Saturday, August 06, 2005

plagiary at the Rocky...

from Editor & Publisher

'Rocky Mountain News' Editorial Writer Resigns After Lifting Passages

By Joe Strupp

Published: August 05, 2005 2:02 PM ET
NEW YORK The deputy editorial page editor of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver has resigned following revelations that he used a phrase in an editorial that came from a Web site, as well as other elements from a Washington Post story.

In a note to readers published Friday, News Editor John Temple explained that Deputy Editorial Page Editor Thom Beal had left the paper. He stated that a July 16 editorial Beal wrote about former ambassador Joe Wilson included a passage "based on a [July 10] Washington Post story" and "a phrase that should have been attributed to The Daily Howler Web site."

here's a link to the offending article, and the note from Temple..

Owens speaks out on C&D

In today's Rocky Mountain News Governor Owens wrote an article to "clear the air" on Referenda C&D. Owens writes,

Marc Holtzman, a candidate for the 2006 nomination for governor, recently voiced his opposition to this sound plan in these pages. I understand that he's running for office. But I don't understand how he expects to earn the confidence of voters by jeopardizing Colorado's long-term fiscal health.

Nowhere in his article does he suggest a solution. And so I ask Holtzman and others who oppose Referendums C and D: Where in next year's budget will you cut $400 million? How will you fix the long-term fiscal problem we face? Tell us now before we vote on Nov. 1.

Colorado's budget problems cannot be solved by mere "belt-tightening." I understand belt-tightening. As governor, I have implemented more than $1 billion in budget cuts during my administration. But you can only go so far before you start to affect essential services.

Owens voice will be crucial to the success of C&D. If he can hold moderate Republican's the two referenda will pass. The referenda are a reasonable and responsible reaction to Colorado's fiscal crisis which enjoys bi-partisan support throughout the community. Even RNC Chair Ken Mehlman acknowledges that we have a budget problem, if opponents to C&D have a plan for the future financial health of this state we'd love to hear it.

Unlike Holtzman, I'm not running for office. In this effort, my motivations are clear: I want what's best for Colorado. It has been my privilege to serve as governor since 1999 and I am proud of my record of tax-cutting and budgetary discipline. I am voting "yes" because a vote for Referendums C and D will allow our state to get back on a strong fiscal footing so that Colorado can continue to compete in a world economy. This is a time for leadership, not for politics.
go get 'em Gov!

Military Tribunals and the Denver Post...

Denver deputy districy attorney Neal Richardson and Denver lawyer Spencer Crona penned a perspective in today's Denver Post praising military tribunals as somehow necessary and proper. The article focuses on the unanimous decision of the DC Circuit Court in July which affirmed the use of military tribunals for accused terrorists. I've read well reasoned pieces defending the use of tribunals, this piece was not one of them.

The case in question concerned Osama Bin Laden's driver (by the way, where is Osama?) who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001. The two write,

Hamdan's defenders nevertheless portrayed him as a blameless household servant, as though his culpability was no greater than Hitler's German shepherd. Yet every first-year law student knows that the "wheel man" driving the getaway car in a bank robbery is liable for murder when the gang leader kills the guard on the way out.

Where to begin? If this analogy seems contrived and confused to you that's because it is. Certainly the wheel man may be liable for a murder committed in the commision of a robbery, but he may not depending on the jurisdiction - there is no per se felony murder law in the Model Penal Code. A small distinction for sure but one that two attorney's should recognize and own up to.

More importantly though I find it interesting that they say that a driver would only be "liable". Notice that they don't say that the driver would be "charged" or "tried in a court of law", only that he/she would be - generally speaking - "liable". Presumably a driver would be charged with a crime, tried in front of a jury, convicted and punished according to the laws of the United States and whatever specific jurisdiction the crime was committed, would he not? Of course he would, which is of course why Richardson and Crona use the broad phrase "laible". If one follows their analogy, that Osama Bin Laden's driver is as cupable as their "wheel man", to it's logical conclusion Osama Bin Laden's driver should have been charged with a crime and granted a jury trial - as our Constitution requires. Of course in the case of Handen the Constitution is inconvenient so Richardson and Crona continue on with their Constitutional-Relativism approach ignoring the enormous logical hole in their argument.

