Ed Morrissey has blogged at Captain's Quarters since 2003, and has a daily radio show at BlogTalkRadio, where he serves as Political Director. Called "Captain Ed" by his readers, Ed is a father and grandfather living in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, a native Californian who moved to the North Star State because of the weather.
Hastert Knew While Foley Flew
Well, well, well. It appears the Republicans actually can make the Foley controversy worse. As if it wasn't bad enough that John Boehner knew about Foley's track record of sexual harassment of his underage pages, now it turns out that Speaker Denny Hastert lied about what he knew and when he knew it. Roll Call reports that Thomas Reynolds (R-NY), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Hastert about Foley's predatory actions in late winter or early spring of this year:
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) issued a statement Saturday in which he said that he had informed Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) of allegations of improper contacts between then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and at least one former male page, contradicting earlier statements from Hastert.'
GOP sources said Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February GOP leadership elections. Hastert's response to Reynolds' warning remains unclear.
Hastert's staff insisted Friday night that he was not told of the Foley allegations and are scrambling to respond to Reynolds' statement.
I cannot tell CQ readers how disgusted I am with Speaker Hastert. Reynolds is no fringe nutcase; he's the man Hastert trusted to run the midterm re-elections of the Republican caucus. He has no reason to lie, but Hastert apparently did. This also calls into question Boehner's earlier reversal, when he denied saying that he informed Hastert after Hastert denied knowing of Foley's activities.
Hastert should have been a man from the beginning and admit that he knew about Foley. Now he has destroyed any credibility left in his Speakership, and he has only compounded the embarrassment for the GOP caucus. Foley's actions reflect on Foley alone, but thanks to Hastert and perhaps Boehner, the aftermath will reflect on all Republicans in the House.
Republicans have to act swiftly to remove the stench of Foleygate from the party. They need to demand the resignation of Hastert as Speaker, as well as Boehner as Majority Leader if he lied to protect Hastert. Allowing Foley off the hook was a mistake in judgment, but this is a betrayal of those who trusted Hastert to lead the House with dignity, honesty, and integrity.
CLARIFICATION: When I say resign, I mean from their leadership positions. Neither committed a crime, and their constituents should judge whether they should continue to represent them.
UPDATE: CQ readers seem to have misunderstood what this post concerns. Here's what Hastert's office was saying yesterday:
The resignation rocked the Capitol, and especially Foley's GOP colleagues, as lawmakers were rushing to adjourn for at least six weeks. House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.
It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged online exchanges between Foley and the boy.
Today, Reynolds' statement demolishes Hastert's denial. Hastert lied about his knowledge of the case. It doesn't make any difference if Hastert got Foley to resign, or whether some news outlets sat on the story. He bald-faced lied, and he apparently got Boehner to retract his statement that Boehner had informed him of Foley's inappropriate behavior in the spring. Hastert tried to cover his own butt by hiding the truth, and it appears Boehner tried to help him do it.
Also, this isn't a "dirty trick". The timing might have been manipulated, but a dirty trick involves false allegations. No one framed Foley -- he did this to himself.
UPDATE II: Another article from yesterday that reflects that Hastert's office denied knowing anything of the Foley allegations. Ron Bonjean, Hastert's spokesman, made it clear that Hastert knew nothing of the earlier allegations, and bear in mind that this was when people were asking about how the Republicans could have failed to inform the Page Board of the allegations.
UPDATE III: One last update, and then I'm moving on. I am not so much angry about the decision made by GOP leadership that the evidence and the demands of the parents to drop the issue left them little to do about Foley other than chastise him. I think they should have at least informed the Page Board, since that is the procedure, but that's a simple error in judgment. I'm not claiming that Hastert knew about the IMs months ago, because apparently no one but a few Democratic operatives knew about that until last week.
What makes me angry and disappointed is the denial by Hastert that he knew anything about Foley's issues on Friday. Recall that Majority Leader John Boehner had already told the press that he told Hastert about the earlier e-mails months ago, and after Hastert's statement, Boehner had to retract that. Only after Reynolds released his statement did Hastert acknowledge that he knew about Foley's earlier issues. It's the dishonesty and the butt-covering that I find unacceptable in a House Speaker, who is two heartbeats away from the Presidency.
Northern Alliance Radio Network On The Air
We're back on the air with the Northern Alliance Radio Network this afternoon. Mitch and I will go from 1-3 pm at AM 1280 The Patriot, and we'll be discussing a wide range of topics. We're looking into the border-fence bill, the new legislation for terrorist detention, interrogation, and trial, and the announcement that the Twin Cities will host the 2008 Republican National Convention. Since I blogged at the RNC in 2004, I'll have a few stories to tell about what we can expect in 2008. We also will cover the Mark Foley scandal, but we're disappointed that we forgot to bring the proper bumber music. Mitch and I wanted to use "Uncle Ernie" by the Who, "Aqualung" by Jethro Tull, "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, "Baby Talks Dirty" by The Knack, and a number of others. If you have any suggestions, please post them in the comments.
