National Politics Archives

November 28, 2004

White House Delays Rice Confirmation Hearings

Does the White House anticipate problems with the nomination of Condoleezza Rice in the US Senate? Richard Lugar told Fox News Sunday that his offer of an early hearing in the lame-duck session was refused, postponing her confirmation debate until the new Senate session takes office in early January: At the urging of the White House, a key Senate panel will put off consideration of the nomination of Condoleezza Rice to be secretary of state, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Sunday. Sen. Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, said he had suggested "a very early time" for his committee to take up the nomination, which must be approved afterward by the full U.S. Senate. "The White House suggested that that would not be appropriate -- that is, in December," Lugar said on "Fox News Sunday." "So we'll not be having hearings in December. But we'll have...

November 29, 2004

Democrats Vulnerable In 2006: Washington Times

Amy Fagan analyzes the Democrats' election chances in the 2006 Senate races and comes to much the same conclusion I did a week ago -- that the worst of the Republican realignment may still be ahead of them: Democratic senators in the states that President Bush won will face a tough road to re-election in 2006, Republicans say, with their sights set most eagerly on two Democrats named Nelson -- Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bill Nelson of Florida. ... In Nebraska, Gov. Mike Johanns, a Republican, looks like Mr. Nelson's probable challenger for 2006, and Mr. Bush is expected to campaign on his behalf. In Florida, Republicans will be gunning for Mr. Nelson and hope to recruit a big name such as term-limited Gov. Jeb Bush to challenge him. "These two definitely are going to be watching their backs," said David Mark, editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine....

November 30, 2004

Campaign Finance Reform In A Nutshell (Where It Belongs)

A small case of campaign-finance comingling here in Minnesota provides an excellent object lesson as to why the McCain-Feingold reforms do nothing to eliminate checkbook politics. The Star Tribune's Dane Smith reports on a $300,000 personal contribution made by Matt Entenza, the DFL House minority leader, to a 527 that essentially laundered the money: Faulting both major political parties for an elaborate "shell game," national campaign experts say it may be difficult if not impossible to trace the path of $300,000 that DFL House Minority Leader Matt Entenza contributed to a national "527" organization, which in turn spent generously on campaigns and voter registration in Minnesota. Minnesota Republican Party officials are trying to build a case that the Entenza donation to the 21st Century Democrats was improperly reported and illegal, and that the money was spent directly on behalf of DFL House candidates in Minnesota through a 21st Century political...

Ridge Resigns From DHS

The Washington Times reports that Tom Ridge will resign as director of the Department of Homeland Security at a press conference scheduled for 2:45 ET this afternoon: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has informed the White House and department staff that he has resigned, U.S. officials said today. In an e-mail circulated to senior Homeland Security officials, Ridge praised the department as "an extraordinary organization that each day contributes to keeping America safe and free." He also said he was privileged to work with the department's 180,000 employees "who go to work every day dedicated to making our company better and more secure." As the Times notes, the US has not had another terrorist attack under Ridge's watch. Despite taking on such a difficult and unwieldy task, he has performed extremely well. We all owe a debt of thanks to Ridge....

December 3, 2004

Bush Picks Up Myers' Support For Intelligence Bill

George Bush has decided to make another push to get the intelligence-reform bill through Congress, and he now has new support to undercut objections from GOP House members that have blocked its passage. Joint Chiefs chair General Richard Myers, whose objections have been used to stall the bill from coming to the house floor, announced yesterday that a Congressional conference session addressed all of his concerns and that he now supports its passage: An Oct. 21 letter written by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has until now been used by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to strengthen opposition to the measure on the ground that it could harm the country's war fighters. ... "The issue that I commented on, I understand, has been worked satisfactorily in the conference report," Myers said at a breakfast with reporters yesterday. "That...

December 6, 2004

Bring A Crowbar And A Jackhammer

George Bush today appointed two new members of the Civil Rights Commission, replacing two whose terms have expired. However, at least one of them may need to be bodily removed from the offices as she threatens to stay put until she is good and ready to go: President Bush on Monday moved to replace Mary Frances Berry, the outspoken chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission who has argued with every president since Jimmy Carter appointed her to the panel a quarter century ago. But Berry balked at leaving now, arguing through a spokesman that she and vice chairman Cruz Reynoso, who also is being replaced, have terms that run until midnight Jan. 21, 2005. The White House maintained that their six-year terms expired Sunday and that Berry and Reynoso had been replaced. The last time Berry went to the mattresses with George Bush was almost exactly three years ago,...

December 7, 2004

Cracks In Partisanship On Social Security Appear

The first cracks in the partisan divide on Social Security appeared this evening, with Florida Congressman Allen Boyd (D-FL) announcing that he would support George Bush's plan to save the plan through privatization: President Bush's call for private accounts within Social Security drew an early expression of bipartisan support Tuesday when Florida Rep. Allen Boyd stepped forward to the disappointment of Democratic leaders. "There are some of us who are willing to work across party lines" on legislation to repair Social Security's solvency, he said. "This is the only bipartisan bill that I know of," Boyd added at a news conference where he said he would serve as the chief Democratic supporter of legislation drafted by Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona. And that's the entire problem with the Democratic approach to both Social Security specifically, and to bipartisanship in general. Bush received an inordinate amount of criticism for polarizing...

Berry Quits, A Day After Her Term Expired

Only in Washington could an official resign from an office she no longer occupied, but the Bush Administration won't complain anytime soon. Mary Frances Berry, along with Cruz Reynoso, decided to "resign" rather than battle the government in court and possibly against federal marshals, allowing two new Bush appointees to take their seats on the Civil Rights Commission: Mary Frances Berry, chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, resigned yesterday after more than two decades of criticizing the administrations, both Democratic and Republican, that she served. Berry, an independent, and Vice Chairman Cruz Reynoso, a Democrat, sent resignation letters to President Bush a day after the White House moved to replace the two. Both had resisted leaving Monday, arguing that their terms would not expire until midnight Jan. 21, 2005. The White House maintained that their six-year terms expired on Sunday, and that they had been replaced. In brief letters...

December 9, 2004

LA Times Misses The Point

The Los Angeles Times attempts to analyze the aftereffects of the political tussle over the intelligence bill that has now passed both chambers of Congress and is on its way to the White House. They conclude that Congress has put George Bush on notice that they can't be pushed around any more -- when the Times misses the fact that Bush just steamrolled them: President Bush has gotten a fresh education this week in how to deal with an increasingly feisty Congress as he heads into his second term. The protracted struggle to enact an overhaul of the nation's intelligence community showed that conservative powerbrokers in Congress could not be steamrollered as easily as when Bush first was elected. Republican leaders are not as willing to "win ugly" as when they rammed his Medicare bill through the House last year, with arm-twisting so aggressive that it drew a rebuke from...

Powell: I'm Not Running, Period

Colin Powell squelched speculation today that his retirement from the Cabinet had freed him up to run for political office. He categorically stated that he would not run for any political office in the future, according to the AP: Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday he won't seek political office, dismissing suggestions that he run for governor or senator in New York. Asked about a poll that shows him favored in a hypothetical matchup for the governor's race, Powell said, "I'm not going to be running for office even in my beloved home state of New York, as flattering as that poll might be." ... "I don't think I've ever said I wouldn't be interested in public life again," Powell said. "I think I've repeatedly said over the course of nine-plus years that I've had no interest in political office." Powell has been the center of speculation to replace...

December 10, 2004

What Does Social Security Privatization And Gay Marriage Have In Common?

After a prominent gay-rights organization hinted that they would back the Bush Administration's privatization policy for Social Security, dozens of LGBT activists wrote letters to every member of Congress denouncing the statement and swearing that they will not negotiate for their rights: Dozens of prominent advocates for gay rights sent a letter to every member of Congress yesterday stating that they would reject any plan to bargain for equal rights, and specifically decried a report that the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay political organization, was planning to "moderate" its positions and would possibly support President Bush's plan to create private Social Security accounts. The letter, titled "Where We Stand," was released by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) in response to an article in yesterday's New York Times. The article quoted officials from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as saying that, in light of defeats for...

December 11, 2004

Call It The Shotgun Approach

After enduring days of innuendo, character assassinations, and pseudoscandals, Bernard Kerik finally withdrew his nomination for the top job at the Department of Homeland Security for a surprising reason -- hiring an illegal immigrant as a domestic worker: Bernard Kerik, New York City's former top cop, withdrew his name from consideration to be President Bush's homeland security secretary, a victim of the embarrassing "nanny problem" that has killed the nominations of other prominent officials. ... While assembling paperwork for his Senate confirmation, Kerik said he uncovered questions about the immigration status of a housekeeper-nanny that he employed. As homeland security secretary, Kerik would oversee the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. "I am convinced that, for personal reasons, moving forward would not be in the best interests of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security or the American people," Kerik said in a letter to Bush. He said he could not...

December 13, 2004

Brownstein: Beinart Is Wrong

Peter Beinart wrote a long column two weeks ago for the New Republic that called on Democrats to hearken back to post-WWII tradition and coalesce around a strategy of muscular liberalism in a Trumanesque fashion in order to restore their credibility on foreign policy and especially terrorism. Beinart argued that today's Democrats lack the anti-totalitarian fire they had during the Cold War and fail to recognize Islamofascism as the same enemy as Communist oppression. During his appearance on Hugh Hewitt when we filled in, we questioned Beinart's recollection of Democratic resistance to totalitarianism, especially in places like Nicaragua and Cuba, challenges that Beinart left unanswered. Ronald Brownstein picks up the thread in today's Los Angeles Times and also questions Beinart's analysis, this time in his assumptions regarding the circumstances in which Americans for Democratic Action formed and set Democratic foreign policy until the late 1960s: Beinart is surely right that...

The Other Shoes Keep Dropping On Kerik

As I suspected on Saturday, the nanny problem Bernard Kerik cited when he withdrew his nomination as DHS chief does not appear to be the only issue that his confirmation hearing would have revealed. Today, two new revelations about Kerik's tenure in New York demonstrate the poor job done in vetting his candidacy prior to the nomination. First, the Daily News reveals that Kerik managed to conduct two simultaneous extramarital affairs, using a "secret" corporate-rental apartment. One of the women was a publishing magnate, while the other worked for Kerik in Corrections: The first relationship, spanning nearly a decade, was with city Correction Officer Jeanette Pinero; the second, and more startling, was with famed publishing titan Judith Regan. His affair with Regan, the stunningly attractive head of her own book publishing company, lasted for almost a year. Dramatically, each woman learned of the existence of the other after Pinero discovered...

McCain: Still No Confidence In Rumsfeld

In an indication to everyone except the John Kerry Perpetual Campaign For Political Martyrdom that the presidential election is over, Senator John McCain made clear the feelings towards Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to which he alluded last week with only slightly veiled rhetoric. McCain bluntly told an AP interviewer that he had "no confidence" in Rumsfeld: U.S. Sen. John McCain said Monday that he has "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops. McCain, speaking to The Associated Press in an hourlong interview, said his comments were not a call for Rumsfeld's resignation, explaining that President Bush "can have the team that he wants around him." Asked about his confidence in the secretary's leadership, McCain recalled fielding a similar question a couple weeks ago. "I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence," McCain...

December 14, 2004

Lieberman Says No

CNN reports that the Bush administration has made at least two overtures to Senator Joe Lieberman to join the Cabinet -- but Lieberman has passed on both occasions: Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman has twice in recent days said "no" when approached about the possibility of a major job in the second Bush administration, CNN has learned. The Cabinet vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security was the subject of the latest overture, according to congressional and other government sources. Those sources said the earlier overture was to see whether Lieberman might be interested in becoming the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. I'm not sure why the White House would have considered Lieberman for the DHS post, except for Lieberman's role in creating the department. Senators do not make great executives, for the most part, which is one of the reasons why none have been elected directly from the Senate...

December 16, 2004

Intelligence Reform: The New Way To Get Kicked Upstairs

If anyone harbors doubts that the new intelligence-reform act represents anything more significant than an expansion of the American patronage system, this Washington Post report by Walter Pincus should remove them all. Titled "President Gets To Fill Ranks Of New Intelligence Superstructure," Pincus blithely lists the lengthy list of new managers sitting atop an already hidebound intelligence bureaucracy: President Bush is searching not only for a new director of national intelligence to become his chief adviser on intelligence but also for three other senior officials who will work atop the new organization created by the intelligence reform act he is scheduled to sign into law tomorrow. Along with the job of the intelligence director, or DNI, there is to be a principal deputy DNI, a director of a new national counterterrorism center, and a general counsel to the DNI, all of whom must be presidential appointees subject to Senate confirmation....

Eroding, Eroding

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took another political body blow yesterday as a key Republican Senator called for his removal in the coming months. Joining John McCain's no-confidence remark earlier this week, Trent Lott told a Biloxi Chamber of Commerce audience that he wants Rumsfeld out in 2005: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should be replaced sometime in the next year, Sen. Trent Lott says. "I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld," Lott told the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. "I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officers." ... Lott, speaking to the civic club Wednesday, said the United States needs more troops to help with the war and a plan to leave Iraq once elections take place in late January. The Mississippi Republican doesn't think Rumsfeld is the person to carry out that plan. "I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year...

December 17, 2004

Norm Coleman Sends Warning Message On Rumsfeld

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, usually a staunch ally of the Bush administration, sent a message to the White House yesterday with a warning that explanations about the slow supply of armor to Iraq has not satisfied him. He said he didn't want to point fingers, but he intends on opening hearings if better explanations are not forthcoming: Sen. Norm Coleman said he had "serious misgivings" about the process of providing armored vehicles for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I have reservations about what the secretary and the Army have done in this regard," the Minnesota Republican said, but later added, "I'm not at the point of pointing fingers. I don't who did this. I don't know what happened." Coleman said he anticipates an Armed Services Committee investigation, but if that doesn't happen he would consider looking into the matter as chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. This came at...

And Now The Loyalists Spring To The Defense

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld finally got a show of support from GOP leaders in the Senate after taking a beating all week long from his own party. Senators Bill Frist and Mitch McConnell both spoke out in Rumsfeld's defense today: "I am confident that Secretary Rumsfeld is fully capable of leading the Department of Defense and our military forces to victory in Iraq and the war on terror," Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said in a written statement. "Most importantly he has the confidence of his commanders in the field and our commander in chief." Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the GOP whip, said Rumsfeld "is an excellent secretary of defense and we are fortunate to have a man of his courage and vision serving the president at this critical time." It certainly took Frist and McConnell long enough to speak up. Perhaps the eruption of dissatisfaction with Rumsfeld among the...

December 19, 2004

Latino Advocates Learn Lesson From Election; NAACP Clueless?

Darryl Fears reports in today's Washington Post that the 2004 elections taught at least one ethnic-advocacy group the dangers of a strictly adversarial relationship with Republicans, and the incoming leadership has decided to shift directions: At [the National Council of] La Raza, a change in strategy is in the works. Yzaguirre, who was the group's president for more than 30 years, approached issues and politics with direct confrontation. "My posture has been we are going to award our friends and come down on our enemies," Yzaguirre said. "We are going to speak out on [Bush's] policies if they hurt our people." But [Janet] Murguia, who served as deputy director for legislative affairs for the Clinton White House and as a liaison between the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign and constituent groups in 2000, said she is planning to improve La Raza's relations with the White House. "One of the first lessons you...

Rumsfeld Digs A Little Deeper (Updated)

In a development that hardly helps out the beleaguered Defense Secretary, Reuters reports that Donald Rumsfeld did not personally sign the sympathy notes sent to the families of American servicemen and women who died in Iraq. Lawmakers objected, with Senator Chuck Hagel mimicking John McCain's earlier statement of no confidence: Rumsfeld acknowledged that he had not signed the letters to family members of more than 1,000 U.S. troops killed in action and in a statement said he would now sign them in his own hand. "This issue of the secretary of Defense not personally signing the letters is just astounding to me and it does reflect how out of touch they are and how dismissive they are," Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record) said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I have no confidence in Rumsfeld," Hagel added. More than in the kerfuffle relating to the uparmoring of Humvees,...

December 20, 2004

World Bank Chief Talking Transition

James Wolfensohn woke up his World Bank employees during an otherwise unremarkable end-of-year speech last week, when he suddenly mentioned "leadership succession", according to the Wshington Post's Al Kamen: "I would like to report to you on the Senior Management Team's annual 'strategic forum,' " he began, apparently in a desperate bid to reduce his audience. He droned on for a while about meeting "Millennium Development Goals," or, as we say in the biz, MDGs, and such. Then, just toward the end, came this: "I know that there is anxiety regarding leadership succession at the Bank." Oh, really? "We can expect clarity on the situation early in the new year, and I have no doubt that we will make an effective transition." Translation: Colin Powell becomes available after Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearings for her appointment as Secretary of State. After she wins Senate approval, expect to see Powell approached to...

Another Point Of View On Rumsfeld

Earlier today, I updated my latest post on the controversy surrounding Donald Rumsfeld with some clarifications. Dafydd ab Hugh, a regular reader and often a vocal CQ critic, sent me a private reply that I found intriguing -- even though Dafydd still disagreed with me. Seeing as how most CQ readers feel I've strayed a bit off the reservation here, I thought you might like to read Dafydd's note, and Dafydd graciously allowed me to post it here. Dafydd responded to this point in my earlier post: I disagree strongly with those who believe Rumsfeld is indispensable. I think he's the best man for the job, but no one is indispensable, and the Bush administration should have a succession plan in place in any case. What if Rummy dies of a heart attack tomorrow, or simply decides to retire? If that causes us to lose the war, then our war...

December 21, 2004

Congressional Hypocrisy On 9/11 Reform

After holding the executive branch's feet to the fire to implement the 9/11 Commission reform recommendations in the intelligence agencies, Congress has decided to give itself a pass from enacting any reform on the legislative branch. The New York Times reports that recommendations to streamline intelligence oversight have gone unsupported by members who fear losing influence and power: In its unanimous final report in July, the commission cataloged years of turf battles and incompetence by the intelligence and counterterrorism agencies, especially the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., and suggested that Congress had to share the blame for the failure to disrupt the Sept. 11 terrorist plot. "Congressional oversight for intelligence and counterterrorism is now dysfunctional," the report said. "So long as oversight is governed by current Congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they need and want." The commission called either for the creation...

Democratic Marginalization Picks Up Speed

The marginalization of the Democratic Party continued to pick up pace in Kentucky, where a traditionally "blue" area saw three of its elected officials switch to the GOP. The Courier-Journal reported that the local party chairman resigned the same day: Three elected officials in the traditional Democratic stronghold of Shelby County defected yesterday to the Republican Party, the same day the local Democratic chairman resigned. The three officials cited varying reasons for their switch, including conflicts with national Democrats on such issues as abortion, guns and taxes, and said the GOP better represents their moral and economic values. "It certainly doesn't reflect my personal beliefs," Shelby County Attorney Chuck Hickman said of the Democratic Party, which he had been a member of for 24 years. He was joined by Simpsonville City Commissioner Cary Vowels and Shelby County Coroner Tommy Sampson. Four deputy coroners and Sampson's son, an emergency medical technician,...

December 22, 2004

The Growing Republican Majority

Bizjournals published a study it conducted on population shifts within the United States, and it concludes that red states will see more representation in Congress and the Electoral College after 2010 than now, and the gains will come at some expense to blue states: Arizona, Florida, Texas and Utah would each gain one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives if districts were reapportioned today, according to an analysis by American City Business Journals. Iowa, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, on the other hand, would each lose a seat. The U.S. Census Bureau released new state-by-state population estimates for 2004 Wednesday. ACBJ used those figures to hypothetically reapportion House seats today, six years in advance of the next scheduled reapportionment in 2010. The gains are split between red and blue states, although Iowa barely qualified as a red state this year. Momentum seems to be shifting towards the redder states,...

December 23, 2004

Democrats Rethinking Abortion, Or Merely Repackaging?

The Los Angeles Times picks up on a movement within the Democratic Party to moderate their views on abortion in order to capture the American political center again. Peter Wallsten and Mary Curtis report that the Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate have urged former Congressman and 9/11 Commission member Tim Roemer to run for DNC chair, against vehemently pro-abortion Howard Dean: After long defining itself as an undisputed defender of abortion rights, the Democratic Party is suddenly locked in an internal struggle over whether to redefine its position to appeal to a broader array of voters. The fight is a central theme of the contest to head the Democratic National Committee, particularly between two leading candidates: former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who supports abortion rights, and former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, an abortion foe who argues that the party cannot rebound from its losses in the November...

Democrats To Push For End To Electoral College

After the 2004 elections, the Democrats looked at the voting pattern across the United States in the presidential election. Even worse than the state-by-state breakdown, the county map showing the level of support for John Kerry demonstrated the balkanization of the Democrats into the main urban areas, primarily on the coasts. Unsurprisingly, Democrats have lost enthusiasm for the Electoral College as they see less and less likelihood of holding onto anything but the large cities in the future, and Dianne Feinstein announced today that she will propose its demise: Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that when Congress returns in January, she will propose a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a one-person, one-vote system for electing the nation's president and vice president. In introducing the amendment, the Democrat from San Francisco is joining Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, who last month introduced a similar proposal...

December 25, 2004

Kerry The E-Mail Santa?

John Kerry took a lot of flack for hoarding over $15 million during his presidential run rather than spending it on his own candidacy or to assist down-ticket campaigns. Now the Washington Post reports that Kerry may hold his large e-mail list as a lever with which to control the Democratic Party: The former Democratic presidential candidate built, over the course of his two-year campaign, one of the biggest e-mail lists in his party. More than 2.7 million supporters signed up to receive his campaign e-mails, which his advisers have said were critical to its fundraising success. Now, as Democrats survey the post-election landscape, some are wondering what Kerry might do with all those e-mail addresses. It is a relatively new question. Few cared what happened, for example, to Al Gore's e-mail list when his Democratic presidential campaign folded. But with the increasing maturation of the Internet as a political...

December 27, 2004

More NIMBY Weeping And Illogic From The Gray Lady (Update)

The New York Times takes a second bite at the prisoners-as-census-boosters meme today, this time in a foolish editorial by Brent Staples. Staples argues, as did the Times' editorial board five weeks ago, that the main motivation for mandatory prison sentencing springs from a desire to skew census counts, Congressional representation, and federal handouts: The mandatory sentencing fad that swept the United States beginning in the 1970's has had dramatic consequences - most of them bad. The prison population was driven up tenfold, creating a large and growing felon class - now 13 million strong - that remains locked out of the mainstream and prone to recidivism. Trailing behind the legions of felons are children who grow up visiting their parents behind bars and thinking prison life is perfectly normal. Meanwhile, the cost of building and running prisons has pushed many states near bankruptcy - and forced them to choose...