The two continue on,

Military commissions are a constitutionally appropriate manner of trial for enemy war criminals used throughout our history

Constitiutional they may be but the Clinton Depratment of Justice was able to charge, prosecute, and jail those terrorists responsible for the 1st World Trade Center bombing. Just last week this same Bush administration convicted the terrorist behind the thawarted Millenium Bombing at LA International Airport. Our friends in Great Britain have been rounding up and charging in their traditional justice system those connected with the recent attacks in London. Charging and trying terrorists within our criminal justice system is not some new and novel approach, rather it is a tried and true method which allows us to maintain our Constitutional integrity.

The two continue by attacking Henden's defense attorney's argument that the tribunals and GITMO are endangering the lives of American soldiers,

The second fallacy [in Katal's argument] is the transparent attempt to pitch the case toward the Supreme Court with a "security" spin on it rather that a "more rights for terrorists" spin. Hamdan's defense counsel implies that we should give terrorists rights they don't deserve under the Geneva Convention, in the hope that the enemy will reciprocate when our soldiers are captured. We all know that if our own troops are captured by al-Qaeda, they likely will be beheaded on camera after a five-minute, Internet "trial" (which begins, reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts in Alice and Wonderland, with the reading of the sentence).

This is a common argument put forward by those who support the Bush administration's policies. Their argument is essentialy that "the terrorists act this way so we can to", nevermind that we are not ourselves terrorists. Shouldn't we hold ourselves to a higher standard than the religous-fascists we are fighting? When we stoop to the level of terrorists our image in the Middle East and around the world is damaged futher. We lose credibility when, on one hand, the Bush administration argues that we should be bringing democracy to the world and then on the other hand so blatantly subverts democratic processes. Quite simply when we begin to act like terrorists we lose all moral high ground.

Next they turn their ire on their fellow Democrats,

Senate Democrats should be cautious about how they appear if they chime in with civil libertarians who have criticized this ruling. As Democrats concerned about terrorists "going nuclear" (and as commentators who long have proposed military trials for terrorists), we take exception to the depiction of military commissions as creatures of the Bush administration.


How exactly should we be viewing these military tribunals given the revelations this week that the Pentagon was fixing the tribunals?

As the Pentagon was making its final preparations to begin war crimes trials against four detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, two senior prosecutors complained in confidential messages last year that the trial system had been secretly arranged to improve the chance of conviction and to deprive defendants of material that could prove their innocence.

The electronic messages, obtained by The New York Times, reveal a bitter dispute within the military legal community over the fairness of the system at a time when the Bush administration and the Pentagon were eager to have the military commissions, the first for the United States since the aftermath of World War II, be seen as just at home and abroad.

During the same time period, military defense lawyers were publicly criticizing the system, but senior officials dismissed their complaints and said they were contrived as part of the efforts to help their clients.

The defense lawyers' complaints and those of outside groups like the American Bar Association were, it is now clear, simultaneously being echoed in confidential messages by the two high-ranking prosecutors whose cases would, if anything, benefit from any slanting of the process.

In the face of such evidence Richardson and Crona's indignation at those of us who see the tribunals as little more than Kabuki-Theatre fails the laugh test. Their contention that these tribunals are somehow not "creatures of the Bush administratin" is simply not factually correct as evidenced by the Times article. It is clear to the entire world that these tribunals are a judicial farce and all American's, Republican or Democrat, should stand up against the practice. Richardson and Crona's defense of the tribunals is logically and factually flawed, we do not need these tribunals - instead we need to let our democratic processes fucntion as proscribed in the Constitution.


Holtzman is done...

I know that Marc Holtzman is officially claiming that he is merely taking time off of his gubernatorial campaign to focues solely on defeating Referenda C&D but does anyone really believe that?

Bob Ewegen did a nice job in today's Denver Post for calling a spade a spade and a failing campaign a failing campaign,
Holtzman Friday asked Beauprez to suspend his own campaign, "setting aside our gubernatorial ambitions, so that together we can present a united front to oppose C and D."

Given their relative standings, Holtzman's call to Beauprez to join him in suspending the campaign sounded a lot like Napoleon, retreating from Moscow, writing to Czar Alexander I seeking a non-violent resolution of their differences.

