Monday, January 03, 2005
1.) The Iraqi defense minister is starting to think it might be a good idea to hold off on those upcoming elections --
Militants continued their campaign to disrupt Iraqi elections yesterday, detonating a series of bombs and killing at least 16 people.-- and PM Iyad Allawi, who dodged a bomb attack on party HQ in Baghdad today, phones Mr. Bush to inform him that the cat is on the roof:
In a further setback to the elections planned to be held on 30 January, Hazim al-Shaalan, Iraq’s defence minister, said he favoured delaying the poll if Sunni Muslims were not planning to take part.
Mr Shaalan said Iraq was asking Egypt to intervene to try to persuade the Sunnis to vote.
"If there is any difficulty in them taking part, then the question of postponing them [the elections] for another period arises. That, I believe, is the safest and most proper way, so that all sectors and the full spectrum of Iraqi society can take part in elections on one day," he said.
Hours after a wave of bombing attacks that left at least 20 people dead on Monday, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi telephoned President Bush and discussed the many impediments still facing the country as it heads toward elections in 27 days, according to senior American officials familiar with the contents of the call.2.) In a miraculous turnabout, House Republicans decide that maybe, just maybe, the appearance of propriety does count for something after all:
The officials insisted that Dr. Allawi, Iraq's interim leader, did not tell Mr. Bush that the elections should be delayed, though his defense minister said in Cairo on Monday that the voting could be postponed to ensure greater participation by Sunnis. "There was no substantive conversation about delay," a senior administration official said. Dr. Allawi, the official said, "wasn't even a bit wobbly" on that point.
But some officials in Washington and in Iraq interpreted the telephone call as a sign that Dr. Allawi, who is clearly concerned his own party could be headed to defeat if the election is held on schedule, may be preparing the ground to make the case for delay to Mr. Bush.
House Republicans suddenly reversed course Monday, deciding to retain a tough standard for lawmaker discipline and reinstate a rule that would force Majority Leader Tom DeLay to step aside if indicted by a Texas grand jury . . . .
The surprise dual decisions on the indictment rule and the discipline standards were engineered by Speaker Dennis Hastert and by DeLay — who asked GOP colleagues to undo the extreme act of loyalty they handed him in November. Then, Republicans changed a party rule so DeLay could retain his leadership post if indicted by the grand jury in Austin that charged three of the Texas Republican's associates . . . .
Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said, "It's a mark of a leader to take a bullet for the team and not for the team to take a bullet for the leader. I'm very glad we decided to stick with the rules."
Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, said Republicans pulled back on the discipline rule because "the issue simply became too hot for them to handle" . . . .
Congressional watchdog groups joined House Democrats in opposition to a change, saying any such move would be for one purpose: to protect DeLay.
"All of this is designed to make one man truly above the law," said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said, "Tom DeLay is a poster boy for ethics problems in the House."