December 28, 2004

Protestors At Pentagon Aim To Destroy Morale

I received an e-mail from an active-duty officer currently posted at the Pentagon, decrying the stupidity of the moonbats that congregate outside the entrances to the facility to protest the war. Usually, the protests involve a handful of disorganized and mostly quiet people. This morning's protest, however, got ugly very fast: Captain Ed-- I'm a lieutenant colonel currently assigned to the Pentagon. The area around our Metro entrance is a popular location for moonbat protests; there's a nice lady who stands out there maybe once a week with a sign. Occasionally, there are others. Of course their signs accuse us Pentagon types of genocide, etc., but imbued in their citizenship is the right to be cluelessly ignorant. Those of us in queue to enter the building are instructed not to react. It's hard to comply, but the policy prevents escalation. This morning, it took every ounce of professionalism not to...

Washington Post Starts New Bush Meme, Trots Out Stinginess For An Encore

The Washington Post runs to the rescue of Jan Egeland by both reinforcing the UN undersecretary's assertions of American stinginess and creating a new smear against George Bush, this time for not exploiting the deaths of 60,000 people for his own political gain: The Bush administration more than doubled its financial commitment yesterday to provide relief to nations suffering from the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions. ... Although U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland yesterday withdrew his earlier comment, domestic criticism of Bush continued to rise. Skeptics said the initial aid sums -- as well as Bush's decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy -- showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work...

January 4, 2005

Clintons Losing Grip On Democrats?

In a move that calls into question Hillary Clinton's expected run for the presidency in 2008, Harold Ickes has pulled out of the race for chair of the Democratic National Committee: Former Clinton aide Harold Ickes and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk let top Democrats know Tuesday that they won't be running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee. ... Ickes, a longtime Democratic activist, also let party members know he would not be running. "I just decided I probably did not have enough of the attributes (a chairman needs) to do the party justice," Ickes said in an interview. Ickes has strong ties to the Clintons. He served for years as Bill Clinton's deputy chief of staff and has been a big money man for both Bill and Hillary. While the DNC chair may have been more high-profile than usual for Ickes' comfort zone, having him ensconced at the...

January 5, 2005

Did Conyers' Staff Steal Food From The Hungry?

Drudge carried a report from the Detroit Free Press that the staff of Rep. John Conyers took turkeys from a Detroit food bank and passed them to their cronies, rather than to the poor people in Conyers' district. The Grinches at Conyers' office has thus far refused to provide an accounting of the food: The director of a Detroit food bank wants to know what happened to 60 turkeys -- 720 pounds of frozen birds -- that his charity gave to members of U.S. Rep. John Conyers' local staff two days before Thanksgiving to give to needy people. Conyers' Detroit office promised an accounting of any turkey distribution by Dec. 27, but the Gleaners Community Food Bank had received no paperwork as of Tuesday, said the charity's director, Agostinho Fernandes. Fernandes said he became suspicious that the turkeys didn't get to poor people after hearing from a friend that a...

January 6, 2005

Bostonian Proposes New Voting Process

Pennywit draws my attention to a comment on an earlier CQ post by Bostonian, which suggests a new way to vote with safeguards built in for each voter to ensure their vote was counted. In addition to making sure that every ballot is legal (for which many proposals have been floated), we need two things: 1) Independent verificiation of the totals 2) Certainty that every vote was counted For 1, when a voter submits his ballot, he provides one copy to a Republican and one copy to a Democrat. There's a unique ballot number on the ballot, which can be used to verify that the identical ballot was included in both totals. Both parties tally up the votes separately, compare the results, and if the error is too large, nail down every last discrepancy. For 2), the voter takes home a paper stub with the same ballot number, and he...

January 7, 2005

Kerry's Baghdad Disgrace

A time existed in American politics when politicians kept foreign-policy disputes at the shoreline. In a time of war, criticizing US policy from foreign locales used to be considered a craven and disreputable act. But having a sitting US Senator and a failed presidential candidate go to the theater of war to stage a protest against the current administration goes far beyond the pale: Baghdad -- Sen. John Kerry, whose seemingly shifting positions on the U.S. war in Iraq plagued him throughout his presidential campaign, came to this war- torn capital Wednesday to see for himself whether the country was moving toward stability or deeper into chaos. ... The senator said he was more interested in asking questions of soldiers, U.S. officials, Iraqis and even the journalists themselves instead of rehashing the political battles of the past campaign season. But in several instances, Kerry attacked what he called the "horrendous...

Hillary's Bagman Gets Invite To Club Fed

In a blow to her presidential aspirations and possibly her re-election run for the Senate, Hillary Clinton's money man from her first Senate run has been indicted on election-fraud charges stemming from one of her fundraisers. Her fundraiser failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in in-kind contributions, allowing Clinton to spend more hard cash in her campaign: The indictment of David Rosen, unsealed in Los Angeles, focuses on his fund-raising for an Aug. 12, 2000, gala for Clinton in Los Angeles. The New York Democrat was still first lady at the time. While the event allegedly cost more than $1.2 million, the indictment said, Rosen reported contributions of about $400,000, knowing the figure to be false. The indictment charged that Rosen provided some documents to the an FEC compliance officer but withheld the true costs of the event and provided false documents to substantiate the lower figure. The...

January 9, 2005

Bush To Get Serious On Curbing Federal Growth

The New York Times and other news outlets report this morning that George Bush has finally heard the outcry from traditional budget hawks in the GOP and will focus on curbing the growth of federal government. Bush plans on building enforceable caps into the next budget, putting a leash on Congress to prevent additions to entitlement spending: In his budget request to Congress, President Bush will try to impose firm, enforceable limits on the growth of federal benefit programs, and the chairmen of the Senate and House Budget Committees say they strongly supported that effort. Administration officials and Congressional aides said Mr. Bush would also seek cuts in housing assistance for low-income families, freezes or slight increases in most domestic programs, and larger increases for domestic security. The spending plan for 2006, like the appropriations enacted for this year, would give priority to military operations and domestic security over social...

January 12, 2005

Like They Need A Hole In The Head

After a three-cycle losing streak for Democrats, one would think that the party might take a look at the more extreme elements of their platform in order to broaden their appeal. However, longtime Senator Ted Kennedy -- from that incubator of political moderation known as Massachusetts -- urged Democrats to go farther in their progressivism: Democrats must do a better job speaking about the principles they believe in and that have guided the party, said Kennedy, D-Mass., in a speech to the National Press Club. "We cannot move our party or our nation forward under pale colors and timid voices," said Kennedy, who has served 42 years in the Senate. "We cannot become Republican clones. If we do, we will lose again, and deserve to lose." With his proteg John Kerry taking the opposite tack on abortion, Kennedy insisted that the path to winning elections lies not in regrouping towards...

January 14, 2005

President Bush Decries Armstrong Williams Arrangements

In a surprising but welcome slap at the rationalization provided by his own Cabinet officer, President Bush scolded the Department of Education for its surreptitious arrangement with conservative commentator Armstrong Williams. Bush not only denounced the payola, but called for all levels of government to learn from this mistake: President Bush expressed disapproval Thursday of the Education Department's decision to pay conservative commentator Armstrong Williams to promote the government's education policy. Bush said he wants his Cabinet to prevent a recurrence. There needs to be a clear distinction between journalism and advocacy, Bush said in an interview with USA TODAY, which reported last week that Williams had been paid $240,000 to advocate for the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. ... In the interview, Bush said, I appreciate the way Armstrong Williams has handled this, because he has made it very clear that he made a mistake. All of us,...

Bring It On ... But Don't

CNN reports that George Bush expressed "regret" over his July 2003 response to assertions that terrorists would attempt to drive American troops out of Iraq: President Bush says he now sees that tough talk can have an "unintended consequence." During a round-table interview with reporters from 14 newspapers, the president, who not long ago declined to identify any mistakes he'd made during his first term, expressed misgivings for two of his most famous expressions: "Bring 'em on," in reference to Iraqis attacking U.S. troops, and his vow to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive." "Sometimes, words have consequences you don't intend them to mean," Bush said Thursday. "'Bring 'em on' is the classic example, when I was really trying to rally the troops and make it clear to them that I fully understood, you know, what a great job they were doing. And those words had an unintended consequence....

January 15, 2005

The California Earthquake On Rice

The AP reports this morning that the nomination of Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State has caused a faultline between California's two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. While Feinstein accepted an invitation to introduce Rice to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her nomination hearing, Barbara Boxer intends on using character assassination to push her anti-war views: Rice, Bush's national security adviser, lists California as her residence after having served for six years as provost of Stanford University, Feinstein's alma mater. It's customary for nominees to ask home-state senators to introduce them at confirmation hearings. Feinstein accepted Rice's invitation to introduce her to the committee, and praised her in a statement Friday as "the natural choice to be our country's next secretary of state." Boxer gave a hint Friday on how she is expected to greet Rice at the Tuesday hearing. "I personally believe that your loyalty to...

January 16, 2005

About That Poll

Time Magazine publishes a new opinion poll today that shows President Bush picking up more support in overall job approval ahead of the inaugural: President Bushs approval rating has risen to 53%, according to the latest TIME poll conducted January 12 and 13. His approval rating is up 4 points from his Dec. 13-14 approval rating of 49%. The Presidents approval numbers have improved across a variety of issues, including his handling of the economy (51% approve, up from 40% approve in September), his handling of the situation in Iraq (45% approve, up from 41% approval in September), and his handling of the war on terrorism (56% approve, up from 49% in September). I think some of these gains may result from the toned-down partisan environment that naturally occurs between the election and the opening of the new session of Congress. The major issue on Bush's plate continues to be...

January 17, 2005

Inaugural Sneak Peek: An End To The "Compensation Culture"

The London Telegraph reports that a key element in George Bush's inaugural speech this week will be a call for an end to the "compensation culture" that has hijacked medicine and other business in America. The message comprises a part of an entire domestic reform package that includes income taxes and the entitlement bureaucracy: Mr Bush wants to clamp down on the "tort" system of civil damages - intended to compensate victims of negligence and accidents - which costs the US economy $230 billion (123 billion), or two per cent of gross domestic product. Mr Bush plans to cap non-economic damages at $250,000 (133,500) per case, far less than the multi-million dollar awards that have become commonplace. Medical cases are the most visible examples, but soaring damages in class actions across the commercial sector would also be restricted. Reform would be popular with the public, who believe that lawyers are...

More Polling Shows Bush Gaining Support

Fresh on the heels of a six-point gain in the latest Time Magazine poll, AP-Ipsos shows George Bush making similar inroads among adults in general. The new polling shows George Bush gaining two-thirds support for his personal attributes, including intelligence: A majority of Americans say they feel hopeful about President Bush's second term and have a generally positive view of him personally, but they also express continued doubts about Iraq. ... Ahead of Bush's inauguration on Thursday, six in 10 people said they felt hopeful about his second term and in response to a separate question 47 percent said they were worried. Most said they were neither angry nor excited about his final four years in office. Considering the partisan atmosphere that has prevailed since the Democrats went crazy in the aftermath of the 2000 election -- and continued after this past election in Ohio -- a 60% "hopeful" rating...

January 19, 2005

Where Have We Heard This Before?

The AP reports on the ascendancy of Howard Dean for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee with a headline that smacks of deja vu -- "Dean Gaining Early Momentum in DNC Race": On Tuesday, the former Vermont governor announced he had the unanimous backing of the Florida delegation to the DNC and also the support of Democratic chairs in Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, Washington state and Vermont. He plans house parties around the nation later this week, like the ones he used while trying to gain the Democratic presidential nomination. Dean dominated the Democrats' presidential race through 2003, raising more than $40 million and recruiting thousands of supporters through the Internet. But when the voting started in Iowa, Dean stumbled as Democrats rallied around a candidate they thought was more electable Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. I find the DNC raise mildly amusing but strategically negligible. The Democrats seem ready...

Oh, That Crisis!

I've wanted to write on this for some time, but Jon Henke at the must-read QandO beat me to it. The Democrats have accused the Bush Administration of crisis-mongering on Social Security, which they claim remains strong and solvent. However, that's a far cry -- almost literally -- from the rhetoric used by the last Democratic administration in Washington: * Gene Sperling - Clinton Economic Advisor: "this is a chance for both parties to actually show ... that we are saving more to meet the Social Security crisis in the future. If we don't do this, then we are just putting those burdens on a future generation." ... * Senator Kohl - Democrat: Wisconsin [March 22, 2000]: "Comprehensive Social Security Reform is still necessary. Today's changes will do nothing to hold off the coming crisis that will begin when we start drawing down the Social Security Trust fund in 2014....

Showing Their Class

Condoleezza Rice received her confirmation endorsement from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon on a vote of 16-2. The two voting against? Pending approval by the full Senate, Rice would be the first black woman to hold the job. She was confirmed by a 16-2 vote with Democrats John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California voting no. Other Democrats, including ranking member Joseph Biden of Delaware, had said they were reluctantly voting to elevate Rice to the nation's top diplomatic job. A vote by the full Senate was expected by Thursday. My first reaction is shock -- that John Kerry actually attended Senate business. After missing most of the last two-year session of Congress, he's now up to one in a row. No one should be terribly surprised at either vote, or by either Senator. After an incredibly condescending introduction where Kerry expressed gooey admiration for Rice's...

Opening Her Mouth And Removing All Doubt (Updated!!)

Sometimes I wonder if Barbara Boxer ever listens to herself and cringes. If so, yesterday certainly provided opportunities for winces galore as the senator from California kept providing evidence of her status as one of the least intelligent members of the upper chamber. In just her opening statement for her portion of Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearing, she managed to embarrass herself and her constituents multiple times: Dr. Rice, before I get to my formal remarks, you no doubt will be confirmed -- that's at least what we think. We think there's no doubt? And her favorite color is plaid, too. And if you're going to become the voice of diplomacy -- this is just a helpful point -- when Senator Voinovich mentioned the issue of tsunami relief, you said -- your first words were, "The tsunami was a wonderful opportunity for us." Now, the tsunami was one of the worst...

January 21, 2005

Get The Nuclear Option Ready

The Democrats in the Senate have signaled their intent on turning up the obstructionism that cost them their party leader last election, and the New York Times reports that the signal did not go unrecognized by Republicans: Republicans in Congress seethed Thursday over Democrats' refusal to allow a quick vote on Condoleezza Rice's confirmation as secretary of state, a dispute that provided a quick reality check about the partisan divide on Capitol Hill just hours after President Bush was sworn in. "If this is the kind of comity we can expect for the rest of the session, we are not getting off to a good start," said Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, a member of the Republican leadership. "It is churlish." Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, said, "You want continuity in this country, and this is a senior cabinet minister." He added, "This didn't win them any merit...

January 22, 2005

Bush To Submit "Tough Budget"

President Bush, fresh off his re-election and spectacular inaugural address, plans on pushing his leanest budget yet for next year, according to the Washington Times: President Bush will propose a virtual freeze on overall non-defense discretionary spending in next year's budget and will abolish or consolidate wasteful, duplicative programs, according to administration budget officials. Deep spending cuts are slated for housing and community development block grants, scientific research, agriculture and veterans programs, among other departments and agencies that, along with higher tax revenue from a growing economy, could shrink last year's $400 billion deficit by more than $150 billion, said budget officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The officials said the budget will essentially freeze aggregate discretionary spending at this year's levels. Last year, Congress kept the rise in discretionary appropriations, excluding defense and homeland security, to less than 1 percent as Mr. Bush requested. But overall non-emergency...

Northern Alliance Radio Today

Don't forget to tune in the Northern Alliance Radio Network today at noon CT. If you're in the Twin Cities, you can hear us on AM 1280 The Patriot. Tonight, of course, is the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers event at Keegan's Pub in downtown Minneapolis, one of our sponsors. We'll be meeting people from 5 pm until whenever. If you're a blogger, a blog fan, or just want to get a drink tonight, come on down and meet the Northern Alliance gang! I'll be there, along with Mitch, The Elder, Saint Paul, King Banaian, and all of the MOB. Bring an appetite for Keegan's excellent Irish fare as well!...

January 23, 2005

CNN: WaPo Report On Military Spy Unit Incorrect On Key Details

The Washington Post dropped a bombshell this morning with a report that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had formed a special intelligence unit in the armed forces that operated outside of CIA and Congressional oversight and reported directly to Rumsfeld. CNN now has a report confirming the existence of the intelligence unit, but contradicts the Post in several critical areas: He confirmed the SSB was formed after the September 11, 2001, attacks "to have as much flexibility as possible" and in response to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's ongoing concerns expressed at the highest levels of the department that the Pentagon did not have the capability to gather intelligence in the field on its own. The official confirmed that the SSB reports to Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, director of the DIA, but that policies are set by Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone, one of Rumsfeld's most senior aides. ... When...

January 24, 2005

Babsy's Crying (Again)

Barbara Boxer must run through cases of Kleenex every week, crying her eyes out over the oddest issues. The tears this week come from her claims of victimhood at the hands of Condoleezza Rice after last week's confirmation hearings. Boxer claims that Rice "attacked" her when all Babs wanted was a nice, friendly little chat: Sen. Barbara Boxer says she is the real victim of last week's confirmation hearing for Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice, yet continued yesterday to question the national security adviser's honesty. "She turned and attacked me," the California Democrat told CNN's "Late Edition" in describing the confrontation during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. "I gave Dr. Rice many opportunities to address specific issues. Instead, she said I was impugning her integrity," Mrs. Boxer said. Did Rice beat up on poor, sensitive Babs in an unkind manner? Let's go to the transcripts, shall we, and see...

Hillary Can't Find Leadership Under Her Upturned Nose

Hillary Clinton told a Florida audience that America's leaders lack vision, scant days after one of the most inspiring and visionary inaugural speeches in decades. Laughably, she turned to her husband as an example of what America needs: "I don't see that thoughtful, visionary direction that got us where we are today," she told the crowd of hundreds. "The history of America is... to make sacrifices today for a better tomorrow. The progress that then occurred moved everyone forward. "That progress is at risk today," she said. President Dwight D. Eisenhower left a legacy of highways, John F. Kennedy the excitement over space exploration, and Lyndon B. Johnson created the legal framework for civil rights, Clinton said. "What are we investing in today?" "I believe that on both political and substantive grounds, my husband did it just right," she said, referring to former President Clinton. "The deficit reduction act didn't...

University Of Oregon: No Support For Troops On Campus

One of the most tepid and meaningless phrases that has sprung up during the war on terror has been "Support The Troops". Both sides of the partisan divide claim to "support the troops," even while some on one side continually denigrate their mission and demand a retreat. The phrase itself has enough generality to be imbued with almost any meaning desired. Now, however, even that thin cheer for our men and women on the front has come under attack at the University of Oregon. After a single complaint, the university's administration ordered all school vehicles freed of the magnetic "Support The Troops" ribbons that have enjoyed popularity among a wide swath of the public (via Kevin McCullough, ellipses in original): A yellow ribbon sticker that says "Support The Troops" has created a big stir at the University of Oregon. A day after a campus employee was told to remove the...

Dems Wooing Popular Candidate For Run Against Santorum

Democratic heavyweights have apparently settled on their first choice to run against Senator Rick Santorum in 2006, probably the most vulnerable of the GOP caucus up for re-election in the midterms. Yesterday's Tribune-Review reported that Senators Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer have encouraged Pennsylvania stats treasurer Robert Casey, Jr. to toss his hat into the ring: Based largely on the fact that Casey received 3.35 million votes in the treasurer election in November -- the largest vote total for any candidate running for any office in state history -- Casey is being wooed to run by some heavyweight Dems. The Philadelphia Daily News reported last week that Casey has been contacted by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee head Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. Casey also is slated to discuss a possible Senate campaign this week with [Governor Ed] Rendell. Santorum may...

January 25, 2005

Senate Democrats Extend Obstructionism To Cabinet Appointments

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid apparently learned nothing from his predecessor's defeat in last year's elections. The Democratic minority has decided to express its frustration at the marginalization they inflicted upon themselves by imbibing in the hair of the dog that bit them: Trying to show that they remain a force despite their reduced numbers, Senate Democrats on Monday threatened new hurdles for President Bush's cabinet choices and expressed deep misgivings about the planned Social Security changes at the heart of this year's Republican agenda. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said he was mulling whether to try to stall consideration of Michael O. Leavitt, Mr. Bush's choice for health secretary, unless Mr. Dorgan was guaranteed a vote on allowing importation of cheaper prescription drugs. In addition, a growing number of Democrats are raising issues about the selection of Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general, a nomination initially headed for...

Senate GOP Agenda Missing Illegal Immigration And Gay Marriage

The conservative wing of the GOP will not delight in the Senate's agenda for this session of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist left illegal immigration and gay marriage of of the list of top Republican issues: Senate Republican leaders outlined their 10 top legislative priorities yesterday, focusing mainly on cutting taxes and restructuring Social Security. But two notable omissions -- changes to immigration laws and a ban on same-sex marriage -- underscored tensions with their conservative wing. ... The Senate Republicans' top 10 list calls for adding private accounts to Social Security, extending President Bush's tax cuts, limiting personal-injury lawsuits and expanding domestic oil exploration. But GOP Senate leaders moved cautiously on more contentious issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration. This will be news to conservatives like Rep. James Sensenbrenner, who eventually signed onto the 9/11 Commission "reforms" even though they included nothing about illegal immigration. The Bush...

Temper Tantrum Continues In Full Senate

As hard as I tried, I just couldn't get worked up about the day-long temper tantrum staged by the Senate Democrats in today's debate for the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice. Yes, the debate wasted time and money that could have been put to better use -- but probably wouldn't have been. The Democrats called Rice a liar and a Bush stooge, but that's been their level of rhetoric for two years now, and continually pointing it out grows wearisome. After a while, I have to start finding humor in the fact that the Democratic leadership has become so clueless as to completely miss the fact that they just staged a day-long parody of their last presidential campaign. It confirms for the American public that the Democrats have learned nothing from three successive electoral-cycle defeats and are likely to learn nothing after the next one, either. So, let's move on to...