Be sure to tune in if you're in the Twin Cities or listen to our live feed at the station's link. You can join the conversation at 651-289-4488. Hope to have you with us!
Has Pakistan Changed Sides?
Yesterday I noted the increase in cross-border attacks in Afghanistan in the three weeks since Pervez Musharraf signed a peace deal with the tribal chiefs in Waziristan and released thousands of captured Islamists. Today, the government of India now says that the train bombings in Mumbai this past July had the support of Pakistan's ISI:
Mumbai police Commissioner A.N. Roy said an intensive investigation that included using truth serum on suspects revealed that Pakistan's top spy agency had ''masterminded'' the bombings.
Roy said Pakistan's Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence, or ISI, began planning the attacks in March and later provided training to those who carried out the bombings in Bahawalpur, Pakistan.
''The terror plot was ISI sponsored and executed by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba operatives with help from the Students Islamic Movement of India,'' Roy said at a news conference to announce the completion of the investigation.
Lashkar is a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group, while the Students Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, is a banned Islamic group.
So far 15 people have been arrested, including 11 Pakistanis, Roy said, adding that three Indians were still on the run and another Pakistani was killed in one of the blasts.
Many people wondered about the connections between the ISI and the two Islamist groups. The ISI was instrumental in assisting the Taliban to power in the 1990s and has always had Islamist sympathies. If India has evidence of the connections it alleges, one has to conclude that either the ISI has gone rogue or Musharraf's surrender was worse than first imagined.
The Bush administration has taken the right first steps, which is to call Musharraf into conference with Hamid Karzai and attempt to force Musharraf to act responsibly about his own border. If that works, then perhaps Musharraf can address the unhelpful elements in the ISI. If it does not, then perhaps the American military can start respecting the Pakistani border much less in the future.
We refrained from pursuing terrorists into Pakistan for three reasons. First, it's sovereign territory, and we didn't want a war with Pakistan. Second, Musharraf assured us that he would pursue them himself, and for the first few years, he did. Lastly, any American incursions into Waziristan would have destabilized Musharraf and eliminated the assistance he provided us against the terrorists. Now that the second and third reasons no longer apply, it seems likely that we will not care anywhere near as much about Pakistani sovereignty or Musharraf's status in Pakistan.
Keith Ellison On The Hotseat
Keith Ellison, the DFL's candidate in MN-05, has a couple of problems in the local blogs this morning. First, our NARN partner Michael Brodkorb finds a photo of Ellison leading a march against police brutality in 1998, holding what looks like several copies of the Nation of Islam's Final Call:
Brodkorb alleges that Ellison was distributing these copies at the event, which puts lie to Ellison's insistence that he had no affiliation with the Nation of Islam or Louis Farrakhan after the Million Man March in 1995. MN Publius, who like Brodkorb does paid political work, defends Ellison by claiming that the picture doesn't show Ellison distributing the copies of Final Call. I'm on the fence in that respect. Sometimes I pick up a copy of the Star Tribune, especially when dining out where no Internet connection exists, and I'd hate to be photographed doing that. On the other hand, I don't usually pick up more than one copy and then display it while I'm marching down the street at a protest.
I'll call that one a draw. However, Power Line -- which has done marvelous work on Ellison -- notes an Insight News article on Ellison's run for the state legislature in 1998 that establishes his support for the Nation of Islam in the same time frame:
Ellison-Muhammed, who says his affiliation with the Nation of Islam doesn't mean he isn't running to represent all the people in the district, feels the critical issues on the table include criminal justice, education, and economic development. ...
His solution? To use organizations that are already set up for community safety to contribute significantly to securing the neighborhood. Ellison-Muhammed would support legislation that bolsters patrol groups like Mission of Peace, the Nation of Islam, M.A.R.C.H Inc., AMAN, and SALAAM. ...
Anticipating possible criticism for his NOI affiliation, Ellison-Muhammed says he is aware that not everyone appreciates what the Nation does and feels there is a propaganda war being waged against its leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan.
MN Publius argues that Ellison has never been a member of the Nation of Islam. In fact, Jon-David's direct quote is "Keith was never a member of the Nation of Islam, and has never had anything to do with Louis Farrakhan." This is patently false, and the Insight News article proves it. The article specifically goes into his connection to Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam as a way to assure Minnesotans that Ellison's ties do not threaten Jewish voters, although Ellison takes the opportunity to declare that critics have victimized Farrakhan for pointing out his many anti-Semitic rants.
Ellison has lied and continues to lie about his ties to the Nation of Islam. At one point, he proposed having Farrakhan's organization patrol the streets of Minneapolis in place of the police, and this wasn't during his days as a U of M law student -- it was during his political career. Ellison's lies should concern voters in the Fifth Congressional District, and have them consider their alternatives to Ellison's radicalism.
