kitty cupAfter they get beyond their non-stop coverage of the arrest of O.J. Simpson, the media might get around to focusing on today’s likely nomination of retired federal Judge Michael Mukasey to be the next Attorney General. Looseheadprop already prepped us on Mukasey, Glenn Greenwald recounts his earlier role in the Jose Padilla case, and the media are now catching up.

The key question: can someone who, despite being a “conservative” jurist, doesn’t immediately send Democrats screaming pass muster with the President’s radical supporters (because he doesn’t send Democrats screaming), or will they do another Harriet Miers hatchet job on Mukasey?

Speaking of justice, what do you get when Senate and House conferees agree (almost) on a compromise bill that would provide health care coverage for another 4 million uninsured children? Answer: another veto threat from President Compassionate Conservative. Reason: SCHIP is cheaper and works better than the subsidized private insurance plans from those who ran deceptive ads frightening older people this summer; and it might convince people that a single-payer system makes sense — uh, because it does.

By coincidence, Hillary Clinton will announce her health care proposal today; the early word is she’s going for universal insurance, instead of universal care. Ask the wrong question . . . That’s the difference between President Wise and Courageous or President Cautious Triangulation. Why should we support this?

Meanwhile the Administration and its allies spent the weekend celebrating Bush’s successful bait and switch strategy, which allowed Bush to hide his failed Iraq policy behind General Petraeus’ and Ambassador Crocker’s credibility. The President managed to take the focus off his plan to occupy Iraq indefinitely with over 100,000 troops by announcing a withdrawal of fewer troops than he sent in under the surge, a fact staring the media in the face (See the Globe graphic). Instead of telling us this fact, most folks like Blitzer start with “Critics say that . . . ” as though the principles of addition and subtraction are now in dispute.

The Wapo reported that some unnamed Democrats (any guesses?) thought about taking credit for the reduction and ignoring the deception. But the deception still worked. The White House thinks it bought another year at least, although David Broder says he’s now down to a half Friedman Unit. I guess we don’t need to read Broder until mid December, when we can add him to the F.U. list.

It’s hard to argue with Friedman’s op ed Somebody Else’s Mess (Times Select), in which he quotes a scholar to the effect that Bush has essentially succeeded in locking America into Iraq while slipping out of town with no accountability:

“In one fell swoop George Bush abdicated to Petraeus, Maliki and the Democrats,” said David Rothkopf, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, referring to Gen. David Petraeus and the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. “Bush left it to Petraeus to handle the war, Maliki to handle our timetable and therefore our checkbook, and the Democrats to ultimately figure out how to end this.”

TwoThree of the more interesting articles of the weekend were Crocker’s concern about the Iraq refugee/displaced persons crisis [h/t Peterr]LA Times report that there may have been over a million Iraqis killed since the US invasion and What They’re Saying in Anbar, a New York Times report of the results of an international poll of Iraqis in Anbar Province — the region in which we are now “succeeding” because the Sunnis there are our allies. The key results:

Withdrawal timetable aside, every Anbar respondent in our survey opposed the presence of American forces in Iraq — 69 percent “strongly” so. Every Anbar respondent called attacks on coalition forces “acceptable,” far more than anywhere else in the country. All called the United States-led invasion wrong, including 68 percent who called it “absolutely wrong.”

Of course, neither these startling facts, the murder of Bush’s favorite Sheik, doubts about getting help from Iraq forces, nor any other “facts on the ground” will have any effect on a policy already decided before Petraeus/Crocker did their thing.

The only good thing about the “facts on the ground” is that we won’t have to listen to Tony Snow misuse the phrase again; he’s finally gone, taking his non-stop dissembling with him. He was the most annoying and insulting press secretary in my lifetime, and I was around for Nixon’s Ziegler.

Update: Will 25,000 armed Blackwater security people be forced to leave Iraq? (h/t twolf)

Photo: His favorite espresso cup, from josesh27566′s photostream