January 26, 2005

McCain: Democrats "Sore Losers"

As Condoleezza Rice finally won her confirmation for Secretary of State despite the hijacking of the process for Democrats to extend their failed 2004 presidential campaign on the Senate floor, John McCain delivered the scolding that perhaps only he had the stature and the spine to dole out: On the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suggested Democrats are sore losers. Rice had enough votes to win confirmation, as even her Democratic critics acknowledge, McCain said. "So I wonder why we are starting this new Congress with a protracted debate about a foregone conclusion," McCain said. Since Rice is qualified for the job, he said, "I can only conclude that we are doing this for no other reason than because of lingering bitterness over the outcome of the election." Rice eventually received 85 votes to confirm, with 13 votes against, the highest number ever for a Secretary of State....

January 27, 2005

DHS Dumps Civil Service For Performance-Based System

The Department of Homeland Security will jettison its civil-service pay system in favor of a performance-based compensation and evaluation system, starting next January, according to the Washington Post. The move comes two years after the issue caused former Senator Max Cleland to hold up passage of the bill creating DHS in a futile attempt to block such a move, eventually costing Cleland his Senate seat: The Bush administration unveiled a new personnel system for the Department of Homeland Security yesterday that will dramatically change the way workers are paid, promoted, deployed and disciplined -- and soon the White House will ask Congress to grant all federal agencies similar authority to rewrite civil service rules governing their employees. The new system will replace the half-century-old General Schedule, with its familiar 15 pay grades and raises based on time in a job, and install a system that more directly bases pay on...

January 28, 2005

Oregon U's Sticker-Ban Update

Kevin McCullough has a fresh column out on WND updating his readers on the University of Oregon decision to ban "Support Our Troops" magnetic stickers on university vehicles. Apparently, the outcry has had quite an impact on the administration: The university also admitted the situation had created a public-relations problem (as was cited in the New York Times) but believed it to be based on less-than-factual accounts being reported by said talk-radio shows and blogs. (This was complete nonsense as even a minimal reading of the blog coverage proves.) Additionally, the university said "someone" had "yellow ribboned" the trees encircling the administration building. And when asked what would happen to the ribbons on those trees the university said plainly that they did not break the rules so they would be allowed to remain up. On Wednesday afternoon, "William the brave" as he is now called, turned whistleblower on the university....

January 30, 2005

John Kerry's Tone Deafness Continues

It's beginning to be apparent that John Kerry plans to follow the bitter-loser strategy that unhinged Al Gore after the 2000 election. In his appearance on Meet the Press this morning, Kerry did everything but actually pour ice water on the set to douse the enthusiasm for the tremendous success of the Iraqi election: SEN. KERRY: ... it is significant that there is a vote in Iraq. But no one in the United States or in the world-- and I'm confident of what the world response will be. No one in the United States should try to overhype this election. This election is a sort of demarcation point, and what really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation, and it's going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in....

All Democrats Can Talk About Is Running Away

I had no idea how influential our Democratic Senator from Minnesota, Brave Sir Mark Dayton, had become on his party's leadership. On a day when the force of American power and will allowed a long-oppressed people to defy Islamofascists and choose their own representative government, Democrats could only discuss bugging out. That continued with prepared remarks by Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who demanded a timetable for retreat on the occasion of our tremendous victory: In a pre-State of the Union challenge to President Bush, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid intends to call Monday for the administration to outline an exit strategy for Iraq. ... "The president needs to spell out a real and understandable plan for the unfinished work ahead: defeat the growing insurgency, rebuild Iraq, increase political participation by all parties, especially moderates, and increase international involvement," Reid will say, according to his prepared remarks. "Most of...

Note To Democrats: You Should Have Said This

In the aftermath of the historic Iraqi election, the Democrats had the opportunity to get aboard the democracy bandwagon, or at least have the sense not to get run over by it. However, their leadership felt that a far better strategy for today was to denigrate the accomplishment of the brave Iraqis who defied terrorists to cast their votes in their first free elections in fifty years and demand a withdrawal. They would have been better off to follow the example of the European leaders whose approval they seem to crave so much. The BBC reports that those politicians have a much better sense of tone in handling the American victory: World leaders have praised the conduct of Iraq's first multi-party elections for more than 50 years. ... French President Jacques Chirac described them as a "great success for the international community", while a spokesman for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder...

January 31, 2005

So Many Names, So Little Capacity For Thought

I have received e-mail today asking why I'm not making a bigger deal of this portion of the Meet the Press transcript from yesterday, in which John Kerry appears to accuse American intelligence service of running weapons to the Communists during Viet Nam: MR. RUSSERT: And you have a hat that the CIA agent gave you? SEN. KERRY: I still have the hat that he gave me, and I hope the guy would come out of the woodwork and say, "I'm the guy who went up with John Kerry. We delivered weapons to the Khmer Rouge on the coastline of Cambodia [emphasis mine]." We went out of Ha Tien, which is right in Vietnam. We went north up into the border. And I have some photographs of that, and that's what we did. So, you know, the two were jumbled together, but we were on the Cambodian border on Christmas...

February 2, 2005

Michigan Democrats Resist Audit

The Michigan state chair of the Democratic Party called demands from the DNC for an audit of campaign funds a political tactic designed to "tarnish" one of Howard Dean's main opponents in the race for the DNC chair. Mark Brewer refused to conduct an audit on the $8 million in question: The DNC has demanded an audit of the state party's books because its donors want to know where the money went. The request has been turned down, with Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer arguing that an audit is unnecessary. "We don't see a need for it. But we're happy to answer any questions that they may have," Brewer said. "There was nothing wrong that was done. That's why there was no need for an audit." Brewer said the complaints against him are really an attempt to tarnish the Michigan director of the Kerry-Edwards campaign, Donnie Fowler, in his campaign...

Live Blogging The SOTU Speech Tonight

I will be live-blogging the State of the Union speech tonight, on this post. It starts at 8 pm CT, and since I have TiVo, I may use it to scroll back when necessary to capture what was said. 7:59 CT - The escort committees have been selected and have gone off to fetch the President. I'm settling in for the duration. I expect a good speech, but nothing terribly surprising or even particularly memorable. The best parts will have to do with the Iraqi elections, to be sure. Watch for the Ted Kennedy close-up on that one... 8:02 - Don't forget that Hugh Hewitt will appear on Joe Scarborough at 11 pm CT to discuss the SOTU speech. I expect him to bring up Eason's Fables ... 8:09 - We share it with a "free and sovereign Iraq." Nice start. 8:13 - After the reference to Iraq, Bush went...

February 3, 2005

Poll Shows Bush Gained Converts With SOTU Speech

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that President Bush gave one of his most effective speeches last night, picking up converts for his strategies on Social Security and Iraq and wound up with an 86% positive response, his highest in 3 years: President Bush's State of the Union address raised support for his policies on health care and Social Security among people who watched the speech, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Wednesday night. The percentage of respondents who said the president's proposals in those areas will help the country rose 15 points from when the same question was asked of the same people in the two days before the speech. In the post-speech sample, 70 percent of respondents said Bush's policies on health care were positive, while 66 percent approved of the president's plan for Social Security. Bush showed almost as much improvement on Iraq, with 78 percent of...

Ward Churchill A Phony Native American: AIM

Ward Churchill, whose reference to certain 9/11 victims as "little Eichmans" drew such outrage, may have more to hide than first thought. Churchill has frequently touted his background as a Native American (Cherokee Nation) as his bona fides to teach and speak on Indian issues, among other causes. Now CQ reader Jim Walker notes a press release from the American Indian Movement and signed by well-known activist Dennis Banks that outs Churchill as a fraud: The American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council representing the National and International leadership of the American Indian Movement once again is vehemently and emphatically repudiating and condemning the outrageous statements made by academic literary and Indian fraud, Ward Churchill in relationship to the 9-11 tragedy in New York City that claimed thousands of innocent peoples lives. Churchills statement that these people deserved what happened to them, and calling them little Eichmanns, comparing them to Nazi...

TNR: Democratic Response To SOTU Bland, Indistinct

Inspired by our interview of Peter Beinart this evening on the Hugh Hewitt show, I decided to take a read through The New Republic to find out what the center-left has to say about the speeches last night by George Bush and the tag-team of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. I expected a defense of the Democratic response similar to that Beinart offerd Mitch and I in our interview -- that the two minority leaders had offered a serviceable if unspectacular counterpoint to Bush's "misleading" rhetoric on just about every topic. Instead, Michael Crowley writes a significant critique of both Pelosi and Reid along the same lines I wrote last night after their delivery of the Democratic response. Crowley refuses to tow the party line and scolds the Democrats for their vacuous, predictable ambiguity (subscription required): That congressional Democrats are still struggling to find their voice was plainly evident in...

February 7, 2005

The Non-Existent Cuts At The VA

The New York Times tries its best to hype up a controversy over veterans' benefits in the new budget submitted by the Bush administration, but the Gray Lady reveals herself as the painted lady for the Left instead. Robert Pear and Carl Hulse offer up this slanted look at the new budget under the headline "Bush Budget Raises Prescription Prices for Many Veterans." The qualifier "many" should raise eyebrows, although the reader has to scroll down to the tenth paragraph to discover what it means. Before that, the report uses selected quotes to imply that Bush has taken an axe to veterans' benefits: President Bush's budget would more than double the co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year for the privilege of using government health care, administration officials said Sunday. The proposals, they said, are in...

February 10, 2005

The Big Me Celebrates Alone

Bill Clinton opened his presidential library to great fanfare, with a big media splash and predictions of how it would draw large numbers of people eager to relive the supposedly heady days of light and magic of his presidency. So far, the Washington Times reports, those predictions have gone bust, with one notable exception: Although the library originally said it had drawn more than 100,000 visitors in the first six weeks of its opening, the National Archives and Records Administration, which operates the library, told U.S. News & World Report that only 42,045 visitors actually paid the $7 to enter. The rest of the visitors were VIPs, journalists and other nonpaying guests. Although Clinton supporters predicted that 50,000 persons would attend the star-studded Nov. 18 dedication, where actors Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt mingled with the locals, the true number was closer to 20,000, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette....

February 11, 2005

The Party Of "He's Touching Me, Mommy!"

The Democrats managed to reach a nadir in their fight to remain relevant yesterday when a group of senators demanded that President Bush force the GOP to abandon politics and leave their poor Minority Leader alone. Chuck Shumer announced that Bush faced a "new Democratic Party," one that apparently endorses the repeal of the First Amendment: Senate Democrats demanded Thursday that President Bush order a halt to personal attacks on the party's leader, Sen. Harry Reid, and expressed regret that they had failed to mount a stronger defense for his defeated predecessor. "This is a new Democratic Party," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a news conference called to release a letter telling Bush to muzzle his "political operatives." "It says to the president, `You will not intimidate us'," said Schumer, who likened the attacks on Reid to political knee-cappings. This kind of petulant whining, dressed up as muscular politics,...

February 14, 2005

Philly Salutes Cop-Killer's French Defenders

I missed this story over the weekend, but the Environmental Republican and Michelle Malkin have called attention to it today. Philadelphia deputy director of commerce Mjenzi Traylor used the mayor's office to welcome a delegation of French politicians and activists seeking the release of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, and gave them ... liberty bells? French politicians and activists seeking a new trial and freedom for convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal were welcomed in a Friday rally at City Hall and given replicas of the Liberty Bell. Mjenzi Traylor, the city's first deputy director of commerce, told the crowd of about 150 that he was there to "make certain that we are receiving the message that you would like for us to deliver to Mayor Street." Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, later called that greeting an "absolute outrage." In what had to be a lesson in...

February 17, 2005

An Anachronism That Only Government Could Save

Two major dailies today note the resignation of PBS president Pat Mitchell and the precarious state of the government-run television service. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times both note the question of relevance for PBS and how difficulties in getting outside resources force it to play politics to stay alive: It was no accident that PBS found itself turning to Elmo, the popular "Sesame Street" character, to lobby on Capitol Hill this week. There were not many options. Public television is suffering from an identity crisis, executives inside the Public Broadcasting Service and outsiders say, and it goes far deeper than the announcement by Pat Mitchell that she would step down next year as the beleaguered network's president. ... "The biggest problem we've got is the structure we've got," Alberto Ibarguen, the chairman of PBS and the publisher of The Miami Herald, said in an interview yesterday. "It...

Democrat's Main Money Man Funded Lynne Stewart Defense

Yesterday, New York state GOP chairman Steven Minarik made a stupid remark about the Democrats being the party of "Barbara Boxer, Lynne Stewart and Howard Dean,", as if the entire party could be characterized by the recently convicted terrorist abetter Stewart, who passed operational messages from Sheikh Abdel Rahman to his followers. DNC chair Howard Dean called on Minarik to apologize or resign, and Gov. George Pataki rightfully called Minarik's remarks outside the "realm of appropriate political discourse." However, National Review's Byron York reveals today that the main money man for the Democrats in last year's election cycle, George Soros, partially funded Lynne Stewart's criminal defense, raising questions of propriety and political damage to the candidates Soros once backed: Billionaire financier George Soros, whose opposition to President Bush's conduct of the war on terror caused him to pour millions of dollars into the effort to defeat the president, made a...

February 19, 2005

More Cheney Rumormongering

World Net Daily reports on rumors supposedly floating around DC -- again -- that Dick Cheney will step down from his position in order to allow Condoleezza Rice to replace him as Vice President. The rumor has Cheney resigning due to his health sometime next year and Rice replacing him in time to build credibility as a presidential candidate for 2008: Vice President Dick Cheney likely will step down next year due to health reasons and be replaced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to a report by geopolitical expert Jack Wheeler. On his website, To the Point, Wheeler reports there's a "red-breasted rumor bird" flying around Capitol Hill that has whispered the same thing to most congressional committee chairmen. "We all know that Dick Cheney has been the best vice president of modern times, perhaps in American history," one such chairman told Wheeler. "And we know that he...

February 20, 2005

Kerry Refuses To Leave The Party After It's Over

Anyone who holds dinner parties on a regular basis has experienced the phenomenon of the Guest Who Would Not Leave at least once. Long after all the other attendees have gone home, they continue to pontificate despite the hosts' desire to simply go to bed and start again fresh the next day. Hints don't help, and neither does feigning illness. Only a demonstration of direct will to remove the guest from the defunct event gets the hosts off the hook. So it goes with John Kerry, the final guest to leave the 2004 election party, and the Democrats may have to gather the intestinal fortitude to explain to the Massachusetts Senator that he has to go: Since losing in November, the Massachusetts Democrat has delivered a series of speeches on healthcare, electoral reform and military preparedness. He helped lead the unsuccessful opposition to Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's pick for secretary...

Judas Preacher

The New York Times ran an article today based on conversations surreptitiously taped by a one-time preacher for the Assembly of God (according to a Fox News report) between himself and George W. Bush while the latter served as Governor of Texas. Douglas Wead used the tapes to write a book about his one-time friend and also to corroborate a passage that had come under criticism. Wead allowed the Times to listen to selected passages from these tapes, of which according to the Times the President remained unaware until the Times contacted the White House. Now, with no elections in Bush's future, nothing in the tapes released appear to damage him, and in fact show that Bush truly had concerns with the conservative urge to attack gays: Early on, though, Mr. Bush appeared most worried that Christian conservatives would object to his determination not to criticize gay people. "I think...

February 21, 2005

WaPo Editorial On Campaign Finance: Hair Of The Dog

Today's Washington Post editorial on campaign finance starts out promising, acknowledging that the current system has broken down so badly that -- like a car -- one wonders whether to fix it or junk it altogether. Unfortunately, as with cars, the Post allows its sentimental attachment to thirty years of disastrous post-Watergate government meddling that it opts for more repairs instead of junking the Edsel. Take, for example, their penultimate paragraph and their favorite proposal for "overhauling" campaign-finance rules. And don't forget to bring a map to follow along: The most powerful argument in favor of the current system, or some version of it, is helping less well-funded candidates compete for attention. Two members of the Federal Election Commission, Republican Michael Toner and Democrat Scott Thomas, have proposed raising the primary spending ceiling to as high as $200 million and letting candidates receive as much as $100 million in matching...

Gray Lady Incoherent On Public Broadcasting

The New York Times wrote an editorial on the slow demise of PBS that has to be read to be disbelieved. It argues that Bill Moyers is a centrist and that the problem with this government-financed program is too much accountability and not enough financing: Since its beginnings more than three decades ago, public television has served its audience best as an independent, creative medium, and its goal has been to avoid political and commercial taint. Now, the Public Broadcasting Service, that loose network of 349 public stations, is under assault politically and economically. The need for money to pay for expensive shows has driven it to sell commercial time, and as a result, each year offers less relief from the noisy commercialism on other channels. How can a government program ever be called "independent"? By that measure, Armstrong Williams is an independent voice among the punditry, having been freed...

John Edwards Won't Defer To Kerry In 2008

Showing that he learned a lesson from Al Gore's backstab of Joe Lieberman in the last election cycle, John Edwards told ABC that while he and John Kerry remained close, he would not defer to his former running mate in 2008 if Kerry decided to run again for the presidency: Former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards will not talk about whether he plans to run for the White House in 2008, but he is not pledging to stand aside if former running mate Sen. John F. Kerry tries again. ... "Not only are John Kerry and I friends, our families are close," Edwards said. "I have enormous respect for him. But I'll decide what's the right thing to do based on what's going on with my own family." Last time, Lieberman held off announcing his candidacy while Gore sat around growing his beard and transforming himself into a radical...

February 24, 2005

Wead Slinks Off-Stage

Doug Wead, who surreptitiously taped phone conversations with George W. Bush over a period of two years and began selectively releasing them this week, has had a sudden change of heart after receiving overwhelming, and justified, criticism. Wead now says he'll give the tapes to the White House and has begun cancelling media appearances, according to the New York Times: "My thanks to those who have let me share my heart and regrets about recent events," Mr. Wead wrote in the statement, posted on his Web site Wednesday. "Contrary to a statement that I made to The New York Times, I know very well that personal relationships are more important than history." Mr. Wead, an author who drew on the tapes obliquely for one page in his recently published book, "The Raising of a President: The Mothers and Fathers of Our Nation's Leaders," said, "I am asking my attorney to...

February 25, 2005

Chait Picks Wrong Example For Argument

Jonathan Chait takes on the Bush Administration by claiming that it turns its former associates-cum-critics into Stepford Wives, zombie-like creatures who follow set patterns of behavior after renouncing their heresies and slowly lurching into the sunset. Unfortunately for Chait's rather silly analysis, he relies on Doug Wead as a fulcrum for his point, which causes it to collapse rather quickly: Earlier this week, Wead was proclaiming that he made his tapes of Bush public for the sake of "history." Perhaps the large pile of money he stood to gain from his forthcoming book also factored into his decision. But within a couple days he was desperately backpedaling. On Wednesday, he announced that "I have come to realize that personal relationships are more important than history." He pledged to direct all book profits to charity and to hand the tapes over to Bush. Most presidents have to face betrayal sooner or...

Colin Powell, Unbound

Colin Powell has given one of his most extensive interviews after his resignation last month as Secretary of State, and the London Telegraph publishes it in tomorrow's edition. While Powell talks about several of the controversial moments of his term at State, he pointedly refused to discuss his thoughts about President George Bush, out of loyalty and a sense that his proximity still is too close to comment. The most controversial part of the interview comes in Powell's response to the WMD question. Powell leaves no doubt that he feels personally stained by the failure to find WMD, but he insists the administration's belief was genuine: And now Colin Powell becomes more direct: "I'm very sore. I'm the one who made the television moment. I was mightily disappointed when the sourcing of it all became very suspect and everything started to fall apart. "The problem was stockpiles. None have been...

February 28, 2005

The Party Of Abortion, Imposed On You By Hollywood

Rhode Island Democrats and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committe have focused on a candidate to challenge liberal Republican Lincoln Chaffee in next year's elections. Congressman Jim Langevin appeals most to Rhode Island voters, the DSCC has determined, and they have decided to work with him to unseat Chaffee. However, a group of people 3,000 miles away has decided that Langevin does not toe the abortion line sufficient to their tastes and have decided to inject themselves into Rhode Island politics. Guess where they live? Victoria Hopper, wife of the actor Dennis Hopper, enlisted 16 actors, producers and philanthropists to sign a letter objecting to the potential candidacy of Representative Jim Langevin, who is being recruited for the 2006 race by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The letter writers say they support the primary candidacy of Matt Brown, Rhode Island's secretary of state, for the seat now held by Lincoln Chafee,...

March 2, 2005

Byrd Compares Republicans To Nazis On Senate Floor

Senator Robert Byrd, defending the minority's right to filibuster on the Senate floor today, wound up his speech by comparing Republican efforts to eliminate the hijacking of the Senate on the Constitutional duty of confirming federal judges to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Not only did Byrd imply that the GOP equates to the worst mass murderers of the 20th century, he's so proud of doing so he's posted the speech to his own website: Many times in our history we have taken up arms to protect a minority against the tyrannical majority in other lands. We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolinis Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men. But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitlers dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Law....

March 3, 2005

McCain-Feingold May Shut Down CQ

I have long railed against the back-door First Amendment violations of the McCain-Feingold Act, which purports to reform campaign financing but in reality acts to criminalize political speech. Now Federal Election Commissioner Bradley Smith explains exactly how MFA could mean the end of political blogging, as we get intimidated by the massive legal requirements that MFA might impose on CQ and other sites: Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over. In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines. Smith should know. He's one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial...

March 4, 2005

Texas Radio Stands With Blogosphere

Instapundit links to an expression of support for bloggers of all political stripes this morning from Dan Patrick of KSEV 700 AM and the blog Lone Star Times. Dan writes: LoneStarTimes.com is affiliated with KSEV 700 AM, an independently owned talk-radio station in Houston, TX. As such, we believe that we enjoy the "broadcast exemption" that prohibits the federal government from regulating our speech in the manner they are proposing for "mere" citizen bloggers. While we still need to talk to some sharp lawyers and nail down the details, if these restrictions come to pass, KSEV and LST are committed to working out a legally sound way in which individual bloggers of every ideological persuasion and partisan affiliation can somehow register with us and be credentialed as a press representative of KSEV and LST. Like Raoul Wallenberg handing out passports, we will start issuing press credentials to any blogger that...