A Perspective On Democratic Outrage Over Mark Foley
The Republican leadership in the House has plenty for which to answer over their laissez-faire treatment of Mark Foley when allegations of improper contact with underage pages first came to their attention. Despite knowing of Foley's "inappropriate" behavior this spring, Majority Leader John Boehner did nothing about it, after hearing that the parents of the page wanted the matter dropped. Regardless, the actions of Foley reflected badly on the GOP and the House, and action should have been taken at the time to punish Foley. Surely, the Republicans could at least have removed him from the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.
However, Democratic protestations on this matter seem rather hypocritical, given the history of their party and page scandals:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who introduced a privileged resolution friday night to require an ethics probe, criticized Republican leaders, who she said, "have known of the egregious behavior of Congressman Mark Foley, yet were prepared to adjourn tonight without an Ethics Committee investigation."
"The investigation must determine when Mr. Foley sent the inappropriate emails, who knew of them, whether there was a pattern of inappropriate activity by Mr. Foley with pages or former pages, when the Republican leadership was notified, and what corrective action was taken once officials learned of any improper activity," she added.
This is true, and Pelosi is right to demand an ethics probe, to which John Boehner immediately agreed and the House supported unanimously. However, let's please recall the case of Gerry Studds and his sexual relationship with a 17-year-old page in 1983. This didn't involve a few e-mails and explicit instant messaging; Studds started a sexual relationship with a minor, and then announced in a press conference that people should mind their own business about his private life. The House censured Studds (he turned his back on them as the censure was read), but the Democrats endorsed Studds for five subsequent elections. The only reason he no longer serves in the House is because he retired. He didn't even lose his chair on the House Merchant Marine and Fishing Committee until 1995, when the Republicans took over and abolished the committee.
I agree that the Republicans have some 'splaining to do. However, Democrats hardly covered themselves in glory when running the show for the last decade they controlled Congress in a situation that was objectively more serious than Foley's pathetic cyber-sex efforts.
NOTE: Daniel Crane (R-IL) also got censured at the same time for a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page, and apologized to the House. He got defeated in his re-election bid.
Border Fence Passes Senate
In the end, the border fence bill passed the Senate by a wide margin, 80-19, belying the canard that the only option for any border security to get through Congress was through comprehensive immigration reform. Facing the midterm elections, eighty Senators could not find any excuse with which to explain why America continues to leave our southern border practically undefended in a time of war:
The Senate gave final approval last night to legislation authorizing the construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border, shelving President Bush's vision of a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws in favor of a vast barrier.
The measure was pushed hard by House Republican leaders, who badly wanted to pass a piece of legislation that would make good on their promises to get tough on illegal immigrants, despite warnings from critics that a multibillion-dollar fence would do little to address the underlying economic, social and law enforcement problems, or to prevent others from slipping across the border. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) surprised many advocates of a more comprehensive approach to immigration problems when he took up the House bill last week.
But in Congress's rush to recess last night for the fall political campaigns, the fence bill passed easily, 80 to 19, with 26 Democrats joining 54 Republicans in support. One Republican, Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R.I.); one independent, Sen. James M. Jeffords (Vt.); and 17 Democrats opposed the bill. The president has indicated that he will sign it.
Mexico's foreign affairs secretary, Luis Ernesto Derbez, told reporters in Mexico City yesterday that his country plans to send a letter strongly condemning the measure in an effort to dissuade Bush from signing the bill.
They also passed an addition to the Homeland Security budget appropriating $1.2 billion for the new barrier. The next session of Congress will have to find the rest of the estimate $6 billion it will take to complete the project, so foes of illegal immigration still have more work to do over the next two years that the barrier will get built. Advocates of normalization will still have some leverage in which to press their policies as well. The fight over immigration reform is far from over.
More interesting is the vote taken yesterday on the bill. The final tally of opposition comprises seventeen Democrats, one Republican (Lincoln Chafee, natch), and the lone independent, Jim Jeffords. Almost all of the Democratic leadership voted against this bill: Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, John Kerry, Russ Feingold, Patrick Leahy, and Carl Levin all opposed it. Even Joe Lieberman voted against it, although he shouldn't expect much appreciation from the netroots for that. Maria Cantwell voted against it even though she's facing a significant challenge to her seat in these mid-terms, and expect Mike McGavick to use that in upcoming ads.
Eight Democratic senators who supported the bill last night switched their position from the previous day, when they voted to block the fence. They are Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Barack Obama of Illinois and Charles E. Schumer of New York.
Many of the Democrats who joined Republicans on the vote either face close elections this November or represent mostly conservative states.
But for the most part, Democrats opposed the measure.
