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If you havent had

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Rep. Tom Reynolds R-NY

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY), chairman of the NRCC (the GOP House reelection committee), tells his fellow House Republicans to abandon Social Security phase-out for the rest of this Congress. And since they won't do it in this Congress, you better believe they won't try it in the next since the GOP doesn't want to make it the centerpiece issue of the next presidential campaign.

As one senior GOP lawmaker told Roll Call (sub. req.), "It's over." As indeed it is. Not forever. But at least for the next few years.

But where, I have to ask, is the affirmative effort on the part of Democrats to make this attempted betrayal of the public trust into a cudgel for the 2006 elections? Where is it? I don't see it. And I keep up on politics.

It shouldn't be hard. Many, many Republicans who will be in competitive races next year came out for this disastrous idea, which is now deeply unpopular pretty much across the country. And with very few exceptions -- I'll give Santorum his due on this one -- they ran away like scurrying rats as soon as it became clear that the president couldn't protect them and the public wouldn't stand for it.

Their own actions and words convict them twice-over. They stood up for terrible policy and then they switched or ran away from their position as soon as it was expedient. So they're happy to sell out their constituents and lack principle. They're flipfloppers.

Are we only willing to win the defensive phase of this battle?

Beyond belief.

As I said yesterday

As I said yesterday afternoon, today we're running a TPM Reader Survey, like the one we did a <$NoAd$> little more than a year ago.

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This worries me. Note

This worries me. Note the added emphasis. The clip comes from a piece in tomorrow's Post about yet another huge funding bill the president will roll out tomorrow for Katrina aid, which the Post says will cost more next year than the entire cost of the Iraq war thus far ...

Bush and Republican congressional leaders, by contrast, are calculating that the U.S. economy can safely absorb a sharp spike in spending and budget deficits, and that the only way to regain public confidence after the stumbling early response to the disaster is to spend whatever it takes to rebuild the region and help Katrina's victims get back on their feet.

Regain public confidence in who? Is the nation undergoing a crisis of confidence in itself?

Put that passage together with this one in Mike Allen's piece in the Time and I think you see where we're going ...

By late last week, Administration aides were describing a three-part comeback plan. The first: Spend freely, and worry about the tab and the consequences later. "Nothing can salve the wounds like money," said an official who helped develop the strategy.

What's driving this budgetary push is not <$Ad$> a natural disaster but a political crisis, the president's political crisis. The White House is trying to undo self-inflicted political damage on the national dime.

You don't have to be a conservative or a budget-hawk to be deeply worried about what's happening here. It's not even a matter of the dollar value in itself, though this country has already been pushed to the budgetary edge and just doesn't have an infinite number of hundreds of billions of dollars it can spend.

Intentions are everything. Intentions dictate actions and actions have consequences. The two can never be teased apart.

Many people -- and to my chagrin and regret I include myself partly in this number -- were seduced into a sorta kinda support for a hypothetical Iraq war. Not the war George Bush would fight, certainly. But one that would be fought on liberal principles and with internationalist means, one about human rights and democratization, one about strengthening a concert of nations that would police malefactor states. Something on the order of NATO's war in Bosnia, perhaps.

Pick your pipe dream. It almost doesn't matter.

If there's nothing else this decade has taught us it is that there was never and never could have been any Iraq War separated from the goals and intentions of those with their foot on the accelerator. Anything else is just a sad delusion. That's why the whole mess is as it is now: fruit of the poison tree.

Same here.

Maybe you want to spend $200 billion on rebuilding the Delta region too. Fine. Something like that will probably be necessary. But don't fool yourself into thinking that what's coming is just a matter of a different chef making the same meal. This will be Iraq all over again, with the same fetid mix of graft, zeal and hubris. Cronyism like you wouldn't believe. Money blown on ideological fantasies and half-baked test-cases.

You could come up with a hundred reasons why that's true. But at root intentions drive all. You'll never separate this operation or its results from the fact that the people in charge see it as a political operation. The use of this money for political purposes, for what amounts to a political campaign, tells you everything you need to know about what's coming.

A favor.A bit more

A favor.

A bit more than a year ago we ran a TPM Reader Survey. And tomorrow we're going to do another. It's a very quick survey -- only a dozen questions. And it won't take you more than a minute or two, tops, to fill out.

We'll post the link tomorrow morning. And I'd personally appreciate it a great deal if you could take just a few moments to fill it out.

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Priorities on display from

Priorities on display, from the Post ...

Bush already has dispatched his top strategist, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and other aides to assemble ideas from agencies, conservative think tanks, GOP lawmakers and state officials to guide the rebuilding of New Orleans and relocation of flood victims. The idea, aides said, is twofold: provide a quick federal response that comports with Bush's governing philosophy, and prevent Katrina from swamping his second-term ambitions on Social Security, taxes and Middle East democracy-building.

Head of effort, Karl Rove. Sources of ideas, Agencies, conservative think tanks, GOP lawmakers. The aim, quick response that squares with conservatism. Aim, part II, not getting distracted from real priorities.

Anything missing that you can think of?

A spokesman for the

A spokesman for the General in charge of Army operations in Louisiana says that the Army is not imposing any restrictions on the press operating on their own in the region.

This is in response to the article which appeared yesterday which quoted soldiers with the 82nd Airborne forbidding reporters to photograph or write about body removal.

"We don't profess to have any more authority than we have," says Lt. Col. John Cornelio. "You also have to appreciate we have 70,000 soldiers. There can be a 'Joe' or two who doesn't get it."

Last night we noted

Last night we noted the new Knight-Ridder article which shows DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff waiting some 36 hours to make the determination that Katrina was an 'Incident of National Significance'. Before that, Chertoff, not Michael Brown was in charge. And before Chertoff did that, Brown -- who's taken the big drubbing -- actually had little power to act.

This 'incident' finding is part of the new National Response Plan, which is supposed to govern federal responses to domestic disasters. Yet the plan appears to have been largely disregarded with Katrina.

But a TPM Reader pointed something out to me that suggests that Knight-Ridder might have gotten one detail wrong (or at least missed one) -- one which if anything makes the administration seem even more disorganized.

If you click here you can see a copy of the Chertoff memo which invoked the 'incident' finding.

But the reader points out that on page 7 of the Plan, it says quite clearly that "while all Presidentially declared disasters and emergencies under the Stafford Act are considered Incidents of National Significance, not all Incidents of National Significance necessarily result in disaster or emergency declarations under the Stafford Act.."

And if you go back to August 27th, this is just what President Bush did. He declared a state of emergency in the state of Louisiana under Title V of the Stafford Act.

Ergo, Katrina became an Incident of National Significance on August 27th -- two days before the storm. But Chertoff apparently didn't realize this and waited till a day after to make the determination on his own, one that according to the flow chart had already been made.

Lawyers and DHSers will know more about whether I've construed these sections correctly. (I certainly haven't read all 400+ pages of the document.) But they at least seem pretty clear.

Still in the guesswork

Still in the guesswork stage on the Cheney-Colonial pipeline issue noted below. But a couple readers note that -- inter alia -- that the Colonial Pipeline moves a lot of jet fuel, including military grade jet fuel. This may be a key reason for the urgency of getting that pipeline up and running. Still, though, that doesn't explain the highly irregular manner in which the orders apparently went out.