Beauprez people meanwhile have siezed on this moment and come right after Holtzman.

The Beauprez campaign pounced on Holtzman's letter as a sign of weakness.

"Bob has found time to be an effective congressman, run for governor and oppose Referendum C," said Beauprez spokesman John Marshall.


Politically Beauprez people are playing this wonderfully, painting Holtzman as weak and unable to handle big issues except one at a time. Holtzman's ability to handle the rigors of the Governor's mansion is now squarely in question. I don't see how Holtzman can really believe that he can somehow get back into the Governor's race after something like this, not to mention what would happen to his political credibility if Referenda C or D pass. I realize that Holtzman later flip-flopped and claimed that he would continue to run for Governor full time but I think the damage is probably already done. It's early in the politcial season but given Holtzman's obvious flip-flop and Beauprez's excellent response the debate has been framed.

Friday, August 05, 2005

How quaint...

How quaint... It appears that the UK is actually arresting terror suspects, prosecuting them, and then jailing them.

Apparently the Magna Carta is a greater guarantor of civil liberties than the Bill Of Rights.

I can't let this slide...

From the wonderful piece in the National Journal about the liberal blogosphere...

Conversely, many centrists believe that the demands of the Internet Left influenced John Kerry's decision in 2003 to vote against Bush's $87 billion request to fund the war in Iraq.
That vote became an albatross for Kerry in the general election when Bush used it as his prime example to accuse the Democrat, who had voted to authorize the war, of flip-flopping on issues. MoveOn had urged Democrats to oppose the funding, and Kerry cast his vote at a moment when Dean's presidential campaign, fueled largely by the torrent of online donations, was at its zenith.


That is just misleading. That vote was not in and of itself an albatros, what was an albatros was Kerry's spectacular bungling of the issue by making that absurd "I voted for it, before I voted against it" statement. The initial vote was not an albatross, the second vote was not really an issue until John Kerry made that statement. It was Kerry's own bungling and his staff's inability to craft a coherent message that cost him that issue. The vote was certainly not "an albatross" in and of itself as this article suggests.

a thesis on the liberal democratic blogosphere...

Fantastic article on the rising liberal blogosphere... I can't say that I agree with a lot of the petty partisanship that goes on online but I really do think that we're going to be able to use the internet to further the party similiar to what the GOP did with talk radio etc.

I agree 100% with what "Armando" from dailykos wrote about this article, you can't be afraid of the fight... it's time to get our hands dirty and fight back. Paul Hackett lost by 4% in Ohio on thursday because he wasn't afraid to fight back, there's a backlash building and if candidates would just stoke that flame a little bit I think we can turn this mess around.

"
Don't fear that fight"

I like that, I like that a lot.

here's the link to the post over at dailykos which has the entire article

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/8/5/15134/56717

Some of my favorite portions...

The Democratic Internet base cradling that trigger does not speak with one voice. But the emerging generation of online Democratic activists, many of them young and shaped by the bruising partisan conflicts of the past decade, seems united most by the belief that the quickest way for Democrats to regain power is to confront Bush more forcefully and to draw brighter lines of division between the Democratic Party and the GOP.

In strikingly similar language, Internet-generation Democratic activists from Moulitsas to Eli Pariser, the 24-year-old executive director of MoveOn's giant PAC, describe Clinton's effort to reorient the party toward capturing centrist voters as "obsolete" in a highly partisan era that demands, above all, united opposition against the GOP. Moulitsas and Pariser, like most other voices in the Internet activist base, want a Democratic Party focused more on increasing turnout among its partisans than on persuading moderate swing voters. Both, in other words, want a party that emulates Bush's political strategy more than Clinton's.

I consider myself largely a western democrat now and am certainly much more hawkish than most of my liberal friends...

