The Last Polka

"But one must know how to colour one's actions and to be a great liar and deciever. Men are so simple, and so much creatures of circumstance, that the deciever will always find someone ready to be decieved."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Corporate Fraud Lives!

Despite its best efforts, the Bush Administration's Justice Department has not been able to cut down of corporate fraud.


The wave of high-profile corporate fraud cases involving companies like Enron, World Com and Tyco International was followed by criminal charges and new regulations that were designed to put an end to corporate fraud. But despite hundreds of millions spent on improved audit controls and several high-profile convictions, occupational fraud is alive and well in the post-Enron era. From the mailroom to the board room, people are still busy stealing from their employers and shareholders.

“We're not seeing a tremendous reduction in the amount of fraud out there,” said Bruce Dubinsky, a forensic accountant based in Bethesda, Md. [...]

While new laws have helped expose fraud, and tougher criminal penalties are being handed out to those convicted, fraudsters continue find ways around them. U.S. losses from fraud rose to an estimated $660 million in 2004 — up from $600 million in 2002 and $400 million in 1996, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, a trade group of accountants who are often called in when fraud is suspected or discovered.

“When you look at the underlying cause of fraud, the underlying drivers are still there,” said Dubinsky.

Worldwide losses to fraud amounted to at least $2 billion last year — a 50 percent increase from 2003, according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report.

“Globally, the trend is toward an increase in economic crime, not a decrease,” the firm found in its 2005 Global Economic Crime Study.

And just for reference, here's what the White House has to say about 'corporate responsibility:

The Administration continues to pursue an aggressive agenda to fight corporate fraud and abuse:

-Exposing and punishing acts of corruption
-Holding corporate officers and directors accountable
-Protecting small investors, pension holders and workers
-Moving corporate accounting out of the shadows
-Developing a stronger, more independent corporate audit system
-Providing better information to investors.

-Since the exposure of the corporate fraud scandals, the President has taken decisive action to combat corporate fraud and punish corporate wrongdoers [...]

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bayh: '08 Darkhorse

Here's a nice little piece about Sen. Evan Bayh and his '08 presidential aspirations. Nothing too fancy, but be sure to listen to the audio.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Breaking: Nagin Re-elected

The Associated Press is now reporting that Mayor Ray Nagin has been reelected as Mayor of New Orleans. Landrieu is currently giving his concession speech. God speed New Orleans...

Chokeback Mountain...What?

This is a tremendous video for a Sox fan like myself...

Marine 1 Photo

This is just a cool picture...

Immigration Deadlock To Come (????)

The New Nebraska Network discusses some comments that Sen. Ben Nelson made regarding what could prove to be an inevitable impasse in the immigration debate: the House-Senate Conference. I've noted here the virtually impossible nature of attempting compromise between the House bill and the more complete Senate bill. Here's what the NNN had to say:

And, although it's going to piss-off the American public - there is some question whether no bill in 2006 is truly worse than a bad bill that neither side cares for very much. Congress should not just go along to get along on an issue of this much importance. Sure, compromise is a good goal to have, but when it's not possible, it's only right that the decision be left to the American people. That's why we have elections, and - lucky for us - the next one's just around the corner.

I have to agree that no bill would certainly be better than a bill that closely resembles the House version. If the President fails to get the reform he wants, he's toast. If he can succeed on this one, he's got a chance to gain some ground in the coming months. It's only a chance though - the President and the GOP have enough other problems to keep the President's numbers in the shitter.

New Orleans Mayoral Election

You can find real time election results for the New Orleans Mayoral race here, if you're so inclined. At this hour, 99/443 precincts are reporting and the race is a dead heat. This will be fun to watch throughout the night.