McCain & Co. Counterattack, But Don't Disclose Previous Interests

Democracy Project notes that the campaign-finance reformers have come out to meet the blogswarm forming around Bradley Smith's revelations about the FEC and their new drive to regulate Internet speech as part of their "reforms". They now claim that Smith overstated the issue, that he has partisan motivations, and that he has always opposed campaign-finance reform anyway. However, here's what they don't tell you about those who are leading this counterattack: Let's say you favor, either through conviction or employment demands, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, commonly known as McCain-Feingold. You're stunned by a blogswarm born of a candid interview one of the commissioners of the FEC grants to an Internet publication. What do you do? Send out a press release written by a man who served on Al Gore's legal team during the Florida recount controversy in 2000, perhaps? A man who's employed by a lobbying firm...

An Open Letter To The United States Senate

Following the example of CQ reader Erp, I wrote a letter to Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold, and copied all 98 other Senators to express my outrage over the direction that the FEC has been forced to take in regulating political speech on the Internet. I encourage you to get involved and do the same, in your own words, in order to serve notice that we will not allow them to silence us. To the honorable Senators McCain and Feingold, et al: I have read with considerable dismay the effect that your recent lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission, upheld by Judge Colleen Kollar-Ketelly, will have on political speech on the Internet. I write a political media-watchdog blog, Captain's Quarters, which enjoys a not-insubstantial daily readership. No one pays me to do this; I operate my site and write on topics purely from personal convictions and a deep desire...

Bradley Smith/NRA News Interview At Redstate

Redstate has a transcript of FEC commissioner Bradley Smith's interview with Cam Edwards of NRA News. Smith explains why the ruling in their courtroom loss could mean bad news for bloggers: CS: Well, let me tell you some of the potential ramifications. I mean, some of the folks now, uh McCain and some of his allies, are out saying, Well, this would only apply to paid ads. Thats juthe FEC already treats paid ads as subject to the act. But nothing in the judges decision limits it to paid advertising, and it, she says anything thats coordinated, for sure we have to regulate. Now, what is coordinated under FEC regulations? Any republication of campaign material counts as a coordinated complication. That means, for a blogger, if you put up anything, or ah, from a campaign onto the blogsite, thats going to be republication of campaign material. If you get an...

Day By Day In The Age Of McCain-Feingold

Chris Muir gets it, as usual: Even in silence, Chris speaks volumes....

March 5, 2005

NY Times Reports On FEC Rulemaking

The New York Times reported the ongoing controversy over the FEC's requirement to regulate political speech over the Internet, heavily borrowing from Bradley Smith's C-NET interview and the rebuttal from the Democratic commissioners. However, their rebuttals did not explicitly rule out regulation, and in fact Ellen Weintraub's comments leave enough loophole room for a Mack truck. Anne Kornblut covers the outlines of the controversy but provides little analysis, allowing the dueling commissioners to define the problem: Anyone who decides to "set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet" could be subject to Federal Election Commission regulation, Bradley A. Smith, a Republican commissioner, said in an interview posted Thursday on the technology news site Cnet.com. "It becomes a really complex issue that would strike deep into the heart of the Internet and the bloggers who are writing out there today,"...

March 7, 2005

Unions Choose Politics Over Membership

The AFL-CIO has decided to double its budget for electoral politics instead of investing $35 million into organizing efforts, despite a precipitous drop in membership rolls that goes back decades, the Washington Post reports this morning. The decision comes after a bitter debate between two factions of leadership which threatens the unity of the fifty-year-old organization: AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney last week won the latest round in a bitter internal clash over the future of the labor movement by insisting that more money go for future campaigns to unseat Republicans than for trying to shore up the federation's sagging membership. That showdown pitted Sweeney, AFSCME's Gerald McEntee and the Steelworkers' Leo Gerard against such powerhouse dissidents as the Teamsters' James P. Hoffa, the Service Employees' Andrew L. Stern and the Laborers' Terence M. O'Sullivan. ... By a 2 to 1 margin, the AFL-CIO's executive committee last week rejected the...

Council On Foreign Relations, Coming To A Theater Near You

The Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank with an impressive name if not necessarily an equally impressive track record, has decided to choose celebrity over cerebra. According to Al Kamen at the Washington Post, the CFR welcomes the following distinguished thinkers into their policy-wonk chambers: The venerable Council on Foreign Relations' list of new members, in addition to the usual diplomats, academics, Hill folk and media suspects, includes Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Warren Beatty and Mike Medavoy. The most surprising aspect of those links showing political donations are how cheap most Hollywood celebrities are. Richard Dreyfuss made no donations at all during the 2004 cycle despite his rhetoric about George Bush and the evil of Republicanism, and only Michael Douglas spent more than a few grand. If the CFR expected the Hollywood crowd to pick up a few dinner tabs with their new memberships, they will be sorely disappointed....

March 8, 2005

Screaming Hypocrisy: NYT

The New York Times has signaled that Senator John McCain can expect no media blackout of his apparent conflict between his reformer persona and the coordination involving his action on behalf of Cablevision and their $200K donations to the Reform Institute. In an article that manages to almost completely miss the Cablevision connection, McCain still comes across as a hypocrite, raising big money for his pet causes through the supposedly independent 501(c)3 that employs his chief political advisor, Rick Davis: In a small office a few miles from Capitol Hill, a handful of top advisers to Senator John McCain run a quiet campaign. They promote his crusade against special interest money in politics. They send out news releases promoting his initiatives. And they raise money - hundreds of thousands of dollars, tapping some McCain backers for more than $50,000 each. This may look like the headquarters of a nascent McCain...

March 12, 2005

Rice Tempers Presidential Fever For GOP

Condoleezza Rice gave an extended interview to the Washington Times editorial board yesterday, and Bill Sammon reports that while Rice didn't specifically rule out a presidential run in 2008, she certainly didn't endorse the notion either. However, the Republican base may have second thoughts about Rice at the top of a ticket after hearing her center-right views on abortion that can best be described as somewhere between Rudy Giuliani and the Vatican: "I have enormous respect for people who do run for office. It's really hard for me to imagine myself in that role." She was then pressed on whether she would rule out a White House bid by reprising Gen. William T. Sherman's 1884 declaration: "If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve." "Well, that's not fair," she protested with a chuckle. "The last thing I can I really can't imagine it." I don't...

March 16, 2005

Democrats And Kristof Still Don't Get It

The latest fad sweeping the Left, the magic bean that supposedly will grow the Great Electoral Beanstalk, is "re-branding". Fittingly, John Kerry started this notion in post-election strategy sessions, where he correctly noted that the Democrats appeared to have lost the mainstream of American thought. However, instead of finding candidates who consistently represent that mainstream, re-branding just means having the same people who pushed the party out of the mainstream suddenly shift their positions back. In today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof heartily endorses this strategy and nominates Hillary Clinton as the movement's avatar: If the Democratic Party wants to figure out how to win national elections again, it has an unexpected guide: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Senator Clinton, much more than most in her party, understands how the national Democratic Party needs to rebrand itself. She gets it - perhaps that's what 17 years in socially conservative Arkansas does to...

Moonbat Lemmings, Leftward March

Michelle Malkin has an excellent column today on plans by anti-war protestors to mark the second anniversary of the liberation of Iraq by staging protests all over the country this weekend. As Michelle notes, reality has no application for people who can't see a purple-stained finger for the victory it represents for freedom -- the same freedom that allows them to march in irresponsible protests such as these: With freedom on the move across the Middle East and beyond, aggrieved anti-war protesters here in the United States have nothing better to do this weekend than what they have always done: stand in the way. The most unhinged of left-wing activists, from breast-exposing pacifists to the conspiracy-mongers of MoveOn.org, will descend on New York, Washington and other major media markets to "mark the two-year anniversary of the U.S. bombing and invasion of Iraq." They will do so by clogging the streets,...

March 17, 2005

Two Clueless Editorials On Wolfowitz, And NYT Tears Down That Wall!

The New York Times and the Washington Post both editorialize on the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. The Times, following its reporting that trumpets the controversial nature of both Wolfowitz' move and the nomination of John Bolton to the UN, declares that the nomination disrespects the bruised feelings of the international community: When asked why he had nominated Paul Wolfowitz, a chief architect of the Iraq invasion, as the next president of the World Bank, President Bush repeatedly pointed out that as deputy defense secretary, Mr. Wolfowitz had managed a large organization. Even he seemed slightly flummoxed about why a job that is all about international cooperation should go to a man whose work has so outraged many of the nations with which he will be expected to work. Even those who supported the goals of the invasion must remember Mr. Wolfowitz's scathing contempt for estimates...

Investing in Realignment

In a recent Opinion Journal column, pollster John Zogby presents intriguing stats on the election pattern of the so-called "investor class." The participants were asked two questions "Do you consider yourself to be a member of the investor class" and "Who did you vote for?" According to Zogby, self-identified investors comprised 46% of the total vote in November 2004, and 61% of those individuals voted for President Bush. The "investors" Zogby refers to does not simply mean day traders on Wall Street, rather the term includes individuals who are simply saving money for retirement or a college education for their offspring. Zogby therefore predicts that regardless of whether the president wins regarding Social Security reform, his vision of an "ownership society" could spark a significant realignment in favor of the GOP. He concludes: To the president and Republicans: You may lose the battle over Social Security personal accounts, but ultimately...

March 18, 2005

Look Who Gets Social Security Choice

Ben Smith reports in today's New York Observer that while the Empire State's two Democratic Senators remain staunch foes of President Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security, other Democrats in NYC have already transferred all of their funds into private accounts. Not only have they seen their investments grow, but at least one of them plans to demand full Social Security benefits despite not having paid into the system: The New York City program, which replaces Social Security entirely, goes much further than the "personal accounts" that President Bush has been pushing, which would be only a partial substitute for Social Security. New Yorks program has existed for more than a decade without attention or controversy, despite offering a useful counterpoint to the deeply polarized national debate. It is available to about 20,000 city government managers, political appointees and elected officials, although relatively few take advantage of it. Mr....

Barbara Boxer: Ex-Klansman "Love Of My Life"

One would think that after watching Trent Lott self-destruct while toasting former Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday, politicians would take care with their public statements supporting fellow party members with shady pasts. Barbara Boxer apparently didn't take any lessons from Lott's fall from grace, as she described former Klan member fellow Democrat Robert Byrd as "the love of my life" at yesterday's MoveOn appearance: Finally, Boxer made a strong effort to address the uncomfortable fact that she once, in 1994, opposed the filibuster, back when Democrats controlled the Senate and were less concerned about minority power. Now, like Byrd whom she called "the love of my life" she has had a change of heart and believes the filibuster is vitally important. "I thought I knew everything," Boxer confessed. "I didn't get it." "I'm here to say I was wrong," she continued. "I'm here to say I...

March 30, 2005

Photo IDs The New Form Of Jim Crow?

Three states have begun debating the need for better identification at polling places during elections, especially after seeing the voting debacles in Washington and Wisconsin. Seeing how a driver's license or a state-issued photo ID has become necessary for almost any business transaction in modern life, one might expect such a mundane requirement to attract little passion, let alone serious opposition. However, lawmakers in two of the three states -- Indiana and Georgia -- walked off the job and out of the debate in protest, and Wisconsin's governor again threatened to veto any legislation requiring identification at the polls: Legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting ballots has touched off fierce debate in three states, with opponents complaining the measures represent a return to the days of poll taxes and Jim Crow. Lawmakers in Georgia and Indiana walked off the job to protest the proposals, which...

March 31, 2005

TNR: Bush Deserves More Credit For Democracy's Spread

The New Republic's Martin Peretz ventures into nearly uncharted territory for the Left, even the center-Left, in the latest edition of TNR. He argues that George Bush deserves more credit for tranforming the Middle East than given him by the media and punditry, and takes them to task for their "churlishness": If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he did. And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway,...

Berger Cops To Misdemeanor

Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton's former National Security Advisor, will plead guilty to a single misdemeanor tomorrow for taking a raft of classified documents out of the National Archives just ahead of the 9/11 Commission's investigation: Former national security adviser Sandy Berger will plead guilty to taking classified material from the National Archives, a misdemeanor, the Justice Department said Thursday. ... The former Clinton administration official previously acknowledged he removed from the National Archives copies of documents about the government's anti-terror efforts and notes that he took on those documents. He said he was reviewing the materials to help determine which Clinton administration documents to provide to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. He called the episode "an honest mistake," and denied criminal wrongdoing. Sorry, that explanation simply doesn't fly. As anyone who has ever held a clearance can testify, the security briefings regularly delivered to cleared...

April 1, 2005

The $21 Million Report

Remember Henry Cisneros? He served on Bill Clinton's Cabinet until 1999, when he pled guilty to lying to FBI investigators about paying off his mistress. Cisneros coughed up a $10,000 fine for the crime and left politics. However, the independent-counsel investigation his corruption touched off still continues to this day, and has racked up over $21 million in costs -- over a million of which was spent in the last half of 2004: Nearly a decade after he was appointed to investigate then-Housing Secretary Henry G. Cisneros, independent counsel David M. Barrett spent more than $1.26 million of federal money in the last six months of fiscal 2004, the Government Accountability Office reported yesterday. Since its inception, the Cisneros investigation has cost nearly $21 million, a total rivaling some of the largest independent counsel investigations in history. Much of the money has gone for pay and benefits, travel, rent and...

'It Was Not Inadvertent'

Today's more detailed report on Sandy Berger's plea deal in the Washington Post underscores the intent of Berger to hide and destroy information that would either embarass or incriminate himself or Bill Clinton before the 9/11 Commission could gain access to it. Far from the "accidental" removal he insisted occurred, Berger now admits to intentionally removing and destroying classified material, a condition of his plea bargain: The deal's terms make clear that Berger spoke falsely last summer in public claims that in 2003 he twice inadvertently walked off with copies of a classified document during visits to the National Archives, then later lost them. He described the episode last summer as "an honest mistake." Yesterday, a Berger associate who declined to be identified by name but was speaking with Berger's permission said: "He recognizes what he did was wrong. . . . It was not inadvertent." In return, the government...

Left Descends To Food Fights

The American Left, having apparently run out of rhetorical gas and losing every argument it makes on foreign and domestic policy, now has opted for food fights to stop debates. Pat Buchanon became the latest target of the Left's childishness at a Western Michigan University debate: Commentator and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan cut short an appearance after an opponent of his conservative views doused him with salad dressing. "Stop the bigotry!" the demonstrator shouted as he hurled the liquid Thursday night during the program at Western Michigan University. The incident came just two days after another noted conservative, William Kristol, was struck by a pie during an appearance at a college in Indiana. After he was hit, Buchanan cut short his question-and-answer session with the audience, saying, "Thank you all for coming, but I'm going to have to get my hair washed." If the attacks weren't so pathetic, they'd...

April 4, 2005

John Bolton Gets Petitions Of Support

John Bolton received public support for his nomination as the American ambassador to the UN, with 64 former defense strategists and arms-control specialists signing an open letter to Senator Richard Lugar. Led by luminaries such as Caspar Weinberger, James Woolsey, and Frank Gaffney, they argue that the 62 Bolton critics who sent a letter opposing his nomination have other motives in mind: Caspar W. Weinberger, a former secretary of defense, R. James Woolsey, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and 64 other retired arms control specialists and diplomats are lined up in support of John R. Bolton, whose nomination to be the American ambassador to the United Nations has stirred some opposition. In a letter planned for delivery on Monday to Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Indiana Republican who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, other committee members and Congressional leaders, they said the attack on...

April 6, 2005

NYT Plays Numbers Games With DeLay

The headline certainly sounds damning: "Political Groups Paid Two Relatives Of House Leader", a bold-type come-on that attracts the eye nicely. Philip Shenon's lead paragraph presses the case even more urgently, using a nice, large sum to get the readers' attention. But once one reads past the first couple of paragraphs -- and uses their elementary-school math -- one realizes that not only does the Gray Lady have nothing unusual to report, but that she's playing games with the numbers. Let's take a look at the lead first: The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas. Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and...

Jimmy Karma

With the unprecedented announcement that President Bush would attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II, small notice was given to the fact that not every living ex-President would travel along with Bush to the Vatican. Bush's father and Bill Clinton -- the political Odd Couple these days -- were selected to attend, but Jimmy Carter got left off the list. (Gerald Ford is considered too frail for extended travel now.) Carter eventually griped publicly about the snub, but as the Prowler explains, he can hardly claim to be surprised after his actions over the past four years: According to White House sources, Carter's representatives, apparently from the former president's Carter Center, reached out to the White House over the weekend and offered to lead the U.S. delegation should the President or other senior Bush administration officials not be able to attend. "There was no misunderstanding. It wasn't Carter who...

Schiavo Memo Author Fesses Up, Resigns

After two weeks of guesswork and poorly sourced media releases, the Washington Post's Mike Allen reports tonight that the author of the idiotic Schiavo talking-points memo has confessed to his authorship of the document. Brian Darling, legal counsel to GOP Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, tendered his resignation along with his confession, both of which Martinez immediately accepted: The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night. Brian Darling, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group on gun rights and other issues, offered his resignation and it was immediately accepted, Martinez said. Martinez said he earlier had been assured by aides that his office had nothing to do with producing the memo. "I never did an investigation, as...

April 10, 2005

Hillary's Move To The Middle Pays Off

A new poll by Rassmussen shows that Hillary Clinton's efforts to recast herself as a centrist has paid dividends. As Dana Milbank reports in today's Washington Post, Americans viewing Hillary as 'liberal' have dropped by eight points: A poll by Rasmussen Reports finds that the number of Americans viewing the former first lady as a liberal dropped from 51 to 43 percent in January. The number regarding her as moderate rose from 27 to 34 percent. After watching John Kerry get shredded over his liberal voting record in the Senate, especially on late-term abortions, Clinton and other Democrats (including Kerry) told their party that they had to find a way to moderate their views on abortion and religion if they wanted to connect to mainstream America again. Clinton immediately put this strategy into effect, talking about her faith in fairly generic terms and bemoaning abortions without ever taking a position...

April 14, 2005

Connecticut Gets It Right

In the long-running debate about gay marriage, the primary issue for conservatives across the board has been the ability of the courts to impose edicts ordering legislatures to provide it regardless of the sense of the people in each state. Massachusetts provided the first example of this; California may soon follow. Efforts to define marriage and civil-union issues in the legislatures in response are the constitutional and common-sense alternative, and Connecticut should be congratulated for allowing its representative government to resolve the issues equitably: Connecticut's House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that would make the state the second to establish civil unions for same-sex couples, and the first to do so without being directed by a court. The state Senate overwhelmingly approved a civil-unions bill last week, and lawmakers said they expect to endorse the House version as early as next week. Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) said Wednesday that...

April 19, 2005

More Republican Disarray In Senate

As if the constant retreat on judicial nominations didn't demonstrate the lack of effective GOP leadership in the Senate clearly enough, today's embarassment at the Foreign Relations Committee certainly underscored the fecklessness of the Republicans in garnering effective support for the President's agenda and nominees. Today's victim left twisting in the wind was played by John Bolton, and the role of Brutus was filled by George Voinovich (R-OH): The Senate Foreign Relations Committee delayed a scheduled vote Tuesday on President Bush's pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations when a Republican member balked at voting during a contentious hearing. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the committee's Republican chairman, had pushed for a vote on John Bolton's nomination Tuesday afternoon. That plan was derailed after a member of the panel's Republican majority joined Democrats in seeking a delay so the committee could consider new allegations about Bolton's conduct. "I've heard...

April 20, 2005

The Petty Scams Of TSA

After watching the corruption scandals of the Canadians and now the French, new allegations of abuse and theft at the Transportation Security Administration seem almost amatuerish and strangely unambitious. However, as CNN reports, it also demonstrates an agency that bloated almost overnight into a poorly-managed mess, with deep implications for national security: A Transportation Security Administration official spent $500,000 on art, silk plants and other decorations for a new operations center and then went to work for the vendor after leaving the agency, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. ... The inspector general found that the project manager and other TSA employees routinely violated agency policies to buy furniture, leather briefcases, coffee pots and other items. They concealed purchases of more than $2,500, including one for $47,449, by splitting them into several credit card transactions, the report said. The report said that higher-ups at...

April 28, 2005

NAACP Internal Report Concludes Mfume Cronyism Allegation 'Difficult To Defend'

Kweisi Mfume, former NAACP president, faces a scandal just as his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Maryland's open Senate seat gets launched. Mfume, who wants to replace Democrat Paul Sarbanes, has been accused of misusing his position at the civil-rights organization to assist women he reportedly either had inappropriate relationships or harassed in a sexual manner. According to the Washington Post, an internal NAACP report says that such allegations will be "difficult to defend" given the evidence presented: Members of the NAACP executive committee first saw the report detailing the allegations against Mfume at an October meeting in Washington, about a month before Mfume announced his decision to step down. The document has been a closely guarded secret -- one board member said the copies that were distributed were numbered and collected after the meeting. Most members reached this week declined to discuss it. The document was intended as...

Finally, An Energy Policy Worth Pursuing

George Bush spoke out yesterday about energy policy for a new push to get a comprehensive energy bill passed for the first time since his first election to the White House. Bush made an attempt yesterday to take his case directly to the people in order to press Congress to get past the gridlock and get some basic work accomplished to address the pressing needs for energy production in the US: President Bush presented a plan on Wednesday to offer federal risk insurance to companies that build nuclear power plants and to encourage the construction of oil refineries on closed military bases in the United States. Mr. Bush also proposed giving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the authority to choose sites for new terminals to receive liquid natural gas from overseas. ... "This problem did not develop overnight, and it's not going to be fixed overnight," Mr. Bush said in...

April 29, 2005

I'm Sorry You Paid Attention To Me

Coloradans who elected Ken Salazar thinking that he portrayed himself honestly as a moderate must have been shocked when he donned the mantle of theological expert this week and declared Dr. James Dobson the Anti-Christ. After waiting a couple of days for a miracle to deliver him unto the Lord, the Right Reverend Salazar finally figured out that his days as a prophet were numbered and offered perhaps this year's lamest apology in politics: Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar said Wednesday that he regretted calling Focus on the Family "the anti-Christ," saying he had misspoken. Salazar uttered the theological term, popularized in the 1970s movie "The Omen," in an interview with a Colorado Springs television station about his war of words with the conservative Christian group. "From my point of view, they are the anti-Christ of the world," Salazar told the station. Salazar, a first-term Democrat, said he was intending to...

Democrats Embrace Faith As A Strategy

In a dramatic shift of rhetoric, the Senate Minority Leader has indicated that Democrats will embrace faith as an electoral strategy for the 2006 electoral cycle ... as long as God coughs up a supernatural event or six: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid raised a few eyebrows yesterday on the Senate floor when he said it would take a "miracle" for Democrats to win enough races next year to take back the Senate. "I would like to think a miracle would happen and we would pick up five seats this time," he said during a floor debate over the filibusters of President Bush's judicial nominees. "I guess miracles never cease." How hypocritical can the Democrats get? For the past two and a half years, they have blocked executive nominations involving people of faith as "extremists" and "out of the mainstream". Senators thunder about the impending theocracy of the GOP majority,...