No, most of them supported the measure (27-17), even if reluctant to do so. Why did these eight switch their votes? For Hillary especially, it is an admission of how popular a border barrier has become. She cannot hope to run for President while having gone on record against the passage of the bill. She's hoping to avoid discussion about her vote to block the bill from ever coming to the floor -- a reverse of Kerry's "I was for the bill before I was against it" fumble from 2004. The rest smelled the coffee after the collapse of the cloture vote (71-28).
This is why I predicted that Bill Frist would press the advantage this month on the border bill. While Americans might be ambivalent about what to do with the illegal immigrants already in the US, most agree that the easy migration routes should get secured in some fashion. The party that finally takes this seriously after decades of politically-correct dithering would get a boost at the polls out of that voter dissatisfaction. Frist harvested this low-hanging fruit, and observers in places like the New York Times failed to recognize it. (That link comes from Mickey Kaus, who pays me a very nice compliment in his excellent post on the border bill, as did Instapundit.)
Foley's Folly (Updated)
Sometimes people say that politics make them feel unclean, but this story will amplify that exponentially. Rep. Mark Foley, a Republican from Florida with an almost-assured re-election bid, has resigned from Congress after harrassing a teen-age intern. His abrupt departure leaves his organization bereft of its chair -- the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children:
Saying he was "deeply sorry," Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned from Congress today, hours after ABC News questioned him about sexually explicit internet messages with current and former congressional pages under the age of 18.
A spokesman for Foley, the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, said the congressman submitted his resignation in a letter late this afternoon to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. ...
They say he used the screen name Maf54 on these messages provided to ABC News.
Maf54: You in your boxers, too?
Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.
Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed.
Maf54: What ya wearing?
Teen: tshirt and shorts
Maf54: Love to slip them off of you.
And this one:
Maf54: Do I make you a little horny?
Teen: A little.
The language gets much more graphic, too graphic to be broadcast, and at one point the congressman appears to be describing Internet sex.
I'm not sure why this happens, but every generation or so we have to have a Congressional scandal involving interns and pages. This time, it's Foley's turn to embarrass his constituents. Apparently Foley had a habit of sending sexually explicit messages to his staffers. ABC has a dialog from 2003 that certifies Foley as quite the pervert, engaging in a sex chat that shows an obsession with a high-schooler's masturbatory habits.
Eeeeesh. And this guy chaired a caucus on exploited children?
UPDATE: A couple of points to note about this story. First and least importantly, the impact on the election seems lighter than first thought. According to USA Today, the withdrawal of Foley from the ballot will not keep the GOP off the ballot in November:
Florida law will not allow Republicans to put another name on the ballot in Foley's district. Gregory Langowski, executive director of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, said that normally a special election would be held, but there isn't enough time for that. The state GOP is looking into the situation.
However, state law will allow Republicans to "designate a replacement candidate. All votes that go to Foley will count for the 'GOP-designated' candidate." That interpretation is based on language in Florida's election laws. There, it is stated that in a case such as this, "the ballots shall not be changed," but "ballots cast for the former party nominee will be counted for the person designated by the political party."
Foley won the district 68%-32% two years ago over Democrat Jeff Fisher. A poll this month had Foley under 50%, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Democrats were closely watching the contest even before Foley's resignation.
Great. Now if the Republicans can get Floridians to cast their votes for a disgraced sex obsessive, at least in name, they should hold onto the seat. At least if people want to support the GOP, their votes will count towards their eventual replacement even if the name of the candidate doesn't appear on the ballot.
More concerning are reports that the Republican leadership knew of Foley's extracurricular activities before his exposure, so to speak. Apparently, they took his denials at face value and dropped the investigation at the request of the parents involved:
Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who sponsored the page from his district, told reporters that he learned of the e-mails from a reporter some months ago and passed on the information to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Republican campaign organization.
Alexander said he did not pursue the matter further because "his parents said they didn't want me to do anything."
Carl Forti, a spokesman for the GOP campaign organization, said Reynolds learned from Alexander that the parents did not want to pursue the matter. Forti said, however, that the matter did go before the House Page Board — the three lawmakers and two House officials who oversee the pages.
Shimkus, who avoided reporters for hours, worked out his statement with Speaker Dennis Hastert's office. He said he promptly investigated what he thought were non-explicit message exchanges.
"It has become clear to me today, based on information I only now have learned, that Congressman Foley was not honest about his conduct," Shimkus said.
Obviously this was a huge mistake. One might have thought that someone could have checked his e-mail, although it looks like Foley was at least smart enough to avoid using his Congressional account. The board instructed him to cease all contact with the one page involved at the time and to refrain from inappropriate behavior with interns in the future. Without any endorsement from the parents, it would have been difficult to proceed, but one would think that someone would have suggested that the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children could find new leadership. It's an embarrassment the Republicans could have done without in this election.