Bush And Immigration

This is a few days old, but OxBlog has some thoughtful analysis of President Bush's address to the nation regarding immigration. Which brings me to this point - this is most likely a first for The Last Polka - I agree with the president on this issue. I agree with OxBlog that the President has crafted a "carefully balanced position" and has refused to "'[capitulate] to the more zealous and hysterical wings of the American right." And by the way, for all those saying that the President is a 'Johnny Come Lately' on this issue, here's a part of a press conference he held after his reelection (I believe its the same one where he discussed his abundance of political capital...oops):

Q: Mr. President, the Senate Republicans recently listed their priorities, and immigration reform wasn't on it. Do you think this means it's dead for this year? And why are you having so much trouble with your own party on that?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I appreciate that question. It will be one of my priorities. I believe it's necessary to reform the immigration system. I'm against amnesty; I've made that very clear. On the other hand, I do want to recognize a system where a willing worker and a willing employer are able to come together in a way that enables people to find work without jeopardizing a job that an American would otherwise want to do.
I also happen to believe immigration reform is necessary to help make it easier to protect our borders. The system right now spawns coyotes and smugglers and people willing to break the law to get people in our country. There is a vast network of kind of shadowy traffickers. And I believe by making a -- by advancing a program that enables people to come into our country in a legal way to work for a period of time, for jobs that Americans won't do, will help make it easier for us to secure our borders. And so --

Q: Why the resistance in your party so much?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think -- I'm looking forward to discussing it with members of both parties. I believe it's a very important issue that we need to address. I've had a lot of experience with dealing with borders, as the governor of Texas. I know there's a compassionate, humane way to deal with this issue. I want to remind people that family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River. People are coming to our country to do jobs that Americans won't do, to be able to feed their families. And I think there's a humane way to recognize that, at the same time protect our borders, and at the same way to make sure that we don't disadvantage those who have stood in line for years to become a legal citizen. And I'm looking forward to working with people of both parties on the issue.

Yes that's right, I'm going out of my way to defend this President. Pigs are flying.

Anyway, like I said, the President has clearly been speaking about reforming the immigration system and securing the border for some time now. His problem was that his post-election agenda was far too ambitious. His administration put the ball in the air with Social Security and he failed to convince anybody. The War in Iraq dragged on...then there was Katrina...Hariet Miers...Dubai Ports World...and on and on. He maxed out the little political capital that he actually had (indeed, much less than he boasted about). Immigration reform didn't become an issue again until this year, an election year. Members of the House have spent little time in session and much time campaigning and listening to their constituents who are extremely nervous about the illegal immigration issue.

This post has turned into something of a rant. One final point - the electoral implications of cozying up to Latino-Americans are certainly not lost on this president. OxBlog is right to note the following: "To be sure, there is probably much self-interest in Bush's carefully balanced position. A large Hispanic vote getting larger will not have been overlooked." Bottom Line: Karl Rove understands demographics and is trying to set up the GOP as a solid ally of Hispanic. Unfortunately (perhaps) the traditional Republican base is a bit more shortsighted.

And just for fun, take a look at the President's speech on immigration... en espanol.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Speaking Of Immigration...

Speaking of immigration, check out this clip from The Colbert Report about the Minutemen and their quest to build a 400 yd. fence in Southern California. It's pretty funny.

Specter To Feingold: Good Riddance! (UPDATED)

This AP story does a great job summarizing what happened in a recent Judiciary Committee hearing on a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage. There were apparently fireworks and some choice words exchanged between the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter, and one of the most vocal oppenents of the Bush Administration, Sen. Russ Feingold. Here's what happened:

WASHINGTON - A Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Thursday, after a shouting match that ended when one Democrat strode out and the Republican chairman bid him "good riddance."

"I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., shouted after Sen. Russ Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.

"If you want to leave, good riddance," Specter finished.

"I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman," replied Feingold, D-Wis., who is considering a run for president in 2008. "See ya."

Amid increasing partisan tension over President Bush's judicial nominees and domestic wiretapping, the panel voted along party lines to send the constitutional amendment — which would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages — to the full Senate, where it stands little chance of passing.

Holy crap. I wish I had the opportunity to see this. Hopefull C-SPAN will play this hearing at some point.

UPDATE: A statement from Feingold's office says the following:

Today’s markup of the constitutional amendment concerning marriage, in a small room off the Senate floor with only a handful of people other than Senators and their staffs present, was an affront to the Constitution. I objected to its consideration in such an inappropriate setting and refused to help make a quorum. I am deeply disappointed that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee went forward with the markup over my objection. Unfortunately, the Majority Leader has set a politically motivated schedule for floor consideration of this measure that the Chairman felt compelled to follow, even though he says he opposes the amendment.