Stanley Kurtz Understands The Left's Attack On Faith

I wrote two essays today regarding the attack on religious belief by the secular Left in today's politics. From judicial nominees to citizens speaking their minds, the Left has gone on the offensive to portray religious belief as a kind of fascism, with citizens espousing traditional values as proponents of an American theocracy. Stanley Kurtz writes at length about this same phenomenon in National Review Online, specifically taking on Chris Hedges' article in Harper's about how Christians have supposedly declared war on America: Hedges is worried about extreme Christian theocrats called Dominionists. Hes got little to say about who these Dominionists are, and he qualifies his vague characterizations by noting in passing that not all Dominionists would accept the label or admit their views publicly. That little move allows Hedges to paint a highly questionable picture of a virtually faceless and nameless Dominionist Christian mass. Hedges seems to be worried...

May 1, 2005

Organizing The 'Theocracy' Witch Hunt In New York

As further evidence of the Left's efforts to chase the religious from all public debate, a conclave of secular humanists and Leftists have gathered in New York to strategize on the further marginalization of religious belief, issuing dire warnings of the impending secular Apocalypse by theistic Anti-Christs. The Washington Post reports that Democratic politicians, People for the American Way, and assorted anti-religious groups have assembled to hiss at pictures of Bill Frist, among other activities: Secular humanists and leftist activists convened here over the weekend to strategize how to counter what they contend is a growing political threat from Christian conservatives. Understanding and answering the "religious far right" that propelled President Bush's re-election is key to preventing a "theocracy" from governing the nation, speakers argued at a weekend conference. "The religious right now has an unprecedented influence on American politics and policy," said Ralph White, co-founder of the Open Center,...

May 3, 2005

House Ethics Violations: Not Just For GOP Any More

The attempt to ensnare House Majority Whip Tom DeLay in ethics violations may be backfiring on House Democrats, whose own ethical closets have a skeleton or two making an appearance. Two Democratic Congressmen have accepted travel money from the same lobbyist that involved one of DeLay's aides, and now Democratic outrage has given way to a series of rationalizations: At least two aides to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and two Democratic congressmen received travel expenses initially paid by lobbyist Jack Abramoff on his credit card or by his firm, internal records of the lobbying firm show. Longtime House ethics rules that applied to the 1996 and 1997 trips to the Northern Mariana Islands have strictly prohibited lawmakers and their staffs from accepting any congressional trips from lobbyists or their firms. DeLay's office and one of the lawmakers, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said they had no knowledge that Abramoff or...

May 4, 2005

GOP: Pelosi Silence On Democratic Ethics Issues 'Hypocritical'

After spending weeks screeching about the alleged ethical abuses of Republican Whip Tom DeLay, Congressional Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suddenly came down with a case of laryngitis when several Democrats were found to have the same problems as DeLay in their travel arrangements. The GOP now wants Pelosi to back the same investigations for these Democrats as she demanded for DeLay, and calls her silence "hypocritical": House Republicans called Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a hypocrite yesterday for not demanding investigations into new ethics questions that have arisen about the travel of her fellow Democrats. "She demanded an investigation into [Majority Leader] Tom DeLay, but hasn't said a word about these Democrats who have done the same thing," said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican. "If she doesn't call for investigations into her fellow Democrats, then it's clear she's being a hypocrite." Republicans are wondering why the California representative won't...

May 6, 2005

Open Mouth, Insert Foot, Repeat As Desired

As if the Democrats couldn't look more foolish than they already have this session, now Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has taken to calling George Bush names while the President represents the US at World War II memorials around Europe. Reid called Bush a "loser", in what has to be the oddest case of projection so far this year: In the course of a discussion on filibusters and Senate rules, Washington's top Democrat gave the 60 juniors a lesson in partisan politics, particularly about the commander in chief. "The man's father is a wonderful human being," Reid said in response to a question about President Bush's policies. "I think this guy is a loser. "I think President Bush is doing a bad job," he added to a handful of chuckles. He's a loser, eh? Let's take stock: A. He beat an incumbent VP for a popular President after two terms...

May 7, 2005

The Ghost Of Elections Past

Someone should tell John Kerry that the election is over. Today's New York Times has a profile of the erstwhile candidate, turning around a moribund and singularly unaccomplished 20-year Senate career by pushing a new government program of health insurance for kids in our St. Paul back yard. The reason for this sudden interest in legislation -- Kerry notoriously only has six pieces of legislation to his name after two decades in Congress -- is rather obvious to everyone, even Sheryl Stolberg: More than an ordinary senator, less than a presidential nominee, Mr. Kerry is a politician betwixt and between. He has more than $8 million in the bank and an e-mail list of three million supporters, yet must still prove himself to fellow Democrats, keeping his presidential prospects alive even as he insists it is too soon to talk about 2008. Mr. Kerry has made children's health care his...

May 9, 2005

Inside Out, The (New) John Kerry Story

The Boston Globe reports that John Kerry has transformed himself into that most hackneyed of political clichs, the "outsider" candidate, despite having spent the last twenty years in Washington DC. Using the hilarious notion of turning a twenty-year career in the Senate into outsider street cred, Kerry insists on firing up crowds by talking about how Washington ignores the little people: Gone was his stump speech railing against President Bush's Iraq war policy, the sluggish economy, and the Republican agenda; even mentions of Kerry's Senate career and Vietnam War service had disappeared. Instead, Kerry -- a veteran politician who has held office for 21 years -- took off his suit jacket and roamed a small stage in Louisiana's Old State Capitol to push a new message: Get angry at Washington. ''Washington seems more and more out of touch with the difficulties the average family is facing," Kerry told the crowd...

May 10, 2005

Schumer Eats His Words

If Charles Schumer wanted to turn public opinion against George Bush in the rhetorical battle over judicial nominations, his efforts have backfired on him, if the AP gives any indication. After Schumer's radio address decried Republican rhetoric for being "harsh", the wire ssrvice (through MS-NBC) reports today on Minority Leader Harry Reid instead as unprecedented in his personal attacks: In an institution that prides itself as a last bastion of civility, the Senates new Democratic leader has on occasion turned to playground taunts and name-calling in his four-month tenure. After accusing President Bush of lying about his role in a fight over judicial filibusters, Sen. Harry Reid last week called the president a loser. And Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan? Hes a political hack, according to the formerly soft-spoken Nevada Democrat. ... Late last month, Reid complained that Vice President Dick Cheneys pledge to break a tie if necessary and...

May 15, 2005

Will Wal-Mart Spoil Democratic Unity?

The Washington Post reports that one of the largest and most powerful unions in politics has attacked the Congressional Black Caucus for its engagement with Wal-Mart, the nation's largest employer of African-Americans. The SEIU has long targeted the world's largest retailer for what it calls worker exploitation, but the CBC has cozied up to Wal-Mart instead: The Service Employees International Union has angered a number of African American House members by protesting Wal-Mart's involvement in a Congressional Black Caucus fundraiser. The conflict between two mainstays of the Democratic Party began after Anna Burger, SEIU secretary-treasurer, wrote caucus members "to express our disappointment that the Congressional Black Caucus has given Wal-Mart an opportunity to fashion a false image as a friend of African Americans and of working people generally." SEIU and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sponsored an April 27 caucus fundraiser. The union has criticized Wal-Mart's personnel practices as anti-labor. Caucus member...

May 16, 2005

GOP Outreach To African-Americans Continues

The Washington Times notes that GOP chairman Ken Mehlman continues to perform quietly (in relation to Howard Dean) but effectively in his outreach towards the African-American community. In a sign of increasing success, Mehlman's efforts resulted in the conversion of a key Pennsylvanian politician, touching off concern at the national level for Democrats: City Councilman Otto Banks, the biggest vote-getter in Harrisburg, Pa., held a campaign fundraiser in the Pennsylvania state capital Friday with the help of Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman that sent new fears rippling through Democratic ranks. Mr. Banks, 33, a political newcomer, stunned Harrisburg's black community when he left the Democratic Party in March to become a Republican, starting what Mr. Mehlman and other Republican officials say they hope will become a realignment trend that will consign the Democrats to permanent minority status. Mr. Mehlman said Friday that he met with Mr. Banks before the party...

May 18, 2005

More On GOP Outreach To Black Communities

Yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer also noticed that Ken Mehlman has been working quietly to develop new ties to the African-American community, as I noted Monday as a contrast to Howard Dean's stewardship of the DNC. The Inquirer remarks on Mehlman's success in developing candidates for strategic races in Pennsylvania, which just barely went into the Democratic column in 2004 and where Democrats can hardly afford to lose any further ground: Give us a chance, we'll give you a choice. That's the party mantra as Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, travels around the country speaking almost weekly to black and Hispanic audiences. The emphasis is on shared social values and economic opportunity. President Bush's backing of education reform, and recent increases in home ownership and small businesses among African Americans are touted. Outreach and advisory committees are being formed nationally, statewide and locally. Monday's news was the conversion of...

Dean: DeLay Worse Than Osama?

Howard Dean has a well-known problem of foot chewing, and he indulged himself again yesterday on his new favorite subject, Tom DeLay. Despite the lack of any criminal investigation into DeLay -- and the bogged-down ethics allegations that have now enveloped a host of Democrats along with the GOP House whip -- Dean just can't stop declaring DeLay guilty before even being indicted: "There's corruption at the highest level of the Republican Party, and they're going to have to face up to that one of these days, because the law is closing in on Tom DeLay," Dean said in a telephone interview before heading to an appearance today in Phoenix. "I think he's guilty . . . of taking trips paid for by lobbyists, and of campaign-finance violations during his manipulation of the Texas election process," Dean said. The DNC chairman sang a completely different tune in the winter of...

May 19, 2005

Howard Dean's Personal Prosecutor?

With Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean calling for Tom DeLay's immediate imprisonment despite a lack of a conviction or even indictment, one wonders how he can feel so confident about getting either one. Perhaps it helps when the Democrats have their own in-house district attorney with apparently no concern over any appearance of conflict of interest. The Houston Chronicle reports today that the supposedly non-partisan Travis County DA investigating charges of corruption among DeLay's staff spent last week fund-raising for the Democratic Party: Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who denies partisan motives for his investigation of a political group founded by Republican leader Tom DeLay, was the featured speaker last week at a Democratic fund-raiser where he spoke directly about the congressman. A newly formed Democratic political action committee, Texas Values in Action Coalition, hosted the May 12 event in Dallas to raise campaign money to take control...

May 22, 2005

Live Blog: Howard Dean

9:01 - On filibusters: "We need more than one party in charge." Perhaps the Democrats could start winning majorities in order to ensure that. 9:04 - Confronted with Democrats' quotes opposing filibusters in the past, Dean changes the subjects. Now he's complaining about Bush's "town meetings" as an example -- WTF? 9:05 - First reference to Tom DeLay! 9:07 - He brought crib notes for his interview to cover his Tom DeLay. Cute. 9:08 - Russert plays the "jail sentence" clip, and Russert slams him with his earlier Osama quote. Response: "I don't think I'm prejudging [DeLay]." Then he says a jury will decide that, even though he hasn't even been indicted. Russert then reads Barney Frank's quote and Dean refuses to acknowledge the issue, saying that his "admonishments" by the House equals a criminal conviction in court. 9:10 - Howard thinks he's Harry Truman! 9:13 - Retraction on DeLay?...

May 24, 2005

Zell Miller Interview At Red State Rant

Lance at Red State Rant had a unique opportunity to interview one of the most fascinating people in politics over the past few years, firebrand Zell Miller, who defied his party and endorsed George Bush in 2004. Lance asked several bloggers, including myself, to submit questions for the interview and graciously asked them on our behalf. The first half of the interview has been posted today, and the second half goes up tomorrow. Lance included one of my questions in today's post: CQ: For such a consumer nation, America seems to do poorly selling ourselves overseas. How do you think we can improve in this area so that people understand what we stand for and what we believe, in the most positive light? ZM: Well it would help if we had more in the media who understand that when they criticize America or the military or anything that relates to...

May 25, 2005

The Arrogant Regency

Tony Blankley writes today in the Washington Times that the new cabal of fourteen so-called centrists in the Senate represent a real threat to the traditional workings of Constitutional government. The bipartisan group resembles a regency, Blankley argues, and one that threatens to take over the entire business of the Senate: Well, it would seem that the Senate has been placed in to receivership by 14 self-appointed trustees, several of whom are among the Senate's most wanton exhibitionists. Some of these ladies and gentlemen can be seen almost daily preening in front of television cameras confessing their moral superiority over their colleagues by virtue of their lack of firm convictions and their unwillingness to be team players. ... Let no one assume that this little assemblage of selfless senators will limit the reach of their writ to the matter of judicial appointments. As if one couldn't guess, on Monday night...

May 26, 2005

CBS Poll: Behind The Numbers

"Bush Out Of Touch," reads the CBS headline from their poll released today, and indeed that is what one of the poll's results show. However, CBS doesn't tell its readers that Bush's overall approval ratings actually increased as well: Four months into his second term, President Bush is increasingly viewed as being out of touch with the American people, according to a CBS News poll. Six in ten Americans say the president does not share their priorities, while just 34 percent say he does the lowest numbers for Mr. Bush since the eve of his first inauguration. If there's any solace for Mr. Bush, it's that even fewer people, just 20 percent, say Congress shares their priorities. Overall, slightly more Americans (48 percent) disapprove of the job the president is doing than approve (46 percent). If readers click the link to the actual results, however, they will find that...

May 27, 2005

Reid: We're Tired Of You Amateurs, Losers, And Hacks Sniping At Us

Harry Reid continues to suffer from his terminal case of projection, the Washington Times informs us this morning. After months of bilious rhetoric from the Senate Minority Leader and his fellow Senate Democrats, Reid told the National Press Club yesterday that the country had tired of Republican partisanship: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid yesterday in a speech laying out Democrats' agenda accused Republican leaders of being so consumed with partisan political "sniping" that they've neglected a troubled economy and a weak national defense. "Democrats are the party of national security," Mr. Reid said at the National Press Club. "And we have an agenda to defend America from danger." ... Mr. Reid said Republicans have squandered the first five months of this Congress breaking the Democratic filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees, intervening in the Terri Schiavo case and trying to change the rules in the House ethics committee. "Perhaps the...

The Comity Comedy Continues

Captain's Quarters would like to give the Captain Louis Renault award to the Seven Dwarves -- those Republican Senators who sold out the Constitution in the name of Senate "comity" and trust, who found out last night exactly how much value those commodities have on the other side of the aisle. After last night's filibuster of the confirmation of John Bolton left the US without an ambassador to the UN for another few weeks, these titans of insight expressed their shock that Democrats acted out of partisanship again: The vote against cutting off debate over the confirmation of John R. Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, just as Congress was recessing for Memorial Day, left Republicans fuming and showed there is still some distance to travel to reach the new spirit of Senate comity that some believed was represented in the judicial pact announced Monday. ... Its authors...

May 28, 2005

McCain Rides To The Rescue Of Democrats Again

John McCain has decided to insert himself into the fray of yet another leadership debacle in the Senate, this time the John Bolton nomination to the UN. As Bill Frist embarrassed himself by scheduling Bolton for a floor vote by relying on the "comity" that McCain's last diplomatic effort yielded only to watch as the Democrats double-crossed him and filibustered Bolton, McCain launched his own initiative to reach an agreement -- by forcing the Republicans to capitulate yet again: One of John R. Bolton's leading Republican backers, Senator John McCain of Arizona, signaled his support on Friday for a compromise in which the White House might allow Senate leaders access to highly classified documents in return for a final vote early next month on Mr. Bolton's nomination as United Nations ambassador. The conciliatory signal from Mr. McCain came as Senate leaders traded blame over who was responsible for the miscalculation...

May 30, 2005

DeLay Travel Probe Reveals Massive Democrat Violations

The hounding of Tom DeLay continues to backfire on House Democrats, as the AP has discovered in a review of travel disclosures. Far from being a singular problem in the GOP Whip's office, it turns out that a number of Pelosi's comrades have also been remiss in disclosing their travel expenses and the people who paid them: Scrutiny of Majority Leader Tom DeLay's travel has led to the belated disclosure of at least 198 previously unreported special interest trips by House members and their aides, including eight years of travel by the second-ranking Democrat, an Associated Press review has found. At least 43 House members and dozens of aides had failed to meet the one-month deadline in ethics rules for disclosing trips financed by organizations outside the U.S. government. ... While most of the previously undisclosed trips occurred in 2004, some date back to the late 1990s. House Minority Whip...

Did Democrats Take Drug Money In Exchange For Pardon?

I missed this at Patterico's site the other day, but his intrepid and dogged work on exposing bias at the Los Angeles Times may have led to an even bigger story -- one the Times may have covered up for political reasons. This story reaches back to the final days of the Clinton Administration, when a flurry of questionable pardons flowed from the Oval Office. The most notorious was the pardon of Marc Rich, who later turned out to be heavily involved in the Oil-For-Food scam. However, a more damaging revelation never got published, thanks to the LA Times, which buried the story according to the LA Weekly. It centers on the pardon of Carlos Vignali, whose father donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to various Democrats who lobbied Clinton on the younger Vignali's behalf. The father also hired Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, as his representative for $200,000, which...

Is Religious Education An Official Government Duty?

CQ reader BR brings an unusual document related to the House travel kerfuffle to my attention. It appears that Caitlin O'Neill, who works for Nancy Pelosi, forgot to file her disclosure form (PDF) for a trip she took to Havana, Cuba. O'Neill, who BR says is the granddaughter of former Speaker Tip O'Neill, identifies the purpose of her trip -- as an official duty of Congress -- as "religious education". Has religious education become an official government duty? What would Pelosi's allies at the ACLU say about that? That's not the end of the unusual aspects of this trip. Expenses totaled almost $1400 for the five-day trip to Havana, including $400 for meals. Of course, the American taxpayer didn't get stuck with this bill, which is the reason O'Neill and Pelosi had to file the disclosure. The entire cost of O'Neill's trip was borne by the Universal Life Church. This...

May 31, 2005

Mid-Term Senate Race Tough For Democrats

Ronald Brownstein points out in today's LA Times what has been pointed out here and elsewhere in the blogosphere about the 2006 Senate races -- that Democrats will find themselves in an uphill battle to regain any of the ground they've lost over the past six years. The numbers will once again be against them, as they defend more seats than the GOP and in tougher states: Democrats are optimistic about their chances of ousting GOP senators in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, states that voted for Democratic presidential candidates John F. Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000. But the Democrats are unlikely to regain a Senate majority in 2006 or soon thereafter unless they can reverse the GOP consolidation of Senate seats in states that have supported Bush. Since 2000, both parties have gained Senate seats in the states they typically carry in presidential campaigns. But...

Most Notorious Political Whodunit Climax: Deep Throat Confesses

The mystery of the identity over "Deep Throat", Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward's mysterious inside source for their Watergate exposs, has intrigued Americans for over thirty years. The media has played a number of games and written millions of words in analyses trying to decipher the code, including the Washington Post which published the exposs and maintains a web site dedicated to the question of its source's identity. Today, according to Vanity Fair, the guessing game is over -- as Mark Felt has confessed to being the elusive mole inside the Nixon administration: W. Mark Felt, who retired from the FBI after rising to its second most senior position, has identified himself as the "Deep Throat" source quoted by The Washington Post to break the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon's resignation, Vanity Fair magazine said Tuesday. "I'm the guy they used to call Deep Throat," he told John...

June 1, 2005

The One That Got Away

Todd Foster of the News-Virginian writes today that he had the Deep Throat story three years ago, and would have published the explosive secret three years ago in People Magazine. However, several factors led People to decline the scoop -- mostly the family's demand for money, as well as the mental incapacity of Felt himself: I've been waiting three years for what happened Tuesday: That W. Mark Felt would be named "Deep Throat." Actually, he was outed as Deep Throat by relatives and an attorney who began pitching me the story in June 2002, when I was a regular contributor to People magazine. ... Ultimately the story died because of money. The Felt family and their attorney wanted a lot of money, and People magazine - with my blessing - backed away in what would have been a case of "checkbook journalism." Reputable news organizations don't pay a penny for...

June 3, 2005

Abramoff Was Ecumenical In His Lobbying, It Seems

Despite the Democrats' best efforts to paint controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff as a GOP tool -- especially in relation to Tom DeLay -- further investigation by the Washington Post shows that Abramoff put significant money into the coffers of leading Democrats as well. In fact, two of Abramoff's biggest winners were the present and former Senate Minority Leaders: Lobbyist Jack Abramoff and an associate famously collected $82 million in lobbying and public relations fees from six Indian tribes and devoted a lot of their time to trying to persuade Republican lawmakers to act on their clients' behalf. But Abramoff didn't work just with Republicans. He oversaw a team of two dozen lobbyists at the law firm Greenberg Traurig that included many Democrats. Moreover, the campaign contributions that Abramoff directed from the tribes went to Democratic as well as Republican legislators. Among the biggest beneficiaries were Capitol Hill's most powerful Democrats,...

Poll Shows Byrd In Trouble For Re-Election

Because he has been in the Senate for five decades, Robert Byrd has the reputation of being unbeatable if he chooses to run for re-election, even though West Virginia went for George Bush twice. A new poll suggests that this reputation may be seriously overblown, as he has come up in a dead heat against a Republican who hasn't even announced an intention to run in 2006 (via Don Surber): A new poll shows Sen. Robert Byrd and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito would run neck and neck in a possible campaign for the Senate seat now held by Byrd. An RMS Strategies Poll released today reports that 46 percent of 401 registered voters in West Virginia would vote for Byrd if the election were held now. A total of 43 percent picked Capito, R-W.Va., though she has not announced her intention to run. And 11 percent said they were undecided...

June 4, 2005

Harkin: Christian Broadcasters 'Our Taliban'

Robert Novak reports that stupid statements on Air America aren't limited to the liberal network's hosts. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin appeared on Randi Rhodes' show and called Christian broadcasters "our home-grown Taliban": On the day before Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen was confirmed by the Senate as part of a negotiated compromise, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin called her "wacko." Harkin, appearing on liberal Randi Rhodes's national radio talk show, became animated as he said of Owen: "This is not a person to put on the bench for a lifetime appointment. This person is wacko! She's wacko!" On the same program, Harkin said Christian broadcasters are "sort of our home-grown Taliban." He added: "They have a direct line to God. And if you don't tune into their line, you're obviously on Satan's line." Thus goes the Democratic outreach to the Christian community. In fact, Harkin and Howard Dean have defined...

