumped from the roof of abuilding next door onto the fire escape of the building that houses Mr. Dodd's
office and broke in through a second-story window. The burglary occurredbetween 10 and 11 p.m., they said.

Mr. Dodd is seeking the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.


The Washington Post

Iraq's Endangered Minorities
By Nina Shea
Monday, August 27, 2007; A13

Recent bombings in Iraq's Kurdish area nearly annihilated two Yazidivillages, killing hundreds of this ancient angel-revering, Indo-Europeanreligious group. The single deadliest atrocity of the Iraq conflict, it wasalso the latest demonstration that Iraq's non-Muslims are in danger ofextinction.

Sixty years ago, Iraq's flourishing Jewish population, a third of Baghdad,fled in the wake of coordinated bombings and violence against them. Today, ahandful of Jews remain. Unless Washington acts, the same fate awaits Iraq'smillion or so Christians and other minorities. They are not simply caught inthe crossfire of a Muslim power struggle; they are being targeted in aruthless cleansing campaign by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militants.

This crime against humanity has gone unnoticed by the Bush administrationand Congress. Iraq's Catholic Chaldean; Syriac Orthodox, Assyrian, Armenianand Protestant Christians; and smaller Yazidi and Mandean communities areseen as inconsequential. They don't sponsor terrorism, hold political poweror have strong regional allies. Because they do not cause trouble, they areignored.


The Washington Post

Muslim Democracy in Action
By Jackson Diehl
Monday, August 27, 2007; A13

The notion that democracy and Islam are fundamentally incompatible is aboutto get a resounding rebuke, just at the moment it is threatening to congealas conventional wisdom in Washington.

Barring a last-minute surprise -- such as a military coup -- a liberal andpro-Western politician named Abdullah Gul will be elected president ofTurkey by the country's parliament tomorrow. Gul speaks fluent English andhas been a steady if somewhat quiet friend of the United States during morethan four years as foreign minister. He also identifies himself as areligious Muslim in a country with an 85-year history of militantsecularism. His wife wears a headscarf, which is banned from public offices,universities and -- until now -- the president's Cankaya Palace in Ankara.

A lot of people in Turkey say they're worried that Gul's election will markthe beginning of the end of Western-style modernization in their country.Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also has political roots inIslam. The Justice and Development (AK) Party will then control two branchesof government, with broad power to enact new laws, appoint judges anduniversity rectors, and, in theory, command the military. Some people inWashington are worried, too -- including partisans of Israel who suspectErdogan of sympathy for the Palestinian Hamas movement and conservatives whocharge him with plotting to undermine Turkey's secular democracy.


The Washington Post

The Gifted Children Left Behind
By Susan Goodkin and David G. Gold
Monday, August 27, 2007; A13

With reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act high on the agenda asCongress returns from its recess, lawmakers must confront the fact that thelaw is causing many concerned parents to abandon public schools that are notfailing.

These parents are fleeing public schools not only because, as documented bya recent University of Chicago study, the act pushes teachers to ignorehigh-ability students through its exclusive focus on bringing students tominimum proficiency. Worse than this benign neglect, No Child forces afundamental educational approach so inappropriate for high-ability studentsthat it destroys their interest in learning, as school becomes an endlesschain of basic lessons aimed at low-performing students.

These predictable problems were reported as early as 2003, when the WallStreet Journal warned that schools were shifting their focus overwhelminglytoward low achievers. Expressions of concern from distressed parents andeducators of gifted children have come in increasing numbers ever since.

No Child is particularly destructive to bright young math students. Facedwith a mandate to bring every last student to proficiency, schools emphasizeincessant drilling of rudimentary facts and teach that there is one "right"way to solve even higher-order problems. Yet one of the clearest markers ofa nimble math mind is the ability to see novel approaches and shortcuts toattacking such problems.


The Washington Post

Insuring Poor Children
The Bush administration tries to preempt a debate about how broad federallysponsored coverage should be.

Monday, August 27, 2007; A12

PRESIDENT BUSH and congressional Democrats are battling over how high up theincome scale states should be allowed to go in offering health insurance topoor children under the decade-old program known as SCHIP. Now, theadministration has moved to short-circuit the legislative debate and, ineffect, impose by administrative fiat a limit of 250 percent of the federalpoverty level, about $43,000 for a family of three.

States were told this month that they will no longer be allowed to enrollchildren whose families earn above 250 percent of the poverty level unlessthey can prove that they have managed to cover 95 percent of children below200 percent of the poverty level and unless they require that children whopreviously had private health insurance wait a full year without coveragebefore enrolling in the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Thedebate is a complicated one, since offering coverage for children inhigher-earning families risks displacing existing private insurance. But forSCHIP the administration's income cap is too strict, given variations in thecost of living and the price of health insurance. Its linked coverage targetis too hard to reach -- few states even come close. A year is too long atime for a child to go uninsured. And the administration's way ofimplementing a major policy shift that would affect at least 19 states andthe District of Columbia is too highhanded.

Certainly, insurance efforts ought to concentrate -- as the competing SCHIPmeasures that have passed the House and Senate do -- on covering children infamilies with the lowest incomes.


