McCain's embrace, Halliburton's profits and Tom DeLay's gun

News that doesn't involve shuffling Card.


Tim Grieve
March 29, 2006 1:25AM (UTC)

With all of the focus on Andy Card's departure, other stories -- some that may have much more significant long-term consequences -- may not get a lot of attention today. Here are a few of them:

Iraq: The White House talks a good game about democracy and sovereignty in Iraq -- except when it doesn't. As the New York Times reports today, Shiite politicians are claiming that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq has told them to tell Ibrahim al-Jaafari that George W. Bush doesn't want him to continue on as Iraq's prime minister. "How can they do this?" asks a spokesman for Jaafari. "An ambassador telling a sovereign country what to do is unacceptable."

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John McCain's suck-up: Nobody ever said that running for president is pretty, and John McCain seems determined to show just how ugly it can be. First he wrapped his arms around George W. Bush. Now he's trying to make amends with the religious right. The Arizona senator, who once called Jerry Falwell an "agent of intolerance," has accepted an invitation to be the graduation speaker at Falwell's Liberty University. Falwell says that he and McCain have worked out their differences but that the man who would be president still has "a lot of fence mending to do."

The homeland security president? If the White House is serious about shifting its spin from George W. Bush as war president to George W. Bush as homeland-security protector, a new GAO report might be a bit of a problem. According to the report, investigators were able to smuggle enough material to make two "dirty bombs" across U.S. borders, and that they didn't break a sweat doing so.

Antonin Scalia's nonrecusal: The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and Antonin Scalia was an active participant in the discussion. Consider it a sign that the associate justice won't be recusing himself from the case, as he was asked to do by five retired military generals. They said his recent public comments about the rights of detainees gave at least the appearance that he'd already made up his mind.

Immigration reform: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter succeeded in getting a compromise immigration bill out of his committee Monday evening. Now it's Bill Frist's turn. The Senate majority leader will have to figure out how to balance the Judiciary Committee measure against his own more punitive bill -- and either against the draconian anti-immigration measure the House of Representatives has already passed.

Halliburton: Rep. Henry Waxman is raising questions about another Halliburton contract in Iraq. This time, Waxman cites Halliburton's "overwhelmingly negative" performance on a contract for restoring Iraq's oil fields. Among his charges: Halliburton intentionally overcharged taxpayers by inflating bids and charging for concrete work the Iraqi Oil Ministry had already completed.

Tom DeLay's gun: Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay lost his concealed-weapon permit after he was indicted on felony charges in Texas. He's still under indictment, but his lawyers are fighting for his right to carry a gun again. Why does he need one? Does he actually intend to carry one? DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty won't say: "As for whether or not he carries it -- that's the point of having a CHL (concealed handgun license) in Texas -- potential criminals should assume everyone is."

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Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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