June 5, 2005

Frist: Vindication Will Be Mine ... Someday

Bill Frist gets a close look from the New York Times, complete with snarky photo caption and balanced in that people from both sides take their shots at the Senate Majority Leader. The result is that Frist appears somewhat out of touch with the Senate he leads -- not a terribly inaccurate picture, given what we've seen so far this session: With lawmakers returning from the Memorial Day recess, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, faces a crucial test of whether he can re-establish his authority after a rapid sequence of events that many say diminished his standing and exposed a lack of experience in Congressional intrigue. Adversaries, independent analysts and even some allies say the Senate leader was wounded by a compromise on judicial nominees achieved last month by a handful of Republicans who bucked him, including Senator John McCain, a potential presidential rival in 2008. The damage to...

June 6, 2005

Washington Court Upholds Democratic Victory Despite Irregularities

A judge has denied a challenge to the election of Christine Gregoire as Governor in Washington despite finding irregularities of more than ten times the eventual margin of victory. John Bridges ruled that since no one could show with certainty how those voters voted, the election must stand as last counted: Gov. Christine Gregoire's narrow 2004 election victory was upheld this morning by a judge who said Republicans failed to show that voting problems in King County and elsewhere were the reason Gregoire won by 129 votes. ... Bridges said there was evidence that 1,678 illegal votes were cast in the 2004 election, including 1,391 votes by felons. However Bridges said there was no evidence that Gregoire benefitted from the illegal votes. Bridges said there was also no evidence of misconduct by election workers or that the probems with the election were the result of "partisan bias." The judge said...

June 9, 2005

Who Took Their Eyes Off Of The Western Pacific, And Why?

The Washington Times reports that the CIA has missed the rapid expansion of the Chinese military over the past ten years, raising questions once again about the effectiveness of the nation's intelligence infrastructure. Starting in the mid-90s, the Chinese expansion of their submarine, missile, and other defense technologies has created "surprise" at Langley, a word that has come up a lot lately at CIA headquarters: A highly classified intelligence report produced for the new director of national intelligence concludes that U.S. spy agencies failed to recognize several key military developments in China in the past decade, The Washington Times has learned. The report was created by several current and former intelligence officials and concludes that U.S. agencies missed more than a dozen Chinese military developments, according to officials familiar with the report. The report blames excessive secrecy on China's part for the failures, but critics say intelligence specialists are to...

Jesse Helms Remains Clueless

For Republicans around the country, the retirement of Jesse Helms has allowed many to breathe a little easier since 2003. While Helms' stalwart positions on foreign policy provided America much-needed backbone, especially in relation to the United Nations, his domestic views often caused unnecessary controversy and embarrassment. Helms routinely fell back into name-calling on AIDS and gay-rights issues and never renounced his segregationist past. Neither of these helped the GOP in reaching out to traditionally Democratic populations and made achieving majority status substantially more difficult than it had to be. Now Helms will publish his memoirs, "Here's Where I Stand," intending on setting the record straight. He apologizes for his earlier remarks on AIDS, but still refuses to back down on his opposition to the civil-rights movement: In his upcoming memoir, former Sen. Jesse Helms acknowledges he was wrong about the AIDS epidemic but believes integration was forced before its...

June 11, 2005

Democrats See Bolton Compromise, Raise The Ante

How can you tell when a negotiating partner acts in bad faith? When their demands escalate every time you suggest a compromise. The Senate Democrats have done exactly that in their fight to extend the filibuster on the confirmation of John Bolton to the United Nations. After seeing Pat Roberts try to get the White House to confirm that Bolton had not used his access to check on a short list of names, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd countered by adding more names to the list: Senate Democrats have prepared a list of approximately three dozen "names of concern" and are asking the Bush administration for assurances that John R. Bolton did not misuse his access to highly classified intelligence to seek information about them. ... A copy of the letter was provided to The New York Times by a Congressional Democrat. A Republican Congressional official expressed surprise at the...

Maryland Dems: Dean Has More Authority On Race Than Michael Steele?

The Maryland Democratic Party wants Lt. Governor and GOP Senate candidate Michael Steele to apologize for endorsing a book that encourages Republicans to challenge Democrats for African-American votes, describing the author as "divisive". Meanwhile, they refuse to call for Howard Dean to apologize for statements from his own mouth about Republicans being racist: The Maryland Democratic Party is calling for an apology from Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele for endorsing a book by an author who accuses Democrats of exploiting blacks but is declining to seek an apology from national party Chairman Howard Dean for describing Republicans as a 'white Christian party.' 'I don't think there is a double standard,' said Derek Walker, spokesman for the state Democratic Party. Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman, who has initiated a petition drive for Mr. Steele's apology, was unavailable for comment yesterday. The book, Back to Basics for the Republican Party, reminds...

You Mean The Filibuster Isn't The Center Of The Republic? (Updates Galore)

I want to note that the phrase "quaint Southern tradition" is unfair; lynching was a "quaint American tradition", as a number of people have told me via e-mail and comments, including a few here in the Upper Midwest. Six Meat Buffet weighs in on that and a few other points. And when Beth, Preston, and Rick tell you you're drunk ... well, it might be time to give the keys up for the evening.

June 12, 2005

Crafty Drafty Democrats

One of the discredited accusations Democrats used as a scare technique during the presidential campaign last year was the notion that George Bush planned to restart the draft after winning a second term. Kerry and other Democrats campaigned on college campuses around the country to get students to vote, telling them that only Kerry would keep them from involuntary induction into the armed services. Now that we're eight months past the election, however, the Democrats now insist that the draft should be considered: The United States will "have to face" a painful dilemma on restoring the military draft as rising casualties result in persistent shortfalls in US Army recruitment, a top US senator warned. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the prediction after new data released by the Pentagon showed the US Army failing to meet its recruitment targets for four straight months. "We're...

June 13, 2005

Disclosure Follies Continue

The measure of the Democratic desperation to "get" GOP whip Tom DeLay has come in the number of late disclosures on travel-related expenses made by recalcitrant House members of both political parties. The New York Times reports that almost exactly half of Congress, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, have hurriedly filed travel expenses as required by House ethics rules -- some years late: With scrutiny being heaped on Representative Tom DeLay of Texas and other lawmakers over privately financed trips, dozens of members of Congress are moving to set their travel disclosures in order. Roughly 214 lawmakers - half Republicans and half Democrats - have filed reports late since July of last year, some waiting up to five years after taking a trip to properly disclose their travels, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, a nonpartisan group that tracks political spending. Travel records have been available for years but did not attract...

June 16, 2005

The Traveling Circus Continues To Expand

The rock that Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean picked up to throw at Tom DeLay continues to expose lots of worms instead, as the escapades of traveling Congressmen continues to expand. The Washington Post reports today that an analysis of the data now disclosed by representatives and their staffs show that some of them accept substantial travel from groups for which the Congressmen provide oversight through committee assignments: Senior House committee Republicans and Democrats frequently travel at the expense of companies and associations in the industries they oversee, according to financial records released yesterday. The trips are legal, as long as they are paid for by businesses and not by registered lobbyists. But the sheer volume of them -- along with the alluring destinations, not notably related to the business at hand -- could add impetus to calls for greater restrictions when the House ethics committee carries out a directive...

June 17, 2005

Ahh, Democrats ... They're So Cute When They Play Make-Believe

Dana Milbank, of all people, notes the folly of a handful of Congressional Democrats yesterday in pretending to hold a committee hearing on articles of impeachment for George Bush. Just like little girls having a tea party, the Democrats brought in realistic-looking props and played their parts just as if the meeting was real. It was so cute: In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe. They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) banged a large wooden gavel and got the other lawmakers to call him "Mr. Chairman." He liked that so much that he started calling himself "the chairman" and spouted other...

June 20, 2005

Perhaps Neil Kinnock Is Writing Again

Inexplicably, disgraced former presidential candidate Joe Biden, the senior Senator from Delaware, has tossed his hat into the ring for 2008. In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation", Biden answered the question most people wouldn't have bothered to ask: Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said yesterday he plans to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 unless he decides later this year that he has little chance of winning. "My intention is to seek the nomination," Biden said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I know I'm supposed to be more coy with you. I know I'm supposed to tell you, you know, that I'm not sure. But if, in fact, I think that I have a clear shot at winning the nomination by this November or December, then I'm going to seek the nomination." After reading this piece by Dan Balz, Post subscribers will be forgiven if their...

Ronnie Earle's Shakedown

Travis County DA Ronnie Earle has been gunning for Tom DeLay for years, trying to tie the long-time GOP House leader to political corruption -- and coming up empty, at least so far. However, NRO's Byron York notes that Earle has found others in violation of the law along the way, notably large corporations who have donated to DeLay campaign, forbidden by Texas law. Does he prosecute the corporations? Apparently only if they don't comply with the Ronnie Earle Clemency Program, which consists of demands for huge cash contributions to his own pet causes: Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who has indicted associates of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in an ongoing campaign-finance investigation, dropped felony charges against several corporations indicted in the probe in return for the corporations' agreement to make five- and six-figure contributions to one of Earle's pet causes. A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, last...

June 21, 2005

Frist Keeps Heat On Durbin

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist kept the heat on Dick Durbin yesterday, demanding that Minority Leader Harry Reid push Durbin to apologize to the American military and the Senate in a formal apology while in session. Reid rejected that request, stating that he stood by Durbin and his remarks: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist yesterday demanded that Sen. Richard J. Durbin make a "formal apology" on the floor of the Senate for comparing U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazi and Soviet regimes and that he strike his remarks from the Congressional Record. In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Mr. Frist, Tennessee Republican, said previous bids by the Senate's No. 2 Democrat to clarify his remarks didn't go far enough. "Subsequent statements by Senator Durbin indicate only that he was regretful if people misunderstood his remarks," Mr. Frist said. "We do not believe his remarks...

Abramoff Got OK From House Lawyers On Trips -- Including An FEC Commissioner

In another setback for the efforts to "get" Tom DeLay by attacking lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his firm has produced documentation from Congress itself that advised Abramoff that his actions were legal. House lawyers advised Preston, Gates, & Ellis in 1996 that it could pay for trips taken by Representatives as long as clients eventually reimbursed the firm: A law firm under scrutiny for its role in arranging overseas trips for members of Congress says House ethics lawyers advised the firm several years ago that it could pay for some Congressional travel, an assertion that may bolster the argument of Representative Tom DeLay that he did nothing wrong in accepting lavish trips organized by the firm's star lobbyist. Internal memorandums and e-mail messages from the Seattle firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, say that the firm contacted two lawyers on the House ethics committee in 1996, when it began organizing large numbers...

Durbin Apologizes Weakly A Week Later (Updated!)

Fox News, AP, and other outlets report that Senator Dick Durbin has apologized for his comparison between the American military and Nazis, Khmer Rouge, and Stalinist genocidal maniacs: Under fire from Republicans and some fellow Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin apologized Tuesday for comparing American interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to Nazis and other historically infamous figures. "Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line," the Illinois Democrat said. "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies." His voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate also apologized to any soldiers who felt insulted by his remarks. "They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them," he said. At least this is an apology, instead of a "statement of regret". However tearfully delivered, though, it still contains qualifiers that shift the responsibility to everyone but Durbin. "Some may believe that...

June 22, 2005

A Frontrunner Only The Exempt Media Would Select

Ron Fournier exposes the lack of insight most of the media have into the GOP with his soon-to-be-an-embarrassment column on the 2008 presidential race today, naming John McCain as the Republican frontrunner for the nomination: If you want to be the next president, it's time to start running unless your name is Hillary Rodham Clinton or John McCain. They can wait. And wait, as front-runners tend to do. "They're 800-pound gorillas," says Democratic consultant Jeff Link of Iowa. "They're well-known, well-liked and will be heavy favorites in their respective parties." ... McCain has the opposite problem. He is favored by a majority of Democrats and independents who would vote in a general election, but his support among Republicans is less than ideal. If he seeks the presidency, McCain's challenge would be maintain his appeal to moderates while highlighting in the GOP nomination fight his support of Bush on Iraq...

June 23, 2005

Preparing The Next Obstructionist Target

Senate Democrats have selected their next target for their new obstructionist tactics of demanding more and more documentation as an excuse to filibuster an executive nomination. In this case, however, they won't demand documentation on the nominee, but on the man whom the nominee will replace: The senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee has warned the Pentagon that he may block the nomination of a new defense policy chief unless documents involving the departing policy head -- Douglas J. Feith -- are turned over for review. The action by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) threatens to hold up another important presidential appointment as lawmakers remain deadlocked with the Bush administration over the nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. That dispute, too, involves Democratic requests for documents the White House has refused to surrender. ... Levin has criticized Feith for portraying the relationship as...

The Crying Game Continues

The one Republican that Democrats hate more than George Bush appeared in New York yesterday to talk about the opposition party and how they failed to heed the lessons of 9/11. Karl Rove's criticisms enraged Democrats, who today demanded a retraction: Karl Rove came to the heart of Manhattan last night to rhapsodize about the decline of liberalism in politics, saying Democrats responded weakly to Sept. 11 and had placed American troops in greater danger by criticizing their actions. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State. Citing calls by progressive groups to respond carefully to the attacks, Mr. Rove said...

June 24, 2005

Which Clinton Will Run In 2008?

CQ reader Retired Military points out an effort that has gone pretty much unnoticed for the past four months; it's not breaking news, but it is curious. In February, House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer introduced a Constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd Amendment, co-sponsored by Berman (D-CA), Pallone (D-NJ), Sabo (D-MN) and oddly enough, Sensenbrenner (R-WI). For those who don't have their Robert Byrd Pocket Constitution with them ("Don't leave the House without it"), the 22nd Amendment put term limits on the presidency. Why did four Democrats, including the House whip, decide to dump the 22nd amendment? Here's Hoyer's explanation: We do not have to rely on rigid constitutional standards to hold our Presidents accountable. Sufficient power resides in the Congress and the Judiciary to protect our country from tyranny. ... Furthermore, a lame duck President serving in his second term is less effective dealing with the Congress and the...

June 25, 2005

Roberts: Enough Is Enough On Bolton

Senator Pat Roberts, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair who has tried to act as an intermediary between the White House and the Senate Democrats on the confirmation of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN, pronounced that he's had enough of Democratic obstructionism on the topic. The New York Times reports that Roberts now has urged Bush to cease negotiating on Bolton and give him a recess appointment instead: The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that it would be a mistake for the White House to bend further to Democratic demands related to John R. Bolton's handling of intelligence material. In an interview, the chairman, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, said he now expected that President Bush would grant a recess appointment to Mr. Bolton, whose nomination as ambassador to the United Nations has been blocked by Senate Democrats for more than a month. ......

June 27, 2005

'He Fooled Me'

L. Patrick Gray has long been a footnote in the annals of the Watergate scandals, a status that kept him in relative obscurity until recently. He had the misfortune of succeeding J. Edgar Hoover as the interim Director of the FBI, but rapidly lost the confidence of the Nixon White House when the President suspected that some of the Watergate leaks came from his top-level staff. That led to the notorious order to "let him twist slowly in the wind" that signaled the end of his aspirations to make his appointment official. In an extraordinary interview with George Stephanopolous yesterday, Gray talked about his betrayal by both Richard Nixon and his FBI assistant whom he admired until the moment, this year, when Gray discovered he had been stabbing him in the back all along: Former acting FBI chief L. Patrick Gray III said in a television interview broadcast yesterday that...

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being ... Bill Frist

Charles Babington takes a critical look at the presidential aspirations of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in today's Washington Post. While Frist has never come out as a contender for 2008, his candidacy has been widely expected, and earlier he seemed to have an inside track to frontrunner status thanks to his high profile and the success of extending the GOP majority after the last election. Unfortunately for Frist, a series of miscalculations and apparent reversals have left that reputation in tatters, to the point where Frist now has the reputation as lacking in either ability or enthusiasm for political battle. That reputation will likely sink Frist's ambitions for higher office, Babington writes: By noon last Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist seemed done with John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador. Bustling from the Capitol to have lunch with President Bush, he told reporters he planned no further...

June 28, 2005

Balk!

I saw this report about Republican reaction to a bid by an investment team that includes George Soros to buy the Washington Nationals, the new DC major-league franchise -- and I hoped that Roll Call had it wrong. The Washington Post also covered it in their sports section (link via Michelle Malkin), but unfortunately the story hardly improved in the retelling. GOP Congressmen John Sweeney and Tom Davis issued veiled threats to Major League Baseball if the latter allowed Soros to buy into the national pastime: Major League Baseball hasn't narrowed the list of the eight bidders seeking to buy the Washington Nationals and some Republicans on Capitol Hill already are hinting at revoking the league's antitrust exemption if billionaire financier George Soros , an ardent critic of President Bush and supporter of liberal causes, buys the team. "It's not necessarily smart business sense to have anybody who is so...

June 29, 2005

The Dumbest Controversy Ever

The New York Times eats up several column inches on what has to be the pettiest controversy of recent memory -- The Case Of The Missing Applause. As I remarked during my live blog, the lack of reaction to George Bush's speech appeared planned, as Bush spoke at a more rapid pace than normal, without the usual politician pauses that these addresses have. Carl Cameron confirmed immediately afterwards that the audience had been told to hold off on any reaction. Apparently no one else thought to check that out, at least at the NY Times, which results in this David Sanger report: So what happened to the applause? When President Bush visits military bases, he invariably receives a foot-stomping, loud ovation at every applause line. At bases like Fort Bragg - the backdrop for his Tuesday night speech on Iraq - the clapping is often interspersed with calls of "Hoo-ah,"...

June 30, 2005

Army Meets Recruiting Goal For June

The Army has come under considerable criticism for failing to meet its recruiting goals the past four months. Critics blame the war in Iraq for the shortfall, which has put the Army behind in its overall recruiting for the fiscal year. However, the Army has managed to meet its goal for June, according to the New York Times, which points out a different reason for lower recruitment: For the first time since January, the Army met its monthly recruiting goal in June, but it still faces what some senior Army officials say is a nearly insurmountable shortfall to meet the service's annual quota. Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a public forum at the Pentagon on Wednesday that the Army exceeded its June quota, but he gave no details. Senior Army officials said in interviews earlier in the day that the Army exceeded...

Likely Voters Running Away From Democrats

A new poll by Democracy Corps on behalf of the Democratic Party shows a significant erosion of support for the Democrats among likely voters: [T]he poll indicated 43 percent of voters favored the Republican Party, while 38 percent had positive feelings about Democrats. "Republicans weakened in this poll ... but it shows Democrats weakening more," said Stanley Greenberg, who served as President Clinton's pollster. Greenberg told the Christian Science Monitor he attributes the slippage to voters' perceptions that Democrats have "no core set of convictions or point of view." Obstructionism and a monopoly of gainsay has undermined the Democrats during wartime, and they cannot see it. The Democrats have vaulted their radicals to the leadership positions, people like Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, all of whom think that saying "No!" amounts to responsible opposition. In all three cases, the leaders spend more time calling the GOP names and...

July 1, 2005

The Next Generation Of Republican Leaders

The New York Times reports on the burgeoning effort by the GOP to extend its reach into a crucial Democratic demographic. Black Republicans have started to run for offices across the country, a phenomenon that threatens the last bastion of lock-step Democratic voting, and their last hope of recapturing majority status in national elections: In Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, black Republicans - all of whom have been groomed by the national party - are expected to run for governor or the United States Senate next year. Several other up-and-coming black Republicans are expected to run for lower statewide offices in Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Vermont in 2006. It is not clear that local Republican organizations will embrace all of those candidates, and several face primaries. But national Republican leaders have been enthusiastically showcasing those blacks' campaigns, saying that whether those candidates win or lose, the party can still gain...

July 2, 2005

Dafydd: If It's Rove...

...Then he's off the hook legally. Again, a caution: I'm neither a lawyer, nor a law-school grad, nor a law-school admittee, nor even a wanna-be lawyer. (I was in the Navy once, so you can call me a sea lawyer.) I am, however, reasonably literate; so I will presume to give legal advice, secure in the knowledge that I have, in fact, nothing to lose! As Himself noted in Creepy Liar Strikes Again, Lawrence "Creepy Liar" O'Donnell now implies (without much credibility, and without explicitly making the claim) that the original leaker of Valerie Plame's name to Robert Novak was Karl Rove. O'Donnell says that e-mails from Time, Inc. between reporter Matthew Cooper and his editors at Time Magazine will prove this, though he does not claim to have actually seen the e-mail himself. So far as I can tell, O'Donnell, who is a producer of the NBC series the...

July 5, 2005

Pelosi Still Has More Trips To Disclose

After making Tom DeLay and his travel arrangements a major political issue this session, Nancy Pelosi has inadvertently created an embarrassment for dozens of Democratic lawmakers who found themselves in the same position as DeLay -- having outside funding for travel expenses go unreported and covered by lobbying groups in apparent violation of the House ethics rules. Now Pelosi herself has come under closer scrutiny as she revealed several questionable trips for herself: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) filed delinquent reports Friday for three trips she accepted from outside sponsors that were worth $8,580 and occurred as long as seven years ago, according to copies of the documents. ... The most expensive trip was not reported on Pelosi's annual financial disclosure statement or on the travel disclosure form that is required within 30 days of a trip. ... The unreported trip was a week-long 1999 visit to Taiwan, paid...

July 8, 2005

Another Democratic Cornerstone Goes Shopping

While the Democrats have watched the Republicans start to make inroads into the African-American demographic recently, trying to undermine their last lock-step traditional base, another key constituency has its leaders talking about looking outside the Democratic box as well. The president of the SEIU, the union that represents millions of government workers, warned the AFL-CIO that supporting Democrats exclusively will not benefit labor in the long run: Organized labor should help politicians who will advance labor's cause rather than simply supporting Democrats, says a union leader pushing for changes in the AFL-CIO. "We can't just elect Democratic politicians and try to take back the House and take back the Senate and think that's going to change workers' lives," said Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. During a briefing Thursday, Stern said politics is only part of labor's strategy. He said "electing Democrats and taking back the House...

