Reason Express

Vol. 8 No. 41


In this issue:

1. Constitution or Articles of Confederation?
2. The Delphi Scare
3. With Justice and Scooter Libby for All
4. Quick Hits
5. New at Reason Online—Judith Iscariot
6. News and Events

1. Constitution or Articles of Confederation?

Iraq has a constitution, and not everyone in Iraq likes it. So far, so good. The most important hurdle for the constitutional vote was for it to be seen as a legitimate representation of the will of the Iraqi people. On that score it is a success: The Shia and Kurds like it, the Sunnis do not. Game, set, match.

Now comes the truly tricky part: taking the constitutional framework and turning it into a functioning government underpinned by the rule of law. The Sunni minority may be coming around to the view that, although the framework does give the Shia and especially the Kurds a nod toward autonomy, that is not a sure thing, especially if Sunnis actually jump into the new governing process.

The best hope for something like normalcy for Iraq remains a fairly strong central government that has command over a loyal and dependable military. With that in place, a delicate balance of power might be sustainable, given that the U.S. plans to maintain a strong presence in the country for years to come.


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2. The Delphi Scare

Let's hope the bankruptcy of auto parts maker Delphi helped to prod General Motors and the United Auto Workers into taking a good look at the future and deciding to take a new path. In any event, GM has a new deal with the UAW to cut the company's staggering health-care costs. How staggering? Try thousands of dollars in deadweight lag on the cost of every vehicle GM sells.

Now GM says it has the union's approval to cut health-care expenses by $3 billion annually before taxes. That could add up to $1 billion a year in cash to GM's bottom line. For its part, the union had to do something, or watch the company almost surely follow Delphi into bankruptcy sooner or later. This at least gives GM a shot at keeping UAW workers working.

GM may also sell off part of its very profitable financing arm, GMAC, which together with the cost savings could leave the General in a better position than looked possible just weeks ago.


3. With Justice and Scooter Libby for All

Special Counsel Pat Fitzgerald may be zeroing in on Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby, or he may just be trying to make sense of out the whole Plamegate mess like the rest of us poor schlubs. One thing is for certain: If Fitzgerald can only point to an instance or two of perjury, it will be a let down for those who expect the entire Bush administration to be in the dock when Fitzgerald wraps up.

Lying to investigators is wrong, and if any is uncovered it should be prosecuted. But the most interesting part of any cover-up is always the "why": Why lie? Why attempt to cover up? Any good crime drama needs a motive, and with Plamegate the motive remains decidedly low-rent: to discredit a Bush administration critic.

Not steal his medical records and then discredit him, or drug him and take pictures of him romping with transvestite hookers, or something else truly inspired in the realm of dirty tricks. But merely to talk to some reporters off-the-record and hope they write some mean stuff about Joe Wilson. And then lie about it and then go to jail? Let's hope justice is served in this case because the plotline could sure use some work.


4. Quick Hits

Quote of the Week

"I told Mr. Fitzgerald, I simply could not recall where that came from, when I wrote it or why the name was misspelled" -Judith Miller in the first-person account of Plamegate her newspaper published Sunday.


Russert Watch Update

Arianna Huffington, of all people, makes a salient point about NBC's Tim Russert needing to come clean about his involvement in Plamegate, even if the network has to order him to.


Border Wars

An Ohio school district is suing a family for $35,000 because the district says that kids who attended the school in fact lived just outside the district and committed "unauthorized attendance."


Miers, Take II

The White House is trying to "re-frame" the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court in terms that do not deeply offend anybody.


5. New at Reason Online

Judith Iscariot
Miller sells journalism down the river. Again. Matt Welch

Foreign Policy Welfare Queen
Washington's /wasteful patronage of the Republic of Korea. Doug Bandow

Prince Rudy's Courtier
A mugged liberal's love affair with a tough mayor. Tim Cavanaugh

And much more!

6. News and Events

Get liberated with Ronald Bailey's brave new book for a brave new world!

In his new book, Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution, Reason's Ronald Bailey examines the scientific and ethical controversies surrounding everything from stem cell research to therapeutic cloning to longer life spans to genetically modified food.

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