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.
The Fresca Smear
Only seven days remain of my campaign to garner enough write-in votes to win election as the Mayor of Eagan. My brutal schedule had me talking with a guy in Eagan about my candidacy just a couple of days ago, and then again today. I was busy lining up campaign appearances at the grocery store and my local Best Buy (in the DVD section), when I came across this post at IMAO:
I'm sorry to disappoint, but I have no evidence that Glenn Reynolds is gay. While it is a well known fact that Glenn Reynolds murders hobos, it has hardly ever been suggested that he has sex with them first (or afterwards). Also, while puppy smoothies are a well known aphrodisiac in the gay community, it's not as solid an indicator of gayness as seeing a guy drink Fresca.
Fresca? Why, I've enjoyed the grapefruit-enhanced taste of Fresca since I was a young lad! If this got out, it could doom my efforts to win election. I decided to do a little misdirection and throw my political opponents off track. I visited a kindergarten classroom earlier in the day and told the children that if they listened to their teachers and parents and cleaned up well after fingerpainting, they would succeed in life -- otherwise they'd end up as a Senator from Massachussetts. And Lord knows how embarrassing that can get.
Anyway, I think I dodged a real bullet with the Fresca issue, and it's a good thing, too. I planned to talk to a couple of people at the local Subway this weekend about my candidacy, and having to explain the Fresca in my hand would just slow my momentum. With any luck, I may roll up as many as fourteen write-in votes, after which I can enjoy a nice cold Fresca in celebration.
But don't say anything to anybody in the meantime.
UPDATE: My Canadian connections offer some advice; John from Newsbeat1 suggests that I get some electronic voting machines to help seal my victory. I'd try that, but the last time I did, they made me clean all the displays from where I wrote my name. With Fresca, actually.
UPDATE II: You think the folks at Fresca might send me a free case with all of these links?
Local TV Station Gives Wetterling A 'D' For Honesty
Patty Wetterling and the DCCC have continued to run advertisements on local TV that distort the record of Michele Bachmann to the point of complete lies. That judgment comes from local ABC affiliate KSTP-TV (video here), saying the ads are so deceptive that they bear special scrutiny. Earlier, the Star Tribune called the ads "highly deceptive" as well.
One wonders why Wetterling and the Democrats continue to to use such demonstrably false allegations against Bachmann. Painting her as soft on crime makes as much sense as painting Wetterling and the Democrats as tax-cutters -- but then again, they've tried that, too, and the Star Tribune called them on it as well. It looks a lot like desperation.
Trick Or Treat!
A nice surprise while I was manning the door this evening:
My son and daughter-in-law moved into the city earlier this year, and due to their schedules, I assumed we wouldn't see the Little Admiral tonight. Here she is in her Tinkerbell outfit, complete with wand. (I noticed that Tinkerbell/fairy outfits seem to be pretty popular this year, at least in our neighborhood.) She was pretty wound up when she first arrived, but settled down a little here. She helped me pass out the candy, but she's a lot more generous than I am; she handed it out six at a time, and we wound up running out as the last of the trick-or-treaters knocked on our door.
I'm glad the First Mate and I didn't miss her this Halloween, and I figured I'd share the moment with my friends here at CQ.
John Kerry Supports The Troops As Special-Education Cases (Updated!)
John Kerry has never hidden his contempt for the armed forces very well, not even when he served as an officer in the Navy. Yesterday the mask slipped a little bit, as John Ziegler at KFI notes on his website, and Allahpundit mirrors at Hot Air. At a political rally for California's Democratic challenger to Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor, Phil Angelides, Kerry told the Pasadena City College crowd to study hard and get an education -- or wind up like the losers in the military:
“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
Wow. Just wow. It's worth recalling that Kerry at one time aspired to command these same men and women from the White House, and claims to still want to lead them. How would these people react to taking orders from a Commander-in-Chief who believes them to be uneducated, lazy losers?
We'll see if Kerry's peers in the Democratic Party support Kerry's description of our fighting men and women. If Democrats that have had John Kerry campaign on their behalf refuse to address Kerry's remarks or openly supports their characterization, it will expose the hypocrisy and the contempt that the Left has for the military. All of the talk of "supporting the troops" will be revealed as lip service.