The Incredible Lamery At Wonkette
It's almost too pathetic to post a response, but the Wonkette benchwarmers really have no clue about weblogs, photoshops, or criticism -- and their latest attack on Michelle Malkin exposes them as wanna-bes. Michelle penned a cultural critique about the potential effect of trashy chic on young girls, as exemplified by Bratz dolls and the recent restyling of Charlotte Church. Rather than actually responding with any intellectual criticism, Wonkette instead posted a picture that supposedly depicts Michelle in a bikini in 1992 -- as if that has anything to do with her critique of Charlotte Church.
As if that wasn't bad enough, they failed to realize that the picture was a pretty obvious photoshop. Note for instance the size of Michelle's head in proportion to the rest of the body:
Now, I've met Michelle Malkin and spent time at her house. In fact, I've seen her standing next to a fridge a couple of times, and I can tell you that Michelle is significantly shorter than the woman in this photograph. She's a little shorter than the First Mate, who gives up at least six inches to any standard-sized refrigerator. Anyone with half a brain and the ability to do about ten seconds of Googling could have figured that much out.
Besides, I have the original photograph:
I was a lot wilder before I married the First Mate. (I was in better shape, too.)
Confronted with their rather stupid error, did the bloggers at Wonkette offer an apology? Of course not. They posted more photoshopped pictures, none of which had even a passing relationship with their original, puerile point. They seem insistent on acting like middle-school adolescents with Mommy's Internet connection ... which describes Wonkette on any given day.
I'm not sure what it is about Michelle's success that drives the Left nuts, but the result reflects much more on them than it does on Michelle. (Allahpundit has a few choice words as well.)
UPDATE: Apparently, Gawker's doubling down. Probably not smart in a legal sense to offer doctored photographs to give someone a false reputation as a slut. Seems to me that a smart lawyer could get a pretty decent payday off of his 30% with that case.
UPDATE II: It seems I've bumped the Miss World photographs off of Power Line. Maybe I could win Miss Egregiality!
Has Frist Made The Case For 2008?
Senator Bill Frist will retire from Congress at the end of the year, and he's widely rumored to be considering a run for the Presidency in 2008. Last year, Frist had plenty of critics, including me, for failing to get judicial nominations or much of the original agenda through the Senate. Now, however, Frist appears to be firing on all cylinders. He has pushed through the detainee bill, a border barrier, and the on-line federal budget database, among other accomplishments. Some of these bills appeared to have little chance of avoiding filibusters and delaying tactics, but the tall Tennessean worked some magic, or twisted some arms, to get real accomplishments out of this session.
Here's a question for CQ readers: has Frist's valediction made the case for a 2008 run at the Presidency?
Oberstar Fails The Pork Test
The House has considered a new Coast Guard appropriation (HR 5681), but they did so under a suspension of the rules. This parliamentary manuever allows Representatives to undermine the new rule just created that forces them to identify their earmarks in the Congressional Record. Sure enough, sources on the Hill tells me that some shenanigans occurred with the Coast Guard Authorization Act, and section 405 confirms it. The addition to HR 5681 authorizes a multimillion-dollar research program at the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, a joint project of the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The bill requires Congress to fund a study for the following purposes:
(K) identify ways to improve the integration of the Great Lakes marine transportation system into the national transportation system;
(L) examine the potential of expanded operations on the Great Lakes marine transportation system;
(M) identify ways to include intelligent transportation applications into the Great Lakes marine transportation system;
(N) analyze the effects and impacts of aging infrastructure and port corrosion on the Great Lakes marine transportation system;
(O) establish and maintain a model Great Lakes marine transportation system database; and
(P) identify market opportunities for, and impediments to, the use of United States-flag vessels in trade with Canada on the Great Lakes
All of this research will cost American taxpayers $11.5 million dollars over five years (2007-11). Sources on the Hill tell me that the secret earmarker -- the man who saw his opportunity for secrecy when the rules got suspended -- was none other than Minnesota's James Oberstar. The Democrat has represented MN-08 for 32 years, and his district includes Duluth and the shore of Lake Superior, where the GLMRI operates. Most recently, Oberstar interacted with the Coast Guard by blocking their use of the Great Lakes for firing exercises. Apparently he does not have a problem using the Coast Guard for pork-barrel exercises.
UPDATE: Please take a look at the GLMRI site. It has no links to any publications, nor to a mission statement, no contacts, and while the Research link does take readers to a fresh page, it has nothing to list. Despite the lack of action at GLMRI -- apparently they haven't had a board meeting in almost a year -- Oberstar wants to give them $11.5 million for a federal study of Great Lakes commerce and the rust problem on its shipping.
UPDATE II AND BUMP: Andy at Club For Growth, who first alerted me to this story, says he will have video this morning of the House debate, featuring Oberstar and Jeff Flake, who is angry about the end-run around the new earmark rule. Keep an eye on his site for that interesting confrontation.