Constitutional amendments deserve the most careful and deliberate consideration of any matter that comes before the Senate. In addition to hearings and a subcommittee markup, such a measure should be considered by the Judiciary Committee in the light of day, open to the press and the public, with cameras present so that the whole country can see what is done. [...]

I'm not a huge Feingold fan, but I have to agree with him on this one. Ammending our constitution is not the appropriate way to address the gay marriage issue. The ammendment will likely be voted down in the full Senate. Also, it seems that the heated exchange between the Chairman and Feingold was not caught on camera. Too bad.

'National Language' vs. 'Common And Unifying Language'??

The other day I was discussing the Senate's Immigration legislation with someone and I proposed a question: How long do you think before English as the National Language legislation is drafted? Neither of us said less than 24 hours.

Via AP:

The Senate first voted 63-34 to make English the national language after lawmakers who led the effort said it would promote national unity.

But critics argued the move would prevent limited English speakers from getting language assistance required by an executive order enacted under President Clinton. So the Senate also voted 58-39 to make English the nation’s “common and unifying language.”

Supporters agreed that both measures are largely symbolic.

The language of the original English Language Amendment (SA 4064 - scroll down until you find 4064 sponsored by Sen. Inhoffe and co-sponsored by several others reads as follows:

The Government of the United States shall preserve and enhance the role of English as the national language of the United States of America. Unless specifically stated in applicable law, no person has a right, entitlement, or claim to have the Government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services, or provide materials in any language other than English. If exceptions are made, that does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language or any language other than English. If any forms are issued by the Federal Government in a language other than English (or such forms are completed in a language other than English), the English language version of the form is the sole authority for all legal purposes.

You can find the breakdown of the vote - the amendment passed 63-34 - here.

Indeed an interesting development. Seems to be another way to pacify enough conservatives and hold the bipartisan coalition together and move the legislation forward. While I don't support the English as the National Language Amendment, it seems to be a symbolic gesture. Still, it will be interesting to see to reaction to this development across the country.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Moving Forward On Immigration Reform...

In the last few days a strange thing has happened in Washington DC: actual governing, marked by reasonable debate and compromise. The Senate, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. John McCain, and others has worked hard to move forward a comprehensive immigration reform bill - if you'd like to read the text of the 600+ page Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S.2611), you can do so here (you're welcome).

After coming to a stalemate before their latest recess/vacation (which I commented on here), the Senate has heeded President Bush's call for action and has acted to move the bill forward. The Senate has acted on a number of amendments in recent days, including ones that appeared to be the source of the pre-Easter recess controversy. The Senate approved two somewhat controversial amendments, one that approved the construction of 370 miles of fencing along the border (sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions) and the Cornyn-Kyl amendment which would deny those who have committed a felony or 3 misdemeanors from moving down the path toward citizenship provided by the bill. Attempts to derail the essence of the reforms, most notably by Sen. David Vitter, who repeatedly echoed the sentiments of his GOP colleagues in the House by referring to this comprehensive reform as mere amnesty, were ultimately defeated.

Via AP, regarding the Vitter Amendment:

Vitter led the drive to strip from the bill a provision giving an eventual chance at citizenship to illegal immigrants who have been in the country more than two years. His attempt failed, 66-33, at the hands of a bipartisan coalition, and the provision survived. In all, 41 Democrats joined with 24 Republicans and one independent to turn back the proposal. Opponents included the leaders of both parties, Sens. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Harry Reid, D-Nev. Thirty-one Republicans and two Democrats supported Vitter's amendment.

As for the fence provision:

The vote to build what supporters called a "real fence" as distinct from the virtual fence already incorporated in the legislation was 83-16. The fence would be built in areas "most often used by smugglers and illegal aliens," as determined by federal officials. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., estimated the cost at roughly $3.2 million per mile, more than $900 million for 300 miles.

The provision includes a call for construction of 500 miles of vehicle barriers, adding to a system currently in place.

It marked the first significant victory for conservatives eager to leave their stamp on a measure that looks increasingly like it is headed toward Senate passage.

Construction would send "a signal that open-border days are over. ... Good fences make good neighbors, fences don't make bad neighbors," Sessions said. He said border areas where barriers are in place have experienced economic improvement and reduced crime.