Will Ned Lamont repudiate Kerry's words? Will Bob Casey, Jr dispute his mentor's characterization of our military as a junkyard for goldbricking idiots? Will Benjamin Cardin affirm that soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines don't have what it takes to succeed in life? Here in Minnesota, does Amy Klobuchar agree with Kerry's analysis? (h/t: Michelle Malkin)
UPDATE AND BUMP: Do you want to support the troops? Then make your contribution to Soldier's Angels. They have a new effort called Project Valour that will be raising money from various bloggers. I have not had an opportunity to sign up for a particular team, but given the theme of this blog, I'll root for the Navy. Whichever team you choose, you will be helping our men and women who put their lives on the line for all of us ... even those who belittle and disrespect them.
UPDATE II: Okay, I've joined now, and here's the donation button:
UPDATE III: Okay, Kerry has managed to confuse the issue even more this afternoon while I was at work. On one hand, he claims that the entire issue got engineered by "right-wing nut jobs", led by a "doughy Rush Limbaugh". Later this afternoon, though, he claimed the problem was a "mangled joke" that was supposed to slame George Bush.
Well, no. Kerry can't have it both ways. Either it's a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy or he botched the joke, but he can't seriously push the blame onto Republicans if he screwed it up and didn't bother to correct the record until later. Quite frankly, I'd be willing to buy this version -- few politicians could really be this stupid -- except that he has been this stupid on a number of occasions. He called American soldiers rapists and murderers in his Senate testimony in 1971, and just last year accused them of terrorizing Iraqi families on midnight raids for no reason.
But then, that's our John Kerry. He insulted the troops before he lauded them, and he was the victim of a smear before he botched his own prepared speech. And that Secret Service son of a bitch tripped him on that ski slope, too. It's a revealing moment for Kerry and anyone/everyone who rises to defend him, but honestly, it's not going to change anyone's mind about Kerry. We already knew this about him, and his lame excuse-making after his paranoid rantings have always been par for the course with J. Forbes. I doubt this will keep candidates from taking his contributions and shunning him on the stump, even though his behavior in the last 24 hours should at least embarrass the candidates working with him at the midterms.
What Spooks Lorie Byrd?
Lorie Byrd talks about what frightens her in these midterm elections at The Examiner today:
The scariest political scenarios are similar to those in the movies because control over the outcome there is also in our hands. So instead of yelling, “Don’t go in there,” to characters on a movie screen, what I find myself wanting to yell each election season is, “Get out there and vote.”
Those on the right, not wanting to see “The Return of the Tax Monster” and those on the left wishing an end to the 12-year run of “The Creatures from the Red States” can do something about it.
Not only can citizens vote to keep their political nightmares from coming true, but they can still contribute money to candidates they would like to see win, as well as volunteer for their campaigns and volunteer to help their preferred political party “get out the vote” on Election Day.
It's not enough to boo from the cheap seats. If you want to avoid the scariest political scenarios, you have to get involved.
Keep an eye on NRO today for a symposium on the same topic.
UPDATE: NRO posted their Symposium of Spooky, including my contribution. I'm in some pretty spectacular company -- be sure to read the whole thing.
Another Success For Non-hEsc Research
British researchers have grown a new liver from umbilical-cord stem cells, a breakthrough of immense proportions that promises the potential of almost-instant organ transplantation:
British scientists have grown the world's first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant.
The technique that created the 'mini-liver', currently the size of a one pence piece, will be developed to create a full-size functioning liver.
Described as a 'Eureka moment' by the Newcastle University researchers, the tissue was created from blood taken from babies' umbilical cords just a few minutes after birth.
As it stands, the mini organ can be used to test new drugs, preventing disasters such as the recent 'Elephant Man' drug trial. Using lab-grown liver tissue would also reduce the number of animal experiments.
Within five years, pieces of artificial tissue could be used to repair livers damaged by injury, disease, alcohol abuse and paracetamol overdose.
And then, in just 15 years' time, entire liver transplants could take place using organs grown in a lab.