Also, it's well worth mentioning that former Senator Rod Grams has come out of retirement to run against James Oberstar in MN-08. Fans of open government might want to lend some support.
Stabenow In Trouble? Maybe
The Democrats have salivated over the historic trend of midterms, hoping to gain enough seats in both chambers of Congress to wrest control away from the Republicans. However, a series of polls shows that their hopes in the Senate may come to naught as they may prove unable to hold the seats they already have. The latest to show weakness is Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, where anti-incumbent fervor and a lackluster record have threatened her first-term seat:
The fever among voters to throw incumbents out of office -- furiously stoked by Democrats in Washington -- might backfire in this state, where Republicans are riding a surge of voter discontent.
With Democrats holding both Senate seats and the governor's mansion, Michigan is suffering the worst economy of any state in the nation. The state's unemployment rate is nearly twice the national average of 4.7 percent, and the auto industry is losing jobs by the tens of thousands. A recent job fair offering factory work for $10 an hour with no benefits drew 4,000 applicants.
"They're Democrats, but they want jobs," John Katinsky said of his neighbors in this hard-hit town downriver from Detroit.
Much of the discontent is being directed at Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the first-term senator who is trying to fend off a challenge from Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. "Only one state in America has lost jobs for three straight years and that's Michigan," Mr. Bouchard says. "That needs to change, and it's going to change by starting with the leadership."
The Washington Times reports that Bouchard has been buoyed by polling that shows Stabenow unable to breach the 50% mark, usually considered a sign that an incumbent seat is in play. Rasmussen, however, shows Stabenow with 51% at the end of August, which may have changed somewhat after the campaigns kicked into gear in gear. Real Clear Politics, now with its excellent interface and association with Time Magazine, shows more recent polling that still indicates that Bouchard has a long way to go.
If Bouchard -- a Rightroots candidate -- can make this a competitive race down the stretch, it will tax Democratic fundraising that they would prefer to use in takeaway races. It will add to the Democratic woes in New Jersey and Maryland, where Democratic seats are at serious risk of falling to the GOP. Michael Steele led in the SurveyUSA poll by a point, but the RCP aggregate shows him a few points back. Thomas Kean has done even better against incumbent Democrat Robert Menendez in the Garden State, where the RCP aggregate and most polling put him ahead but within the margin of error.
The Democrats cannot afford to lose any of these seats if they hope to win control of the upper chamber in November. If they cannot hold back the Republican challenges, they will have to put their efforts into defense in these states.
NOTE: Don't forget to visit the Rightroots web site and contribute to the key races that can help the Republicans retain control of Congress. We've raised over $123,000 so far, and we need to keep pushing to get support to the races that count. Michael Steele, Mike Bouchard, and Thomas Kean are all on our spotlight list, so you can help them directly and immediately.
Did The Washington Post Miss Its Own Story Yesterday?
The Washington Post editorial board attempts to recap the mudslinging in the George Allen-James Webb race for Allen's Senate seat, but while announcing that it considers allegations of decades-old use of racial epithets germane, it fails to account for all of the accusations in the contest. This seems rather odd, since the Post slams Allen for his alleged use of the N-word but never mentions the allegations reported yesterday about Webb's use of it and purported race-based assaults on Watts residents. What's odd about that? That story got reported ... by the Washington Post:
DID REPUBLICAN Sen. George Allen use racial slurs years ago? Did his Democratic challenger, James Webb? Does it matter, in a race between two candidates with long public records and substantial differences on Iraq, health care, the economy and other critical issues?
Yes, it does matter. Mr. Allen said he does not recall having used what newspapers delicately call "the N-word." But at least a half-dozen people, including ones with upstanding reputations and no evident political agendas, have now told journalists that he did. The stories they have recounted about Mr. Allen's behavior raise disturbing questions about his character and credibility.
In the wake of the furor over the senator's reported comments, Mr. Webb would not deny that he had employed the ugly term. He said he has never used it as a slur but added to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "I don't think that there's anyone who grew up around the South that hasn't had the word pass through their lips at one time in their life."
First, let's dispense with the canard that the allegations came from people without a political axe to grind. The only three that have made the allegations public are Ken Shelton, Christopher Taylor, and Larry Sabato. Both Shelton and Taylor have openly stated that they want to see Webb elected. Sabato has no first-person knowledge of Allen's supposed use of the epithet, and still hasn't explained why he didn't mention Allen's purported racism when he moderated Allen's debate in the 2000 election. Everyone else making the allegations have made them anonymously, as if Allen was some sort of John Gotti instead of a public official, and those teammates of Allen who have gone on the record have all said that he didn't use that kind of language or show that kind of animus.