July 10, 2005

Sensenbrenner To Push Voting-Rights Renewal Legislation

Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner has told the NAACP that he intends on shepherding the renewal of expiring portions of the Voting Rights Act, a key issue for the NAACP and other minority groups. The GOP would like to use that effort to bolster its standing with these traditionally Democratic voters, as part of RNC chair Ken Mehlman's outreach efforts: House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) plans to announce today at the NAACP's annual convention that he will work to extend portions of the Voting Rights Act that are scheduled to expire in 2007, congressional aides said yesterday. Civil rights leaders recently reminded President Bush about the expiring passages and have been working to get congressional leaders' attention for the issue. Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman has made outreach to minorities and support for enforcement of the Voting Rights Act a hallmark of his chairmanship. ... "While...

Thin Reed On Rove

The Karl Rove-Valerie Plame link that Matt Cooper supposedly protected appears very weak after Newsweek released its story today on the mysterious sourcing for last year's leak. Newsweek does its best to pump up the volume in its lead: It was 11:07 on a Friday morning, July 11, 2003, and Time magazine correspondent Matt Cooper was tapping out an e-mail to his bureau chief, Michael Duffy. "Subject: Rove/P&C," (for personal and confidential), Cooper began. "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation..." Cooper proceeded to spell out some guidance on a story that was beginning to roil Washington. He finished, "please don't source this to rove or even WH [White House]" and suggested another reporter check with the CIA. The ellipsis here makes all the difference. What, exactly, did Cooper warn not to source to Rove? Readers have to move past...

Dafydd: If It's Rove... Part Deux

In an earlier post, Dafydd: If It's Rove..., I wrote the following: Lawrence "Creepy Liar" O'Donnell now implies (without much credibility, and without explicitly making the claim) that the original leaker of Valerie Plame's name to Robert Novak was Karl Rove. According to Michael Isikoff in a Newsweek story, luridly titled "Matt Cooper's Source: What Karl Rove told Time magazine's reporter," this implication appears to be false; while Rove was (one of) Cooper's sources, as O'Donnell claimed, it was nothing like the way the Left has portrayed it: it was not an attempt to retaliate against Wilson for speaking the truth; it was an attempt to warn Newsweek that Wilson's op-ed was, in fact, a lie. Cooper claims, in the now-famous Newsweek e-mail, that Rove told him that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA... but it appears that Rove did not even know her name, let alone that she was...

July 11, 2005

Hillary's Latest Insanity, And It Ain't Mad

Hillary Clinton has received criticism for her remarks comparing George Bush to Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Newman in her speech to the first Aspen Ideas Festival. She accused Bush of avoiding tough issues with the character's famous attitude: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton went on the attack against President Bush in a speech Sunday, accusing him of damaging the economy by overspending while giving tax cuts to the rich. ... "I sometimes feel that Alfred E. Newman is in charge in Washington," Clinton said referring to the freckle-faced Mad Magazine character. She drew a laugh from crowd when she described Bush's attitude toward tough issues with Newman's catchphrase: "What, me worry?" Hillary appears to have a problem with reality. Unemployment has reached its lowest point in years, down to 5%, lower than the average unemployment rate during her husband's terms in office. The economy continues its strong growth, showing an annual...

Dafydd: Hillary Will Never Be the Presidential Nominee

...Not in 2008, not ever. First, a note: the Captain is now back, so I suspect this will be my last post. I haven't yet spoken to him; but this blog is not really a multi-person venue. Yes, there is Whiskey and a couple of others; but they post rarely. For the most part, this is the labor of love of Captain Ed. Heck, it's called Captain's Quarters, not General Quarters! So unless I hear different, I will assume that as he stands up, I stand down. But I just wanted to leave with a final controversial prediction. I absolutely believe, conventional wisdom notwithstanding, that Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham will never be the Democratic nominee for president. (She might not even be a candidate, if she thinks she's going to lose; but her ego may compel her to try, just as John Kerry's did.) The reason is fairly simple: because...

July 12, 2005

Dafydd: Bride of "If It's Rove"...

I have received a reprieve from the governor, just as some clod in a mismatched gray jacket and Navy-blue trousers was throwing the switch. I may post a few more. And I have one here that.... But wait -- No, really; you'd better be sitting down for this. Seriously, I don't want to shock your system. Think of me as William Castle: there's a nurse standing by with a blood-pressure machine, checking to make sure you're medically fit to read this next post. Okay, you in the red pullover! Take a hike! I can recognize a weak heart when I see one. Here we go: it turns out that... the Democrats lied! Here is Harry Reid today. Don't tell me he didn't say this; I saw him on video on Brit Hume, and I just had to back up the DVR and get it down exactly, because I could not...

Reparations: The New Ransom

The NAACP has decided to extort payments and concessions from companies that transacted business in support of slavery as their next project, along with lobbying cities to cease contracting with such firms until they cooperate with the group: The NAACP will target private companies as part of its economic agenda, seeking reparations from corporations with historical ties to slavery and boycotting companies that refuse to participate in its annual business diversity report card. "Absolutely, we will be pursuing reparations from companies that have historical ties to slavery and engaging all parties to come to the table," Dennis C. Hayes, interim president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said yesterday at the group's 96th annual convention here. "Many of the problems we have now including poverty, disparities in health care and incarcerations can be directly tied to slavery." Since slavery ended 140 years...

Hawaiians Want Race-Based Public Policy Too

Today's second entry in racial politics comes from an unlikely source -- the 50th state and tropical paradise, Hawaii. Activists for native Hawaiians who can trace their geneaology to the time of the Hawaiian monarchy want to establish an autonomous reservation system on the Pacific archipelago, similar to those granted to Native American tribes in North America. Despite the decades of corruption and poverty these examples created for Native Americans, Lawrence Downes and the New York Times considers this a splenid idea: Over decades, the islands emerged as a vibrant multiracial society and the proud 50th state. Hawaiian culture - language and art, religion and music - has undergone a profound rebirth since the 1970's. But underneath this modern history remains a deep sense of dispossession among native Hawaiians, who make up about 20 percent of the population. Into the void has stepped Senator Daniel Akaka, the first native Hawaiian...

A Mystery That They Could Solve Today

The New York Times plays the Rove card to the hilt today, putting their martyrdom of Judith Miller front and center while extending a mystery that the media created and the Times could immediately resolve. Instead, we get breathless accounts of non-comments from the White House that prompt 2,000-word front-page articles that wind up telling us nothing: Nearly two years after stating that any administration official found to have been involved in leaking the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer would be fired, and assuring that Karl Rove and other senior aides to President Bush had nothing to do with the disclosure, the White House refused on Monday to answer any questions about new evidence of Mr. Rove's role in the matter. With the White House silent, Democrats rushed in, demanding that the administration provide a full account of any involvement by Mr. Rove, one of the president's closest advisers,...

Podhoretz On Rove: I Told You So

John Podhoretz writes an excellent column for the New York Post today, asking readers to recall his words from the beginning of the Plame controversy in 2003. Podhoretz predicted that the entire kerfuffle would consist of an administration official explaining why Wilson got selected for the Niger assignment in the first place: I offered my speculation of what an administration official might have said to a journalist to explain just how Wilson a Clinton administration official got the assignment in the first place: "Administration official: 'We didn't send him there. Cheney's office asked CIA to get more information. CIA picked Wilson . . . Look, I hear his wife's in the CIA. He's got nothing to do. She wanted to throw him a bone.' " Hate to say I told you so, but . . . According to this week's Newsweek, Karl Rove said something very similar indeed...

Dafydd: Abbott and Costello Meet "If It's Rove"...

I probably should not assume that everyone is on the same page of the dictionary. But one of the commenters to a previous post of mine, Dafydd: Bride of "If It's Rove"..., raised a definitional point that deserves response. Attempting to prove that Bush indeed made some sort of "firing pledge," he notes a press conference on June 10, 2004 in Savannah, GA, in which the following exchange occurred: Q: Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name? THE PRESIDENT: That's up to -- Q: And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so? THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the...

July 13, 2005

The Laffer Curve Strikes Again

It seems that every twenty years or so, politicians have to get a reminder on economics regarding the relationship between effective tax cuts and tax revenues. Presidents Kennedy and Reagan both cut marginal tax rates and wound up sparking economic growth that generated billions of extra revenue. Within hours of hearing the leading Democratic presidential candidate excoriate President Bush for following their lead, the White House now shows that the budget deficit has dropped significantly and more tax has come into federal coffers than expected: For the first time since President Bush took office, an unexpected leap in tax revenue is about to shrink the federal budget deficit this year, by nearly $100 billion. On Wednesday, White House officials plan to announce that the deficit for the 2005 fiscal year, which ends in September, will be far smaller than the $427 billion they estimated in February. Mr. Bush plans to...

The Priorities Of The National Education Association

The NEA published its agenda for its July 7th Assembly, listing all the new action items under consideration and the action taken on each. How long does one have to read down the list before the NEA actually addresses an issue having directly to do with educating students? The first item? Third? Fifth? How about ... fifteenth? Here's what comes ahead of education at the National Education Association: 1. [Defeated, no description] 2. Fighting Wal-Mart 3. Investigating the positions of financial firms regarding Social Security privatization 4. Adding "multiethnic" and "other" as options on ethnicity questions 5. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the NEA and ATA 6. Forming coalitions to "protect" Social Security 7. Explaining the difference between two different pension plans 8. Requesting an article for their newsletter on "health problems from exposure to fragrance chemicals". 9. Getting outside funding to allow 25 more people to attent the EPA...

Santorum Shoots His Mouth Off ... Again

I like Rick Santorum. I really do. Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Senator has a habit of talking without thinking about the consequences of his rhetoric. Earlier this year, he broke Godwin's Law and used Hitler for an analogy in reference to the Democrats and the judicial-nomination filibusters -- an analogy that actually made logical sense but was politically foolish. In his latest faux pas, he doesn't even have logic on his side: What drew the concentrated ire of the Bay State's congressional delegation was Santorum's decision this week to repeat his three-year-old comment that liberalism was at the root of the scandal over child sex abuse in the church. "Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture," Santorum wrote in a July 12, 2002 article for the Web site Catholic Online. "When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal,...

July 15, 2005

Senatorial Slapfight

The self-proclaimed world's greatest deliberative body and the chamber supposedly intended on being a "cooling saucer" for the passions of the day descended into the political equivalent of a playground slapfight yesterday. The pushing and shoving arose from the rapidly disintegrating effort to pin blame on Karl Rove for outing Valerie Plame as Senate Democrats attempted to strip him of his security clearances: The partisan fight over Karl Rove exploded onto the Senate floor yesterday, with Democrats trying to strip him of his security clearance and Republicans retaliating by trying to strip the chamber's two top Democrats of theirs. The moves, which came as amendments to a spending bill, both failed, but not before each side blamed the other for "juvenile" behavior and for poisoning a well of good feelings they said had existed in the past few weeks. ... Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, along with Minority Whip...

The Only Tactic They Know

Democrats in the Senate twice threatened more executive-nomination obstructionism if the White House refuses to meet their demands, this time on lower-level appointees. Both Barbara Boxer and Barack Obama separately told nominees to two EPA positions that they will block their confirmation unless mollified by the Bush administration on policy: Two Democratic senators suggested Thursday they may block one or more of President Bush's nominees to key Environmental Protection Agency posts unless they get answers they want from the agency. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said he wanted to know when the EPA would issue regulations for lead paint exposure from house remodeling. ... Obama told reporters after the hearing that he wanted a definite date from EPA officials about when they would issue the regulations, which by law were supposed to have come out in 1996. If that's not forthcoming, he said, he would use "whatever mechanisms I have available...

Novak Told Rove About Plame

The New York Times now has a source within the grand jury proceedings in the Robert Fitzgerald investigation into the alleged leak of Valerie Plame's status as a CIA operative. The new article for tomorrow's edition by David Johnston and Richard Stevenson reveals that Karl Rove spoke with Robert Novak before he released his column -- but that Novak told Rove about Plame, including her name, and not the other way around: Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak as he was preparing an article in July 2003 that identified a C.I.A. officer who was undercover, someone who has been officially briefed on the matter said. Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph...

July 16, 2005

More Democratic Fantasyland On 9/11

Cynthia McKinney has returned to her old tricks in Congress. Working through her new organization, 9/11 Citizens Watch, she plans on hosting a full-day "Congressional" briefing for Representatives and their staffs on the supposed lack of progress in investigating the 9/11 attacks. Much like the John Conyers "impeachment" panel based on the Downing Street Memos, McKinney and a couple of cohorts plan on offering their wild conspiracy theories in the guise of a sober, official hearing: On July 22, 2005, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) will host a full-day briefing, co-sponsored by Rep. Ral Grijalva (D-AZ), and other sponsors, for Members of Congress and their staffs in the Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building, Room 345, Independence Ave. & First Street SE, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. One year after the release of the 9/11 Commission Final Report many questions about what transpired on September 11, 2001 and who should...

July 17, 2005

Democrats And Their Kool-Aid

Dana Milbank and Charles Babington point out that Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman and New York Senator Chuck Schumer went to the same Brooklyn high school, James Madison. However, it appears that neither share that old school spirit with each other any longer, especially after Coleman singled out Schumer for "partisan attacks" in the Plame case: Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn and James Madison High Class of '66, took off Thursday after another nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn and James Madison High Class of '67, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). "The chairman of the Democratic Senate campaign committee" -- that would be Schumer -- is "sucking the oxygen out of that atmosphere of collegiality and constructive cooperation by trying to make a partisan issue of something that is being handled by a special counsel today," Coleman said in a news conference on the Wilson-Plame-Rove CIA leak...

Cooper: Rove Didn't Call Me, Didn't Mention Name Or Status Of Plame

Matthew Cooper has decided to write about his testimony to the grand jury investigating the leak of Valerie Plame's name and status to Robert Novak. In the new edition of Time Magazine, Cooper confirms that the New York Times version of events published late last week which had him calling Rove, not the other way around, was accurate: In his 2 1/2 hour testimony last Wednesday before the grand jury investigating the CIA leak case, TIME White House correspondent Matthew Cooper testified that when he called White House political advisor Karl Rove the week of July 6, 2003, Rove did not reveal Joe Wilsons wifes name and did not reveal her covert status to Cooper. But he did say that Wilsons wife works at the Agency on WMD. This was the first time Cooper had ever heard of Wilsons wife. ... Cooper writes that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald asked me...

Will Someone Please Teach Godwin's Law To Congress?

Can ... we ... PLEASE ... get Congressmen and Senators to throw away the Nazi analogies? Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) became the latest idiot to get impaled on a historical swastika when he attempted to paint Islamofascist terrorists as worse than Nazis. That may have escaped notice, but then LoBiondo decided to up the ante by crediting Hitler with a rational motivation for killing six million Jews: Congressman Frank LoBiondo apologized for suggesting that Guantanamo Bay detainees were worse than Adolf Hitler because the Nazi dictator "sort of had a political rationale about what he was doing." The New Jersey Republican made the remark on a radio talk show this past week, describing his recent visit to the Naval Base in Cuba. Muslim terrorists, he said, were more evil than Hitler. "Hitler, in his philosophy, was, you know, he hated Jews, he was murdering Jews, and there were some people...

July 18, 2005

LA Times Still Can't Get Plame Facts Correct

The Los Angeles Times runs an article on the Plame leak today that manages to avoid advancing the story with any evidence and get the existing facts almost entirely incorrect, despite a number of revelations in the past few days from grand-jury leaks and the new article by Matt Cooper. Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten concoct their stew of "revelations" and bad fact-checking by relying on anonymous sourcing: Top aides to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were intensely focused on discrediting former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV in the days after he wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times suggesting the administration manipulated intelligence to justify going to war in Iraq, federal investigators have been told. Perhaps that springs from the fact that Wilson not only lied in that op-ed -- on which I have written extensively -- but also had begun leaking false versions of...

July 21, 2005

The Secret S

UPDATE: Tom Maguire has some good analysis on this, which should shock no one.

Guess Who Wrote This?

It's time to play, "Guess The Author!", with your host, CQ. Here's how we play. I will give a quote about the Plame/Rove leak investigation, and readers have to guess who wrote it and when. The prize for guessing correctly -- well, lording it over your neighbors, feeling good, and so on. (Hey, this isn't Bob Barker, mm-kay?) Anyway, here's the quote, courtesy of CQ reader Andrew X: At the threshold, an agent whose identity has been revealed must truly be "covert" for there to be a violation of the Act. To the average observer, much less to the professional intelligence operative, Plame was not given the "deep cover" required of a covert agent. ... She worked at a desk job at CIA headquarters, where she could be seen traveling to and from, and active, at Langley. She had been residing in Washington -- not stationed abroad for a number...

July 24, 2005

Key Democratic Pillar Crumbles

One of the key political pillars of the Democratic Party has crumbled. Labor has split, perhaps permanently, over the role of politics in the union movement, and the largest unions have voted to leave the AFL-CIO: The four unions, representing nearly one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members, announced Sunday they would boycott the federation's convention that begins Monday. They are part of the Coalition to Win, a group of seven unions vowing to reform the labor movement outside the AFL-CIO if necessary. The Service Employees International Union, with 1.8 million members, plans to announce Monday that it is leaving the AFL-CIO, said several labor officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the developments. The Teamsters union also was on the verge of disaffiliating, and would likely to be the first to follow SEIU's lead, the officials said. Two other boycotting unions...

July 25, 2005

More Hate-Crime Stupidity

The AP, in today's Washington Post, reports on racial disturbances in Buffalo, NY, which have resulted in an inconsistent application of hate-crime charges. Gang wars in two difference neighborhoods prompted differing reactions from Buffalo law-enforcement officials: Five black teenagers are accused of roaming through a city neighborhood late Friday, shouting racially charged threats and, after an exchange of words, stabbing three young white men in a fight. The five were charged with second-degree gang assault. A week earlier, five white men in another neighborhood were charged with attacking a black man with a baseball bat and shouting racial epithets. They were charged with assault as a hate crime. This points out one of the follies of hate-crime legislation. Here we have two similar incidents, involving similar motivations, and yet we have one group charged with hate crimes and another with just assualt. Both groups went out of their way to...

July 26, 2005

Democrats Offer (Non) Social Security Option

The Washington Post says that the Democrats have prepared a counterproposal for Social Security reform intended on competing with that of the Republicans. However, after reading the report by Mike Allen, it sounds as if the Democrats want to reform Social Security by ignoring it altogether: House Democrats intend to propose a retirement-savings plan today that will be their first leadership-backed alternative to Republican plans for a broad retirement-security package, which includes changes to Social Security. The Democratic plan, called AmeriSave, would increase incentives for middle-class workers to participate in 401(k) retirement accounts and individual retirement accounts. It would also create tax credits for small businesses that set up retirement accounts for their employees. ... The AmeriSave announcement is designed to partially preempt Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), who plans to focus on retirement security in September. Bush had proposed adding individual accounts to Social Security for...

July 27, 2005

Pincus Still Has Truth Issues

Walter Pincus extends his conflict of interest in covering Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame in today's Washington Post, continuing his role as a purveyor of misinformation. He and Jim VandeHei write that Patrick Fitzgerald has widened his investigation, but still hasn't come up with much: The special prosecutor in the CIA leak probe has interviewed a wider range of administration officials than was previously known, part of an effort to determine whether anyone broke laws during a White House effort two years ago to discredit allegations that President Bush used faulty intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to several officials familiar with the case. Prosecutors have questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet and deputy director John E. McLaughlin, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, State Department officials, and even a stranger who approached columnist Robert D. Novak on the street. In doing so, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has...

July 28, 2005

Durbin Inspires Hatred Of America

When Dick Durbin got up on the floor of the Senate and compared the detention center at Guantanamo Bay with the Nazi deathcamps, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the Stalinist gulags, we warned that he had handed our enemies a huge propaganda victory. When Ted Kennedy blew up over the Abu Ghraib abuses and turned them into a prime-time spectacle, we warned that publicizing them so widely would enrage our enemies. We suspected that Al-Jazeera had already looped the speech and the pictures and might play them continuously whenever the news got too slow. Perhaps we should also have pointed out that other people might want to use it for their own propaganda purposes. The Moscow Times has taken Durbin's correlation of Gitmo to the gulag to heart and used it to deliver the strangest and most venomous media attack on the American government outside of the Arab press:...

Democrats Eat Crow Over Lame Duck Claims

After declaring George Bush a lame duck in the opening months of his second term, the media has had to backtrack after the last couple of weeks. Instead of being a lame duck and despite sagging poll numbers, two separate media analyses now acknowledge that Bush has done remarkably well in pushing his legislative agenda. The New York Times reports in tomorrow's edition that Congress continues to bend to his will: In a flurry of last-minute action as it prepared to recess, Congress on Thursday passed or stood at the brink of final action on several hard-fought measures that had been at the top of Mr. Bush's summer to-do list and that at times had seemed to be long shots. The House narrowly approved a new trade deal with Central American nations early on Thursday morning, the final hurdle for a pact that was one of the administration's top economic...

July 29, 2005

Sloppy Work At State

John Bolton's nomination ran into another stumbling block yesterday when Senator Joe Biden asked Condoleezza Rice, seemingly out of the blue, to reaffirm Bolton's denial that he had been interviewed as part of any investigation for the past five years. At first this resulting in an unequivocal denial, but by the end of the day, the denial had transformed into a grudging admission: John R. Bolton, President Bush's nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations, failed to tell the Senate during his confirmation hearings that he had been interviewed by the State Department's inspector general looking into how American intelligence agencies came to rely on fabricated reports that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Africa, the State Department said Thursday. Reacting to a letter from Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said Mr....

July 30, 2005

Energy Bill Caps Powerful Legislative Session For GOP

What a difference a few weeks make! Less than two months after the Washington Post wrote off the second Bush term as moribund and Bush himself as a lame duck, the Post now joins the New York Times and AP in recognizing that rumors of Bush's political death are just a wee bit premature: After years of partisan impasses and legislative failures, Congress in a matter of hours yesterday passed or advanced three far-reaching bills that will allocate billions of dollars and set new policies for guns, roads and energy. The measures sent to President Bush for his signature will grant $14.5 billion in tax breaks for energy-related matters and devote $286 billion to transportation programs, including 6,000 local projects, often called "pork barrel" spending. The Senate also passed a bill to protect firearms manufacturers and dealers from various lawsuits. The House is poised to pass it this fall. Combined...