"What we have here has become a symbol for the right wing in American politics," countered Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. He said if the proposal passed, "our relationship with Mexico would come down to a barrier between our two countries."

All Republicans and more than half the Senate's Democrats supported the proposal. A core group of bill supporters who have held off other more serious challenges in the past two days made little attempt to fight this one, judging it far less damaging than the attack on the citizenship provision or an attempt on Tuesday to strip out a guest worker program.

This is what happens when we compromise, kids. Its about the give-and-take. If a fence is important enough to convince enough Republicans to move the bill forward, then build a damn fence. The fact that the Sessions proposal garnered the support of 83 Senators is quite significant. For the record, the Cornyn-Kyl Amendment passed 99-0.

It's no secret that approval ratings of Congress as a whole are quite low. Part of the reason for these low ratings is the perception that Congress does nothing. It's certainly heartening to see such progress being made on such a vital issue. That being said, this battle has just begun. Should the Senate's bill pass, as it appears it will, the Conference Committee charged with 'working out the differences' between House and Senate versions of legislation will have a virtually impossible task. House Republicans refuse to address the totality of the immigration issue and will not support a perceived amnesty. The President's plan and Senate legislation fall under the amnesty umbrella for House GOPers.

What's important to note here is that this is not a mere cabal of hard nosed conservatives in the House that oppose the President--its the leadership and other high ranking Republicans:

Via WaPo:

"I understand what the president's position is. I have made it pretty clear that I have supported the House position," said House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

Via AP:

"Regardless of what the president says, what he is proposing is amnesty," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. the lawmaker who would lead House negotiators in any attempt to draft a compromise immigration bill later this year.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt has also been a vocal critic of the President's position and Rep. Tom Tancredo has become a mainstay on cable news programs discussing his opposition to amnesty.

The open defiance of the House led Karl Rove to pay a visit to House Republicans today (I thought he was stripped of his policy duties??), via The Hill:

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove went into the lion's den yesterday, calling on House Republicans to rally behind an immigration plan that many of them oppose.

The meeting, however, was cordial, according to congressional GOP officials who attended. Rove characterized the meeting as "hopeful, optimistic and positive."

The White House political guru kept his remarks brief during the Republicans' regular Wednesday-morning conference meeting, expanding on the five points that President Bush laid out in his prime-time television appearance Monday night, members and aides in attendance said yesterday.

Rove spent much of his time explaining the particulars of the president's plan to expand security along the border and did not remain long enough to answer many questions.

Again, the activity in the Senate is encouraging. Republicans and Democrats have actually come together to address a serious issue. That being said, the most important work will occur in Conference. I for one am not at all convinced that a good, comprehensive bill will come out of the Conference Committee. If I were advising the President, I would at least suggest vetoing legislation that does not address the immigration issue comprehensively. He has put his neck out on this issue and should show some balls. He shouldn't settle for a weak bill simply because House Republicans are feeling particularly audacious.

10 Months Jail Time For Ex-RNC Official

Remember the 2002 midterms? Remember a tight Senate race between former NH Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and now GOP Senator John Sununu? If you do, this story might interest you:

CONCORD, N.H. - A former Republican National Committee official was sentenced Wednesday to 10 months in prison for his role in the jamming of New Hampshire Democrats’ telephones on Election Day 2002.

James Tobin, 45, was found guilty in December of harassment by telephone.

Prosecutors said he helped arrange more than 800 hang-up calls that jammed get-out-the-vote phone lines set up by the state Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters union for about an hour. [...]

Not surprisingly this type of tactic initially got rewarded by GOPers:

He later became New England chairman of President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign but stepped down when Democrats accused him of playing a role in the jamming.

Good stuff.

UPDATE: Reuters adds the following:

U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe described the crime as "extremely serious" and a threat to the U.S. political tradition of free and fair elections.

"People in your position need to know they cannot do these things and if they do the consequences are very, very serious," he said in handing down a sentence harsher than the six months home detention and community service sought by Tobin's lawyer.

Democrats want an investigation into 22 telephone calls made by Tobin and New Hampshire Republican Party officials to the White House on November 5 and 6, 2002, and say they believe national Republican officials may be involved in the scheme.