Second, the Post gives an incomplete picture of allegations of Webb's use of the epithet. John Hawkins notes its use in Webb's fiction, as an example, but the Post published this rather damning story from one of Webb's former acquaintances:
Webb's comments to the Times-Dispatch prompted Allen campaign officials to direct a reporter to Dan Cragg, a former acquaintance of Webb's, who said Webb used the word while describing his own behavior during his freshman year at the University of Southern California in the early 1960s. Webb later transferred to the U.S. Naval Academy.
Cragg, 67, who lives in Fairfax County, said on Wednesday that Webb described taking drives through the black neighborhood of Watts, where he and members of his ROTC unit used racial epithets and pointed fake guns at blacks to scare them.
"They would hop into their cars, and would go down to Watts with these buddies of his," Cragg said Webb told him. "They would take the rifles down there. They would call then [epithets], point the rifles at them, pull the triggers and then drive off laughing. One night, some guys caught them and beat . . . them. And that was the end of that."
The Post found this newsworhy enough to print one day, but not enough to include in its one-sided indictment of Allen the next. Not only is that unfair, it's rather revealing of the paper's bias in this race. The omission of the allegations of anti-Semitism coming from the Webb campaign, starting in the primary and crescendoing in the general election (which the Post has also covered) makes this editorial even more suspicious.
Does any of this matter? No, it doesn't, and the Post should know better. When one starts down this path, then elections become nothing more than a series of gotcha games where only the private investigators benefit. Instead of looking at issues that matter to Virginians, the campaigns start interviewing college buddies to find out whether someone got drunk or made stupid statements about race, women, or Elvis Presley. What's next -- a list of tasteless jokes told in middle school by each of the candidates?
George Allen just introduced a measure intended to benefit black farmers who missed a deadline for a settlement of a discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture. The Post could have talked about that, or about policy initiatives of both candidates, and demanded an end to the mudslinging in Virginia. Instead the editors chose to paint a one-sided picture of the controversy, ignoring even their own reporting, in order to kneecap a candidate they want to see defeated. I'm disappointed -- the Post's editors usually show more integrity than they did today.
Columbia Dean Abruptly Leaves After Invite Cancellation
The Dean of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University has abruptly left her position after her invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got cancelled by University president Lee Bollinger. Lisa Anderson resigned from her position, and the big question on campus is if Bollinger's intervention caused it or whether the exposure of her politics drove the decision:
The big question at Columbia University this week is whether the tensions between President Lee Bollinger and the dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, Lisa Anderson, led Ms. Anderson to step down.
The press office at the university confirmed yesterday that the dean, who has come under criticism for siding with anti-Israel factions on campus and for taking a junket to Saudi Arabia paid for by the regime in Riyadh, is leaving the post she has held for 10 years. Professors at SIPA said Ms. Anderson circulated an e-mail message at the end of the summer announcing her resignation, effective at the end of the academic year. It cited her desire to get back to teaching and research.
However, speculation is spreading on campus as to whether Ms. Anderson is stepping down because of tensions with Mr. Bollinger in the wake of his abrupt decision to overrule Ms. Anderson's plan to welcome the Iranian president to the World Leaders Forum on campus. Ms. Anderson's offer of hospitality to a leader who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and who has denied the Holocaust drew criticism on campus from professors and students alike.
The Ahmadinejad invitation was not just a one-off, as it turns out. Anderson also invited rehabilitated Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gaddafi to speak at Columbia earlier this year. Gaddafi, who has ruled the North African nation for decades by force, lectured Columbia students on democracy and proclaimed Libya "the only democracy on the planet". That, along with her paid junket to Saudi Arabia and her apparent anti-Israeli stance, had to have heads scratching at the university and among its alumni.
Some question whether Anderson left on her own volition. A political science professor told the New York Sun's Eliana Johnson that he believes Bollinger pushed her out. That seems unlikely. Bollinger's cancellation of Ahmadinejad's visit was predicated not on outrage over the selection of speaker but over a more technical point about the nature of the venue. Bollinger said publicly that Anderson could invite Ahmadinejad to a function sponsored solely by Anderson's school rather than at the university-wide Leadership Forum. That doesn't sound as if Bollinger cared enough about the ludicrous nature of having the genocide-threatening Iranian president speak at Columbia to fire someone over it.
It does, however, look like exposure of the invitation made a difference in this case. Ms. Anderson will undoubtedly find somewhere else to teach, and hopefully the Great Dictators Lecture Series will come to an end at Columbia.
And Some People Think A Fence Is Bad
The Greeks have reportedly found a new method to deal with their illegal immigration problem, according to Der Spiegel. When interdicting boats that carry illegal immigrants on the Aegean, the Greek Coast Guard simply returns them to the sea -- but minus their boats. According to Turkish authorities, six people drowned and three remain missing when the Greeks threw 40 illegals into the water:
Greek authorities have denied knowledge of an alleged incident in which Greek officials threw illegal immigrants into the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey. On Tuesday morning, some 31 illegals were plucked out of the sea near the Turkish coastal city of Izmir. They claimed that the Greek Coast Guard had thrown them into the water. They did so, said one survivor, "without even asking if we could swim," according to Turkey's state-owned Anatolia news agency. Six people have reportedly drowned; three are missing.