The "disaster" to which the Daily Mail refers involved six young people who had an unpredicted reaction to a new drug regime, one that almost killed them. The development of liver tissue from umbilical stem cells means that human drug and therapy trials may not require humans -- making the process that much safer and quicker, and helping to bring new treatments to market much sooner.
Of course, the main focus will be on transplantation. Liver transplants are notoriously tricky, even live donors; people donate a portion of their livers, betting that they can live a normal and healthy life with only a portion, which usually works out well. If scientists can grow enough liver tissue for these transplants, it will eliminate the need for live transplants, and perhaps most cadaver donors as well. Hopefully that will lead to other types of organ transplants, especially kidneys and pancreases.
Once again, we see that non-hEsc research produces results. We do not have to grind up our progeny in order to live longer and healthier lives. We should allow our resources to follow our successes, especially when we talk about federal funding. The Anchoress has more, as does The Corner.
Not Shying Away From National Security
Rick Santorum continues to rely on national-security issues as his main focal point for the home stretch to the midterm elections. Despite the advice of analysts, Santorum refuses to subjugate issues such as terrorism and Iran in favor of economic and social issues, declaring the war on terror and all its implications the most critical points of consideration for voters:
In an election season in which the Republican Party's leaders and pollsters are advising GOP candidates to emphasize the economy and avoid the Iraq war and national security, Pennsylvania's junior senator prefers to address hometown crowds by invoking the nearly unpronounceable name of the Iranian president.
When Senator Santorum is on the stump, he delivers "The Gathering Storm," a speech named after the first volume of Winston Churchill's history of World War II. In the speech, he lists recent threats and atrocities perpetrated by Islamist terrorists and orchestrated by Iran. He follows each threat and atrocity with the refrain, "This is evil." ...
While vulnerable Republican incumbents in Virginia, Ohio, and Montana are running advertisements attacking Democrats for raising taxes, Mr. Santorum is criticizing Mr. Casey for being too passive on national security. One recent Santorum ad features footage of a North Korean missile launch spliced with pictures of President Ahmadinejad of Iran, a nuclear mushroom cloud, and Chinese oil platforms near American shores. An announcer ends the 30-second montage by saying, "We just can't take a chance on Bob Casey." ...
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Santorum shrugged off his party's advice. "I think I have a better understanding of what is going on in the minds of people in Pennsylvania than pollsters based in Washington," the two-term senator said. "I run my campaign based on the important issues of the day."
"This stuff needs to be said and I need to say it," he added.
Santorum has a tough battle ahead of him. Most pollsters have him down by eleven or twelve points to Casey; Santorum says his internal polls show a seven-point gap. Neither represent very good news for an incumbent with the leadership role that Santorum has (#3 in the Senate). If anything indicated a warm-and-fuzzy message, those polls would do it.
However, like Mark Kennedy, Santorum prefers to emphasize the issues he thinks matter most in the long run. Economic policies can be adjusted, and social programs can get recalled. Losing focus on national security can get people killed, and as terrorists have proven, that may mean thousands of people at a time. Pennsylvania voters need to know those stakes, regardless of the political cost, and Santorum is determined to ensure they do.
Rick Santorum deserves election, especially faced off against a challenger of the caliber of Bob Casey, Jr. If Pennsylvanians agree, they need to work hard to get out the vote to return their Senator to his seat a week from today.
Germans And Israelis Have Trust Issues
The Israelis requested German troops as part of the scaled-up UNIFIL forces that would enforce the terms of Resolution 1701. Ehud Olmert went out of his way to request the troops from the Angela Merkel government, a remarkable development sixty years after the Holocaust. Germany, feeling vindicated after generations of effort to atone for the Nazi atrocities, sent their contingent to Lebanon and the Mediterranean, believing that a new age of trust was within its grasp.
Unfortunately, as Der Spiegel reports, it didn't quite work out that way:
It started so well. But now, questions surround Germany's mission to Lebanon. Not only have Israeli planes buzzed German ships, but the naval mission has fewer rights than at first promised. The German parliament is demanding answers.