"I don't consider this sentencing to be the end of the matter. I consider this to be one more step in the process of uncovering exactly who knew about this," said Kathleen Sullivan, the New Hampshire Democratic Party chair.

New Orleans Times Picayune Endorses Lt. Gov. Landrieu

Today, in an editorial published following last night's heated mayoral debate, the New Orleans Times Picayune endorsed Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu in that city's first post-Katrina mayoral election. This, I believe, is big news. Furthermore, while I'm not overly impressed by Landrieu, I must concur with the paper's assessment. The incumbent, Mayor Ray "chocolate city" Nagin has consistently failed his city. Electing Landrieu will not guarantee better management and governing in that devastated city; however, it will send a clear message that the citizens of New Orleans want to truly start anew. Again, I concur with the Times Picayune: Nagin must go.

Here's some of what the Times Picayune had to say:

No single elected official can solve all the city's problems. But the recovery does depend on having a mayor who can bring people together and get things done. Voters need to consider these questions: Which candidate can better marshal the outside resources to pay for the city's recovery? Who can manage City Hall at a time when money is short but the need for services is greater than ever? Who will put New Orleans in a position to take care of itself in the future?

Mitch Landrieu is the better candidate for this difficult job. His ability to unite New Orleanians across economic and racial lines will be a salve for a city whose residents are scattered far and wide. And his intimate knowledge of the mechanics of government and the political system will be an asset. [...]

In short, Mr. Nagin is an honest man who has kept the best interests of the city at heart, and the lack of major scandals within his administration is a great credit to him.

But while the mayor's disdain for political intrigue is fully justified, his aversion to the give-and-take of governing has proved a liability. From the start, Mr. Nagin has been unable to turn his larger ideas into realities. He has trouble communicating clearly with other officials and the public, and he has shown little ability to form and retain a team of talented managers.

The gap between the mayor's vision and his ability to execute has only grown since Katrina. His Bring New Orleans Back Commission crafted a nuanced proposal to guide the rebuilding of the city, but the mayor failed to embrace its most important provisions. New Orleanians want answers, but Mr. Nagin has left many people scratching their heads.

Mr. Nagin does enjoy a good relationship with President Bush, and that has helped yield major federal aid for the city. But other relationships appear strained or nonexistent. New Orleans cannot afford to go it alone, as Ray Nagin has often done. [...]

Still, Mr. Landrieu's considerable strengths outweigh his weaknesses. New Orleans needs a mayor with innate political sense and a firm, reassuring manner. Mr. Landrieu is blessed with both. He has a knack for stating the city's urgent case and inspiring others to action.

Right now thousands of damaged homes in New Orleans have FEMA trailers parked out front. At stores and restaurants, handmade posters announce longer hours as customers and employees trickle back. These are hopeful signs. Despite huge losses, despite the risks of future storms, despite mixed signals from elected leaders, New Orleanians are casting their lot with the city they love.

In Saturday's election, voters are fortunate to have a choice between two candidates of good character. But one has the better disposition and drive to rally New Orleanians to their city's cause. Mitch Landrieu is that candidate.

While I do not live in New Orleans, I have a friend at Tulane. His descriptions of the situation on the ground coupled with media accounts have convinced me that the city needs new leadership.

A quick not on last night's debate, which was televised nationally on MSNBC. Most of the questioning was appropriate. However, questions about immigration and whether or not either candidate would support Hillary Clinton for president were absurdly inappropriate. What's worse, each candidate answered the Clinton question. This was a missed opportunity for both candidates--each candidate would've been better served to refuse to answer such a question while the city has such historic problems to deal with. Sen. Clinton's political aspirations are certainly far from the minds of last night's most important demographic--the people of New Orleans, especially those that are dispersed throughout the nation.

Monday, April 17, 2006

RI Senate Update

According to The Hotline and WJAR/AP Matt Brown (D) primary campaign for Sen. Linc Chafee's (R) Senate seat ain't going so well. He's apparently running out money and has fired some key staffers. I guess his experience overseeing elections in the smallest state as RI Sec. of State has prepared him for the big leagues.

Also, Chafee will reportedly be joined by First Lady Laura Bush at a fundraiser in the coming weeks.

Light blogging for a little while longer...lots of work to do...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hannity Never Ceases To Amaze...

