The Spectacle Blog
A couple of things for folks to be thinking of as Congress retreats to the hills:
First, spending time on the House side with Republicans, there is a growing sense that regardless of where the courts come down on Rep. Tom DeLay, his days as a Majority Leader are probably toast. In speaking with one loyalist in the Republican Caucus earlier this week, the message was loud and clear: "We can't go into this election year with Tom running the show. He will become part of every story, good or bad, but the press will always portray him badly. Like it or not, Tom is a reflection on us, and we just can't have that."
A few minutes ago, Lt. Gen. Jim Conway (operations boss for the Joint Chiefs) gave some new information on the troop reductions planned for Iraq. The Second Brigade of the Army's First Armored Division will be stationed, for 90 days or more, in Kuwait as a "call forward" force. In effect, this is a vote of confidence in Iraqi forces. We can move the 2nd of the 1st into Iraq quickly if it's needed, but by putting it outside Iraq we're telling the Iraqis we think they can handle that much more of the security in their own nation. Gen. Conway said that another brigade, this one from the 1st Infantry Division, will be held at home in Fort Riley, Kansas.
As of today, there are about 216,000 Iraqi troops trained and equipped, with 44 battalions that "own their ground." As Gen. Conway said, the trend lines are going in the right direction.
Last night, co-hosting with John Batchelor on his ABC radio net show, we interviewed Aaron Klein who was reporting from Jerusalem. Apparently, the Israeli prime minister's recovery from last week's "minor" stroke isn't as rapid or thorough as reported elsewhere. Sharon is missing key meetings of his security team and has no succession plan. Israel has no constitution and -- unlike America -- no law on prime ministerial succession.
Can Sharon come back? Will Israeli policy toward the Palestinian election is up in the air. Can Hamas take control? Will the Israelis force another delay? All these things are up in the air while Sharon's status is in doubt.
So there will be a Christmas in New York after all, as the transit workers' strike has ended and subways and buses are scheduled to run on time Friday morning. Still, the whole experience should remind New Yorkers - who apparently need reminding - what a destructive force public sector unions can be to the effective operation and safety of a city, let alone the morale of its residents. At least the Mayor and Governor are insisting that there will be no amnesty granted on the fines levied against union members. We'll see if that holds up. But of course the strikers should have been fired en masse, anyway.
So the TWU is going back to work, its leaders are still not in jail, and New York should be back to normal by tomorrow morning. Now all there is to see is whether Bloomberg agrees to letting the union (thugs?) off for their court-imposed fines as part of a settlement. Wait for it. He who makes cigars illegal in New York bars and restaurants is capable of any treachery.
W. James Antle III assesses Bill Weld's chances in the race for governor of New York and hints at Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's ruthlessness. For a closer look at Spitzer making friends and influencing people, check out what he told John Whitehead, former Goldman Sachs chairman, after he dared write an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal criticizing Spitzer:
"Mr. Whitehead, it's now a war between us and you've fired the first shot. I will be coming after you. You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done. You will wish you had never written that letter."
Jed & Peter: I don't know why the union is so upset about the word "thug." It's not as if they were being called "refugees."
Reading through headlines about the successful extension of the Patriot Act, its difficult not to think that were the roles switched, Harry Reid's boast of killing the legislation would have been trumpeted as the statement of an idiot akin to Bush's "Mission Complete" speech.
Bloomberg pretty much responds to the PATCO solution here:
"The fines are what is going to hurt," he said. "Fines don't make you a martyr and fines you don't get back."
I just loved Toussaint's response to being called a "thug":
So do you mean to say that when you stop doing that, then you do become thugs and selfish people? Thank you for clarifying the point, Thuggy McThugThug.