God's Politics

Today’s latest on Bush, Iraq, and Bob Woodward’s new book, State of Denial – plus, congresssional scandal, faith and politics, the supreme court, Darfur, military spending, immigration, detainees, and Wal-Mart

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Full news summary:

Bush and Iraq. Washington Post runs the first two excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book, “State of Denial,” and the White House responds.

Secret Reports Dispute White House Optimism – “On May 22, 2006, President Bush spoke in Chicago and gave a characteristically upbeat forecast … Two days later, the intelligence division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff circulated a secret intelligence assessment to the White House that contradicted the president’s forecast.” Should He Stay? – “A second term traditionally leads to personnel changes. The question was whether one of them would involve Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. Card had to approach the issue with delicacy. Iraq was the centerpiece of everything now, and the president was clearly predisposed not to do anything that would disrupt the war effort.”

White House Aides Take to Talk Shows to Dispute Book “The White House intensified efforts to limit the political damage caused by a new book portraying the Bush administration as divided to the point of dysfunction over the war in Iraq, as top officials took to network talk shows to rebut the book’s suggestion that President Bush has misled the nation about how dire the situation is there.”

Congressional scandal. FBI to Look at Foley’s Actions – “As pressure mounted on Republicans over their handling of the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, the FBI said that it had begun a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the disgraced Florida lawmaker had violated federal law by sending sexually explicit instant messages to at least one teenager who had served as a congressional page.” FBI to Examine Foley’s E-Mails – “The FBI announced last night that it is looking into whether former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) broke federal law by sending inappropriate e-mails and instant messages to teenage House page.” FBI says Foley inquiry started – “House Speaker Dennis Hastert, responding to complaints about how Republicans have handled allegations of sexual misconduct by a GOP colleague, on Sunday called for a Justice Department investigation, and the FBI later said it had begun an inquiry.”

Supreme Court begins new term. Roberts Court May Be Defined in Second Term – “If Year 1 was the transition for the new Roberts court, Year 2 is likely to be the test. The cases that the court has agreed to decide — 38 so far — offer few off-ramps, requiring instead that the justices proceed to rulings that will define the new court in both substance and style.” Justices to Hear Abortion, Integration Cases – “Abortion and race dominate the Supreme Court’s agenda for the term that begins tomorrow, with the Bush administration and its conservative allies urging the justices to put limits on abortion rights and affirmative action.”

Darfur. Critical U.N. aide now lauds U.S., U.K. on Darfur – “A United Nations official who infuriated Washington by accusing the United States and Britain of “megaphone diplomacy” over Sudan changed tack, praising both countries for keeping the issue alive. Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown said … he was convinced President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were “on the right side” in seeking to end what he called an outrage in Darfur.” Europe urges Sudan’s president to help peacekeepers – “The head of the European Commission urged Sudan’s president on Sunday to help the African Union keep peace in the troubled Darfur region and end the obstacles hampering the work of humanitarian groups there.” Private firms eye Darfur – “Private military companies protecting American diplomats, aid workers and local officials in Iraq and Afghanistan are making a pitch to take over U.N. peacekeeping missions in Darfur and other global hot spots where the United Nations is unable to stop the killing.”

Congressional wrapup – military spending, immigration, detainees.

Congress Approves $70 Billion For Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan – “Congress authorized an additional $70 billion in emergency funds to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through early next year … The new funding brings to $507 billion the total amount authorized by Congress for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as for extra security for military bases and embassies, since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

Border Barrier Approved – “The Senate approved and sent to President Bush a bill calling for construction of a 700-mile wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, voting overwhelmingly for a project that became the centerpiece of efforts to improve border security and stem illegal immigration.” Illegal – but Essential – “The presence in the United States of 12 million illegal immigrants is one of the most contentious issues of the era. But in the main economists contend that illegal immigrants contribute to consumer spending and, instead of replacing native workers, create jobs.”

News Analysis: Detainee Bill Boosts the GOP “The complex bill, which swept through the House and Senate after backroom negotiations, not only gave Bush most of what he wanted in substance, it also provided Republicans with a rhetorical club to use against Democrats on terrorism.” Detainee Bill Shifts Power to President – “With the final passage of the detainee treatment bill, President Bush on Friday achieved a signal victory, shoring up with legislation his determined conduct of the campaign against terrorism in the face of challenges from critics and the courts.”

Faith and politics. Evangelical voter turnout in doubt – “Whether Republicans keep control of Congress may well hinge on the turnout of Christian conservatives who were so important to President Bush’s victory in the 2004. But there are questions about just how energized those voters will be this time around,” Pastors Guiding Voters to GOP – “With a pivotal election five weeks away, leaders on the religious right have launched an all-out drive to get Christians from pew to voting booth. Their target: the nearly 30 million Americans who attend church at least once a week but did not vote in 2004.” Red Letter group looks to broaden moral issues – “Abortion and gay marriage are important issues, but they’re not the only concerns of many deeply religious American voters, according to faith-based organizations that want politicians to have a more robust discussion during election time. Calling themselves Red Letter Christians – because many Bibles print Jesus’ words in red ink – they are trying to energize evangelicals who think Christian political activism was hijacked…” Religious leaders use bully pulpit for change – “As the Nov. 7 elections approach, religious groups across the nation prepare to issue voters guides to churches detailing candidates and their positions.”

Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart to Add More Part-Timers and Wage Caps – “Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, is pushing to create a cheaper, more flexible work force by capping wages, using more part-time workers and scheduling more workers on nights and weekends. … But some Wal-Mart workers say the changes are further reducing their already modest incomes and putting a serious strain on their child-rearing and personal lives.”

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