One thing is certain, when Germany's Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung visits Israel and Lebanon the end of this week, there will be no shortage of things to talk about. He will want a more detailed explanation from Israeli politicians, for examples, as to why their fighter jets buzzed a German ship last Tuesday and why a German naval helicopter was approached by Israeli jets on Thursday night. And when Jung visits the Lebanese government, concern within Germany's parliament about Beirut's wish to limit the activities of the German-led UN flotilla off the coast will surely be on the agenda.
And the German naval mission -- which aims at preventing Hezbollah from receiving arms smuggled in by sea -- had gotten off to such a promising start: A large majority in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, supported the mission and Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke enthusiastically on Sept. 20 of the mission's "historic dimension." She said that "it was impossible to overstate the significance of how much Germany is now trusted," that Israel "explicitly requested" that German soldiers take part in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL.
This trust, though, suddenly doesn't seem to go very far.
No one really knows what happened with the Israeli flyover, which the Germans insist included a couple of rounds from Israeli guns. The Israelis denied that it ever happened, and since then the situation has relaxed somewhat. Regardless, the German opposition has latched onto the incident as part of its argument against engagement in the UNIFIL force. The ship involved, the Alster, technically isn't part of the UNIFIL force but is a support ship for the German contingent in the UN force. The spy ship has provided needed intelligence to the Germans in Lebanon.
That, however, is another point of contention. The Germans claim now that the Lebanese will not allow them full range of options for their naval deployment. Merkel had promised that both the Lebanese and the Israelis would not place any restrictions on their movement. Now it seems that Merkel oversold the agreement with the Lebanese, which is demanding permission for German ships to navigate its ports. It's not just the Lebanese government making these decisions, either. Hezbollah has blocked Spanish troops from carrying out missions in the sub-Litani region; when they demanded support from the Lebanese Army, they declined to respond, forcing the Spaniards to retreat.
The Europeans apparently have begun to discover the futility of UNIFIL, a futility that many pointed out when the UN Security Council passed UNSCR 1701. It would have been better to form a new force, one that had UN-dictated terms of engagement and one that had the authority to enforce 1701. Instead, the Germans have found themselves between three entities which have never accepted the terms of 1701 and have no intention of abiding by it for very long. The Israelis did not get their soldiers back, and because the UNIFIL contingent has no real authority, no one can certify that Hezbollah has not begun to re-arm. Hezbollah wants their weapons for their next effort against the Israelis. The Lebanese government has sent its army to the sub-Litani region for the first time in decades, but it won't stop Hezbollah from re-establishing themselves in opposition to them.
The Germans will have to decide whether to continue its participation in this charade, seeing as how the three principals have long since given it up.
Back To One-Note Campaigning
After watching his remarkable primary victory dissolve into a pathetic also-ran campaign for the general election, Ned Lamont has decided to return to the one-note campaign that energized anti-war activists earlier. The endorsed Democratic candidate for Connecticut's Senate seat has decided to spend the last week of the campaign focused on the Iraq War:
Returning to the issue that won him the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate in August, Ned Lamont has begun intensifying his attacks on Senator Joseph I. Lieberman over the Iraq war with television and Internet advertisements as well as campaign appearances, and aides said on Monday that the emphasis would continue through Election Day.
“We’re going back to our roots, so to speak,” said Tom D’Amore, a senior adviser to Mr. Lamont. “They don’t want to talk about that issue, and we don’t want it to go away. Not just because they don’t want to talk about it, but because it is the issue of our time and for future generations.”
The shift back to Iraq follows two months in which Mr. Lamont, seeking to rebut criticism that he is a one-issue candidate lacking the depth to replace Mr. Lieberman, worked to cultivate an image as a successful businessman with broad interest in domestic policy matters like education and health care. But that effort does not appear to have helped him in the polls, where Mr. Lieberman has remained solidly ahead.
Dan Gerstein, a spokesman for Mr. Lieberman, said of the shift: “They tried to broaden to other issues, but without any kind of agenda, no new ideas. And it failed.”
The failure has become rather brutally apparent. Lamont stands for nothing exceptional apart from his opposition to the Iraq War. While that gave Lamont an initial edge over incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman, his demonstrable lack of substance on any other issue made it easy for Connecticut voters to tire of the millionaire's flyer. His attempts to expand his message only showed that he had none.