Moulitsas [of DailyKos] is more eclectic. He served a three-year stint in the Army, and although he opposed the Iraq war, he supported the invasion of Afghanistan and calls himself a "military hawk." His favorite Democrats aren't Eastern cultural liberals like Kerry, but Westerners who combine economic populism with libertarian views on social issues like gun control. For the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Kos is currently touting Montana's new governor, Brian Schweitzer, a favorite of both the National Rifle Association and Democrats who yearn for an unabashed populist message.

this piece could very well be the thesis for democratic internet activism... talk about hitting the nail squarely on the head

Both men believe that the small-donor base developing on the Internet will allow Democrats to reduce their reliance on business for campaign financing. That, they argue, would allow the party to pursue a much more economically populist anti-corporate message that they believe could win back blue-collar voters who have trended Republican over the past generation primarily on issues relating to values, taxes, and national security...

...In all of this, Pariser and Moulitsas, like many of those they represent on the Internet, appear very much the product of the Democrats' fall from power. Almost everyone in the party's Washington hierarchy can remember a time when Democrats thought of themselves as the nation's natural majority party. Pariser and Moulitsas are children of the minority. For Democrats, they believe, the first step toward recovery is to acknowledge that revival requires more than tinkering. In their eyes, it will require Democrats to think of themselves not as a governing, but an opposition, party that bloodies the majority Republicans by any means necessary -- much as Republicans did under Newt Gingrich in the final years of their assault against the decades-old Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. "D.C. is still trapped in 1970s thinking," sighs Moulitsas. "It is hard for them to realize we really are a minority party. What they have to understand is that Republicans became a majority party only by being a really effective opposition party."

As we approach the coming Iraqi constitution...

As we approach the coming Iraqi constitution we will soon be inundated with Bush administration officials patting themselves on the back for the grand accomplishment, much like they did this spring when the Iraqi elections occured. For Bush and his sycophants these mechanical successes of Democracy are a "victory". For the common Iraqi though they mean very, very little... there lives are still a mess, bombs continue to explode.

It is amazing just how perverted Bush and his sycophants perception of what real Democracy is. Irving Kristol wrote about this in his book Confessions Of A Neo-Conservative

Though the phrase "the quality of life" trips easily from so many lips these days, it tends to be one of those cliches with many trivial meanings and no large, serious one. Sometimes it refers to such externals as the enjoyment of cleaner air, cleaner water, cleaner streets. At other times it refers to the merely private enjoyment of music, painting, or literature. Rarely does it have anything to do with the way the citizen in a democracy views himself - his obligations, his intentions, his ultimate self-definition.

Instead what I would call the "managerial" conception of democracy is the predominant opinion among political scientists, sociologists, and economists, and has, through the untiring effforst of these scholars, become the conventional journalistic opinion as well. The root idea behind this managerial conception is that democracy is a "political system" (as they say) which can be adequatley defined in terms of - can be fully reduced to - it's mechanical arrangements. Demoracy is then seen as a set of rules and procedures, and nothing but a set of rules and procedures, whereby majority rule and minority rights are reconciled into a state of equilibrium. If everyone follows these rules and procedures, then a democracy is in working order. I think this is a fair description of the democractic idea that currently prevails in academia. One can also fairly say that it is now the liberal idea of democracy par excellence.

I cannot help but feel that there is something ridiculous about being this kind of a democract, and I must confess to having a sneaking sympathy for those of our young radicals who also find it ridiculous. The absurdity is the absurdity of idoaltry - of taking the symbolic for the real, the means for the end. The purpose of democracy cannot possibly be the endless functioning of its own political machinery. The purpose of any political regime is to achive some version of the good life and the good society. It is not at all difficult to imagine a perfectly funcitioning democracy which answers all questions except one - namely, why should anyone of intelligence and spirit care a fig for it?

There is, however, an older idea of democracy - one which was fairly common until the beginning of this century - for which the conception of the quality of public life is absolutely crucial.
The idea starts from the proposition that democracy is a form of self-government, and that if you want it to be a meritorious policy, you have to care about what kind of people govern it. Indeed, it puts the matter more strongly and delcares that if you want self-government, you are only entitled to it if that "self" is worthy of governing. There is no inherent right to self-government if it means that such government is vicious, mean, squalid, and debased. Only a dogmatist and a fanatic, an idolater of the democratic machinery, could approve of self-government under such conditions.

