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The Tally Ho

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A list of things

Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post write on top Democrats questioning DNC Chair Howard Dean's spending.
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) challenged the former Vermont governor during a session in Pelosi's office, according to Democratic sources. The leaders complained about Dean's priorities -- funding organizers for state parties in strongly Republican states such as Mississippi -- rather than targeting states with crucial races this fall.

Neither side was willing to give ground, according to several accounts of the meeting. Dean argued that his strategy is designed to rebuild the party across the country, and that he had pledged to do so when he ran for party chairman. Reid and Pelosi countered that if Democrats squander their opportunities this year, longer-term organizing efforts will not matter much.

Democratic congressional leaders are particularly worried because the Republican National Committee holds a huge financial advantage over the DNC. One congressional Democrat complained that Dean has -- at an alarming rate -- burned through the money the DNC raised, and that Republicans may be able to swamp Democrats in close races with an infusion of RNC money.

I agree with Howard Dean on this one. Mrs. Pelosi is an improvement from Mr. Gephardt and I think Mr. Reid is a large improvement over Mr. Daschle, but the Democratic Party cannot continue to run elections in a handful of places and continue to think they can have a majority. Every seat needs to be challenged. Every state needs a Democratic infrastructure. Mississippi will probably always be more conservative than Illinois or New York, but that shouldn't matter. Democrats have to be a national party.

Check out this New York Times editorial about Bush Administration policy failure towards Iran and the rest of the "axis of evil".
During the period before the Iraq invasion, the president gave lip service to the idea that Iran and Iraq were both threats to American security. But his advisers, intent on carrying out their long-deferred dream of toppling Saddam Hussein, gave scant thought to what might happen if their plans did not lead to the unified, peaceful, pro-Western democracy of their imaginings. The answer, though, is now rather apparent: a squabbling, divided country in which the Shiite majority in the oil-rich south finds much more in common with its fellow Shiites in Iran than with the Sunni Muslims with whom it needs to form an Iraqi government.

Washington has now become dangerously dependent on the good will and constructive behavior of Shiite fundamentalist parties that Iran sheltered, aided and armed during the years that Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq. In recent weeks, neither good will nor constructive behavior has been particularly evident, and if Iran chooses to stir up further trouble to deflect diplomatic pressures on its nuclear program, it could easily do so.

There is now a real risk that Iraq, instead of being turned into an outpost of secular democracy challenging the fanatical rulers of the Islamic republic to its east, could become an Iranian-aligned fundamentalist theocracy, challenging the secular Arab regimes to its west.

The New York Times also has a nice piece by Andrea Elliot titled "A Muslim Leader in Brooklyn, Reconciling 2 Worlds".
"America transformed me from a person of rigidity to flexibility," said Mr. Shata, speaking through an Arabic translator. "I went from a country where a sheik would speak and the people listened to one where the sheik talks and the people talk back."

This is the story of Mr. Shata's journey west: the making of an American imam.

Over the last half-century, the Muslim population in the United States has risen significantly. Immigrants from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa have settled across the country, establishing mosques from Boston to Los Angeles, and turning Islam into one of the nation's fastest growing religions. By some estimates, as many as six million Muslims now live in America.

Leading this flock calls for improvisation. Imams must unify diverse congregations with often-clashing Islamic traditions. They must grapple with the threat of terrorism, answering to law enforcement agents without losing the trust of their fellow Muslims. Sometimes they must set aside conservative beliefs that prevail in the Middle East, the birthplace of Islam.

Meanwhile in France, Dominique de Villepin has ruled out the privatiztion of a major electrical supplier.
His move followed the controversial plan to push Gaz de France into the private sector through a merger with Suez, the Franco-Belgian water and power company. While elsewhere in Europe this proposed merger has prompted allegations about French protectionism, it has also triggered domestic anxiety from unions about the effect on jobs of privatisation.

Mr de Villepin told a newspaper that EdF, SNCF, the train company, and Areva, one of the world's top nuclear power groups, were "major pluses" for France. "The French like them being in public ownership, for good reason," he told le Parisien newspaper. "This would therefore exclude an attempt to go down the path of privatisation for these public services."

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