Lieberman, who lost the nomination by just a few points, now has an eight-point lead over Lamont. It had been higher, but the Republican, Alan Schlesinger, improved from microscopic support to 9%. Ironically, Lamont's supporters have been talking up the Republican, convinced that a surge for Schlesinger will steal support from Lieberman -- as if Lieberman didn't already have a long track record in Connecticut.
This was the only option left open to Lamont. Lieberman has a solid record in support of the Democratic agenda in the Senate, giving Lamont little to discuss except Iraq. His attempts to broaden his repertoire made him sound like nothing more than a Lieberman wannabe. The only surprise here is that it took Lamont this long to return to the only theme he has. Democrats have tried to tone down the anti-war rhetoric to avoid losing yet another election cycle they should win, and perhaps this impulse bled into Lamont's campaign as well. Whatever the reason, Lamont is clearly losing this election, so he has little to risk by returning to his limited message now.
Steele Steals Prince George's County
Michael Steele picked up an important endorsement yesterday; in fact, he picked up several of them, all Democrats, and all from the Democratic bastion of Prince George's County. The county executive and five of the county councilors joined more Democrats from the community in repudiating the Democratic Party's disregard for their county and their lack of African-American candidates:
A coalition of black Democratic political leaders from Prince George's County led by former county executive Wayne K. Curry endorsed Republican Michael S. Steele's bid for the U.S. Senate yesterday.
The support from Curry, five County Council members and others barely a week before Election Day reflects their continued disappointment that the Democratic Party has no African American candidates at the top of the ticket and a sense that the county is being ignored, officials said.
"They show us a pie, but we never get a slice," said Major F. Riddick Jr., a former aide to then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening and a former county executive candidate. "We are here today to say we've waited and we've waited and we're waiting no longer."
Steele, who as lieutenant governor is the first African American elected statewide in Maryland, said he was humbled by the support. "I said I did not want this [campaign] to be so much about party but about the people," he said. "And these people understand that."
Ron Walters, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, said the endorsements could be significant. "This is going to go through the black community like a rocket," he said. "It's going to be the talk of the county, the state, maybe even the nation."
While Benjamin Cardin's campaign continued to mumble about George Bush hand-picking Steele, these black politicians understand more that Cardin was hand-picked by the party establishment over the more well-known and potentially stronger Kweisi Mfume, the former NAACP leader and Congressman. His marginalization in the primary has come at a cost, and it's starting to become significant.
These aren't just any politicians in Maryland. These people rose through the Democratic Party and won their offices with the party's support. They have benefitted to some significant degree from the party -- and yet their dissatisfaction at Benjamin Cardin and his selection as the nominee has led them to repudiate their party. It's a signal that the Democrat's most loyal constituency may rethink their decision to vote in lock step for a party that has ceased engaging them. Wayne Curry noted this when he said, "The party acts as though when they want our opinion they'll give it to us," promising an end to that dynamic.
In Maryland, Democrats comprise 56% of the electorate while Republicans only have 25% of voter registrations. This state is among the bluest in the nation in that sense, and yet they managed to elect a Republican governor four years ago. Prince George's County has just fired a warning shot across the bow of the Democrats, and it might have sunk Cardin's hopes for the Senate. Maryland voters, especially those in PCG, will notice this endorsement and reconsider their opinion of Michael Steele. The Democrats better hope that they can contain the damage to Maryland.
Have Conservatives Changed The Paradigm?
It would be the highest irony if the evidence of conservative evolution came on the occasion of a bruising midterm election, but two stories by the media today appears to indicate that conservatives have successfully changed the paradigm of politics over the last generation. A CNN poll indicates that a majority of Americans now believes that government tries to do too much, while the New York Times reports that Democrats have begun producing less liberal candidates in order to win seats in Congress. Both together show that the Reagan Revolution has continued to influence politics well past the end of his administration.
The CNN poll shows that the current polarization does not apply to the question of government's size:
A quarter century after the Reagan revolution and a dozen years after Republicans vaulted into control of Congress, a new CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is the problem." ...
Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country's problems.
Politics follow shifts in public opinion, and the Democratic Party has tried to steal a march on Reagan's party in the midterm elections:
In their push to win back control of the House, Democrats have turned to conservative and moderate candidates who fit the profiles of their districts more closely than the profile of the national party.
One such candidate, Heath Shuler, was courted by Republicans to run for office in 2001. Mr. Shuler, 34, is a retired National Football League quarterback who is running in the 11th Congressional District in North Carolina. He is an evangelical Christian and holds fast to many conservative social views, like opposition to abortion rights.
“My guess is that if Democrats are in the majority, it’s going to be because of these New Democrat, Blue Dog candidates out there winning in these competitive swing districts,” Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin, co-chairman of a caucus of centrist House Democrats, said in an interview.
But if candidates like Mr. Shuler do help the Democrats gain majority control of Congress, it could come at a political price, which may include tensions in the party between its new centrists and its more liberal political base.
It shows the success of the Reagan message, and once again underscores the profound impact he had on American politics. His Western conservatism has resonated because it based itself on the truths that informed the founders of the nation: that government which governs least governs best. America does best when it allows individuals to live their lives free of government interference, when it respects private property, and when it keeps most political questions as close to local governments as possible. It's the marvel of the Constitution that it reveals all of these truths, and Reagan (and Barry Goldwater before him) understood how to communicate that exceptionality.
If the Republicans find themselves in trouble at the midterms, it may come in reaction to the extent that they have failed to grasp the Reagan message. The smaller-government message will still win elections, but the question may be for whom it wins those contests when the GOP fails to tend to its Reagan legacy. (via Heritage Foundation Policy Blog)
It's A Blog Party, And CQ's Invited
What are you doing for Election Night? Hopefully CQ readers will follow some of the coverage on CNN, because I'll be part of blogger coverage for CNN in the evening of Election Night. The Los Angeles Times reported the story this morning that CNN will invite about two dozen bloggers to a blog party, where they intend to check our reactions to breaking news on their main broadcast as well as provide continuous coverage through CNN Pipeline:
Who says the mainstream media don't respect the blogosphere?
CNN is trying to incorporate bloggers directly into its coverage of next week's midterm elections by inviting them to an "E-lection Nite Blog Party," an event aimed at corralling some of the top online opinion makers in one place to provide instant reaction as the results come in.
The cable news network plans to host more than two dozen bloggers from across the political spectrum — including sites like RedState and Daily Kos — at a Washington Internet lounge where they can monitor the election returns on a slew of flat-screen televisions. (Each blogger will get his or her own monitor, which can be tuned to any channel.) There will be free wireless access — and plenty of food and beverages, natch.
CNN Internet reporters Jacki Schechner and Abbi Tatton have been assigned to cover the gathering and provide regular updates on the air about the topics that are generating the most chatter.
"Bloggers are leading the conversation," said David Bohrman, CNN's Washington bureau chief. "You could argue that most of the political dialogue in this country is happening online, so if you don't incorporate that into your coverage, you're missing a major element."
I've been working with CNN for a few days on the arrangements, which have now been finalized. I'll be flying into DC on Tuesday afternoon, freshening up at a hotel, and then heading over to the restaurant where we will set up. The physical description of the workspace in the Times has more details than what I have heard, but it all sounds first-class. I'll be joining Lorie Byrd and Kevin Aylward at Wizbang, Betsy Newmark at her eponymous blog, Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft, John Aravosis at Americablog, Patrick Hynes at Ankle Biting Pundits, and a number of others.
Needless to say, we'll all be live-blogging the event. I will also be calling into the Election Night coverage at AM 1280 The Patriot, which will go live after the end of the Hugh Hewitt show at 8 pm CT. Our show starts at 7 pm ET and will run until the outcome of the election is no longer in doubt, or until around 2 am ET, whichever comes first. I'm hoping that CQ readers will stick around regardless of the outcome and celebrate another example of democracy in action.
UPDATE: Hmmm. The CQ community seems to think poorly of my decision. I'll elaborate a little on my decision to join CNN's coverage.