And because the desirability of self-government depends on the chracter of the people who govern, the older idea of democracy was very solicitous of the condition of this character. It was solicitous of the individual self, and felt an obligation to educate it into what used to be called "republican virtue". And it was solicitous of that collective sekf which we called public opinion and which, in a democracy, governs us collectively. Perhaps in some respects it was never oversolictitous - that would not be suprising. But
the main thing is that it cared, cared not merely about the machibery of democracy but about the qaulity of life that this machinery might generate.

more plummeting poll numbers for Bush...

Quack, quack...

Approval of Bush's handling of Iraq, which had been hovering in the low- to mid-40s most of the year, dipped to 38 percent.

Bush's overall job approval was at 42 percent, with 55 percent disapproving.

The portion of people who consider Bush honest has dropped slightly from January, when 53 percent described him that way while 45 percent did not. Now, people are just about evenly split on that issue — with 48 percent saying he's honest and 50 percent saying he's not.

The drop in the number of people who see Bush as honest was strongest among middle-aged Americans as well as suburban women, a key voting group in the 2004 election. A further erosion of trust could make it tougher for Bush to win support for his policies in Congress and internationally.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

New Yorker article on Bush's new GSAVE policy

Funny how Republican's and the administration openly mocked John Kerry's assertion during the campaign that winning the War on Terror would take more than just military might. Now Bush has all but admitted that his adminstration's big stick approach has been a colossal failure.

The Administration is admitting that its strategy since September 11th has failed, without really admitting it. The single-minded emphasis on hunting down terrorists has failed (“Hearts and minds are more important than capturing and killing people,” Gregson said). The use of military force as the country’s primary and, at times, only response has failed, and has stretched the Army and the Marines to the breaking point. Unilateralism has failed. “It’s not a military project alone, and the United States cannot do it by itself alone,” Douglas Feith, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy and a leading advocate of going it alone with military force, said on his way out the Pentagon door and into private life (good luck, fellas!). The overwhelmingly American character of the war has failed, isolating moderate Muslims—who, in the end, are the only hope for political change—or driving them closer to the radicals. Loading the entire burden of the war onto the backs of American soldiers, while telling the rest of the citizenry to go about its business, has failed, even as public relations: in a recent Gallup poll, only thirty-four per cent of Americans said that we are winning the war on terrorism. The phrase has outlived its enormous political usefulness.
Flippity-flop....

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Roberts may not support a right to privacy...

I have tried to remain objective about Judge Roberts and have tried to keep an open mind about him and refrain from the partisan screaching. Two things jumped out at me from an article's in today's Washington Post.

First this,

He said that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales interviewed him April 1, and that he met on May 3 with Bush confidants including Cheney, Gonzales, Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, White House counsel Harriet Miers and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. Roberts said he was interviewed separately by Miers on May 23. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced on July 1 her decision to retire. Roberts said he had a telephone interview with Miers and deputy counsel William K. Kelley on July 8 and was interviewed by Bush on July 15, with Miers present. He said none questioned him about his views on any case or legal issue.

Let me see if I understand this, the White House was interviewing a highly respected attorney and Judge for a lifetime appointment on the United States Supreme Court and in the course of 5 meetings with, among others, Cheney, Card, Rove, Libby, and the President no one asked him about his views on ANY legal issue? Does anyone really believe that? What else were they talking about, baseball? That is just absurd.

Now, here's the first thing that has given me great pause about this nomination.

...new documents released by the National Archives from Roberts's tenure as a senior adviser to the attorney general during the Reagan administration make clear that he was deeply skeptical of the court's recognition of a citizen's fundamental "right to privacy" -- the legal concept that underpinned its historic 1973 decision upholding a right to abortion.
Abortion rights aside, a person who does not believe that the United States Constitution contains a right to privacy should not serve on the United States Supreme Court. The right to privacy is an inherent, if not explicit, right of all American's. No reasonable person on either side of the aisle believes that there isn't at least some right to privacy within the Constitution. Reasonable men may disagree to what extent that right extends but there is no argument, except by extremists, that NO right to privacy exists. Are there any Republican's in Congress who do not recognize a right to privacy? I would guess perhaps Santorum, any others? If Roberts really does not believe in a right to privacy he is unfit for the Court.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Congratulations Paul Hackett...