Greek officials denied the charges in general terms. "We never throw people into the sea," said Haris Bournias, a Greek Coast Guard commander on the island of Chios. Turkey's coastline is a major transit area for illegal immigrants trying to reach Europe, and Bournias said smugglers regularly set immigrants adrift in little boats without lights. "Many people drown that way in the straits," said Bournias, and in fact early reports in the Turkish media claimed the survivors had washed ashore after their boat sank off the Turkish coast. ...
According to reports, the survivors included Palestinians, Lebanese, Tunisians, Iraqis and one Algerian. Residents on the coast of Izmir had called the Turkish Coast Guard on Tuesday morning after being awakened by barking dogs and cries for help. The suvivors claimed that they had set off from Izmir province in a boat and landed on Chios. But they were captured by uniformed Greeks who placed them on a Coast Guard ship that carried them back toward Izmir, where they were tossed into the sea. "Two of our friends drowned in front of our eyes," Muhammedi Alti, a Lebanese national, told the Anatolia news agency. "I still can't believe what we have lived through ... We had thought that human rights would be more valuable in Europe."
It's important to remember that the Greeks have denied this story and no international observers have independently corroborated it. However, the Greeks and Turks have an ongoing diplomatic feud over illegal immigration. The Greek border is the threshold for impoverished immigrants hoping to exploit Western economies for a better life. The Greeks want to keep their nation from being used as a conduit for illegal immigration, especially considering the security risks. They supposedly have a reciprocal agreement to return border crossers, but the Greeks say that the Turks have only agreed on 1400 cases -- out of over 22,000.
Any familiarity between this border and our southern border with Mexico is strictly coincidental, of course.
If the Greek Coast Guard really did what the Turks allege, they have committed a serious crime. Regardless of the security and economic problems that border-runners create, they cannot simply throw people into the sea to drown. If the Turks have lied -- and one hopes that turns out to be the case -- then these accusations will only backfire on them. The world's attention will turn to the Greek-Turk border as a potential gap in European security, and the Turks will come under greater pressure to secure it.
As far as our border is concerned, it looks like the Senate will vote on the border barier today. Bill Frist successfully limited debate on the bill yesterday, The US will get its border barrier, and far from turning America into Berlin, it will stop most of the unimpeded flow over the southern border that leaves us all vulnerable to more than just poor people looking for work.
Musharraf Deal In Waziristan Prompting More Attacks
The deal between Pervez Musharraf and the tribal leaders of Waziristan looks more and more like a surrender rather than a partnership against terror. The British newspaper The Guardian reports that American military sources indicate that attacks from Islamists in the border regions have more than doubled since the deal was announced:
Taliban attacks along Afghanistan's southeastern border have more than doubled in the three weeks since a controversial deal between Pakistan and pro-Taliban militants, the US military said yesterday.
Pakistan's military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, had promised the agreement with militants in North Waziristan would help to bring peace to Afghanistan. But early indications suggest the pact is having the opposite effect, creating a safe haven for the Taliban to regroup and launch fresh cross-border offensives against western and Afghan troops.
A US military spokesman, Colonel John Paradis, said US soldiers had reported a "twofold, in some cases threefold" increase in attacks along the border since the deal was signed on September 5, "especially in the south-east areas across from North Waziristan".
This is the result of Musharraf's deal with the tribal leaders, a deal that he probably couldn't avoid in any case. He had tried for years to use the Pakistani military to bring the Waziris under his thumb, and instead they thumbed their noses at him. After losing several hundred troops in largely unsuccessful efforts in the mountainous region, Musharraf decided to try enlisting their support instead.
It hasn't worked. Musharraf released thousands of pro-Islamist prisoners, to the consternation of the US, and that had the predictable effect of strengthening the Islamists in the region. When information came out that Mullah Omar blessed the deal, it surprised few but underscored the extent of Musharraf's capitulation. Now the newly-energized Islamists can traverse the border region with little concern for security on the Pakistani side.
Hamid Karzai cannot abide the constant infiltration on his borders, and he has a right to be angry. The Pakistani refusal to police their own border puts a lot more pressure on his own security forces and the NATO coalition trying to protect Afghanistan's first democratic republic. Since Pakistan's intelligence services helped create and support the Taliban in its previous incarnation, Karzai and his government have plenty of reason to believe that the Pakistani retreat may have more sinister motivations and implications, and that suspicion has created a great deal of tension between Karzai and Musharraf.
President Bush has tried to remain optimistic about Musharraf's efforts. However, the results speak for themselves, and we need to proceed with a more realistic understanding of Pakistan's stance. Perhaps this would be a good time to start pressing for the return of Pakistani democracy.
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