First, CNN has its biases, but it has handled blog coverage fairly well. They have made it a staple of their daily reviews, and the two women organizing this effort (Abbi Tatton and Jackie Schechner) have done their best to cover the blogs in an even-handed way.
Second, I am not getting paid to appear on CNN. They are covering my expenses, but they have made no demands of positive coverage or even that I will watch CNN's coverage on this evening. They are covering my expenses, just as anyone who engaged me as a public speaker would do, and even then it's limited to a round-trip ticket and one night at a Marriott-brand hotel. I may have my price, but that and a free meal ain't it, if you know what I mean.
Third, if we fail to engage CNN and acknowledge when they attempt to be fair, then why should they bother? Abbi and Jackie have juggled invitations, acceptances, and declines in order to ensure that the blogging bunch will be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. They've tried their best to stage a balanced program for CNN viewers, at least as far as the bloggers go.
I understand that some people do not like CNN, and I respect it. However, we talk a lot about using our efforts to get CNN and other media outlets to recognize other points of view. I think we have to recognize their efforts to do so.
We Apologize For The Inconvenience
A series of technical breakdowns kept CQ off the air this morning, and I was not able to post much as a result -- and now I'm off to the day job. Hosting Matters got the problem resolved fairly quickly, but I have a narrow window in which to work, unfortunately.
It does give me an opportunity to open a thread for CQ readers, though. We're entering the last week of the mid-term campaign, and most of us are waiting for the big-time, last-minute smears to arise. Where and when do you think they will appear, and what effect do you think they'll have?
NOTE: I did have to make a change to the comments script tp avoid the spambots. If you have trouble posting a comment, reload the page and then try again. It does work now.
What Does Bob Casey Do As Treasurer?
Rick Santorum will hold a press conference later this morning to discuss the record of his opponent for the Senate, Bob Casey Jr, in his previous position as state Treasurer. Santorum will point out that Casey invested Pennsylvania pension funds in a series of companies that do business in Iran. Appearing with Santorum to discuss the role of state treasurers in investment decisions will be Sarah Steelman, Missouri State Treasurer.
Santorum bases his allegations on a series of investments by Pennsylania pension funds such as PSERS and SERS. The two funds have invested a total of $175 million in companies that do business with the mullahcracy. These investments seem rather focused on China, which brings up a raft of other questions about what Pennsylvania pensions support. This list is for SERS:
CHINA PETROLEUM AND CHEMICAL 4,086,635
CHIYODA CORP Y50 2,086,923
PETROCHINA CO 'H'CNY1 7,327,793
PTT PUB CO THB10 (ALIEN MKT) 3,687,533
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL A SHS 14,851,692
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL 'B' SHS 29,411,353
SIAM CEMENT CO THB1 (ALIEN 2,530,536
SINOPEC SHANGHAI PETROCHEMICAL 576,838
And for PSERS:
CHINA PETROLEUM & CHEM CORP 546,280
CHINA PETROLEUM & CHEMICAL 14,548,562
CHIYODA CO 129,611
CHIYODA CORP 86,860
PETROCHINA CO 23,095,275
PTT PUB CO THB10 (ALIEN MKT) 7,343,945
ROYAL DUTCH PETE CO 454,300
ROYAL DUTCH PETROL 46,842,797
SIAM CEMENT CO THB1 (ALIEN) 8,304,114
SIAM CEMENT CO THB1 (NVDR) 8,222,788
SINOPEC YIZHENG CHEM FIBRE 1,296,727
In May 2005 Steelman demanded an end to US investments in companies doing business with unfriendly nations. She made it a public crusade after discovering that Missouri had investments in Arab Bank, under investigation from the FBI regarding potential terrorist connections and at the time the subject of a lawsuit brought by the widow of a man shot to death in Gaza. John Linde Jr died in an ambush of an American diplmatic convoy that was supposed to interview Fulbright scholarship candidates, a terrorist act that even embarrassed Yasser Arafat. Her rhetoric reflected her amazement at finding this investment:
“This is like financial friendly fire on our troops and our citizens,” Steelman said. “It is an outrage for our retirement fund to hold more than $80,000 in investments in Arab Bank while it is under investigation for allegedly financing terrorists and is being sued for helping kill Missouri citizens. This must stop and stop now.”