Paul Hackett lost in Ohio's 2nd Congressional district tonight 52-48... really an incredible showing and a wonderful demonstration that Dean's 50 state strategy is viable. The RNC and the RNCC had to dump hundred's of thousand's of dollars into a "safe" republican district. Additionally, the DCCC paid considerably less attention to this race.

here are the past election results for that seat, remember that Bush won by over 30% last november too

2004 72% to 28%
2002 74% to 26%
2000 74% to 23%
1998 76% to 24%

tonight was 52-48.... winning the seat outright would obviously have been great but this shows that with the right candidate, running an aggresive campaign the Democrats really can be viable in just about any district in America.

David Sirota on Democratic Party discipline...

Good piece from David Sirota on Democratic Party discipline - or lack thereof - in the aftermath of the CAFTA sellout by 15 Dems.

Here are some highlights but I encourage you to read the entire piece here...

...I ask you: do you think Newt Gingrich was nice to people within his party who undermined him in his quest to take back the majority? Do you think the current Republican leadership dislikes Grover Norquist's efforts to keep GOPers in line today? Do you think Karl Rove keeps winning elections by letting turncoats within his own party undermine the GOP?...

Let me be clear: the majority of Democrats in Congress are courageous and honest people. The problem is, they are being undermined on a daily basis. It is the loyal foot soldiers that a strengthened accountability infrastructure will help, because without consequences for turncoats, the party will be undermined forever.


Sirota wrote a scathing piece on the 15 CAFTA turncoats which pretty much echoes my thoughts on the situation,
Let's be clear - all of these people should never get a red cent from labor unions or the progressive community again, and that goes even for the ones who represent marginal districts. The idea that this was a "tough vote" for a Democrat who represents a swing district doesn't hold water - no one is getting voted out of office over voting against CAFTA, and voting for American workers. Remember, polls show that Americans are sick and tired of Congress passing these corporate-written "free" trade deals that sell out ordinary workers.

Bush administration's credibility gap on Iran's WMD's...

Suprise, suprise, suprise! Who could have guessed that the Bush administration would be hyping intelligence about Iran's nuclear program? This administration really has no credibility left, Bush has become the boy who cried wolf.

From today's Washington Post,

A major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand knowledge of the new analysis.

The carefully hedged assessments, which represent consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, contrast with forceful public statements by the White House. Administration officials have asserted, but have not offered proof, that Tehran is moving determinedly toward a nuclear arsenal.

Ken Mehlman acknowledges that Colorado has a budget crisis...

While RNC Chair Ken Mehlman did not endorse Referenda C&D he did at least acknowledge that Colorado has budget issues - a point that most Colorado Republican's refuse to acknowledge themselves.

From yesterday's David Harsanyi article in the Denver Post,


After losing both the state House and Senate, the Colorado GOP has engaged in a nasty squabble over the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, pitting a popular governor against the rank-and-file fiscal conservative base.

Not surprisingly, Mehlman says he doesn't believe it will hurt Republicans.

But he does warn everyone to heed Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment: "We must remain focused on what unites us, not what divides us. We ought not be attacking each other, but the fact that we're debating how to solve problems is a positive thing."

Monday, August 01, 2005

Going to the mat over Roberts?

A few days ago I posted my thoughts on the Roberts nomination and what direction Democratic opposition should take. My conclusion was that Roberts was not worth wasting our "capital" on, that Bush will have at least 1 more nominee to the Court and we shouldn't squander the public's limited attention and tolerance for partisan battles on someone like Roberts.

Today the good people at the TPMCafe have taken up the same discussion...

Krugman hits a homerun again...

I look forward to Paul Krugman's Op-Ed's in the New York Times, rarely does he dissapoint. His columns are always insightful, intellectual, well-reasoned, and rational. Today is no exception as Krugman looks at where the Bush Presidency is in regards to it's policies (failing miserably) and it's political goals (doing quite well).

"..is the Bush agenda stalled, or is it progressing?

The answer is that the administration is getting nowhere on its grand policy agenda. But it never took policy, as opposed to politics, very seriously anyway. The agenda it has always taken with utmost seriousness - consolidating one-party rule, and rewarding its friends - is moving forward quite nicely."