The Washington Post

The Outsider's Insider
After three decades in Washington, Pete Rouse is a voice of experience for
Sen. Barack Obama.

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 27, 2007; A01

Sen. Barack Obama had hired Pete Rouse for just such a moment.

It was the fall of 2005, and the celebrated young senator -- still new toCapitol Hill but aware of his prospects for higher office -- was thinkingabout voting to confirm John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice. Talking withhis aides, the Illinois Democrat expressed admiration for Roberts'sintellect. Besides, Obama said, if he were president he wouldn't want hisjudicial nominees opposed simply on ideological grounds.

And then Rouse, his chief of staff, spoke up. This was no Harvard moot-courtexercise, he said. If Obama voted for Roberts, Rouse told him, people wouldremind him of that every time the Supreme Court issued another conservativeruling, something that could cripple a future presidential run. Obama tookit in. And when the roll was called, he voted no.


The Miami Herald

Message to a young man in detention

I wanted to use your name on this, but the South Carolina Department ofJuvenile Justice asked me not to.

Maybe you'll recognize yourself from the following description. You are 16.You are confined to a juvenile detention center. You were convicted ofpublic disorderly conduct and ''assault and battery of a high and aggravatednature.'' And Stacey Haynes has taken a special interest in you.

She's a federal prosecutor who told me about you when I visited Columbialast month to give a speech. Actually, she asked me to autograph a copy ofmy book, Becoming Dad, for you. You and she had a deal: You'd get the bookif you could go 30 days without a disciplinary write-up.

I have to admit, that flattered me. I mean, I'm used to signing books thatare given as gifts, maybe a few that end up as doorstops. This was the firsttime I'd ever been asked to sign a book as an incentive. But she told me youare that rarity, a reader. I hear you might even want to be a writeryourself someday. So this prize, she said, meant something to you.

I was really pulling for you to win it. But after a few weeks of goodbehavior, you committed an infraction. I was disappointed when Stacey toldme that. Then she told me what the infraction was.

Am I to understand that you got in trouble for swatting a pregnant guard onthe backside with a towel?! Dude, maybe I don't have the right to say this,but I'm going to say it anyway: That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

No, I'm not writing this to dog you. But it occurs to me that what you didepitomizes one of the major reasons you and a million other young men sooften wind up locked in cells and coffins.

Yes, there's poverty, and there's father absence and there's lack ofeducation and these things play crucial roles.

But at the end of the day, there's also this: Apparently no one ever taughtyou to keep your eyes on the prize.



Hey, Dems: Run against Bush -- and toughen up -- or lose in '08

Drew Westen, author of "The Political Brain," evaluates the Democraticpresidential candidates' ads and the party's messaging in general. Shortversion: More Jim Webb, less John Kerry.

By Alex Koppelman

Aug. 27, 2007 | Fifteen months before the 2008 election, the Democrats areodds-on favorites to put one of their own into the White House. A solidmajority of the country rejects the Bush administration and the war in Iraqhe initiated. But psychologist Drew Westen says Democrats could lose yetagain if they don't learn how to stand up for themselves and connect withvoters emotionally.

Westen is a clinical, personality and political psychologist and a professorin the departments of psychology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences atEmory University in Atlanta. He's also a political consultant whosebestselling book, "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding theFate of the Nation," published in June, is a clarion call to Democrats tochange the way they appeal to voters. Westen thinks the Democrats need torely less on logic and more on emotion, and they need to understand thatstrength is less a function of defense policy than of backbone.

The six major Democratic candidates have all aired television commercials inIowa. Salon spoke with Westen to get his take on whether those ads connectemotionally with voters -- and his evaluation of the Democratic performancein general.

Full disclosure: Westen says he has had contact with the campaigns of Sen.Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards, though hehas not as yet been paid by any candidate and did not work on any of the adshe discussed with Salon.

What have you thought about the message that the candidates have beensending during the campaign so far?

If we focus on the people who are realistically most in this race, the threewho have the best shot at this point, who I think are Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama and John Edwards ... they're all looking at how the voters whodecide elections are the voters in the middle. The way Clinton and Obama aretrying to do it is with centrist messages ... Obama is trying to capture thecenter by saying, "Why can't we all get along?"




Affluent industries get behind Dem candidates
By Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - Democrats seeking the White House are raising significantlymore money than Republicans this year from the industries that provide themost cash to presidential contenders - including Wall Street executives whotraditionally have given to the GOP, a campaign-finance analysis shows.The major Democratic candidates have collected nearly $81 million from theemployees and political action committees of the 20 employment sectors thatcontributed the most money during the first six months of the year,according to a USA TODAY analysis of data compiled by the non-profit Centerfor Responsive Politics. In contrast, Republicans raised $47 million.

Overall, Democrats have raised more money than GOP candidates in 15 of thetop 20 sectors, ranging from law firms to insurance companies.

The industries where Republicans have an advantage include accounting andmanufacturing - but not Wall Street.

The securities and investment industry has contributed more money toRepublicans than to Democrats in the past four presidential cycles, thecenter's data show. In this election, Democrats have collected $10 millionso far from the securities and investment industry, compared with $8 millionthat went to GOP candidates.


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