In addition to Arab Bank, MOSERS also is directly invested in a number of foreign companies that are engaged in development and investments in Iran. American companies are prohibited by current U.S. policy from doing business in Iran.
In fact, Steelman discovered that Missouri did business with companies like Royal Dutch Petroleum, Siam Cement, Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical, and Chiyoda -- the same companies in which Pennsylvania pensions still invest.
Santorum will point to a bill passed by the Pennsylvania House in 2003 (HR 263), a direction from the legislature to PSERS, SERS, and the State Treasury to identify those investments that had any connection to companies or nations doing business in Iran, as well as Libya, Syria, Sudan, Iraq, and North Korea. It's clear that the legislature wanted Pennsylvania to redirect their investments away from such companies and projects. However, Casey apparently has done nothing to keep Pennsylvania funds from supporting companies that do business with the same nations that threaten us.
Keep an eye out for this press conference. The fallout should be interesting.
Checkbook Politics Still Drawing Interest
In 2002, Russ Feingold and John McCain convinced Congress and the American people to sell out the First Amendment in exchange for getting the big money out of politics. Accept these limitations on free speech, proponents of the BCRA asked, and we'll keep rich people from buying our elections. On that basis, it passed both houses and George Bush signed it into law.
So how has it worked? The First Amendment restrictions have worked rather well; people still cannot criticize incumbents in the final 60 days before an election, a development that would have shocked and angered the men who wrote and adopted the First Amendment as a check against professional politicians. However, the money keeps on rolling into politics, only now it goes outside the channels of accountability, as the Los Angeles Times reports:
Unions, corporations and wealthy individuals have pumped nearly $300 million this year into unregulated political groups, funding dozens of aggressive and sometimes shadowy campaigns independent of party machines.
The groups, both liberal and conservative, air TV and radio spots, conduct polls, run phone banks, canvass door-to-door and stage get-out-the-vote rallies, with no oversight by the Federal Election Commission. Set up as tax-exempt "issue advocacy" committees, they cannot explicitly endorse candidates. But they can do everything short of telling voters how to mark their ballots.
Because they can accept unlimited donations from any source, the committees — known as 527s — have emerged as the favored vehicle for millionaires and interest groups seeking to set the political agenda. ...
Named for a section of the IRS code, 527s have been around for years but became a political force in 2004 after the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 — also known as the McCain--Feingold Bill — limited donations to political parties. Groups such as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the right and America Coming Together on the left contributed $600 million that year, with a heavy focus on the presidential race.
The midterms have generated lower contributions, but the process has become more sophisticated. In Colorado, three liberal millionaires have funded a 527 named Coloradans for Life, attacking the Republican incumbent for not being sufficiently pro-life, when the Democrat is more pro-choice than the Republican. The largest contributions to 527s this year come from unions, which amounts to $60 million of the $300 million collected thus far by the tax-free advocacy groups.
Who tops the list in individual checkbooks? Bob Perry, who financed the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, has contributed $5.5 million for conservative issues. He's matched by Jerry Perenchio, with another $5 million for similar purposes. George Soros and Peter Lewis fund liberal groups with donations of $3 million and $1.6 million respectively, and they're joined by John Hunting with another $1.6 million. The top two 527s both come from unions (SEIU, $23.2 million and AFSME, $16.3 million).
Ironically, the Times found all of these figures at Opensecrets.org, the web site devoted to full disclosure in politics. This represents the real reform of the campaign system in the US; disclosing whose money supports which politicians. If that money went directly to the candidates in question, we could draw direct lines between politicians and contributors. We could also hold the campaigns and political parties responsible for their campaign messages, rather than witness the slew of attack ads that come from left field, especially in the final weeks of the election cycle.
John McCain and Russ Feingold sold America a bill of goods. Restricting free speech did not free us from checkbook politics; in fact, it made the problem worse by allowing it to hide behind these so-called advocacy groups. We should be ashamed of buying such a scheme, almost as much as the men who sold it to us in the first place.
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