The Red Sox are losing, so I flipped it over to Fox News and caught Sean Hannity trying to blame the President's dreadful poll numbers on the possibility that a large segment of American's have forgotten 9/11. I shit you not.

I'll try to get the transcript up when its available.

Rummy vs. The Retired Generals

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is under attack from an increasing number of retired military officers. The latest, according to the Washington Post, is former head of the 1st Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. John Batiste (Ret.), who had this to say about his former boss:

"I think we need a fresh start" at the top of the Pentagon, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005, said in an interview. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork." [...]

"It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense."

The article goes on to outline the comments of other retired officers who have called for Rummy to step aside. One of the things that's frustrating about Rumsfeld is that he knows he's doing a bad job--he's offered his resignation at least twice. The President, once again, refuses to accept reality and move past the Rumsfeld era at the Pentagon.

Don't expect the Generals to pipe down anytime soon. I wouldn't be surprised to see Rumsfeld go at some point in the relatively near future. Let's just hope that will make some sort of difference for our troops on the ground.

Monday, April 10, 2006

ABC Poll

I don't want to beat a dead horse, but some numbers from the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll stand out. Okay, we get it - President Bush's approval ratings are in the shitter. But look at this: 38% of respondents approve of the job that President Bush is doing, while 47% STRONGLY DISAPPROVE. Overall disapproval is at 60%.

To reiterate, 9% fewer approve that strongly disapprove. I don't know about you, but that says a lot - Bush is losing this country at an alarmingly fast rate.

UPDATE: Looking at the data, here are a few more numbers that must go up the President's ass...

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling...

Iraq: Approve - 37%; Disapprove - 62%

Economy: Approve - 40%; Disaprove - 59%

Immigration Issues - Approve - 33%; Disapprove - 61%

All of the polling data is available here.

Note: Political Wire notes the same stunning finding that I did above.

Fukuyama Strikes Back!

Take that Charles Krauthammer!!!!

Getting Serious On Darfur?

Wes Clark and John Prendergast have an op-ed in today's Boston Globe discussing a U.S. plan to end genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Also, the Washington Post reports today that the Bush administration is ready to support a larger role for NATO in that troubled region.

Clark and Prendergast have this to say:

His administration has yet to form a united front on Darfur because of competing interests at the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA. Bush needs to pull together these disparate players and create a real policy to end atrocities, punish human rights violators, and create sustainable peace.

Now that Bush has finally admitted that his administration needs to do better, he should appoint an envoy to harmonize US policy toward Darfur and demonstrate his personal resolve to end the suffering. [...]

Bush needs to ensure an accelerated AU handover to the UN and identify a capable nation to lead a UN-mandated stabilization force to immediately buttress the AU's civilian protection efforts and help secure the border.

Military planners at the Pentagon need to work closely with this lead nation to plan the mission and provide military assets that enhance the force's ability to respond quickly and aggressively to attacks against civilians. [...]

[T]he United States should press much harder for UN Security Council sanctions against government and rebel officials most responsible for the crisis. Properly executed, such a policy would strengthen cooperation from the government of Sudan.

President Bush has opened the door for stronger US action in Darfur. Now it's time for him to follow through by leading a focused diplomatic and military effort to end the crisis.

And this from the aforementioned WaPo article:

The Bush administration has settled on the idea of sending up to several hundred NATO advisers to help bolster African Union peacekeeping troops in their efforts to shield villagers in Sudan's Darfur region from fighting between government-backed Arab militias and rebel groups, administration officials said.

The move would include some U.S. troops and mark a significant expansion of U.S. and allied involvement in the conflict. So far, NATO's role has been limited to airlifting African Union forces to the region and providing a few military specialists to help the peacekeeping contingent. [...]

Plans under consideration envision fewer than 500 NATO advisers. They would be assigned to African Union headquarters units and assist in logistics, communications, intelligence and command and control activities, not engage directly in field operations. The likely number of U.S. advisers has yet to be determined, officials said.

"This is supposed to be a support effort, not a take-over-the-mission effort," said the administration official, whose name and agency could not be identified under terms of the interview. As the reason for insisting on anonymity, the official cited the sensitivity of the internal planning.

For more of my thoughts, go here.