July 31, 2005

Rethinking Saint Colin

Today's Washington Post contains a glowing profile of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the changes she has made in the nation's foreign-policy arena. Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler note her many substantial and subtle changes at a department often seen as an obstacle to carrying out George Bush's foreign policy goals. In doing so, an undercurrent of unspoken criticism of Rice's predecessor seems apparent: Now six months on the job, Rice has clearly wrested control of U.S. foreign policy. The once heavy-handed Defense Department still weighs in, but Rice wins most battles -- in strong contrast to her predecessor, Colin L. Powell. White House staff is consulted, but Rice designed the distinctive framework for the administration's second-term foreign policy. In short order, she has demonstrated a willingness to bend on tactics to accommodate the concerns of allies without ceding on broad principles, what she calls "practical idealism." She also...

August 1, 2005

Gray Lady On Plame: Never Mind

The New York Times finally noticed in its wall-to-wall coverage of the Valerie Plame leak case that Plame hardly equated to the deep-cover agent her husband, Joseph Wilson, claimed her to be. Far from learning the name and occupation of Wilson's wife from a Deep Throat inside source at the White House, it turns out that all Robert Novak had to do was read a book: One of the most puzzling aspects of the C.I.A. leak case has had to do with the name of the exposed officer. Why did the syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak identify her as Valerie Plame in exposing her link to the C.I.A. in July 2003 when she had been known for years both at the agency and in her personal life by her married name, Valerie Wilson? Mr. Novak offered a possible explanation for the disconnect on Monday, suggesting in his column that he...

August 2, 2005

DNC: Please Never Take Us Seriously Again

My apologies and newfound respect go out to Jay Carson, who apparently got out of the DNC just before the roof caved in on common sense and rationality. The Howard Dean-led DNC has decided to deride President Bush for staying physically fit while in office: WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is a fact sheet released today by the Democratic National Committee: The White House this weekend announced that President Bush received good news during his annual physical. Doctors pronounced the President to be in "superior" physical condition, which media reports attributed to his rigorous, six day a week exercise routine. While President Bush has made physical fitness a personal priority, his cuts to education funding have forced schools to roll back physical education classes and his Administration's efforts to undermine Title IX sports programs have threatened thousands of women's college sports programs. "President Bush's has dropped the...

Americans Coming Together Falls Apart

John Fund notes in OpinionJournal's Political Diary (e-mail subscription only) that the grassroots organization Americans Coming Together has quietly closed its doors. I have not yet seen any press release announcing this; in fact, the ACT website says nothing at all about a cessation. However, ACT last updated its blog almost a month ago. Given all the political tussles this summer, it sounds as if no one's home at ACT. Fund writes: Last month, ACT quietly shut its doors and went out of existence. Remarkably, its demise attracted almost no media attention. But that doesn't mean it didn't teach its backers some lessons. Privately, some Democrats admit that ACT's emphasis on using paid workers to gin up voter turnout was eclipsed by Republican efforts to motivate volunteers to do the same work for free. In the end, ACT will stand as a monument to how big money in politics --...

A Storied Name Returns To Arizona Politics

Democrats hold the governorship in Arizona at the moment, but Janet Napolitano won't rest easily tonight after seeing who just tossed his hat in the ring for her job in 2006. Don Goldwater, the nephew of legendary Republican conservative and Arizona statesman Barry Goldwater, has decided to run for Napolitano's job: Republican Party activist Don Goldwater announced his candidacy Tuesday for governor in 2006, sounding some of the same conservative themes once heard from his uncle, 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. "The state is headed in the wrong direction," said the 50-year-old candidate. "We must return to the basic principles of limited government, individual liberty and economic freedom." Goldwater said he would push for tax cuts and school choice and combat illegal immigration. He said he would fully enforce a voter-approved immigration law, including its requirement that voters produce identification at polling places. He called illegal immigration destructive to the...

Let The Lawsuits Begin

In Ohio's second Congressional district, the GOP has apparently held the seat against a well-funded challenge from a Democrat who recently returned from Iraq. Jean Schmidt beat Paul Hackett by four points and 3,500 votes, a margin that in ordinary circumstances would suggest that recounts would be pointless. However, given the high profile assigned to this race by Democratic activists trying their best to elect an anti-war veteran to Congress, Ohio's voters should expect more of the same hysterical charges of election stealing that we saw after the 2004 election. Barbara Boxer will be warming her voice up for the morning talk shows after her first cup of coffee, I presume. Lori at Polipundit has followed this story much more closely than I have, for reasons which I'll cover in a moment. She says that the media will spin this as a loss for Bush, even though she sees it...

August 4, 2005

Corzine Loaned Money To Girlfriend ... And?

When money gets moved between politicians and labor unions, conservatives get concerned about the relationship between the two and rightly suspect foul play. Of course, having union officials loan money to politicians, especially on a personal basis, raises an issue of impropriety or at least a conflict of interest. However, when the money goes the other direction on the basis of a clearly personal relationship, it hardly seems newsworthy ... except at the New York Times: Senator Jon S. Corzine provided a $470,000 mortgage to the president of a union that represents thousands of New Jersey state employees in late 2002, then forgave the debt two years later. The union president, Carla Katz, was Mr. Corzine's girlfriend at the time. The senator said on Wednesday that an investment company he owns gave her the mortgage, then canceled it in December 2004, several months after they had stopped dating. The loan...

August 6, 2005

Job Creation A Bummer For The Gray Lady

CQ frequently criticizes the New York Times, especially its editorial board, for its obvious and unacknowledged biases in its coverage (and non-coverage) and its analysis. We should consider how depressing it must be for those editorial-board members, whose staunch leftist politics have put it outside of the mainstream, to see the policies of their opponents achieve such success. George Bush has had an unbroken string of growth since putting his economic plan into place in 2002 and 2003, which has now resulted in a significant and unexpected (at the NYT, anyway) rise in tax revenues and a major drop in the federal deficit. Now the new job-creation numbers show that new work has picked up across the board. All of this happy news for Americans just seems to bring out the inner pessimist at the Paper of Record, however: Still, it's not robust. If jobs were being created today at...

August 8, 2005

Belafonte's Godwin Boat Song?

CNS News reports that Harry Belafonte once again sang a bit off-key while venturing into politics this past weekend, calling African-American conservatives "tyrants" and comparing the Bush administration to Hitler and the Nazis. Marc Morano interviewed the entertainer who has long championed civil-rights causes, but lately has used less civil language to do so: Belafonte used a Hitler analogy when asked about what impact prominent blacks such as former Secretary of State Powell and current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had on the Bush administration's relations with minorities. "Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich. Color does not necessarily denote quality, content or value," Belafonte said in an exclusive interview with Cybercast News Service. "[If] a black is a tyrant, he is first and foremost a tyrant, then he incidentally is black. Bush is a tyrant and if he gathers around him...

August 9, 2005

Justice Sunday II ... With Disclosure!

I am pleased to announce that arrangements have firmed up for CQ to live-blog Justice Sunday II in Nashville, TN this Sunday evening. I received an invitation to join several other bloggers in providing live commentary for the event, which will feature such well-known and controversial speakers as Tom DeLay, Zell Miller, William Donahue, Dr. James Dobson, and quite a few others. It will be simulcast to a number of churches and other organizations via satellite and also accessible through their website. Just to make sure everyone understands the arrangements, I want to clearly state that JSII will pay for my travel arrangements to attend this event. In fact, they will pay the costs directly, instead of reimbursing me, so that cash does not change hands. Some CQ readers may wonder why I point this out, but I think Jeff Jarvis makes a good point in his blog yesterday about...

August 11, 2005

Jimmy Carter And The Cherry Briefing Book

Ask people about Jimmy Carter and the likely response will sound something like, "A good an honest man, a mediocre [or worse] President, and the best former President we've had." The latter part of that statement had been considered the common wisdom almost ever since Carter left office after having lost his bid for a second term to the Reagan Revolution, especially given his high-profile work with charities like Habitat for Humanity. Over the past decade, that carefully-built reputation for charity and honesty has slowly declined as Carter injected himself into foreign policy across three administrations, Democrats and Republicans alike, where he most definitely did not wait for an invitation before commencing to unconstructively meddle where voters clearly told him in 1980 they did not want him. The nadir came last month, when he openly campaigned against the Iraq War overseas in Britain, attempting to undermine US policy and support...

August 15, 2005

Obstructionism Blocking Reform Of FBI

The New York Times reports on an increasing tension between Congress and the FBI, souring relations between an otherwise well-regarded Robert Mueller and key decisionmakers. Congress blames Mueller and the FBI bureaucracy for slowing the pace of reforms, but neglects to mention that they have blocked the nominee for a key reform post for the past four months: Disputes between the Justice Department and some of its Congressional allies over the Federal Bureau of Investigation's performance, leadership vacancies and management issues are spurring tensions at a time when the department is seeking to remake its antiterrorism operations. Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, the influential chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on Friday that he was deeply dissatisfied with the pace of reforms at the F.B.I. and that he hoped the national intelligence director's new role in overseeing its terrorism operations would spur greater accountability at...

August 16, 2005

Bill Clinton Rewrites History On Al-Qaeda

Bill Clinton tells New York magazine that he desperately wishes that the FBI had been able to "prove" that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda had masterminded the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 so that he could have attacked Afghanistan instead of George Bush (Newsmax also reports this here): "I desperately wish that I had been president when the FBI and CIA finally confirmed, officially, that bin Laden was responsible for the attack on the U.S.S. Cole," Clinton tells New York magazine this week. "Then we could have launched an attack on Afghanistan early." "I dont know if it would have prevented 9/11," he added. "But it certainly would have complicated it. ... "I always thought that bin Laden was a bigger threat than the Bush administration did." Clinton has tried on more than one occasion to adapt history to make his eight-year turn in the White House...

Barbara Boxer Takes Big Money From Fed-Targeted Law Firm

The law blog Independent Sources notes that Barbara Boxer has taken a lot of money from one of the nation's most notorious class-action law firms -- a firm that currently finds itself the target of a federal bribery and corruption probe. Milberg Weiss donated more than $30,000 to her 2004 campaign and over $44,000 in her first Senate campaign -- enough to make Milberg Weiss her fourth-largest contributor for her entire Senate career. Who is Milberg Weiss? Currently one of its former partners is testifying to just that question to a federal grand jury: U.S. prosecutors have stepped up their criminal probe of law firm Milberg Weiss, a specialist in class-action cases, and have given immunity to two former partners at the firm, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The newspaper, citing unspecified lawyers close to the case, said a grand jury in Los Angeles heard secret testimony three...

August 19, 2005

Prayers For Harry Reid

CQ will add the Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), to our prayer list this evening. The Democratic caucus leader suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a type of mini-stroke which usually leaves no permanent damage: The Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, suffered a brief mini-stroke Tuesday but suffered no complications and feels fine, aides said Friday. The 65-year-old minority leader, one of the Democratic party's most visible national leaders, was examined by doctors and now feels fine, his press secretary Tessa Hafen said. "There are no complications or any restrictions on his activities. He has undergone evaluations this week, and his doctors have recommended that he take advantage of the summer congressional recess for some downtime," Hafen said. All partisan politics aside, I understand what Senator Reid's family must be feeling tonight. A week before the First Mate's kidney transplant, she suffered a TIA -- actually, a...

August 22, 2005

The Coming Democratic Split?

While the media has focused on the low polling numbers for George Bush in recent weeks and have their analysts working overtime talking about how that could result in election setbacks in 2006 and 2008, scant attnetion has been cast on the Democrats and their inability to take advantage of the situation. Two articles in two different newspapers explain why the opposition cannot gain traction on Republican setbacks, as the Democrats continue to struggle through a ferocious power struggle fed by their DNC chief and the radical activists that back him. The Washington Post and the New York Times picks up on this battle, but look at it superficially in terms of specific issues rather than as the gestalt of the party itself. Both articles get headlines that start, "Democrats Split," but the Post looks at the war while the Times analyzes Democratic strategy on the Roberts nomination. The Post...

August 23, 2005

The Oklahoma Heartbreak

The AP reports that maverick Republican J.C. Watts has decided against a run for the governor's office in Oklahoma next year, disappointing conservatives in the Panhandle State: "I have determined that the timing for such an adventure is not right at this point in our lives," he said in a statement. He said he spent more than two months talking to voters across the state before reaching his decision. Watts is the second Republican to decide against making the race; Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin has announced she will run for re-election instead of running for governor. Their moves leave the GOP without a proven vote-getter with wide name recognition to challenge Gov. Brad Henry, the popular Democratic incumbent. Watts, 47, recently bought a home in the Washington, D.C., area, where he started a lobbying and consulting business after leaving Congress. I had an opportunity to meet Watts last year at...

August 25, 2005

Dafydd: Tales of the North Pacific

Hawaii has evidently decided that capitalism, while an interesting theory, doesn't really work. As Adam Savage says every week on Mythbusters, "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" (They have also decided that the whole "Constitution" thingie was a bust and are beavering away to institute Bantustans across the state; but that's a subject for a different post.) Four years ago, the Democratic Hawaii state legislature and Democratic Governor Benjamin Cayetano bowed to the high priests of fundamenalist liberalism and enacted Act 77, which set a "maximum pre-tax wholesale price of gasoline" in the islands, as well as capping the retail price. This applies both to gasoline from Hawaii's two refineries and also gasoline imported directly. (A 2004 amendment, Senate Bill 3193, removed the price controls from the retail side.) Evidently not wanting Gov. Cayetano to suffer the likely consequences of such price controls, the legislature delayed the original...

August 27, 2005

Ellsworth Saved, Thune Ascendant

Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. That proverb sounded particularly inapt in South Dakota yesterday when the Base Re-Alignment and Closure Commission announced that Ellsworth Air Force Base would be removed from the list of military facilities facing closure or significant reductions. Everyone knew that in this case, success and failure only had one father -- the man who unseated the Senate's Democratic leader on the promise to keep it open: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) sat tense, crouched and glowering as the base-closing commission delivered its verdict about Ellsworth Air Force Base in the ballroom of a Crystal City hotel yesterday, then leapt up gleefully when the bomber base's death sentence was commuted. The 44-year-old's political career may have been spared as well. Last fall, Thune unseated Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in part by claiming that a Republican tight with the White House would...

August 29, 2005

Camp Casey Diary From A CQ Reader

CQ reader Curtis Loftis decided to check out the digs at Camp Casey firsthand, trekking to Crawford for a couple of days to see how the anti-war demonstrations have been staged for himself. He sent me this e-mail on his return with his thoughts and observations. I thought it might interest the rest of the CQ community. Two Days In Camp Casey: A Conservative's odyssey in the belly of the beast. I arrived at the original Camp Casey at 2:30 in the afternoon. It was hot and dry and the assembled demonstrators were in a melancholy state. I quickly made friends, stressing cocktail conversation, not political discussion. My goal was not confrontation, but a desire to understand what was actually happening here in Crawfordand being incognito was the only way this would happen. After bonding with several nice ladies from the central coast of California, I drove with these new...

August 30, 2005

Virigina Withdrawal Presaging Presidential Brawl?

The Washington Post reports that Virginia Governor Mark Warner will not run against George Allen in the latter's bid for re-election next year, making the incumbent's bid look much easier than expected. Allen had geared up his campaign to run against the popular governor who could have put a major dent in Republican plans to hold and expand their Senate majority. Instead, Warner will have two years to prepare for an even bigger race -- one which might find him eventually pitted against the same opponent: Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) plans to announce Tuesday that he will not challenge Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) next year, leaving the popular Democrat free to explore a presidential bid, several close associates said Monday. Warner, who leaves office in January, will announce his decision on his monthly radio show on WTOP, said Virginia Democratic Party Chairman C. Richard Cranwell, a Warner confidant....

August 31, 2005

Yes, Virginia, There Really Are Communists, Just Not That Many

Dana Milbank and Alan Cooperman do a pretty good job of making John J. Tierney look like an alarmist nut based on their report of his presentation at the Heritage Foundation yesterday. His upcoming book apparently researches the funding and momentum behind the burgeoning anti-war protest industry and finds a lot of evidence that it primarily consists of unreconstructed communists. The Washington Post report of the event has Tierney painting a pretty broad brush on this score, however, and starts out by using what it believes to be a killer emotional rebuttal: Cindy Sheehan: anti-American communist? That was the accusation coming yesterday from the Heritage Foundation, which hosted author John J. Tierney Jr. for a forum titled "The Politics of Peace: What's Behind the Anti-War Movement?" ... Tierney, of the Institute of World Politics, identified five groups: ANSWER, Not in Our Name, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice, and...

RFK Jr Releases Hot Gas Into The Political Atmosphere

Following on the heels of the Germans, Robert Kennedy Jr uses his science-challenged approach to also exploit Hurricane Katrina and the deaths of Americans in order to score a few political potshots at George Bush. Demonstrating the same hysterical scientific illiteracy that has characterized his scare campaign against vaccinations, Kennedy blames Mississippi governor Haley Barbour for killing his fellow citizens before their bodies have even been found, and suggests that God punished Mississippi specifically: As Hurricane Katrina dismantles Mississippis Gulf Coast, its worth recalling the central role that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour played in derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bushs iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2. ... Now we are all learning what its like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and--now--Katrina is giving our nation...

September 1, 2005

"Stop The Worship Of The Gods Of War!"

What kind of protest would feature the above exhortation? Has an outbreak of sacrifice to the ancient Greek gods of Apollo and Mars occurred in the heartland of America? Not exactly, no. Anti-war groups are using this as a rallying cry to converge on Naval Air Station Brunswick in Maine on the day before the anniversary of 9/11 to protest a free air show by the Blue Angels, the Navy's crack aviator squadron (via The Corner): On Sat., Sept. 10th, Maine Veterans for Peace will be joined by other major peace and justice groups (see list of co-sponsors below) in a massive protest: . to protest the false god idolatry of the Blue Angels Air Show, whose "ooh-&-aah"performances have one purpose: to promote badly-lagging military recruitment to protest the obscene waste of American tax dollars to stage these Blue Angels' multi-million dollar extravaganzas . to protest Bush's immoral, monomaniacal Iraq...

Thank You, Mr. President

I normally have plenty of reasons to thank our current President, George Bush, and few reasons to thank either of the two who preceded him. However, tonight I offer praise to Bill Clinton, who took CNN's Suzanne Malveaux to task for playing partisan politics with the Katrina relief efforts and trying to embarrass his partner and new friend, George H. W. Bush (h/t: AJ Strata): MALVEAUX: Let me ask you this: There are some people at the New Orleans Convention Center who say that they have been living like animals -- no food, no water, no power. And they are the ones who are saying: Where are the buses? Where are the planes? Why did it take three days to see a real federal response here? Mr. Bush, you, whether it's fair or not, had gone through some administration criticism about your handling of Hurricane Andrew. G.H.W. BUSH: I sure...

September 6, 2005

Will A Katrina Probe Turn Into A Smear Campaign?

The Senate Homeland Security Committee announced earlier today that they would start an investigation into the comprehensive response to Hurricane Katrina, how flood aid got delivered, and why crucial hours and days passed seemingly without any significant efforts made to reach pockets of survivors in New Orleans. If handled properly, such an investigation can help clear the air and lower the venom surrounding the debate over the response and the responsibility for its shortfalls. It also holds a clear possibility to allow malicious actors to subvert it into an election-year vehicle to score partisan cheap shots: The Republican senator leading a Senate investigation into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina said on Tuesday it was "woefully inadequate" and it had raised doubts about the U.S. ability to cope with a terrorist attack. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, spoke as lawmakers prepared to provide a second round of emergency money...

September 7, 2005

Arnold Announces Permanent Retirement From Hollywood

The Governator will probably fulfill the prophecy of being unable to return home with his announcement today that he will veto the historic bill passed by the California Legislature last night legalizing gay marriage. The resultant fallout will enrage the liberal community, especially in Hollywood, where Arnold used to work: Schwarzenegger said the legislation, given final approval Tuesday by lawmakers, would conflict with the intent of voters when they approved a ballot initiative five years ago. Proposition 22 prevents California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries. "We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote," the governor's press secretary, Margita Thompson, said in a statement. "Out of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto (the bill)." Despite his promised veto, Schwarzenegger "believes gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be...

September 9, 2005

Democrats Use Katrina Criticism For Political Fundraising

Hurricane Katrina has apparently given Democrats, desperate for an electoral victory after three successive cycles of losses at the national level, a new definition of flood aid. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee used an advertisement demanding the firing of the head of FEMA as an opportunity for people to donate to the DSCC in order to provide aid ... to Democratic politicians: A new Democratic effort to whip up indignation about the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina also tried to raise money for Democratic candidates. Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, issued an appeal Thursday urging people to sign an online petition to fire the Federal Emergency Management Agency's director over his handling of the Katrina response. After an inquiry from the Associated Press, the DSCC quickly pulled down the page and said they would give the Red Cross...

September 10, 2005

Flight 93 Memorial Intended To Offend

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette continues its coverage of the Flight 93 memorial in today's edition by noting that a number of people have seen a connection to the Crescent of Embrace at the heart of the memorial and its obvious Islamic symbolism. Paula Reed Ward reports that "online bloggers" started the controversy, which those involved in the design called "disgusting and repellent" (via Michelle Malkin): There's a growing outcry that one element of the newly chosen Flight 93 National Memorial represents Islam and is a slap in the face to the passengers and crew members who died on the hijacked plane four years ago. The winning design, announced Wednesday in Washington, D.C., includes what is called the "Crescent of Embrace." That element of the project calls for two rows of red maple trees to be planted around a bowl-shaped piece of land adjacent to the crash site. The trees, according to...

September 12, 2005

Der Spiegel Takes Liberties With Poverty Stats

The German magazine Der Spiegel provides an inept analysis of American economics and politics in today's hack job on Hurricane Katrina. The article starts off with a twisted take on poverty statistics: America is not only licking its wounds, but also confronting underlying race problems revealed by the floodwaters. Just how racially imbalanced is the world's richest country? Poverty under the Bush administration has climbed by 12 percent. ... On the same day the levees broke, Charles Nelson of the US Census Bureau in Washington presented the most recent report on income and poverty in the United States. The numbers and graphs he unveiled offered an appalling insight into the USA. The number of those in America living in poverty climbed by 1.1 million to fully 37 million people - the fourth jump in a row. While the official number of US poor dropped steadily during Bill Clinton's presidency, it...

Gray Lady Shrieking Over ID Requirement

Leave it to the Gray Lady to start shrieking over a state requiring the same level of identification it takes to cash a check as it will to cast a vote. Georgia passed a law requiring that voters present a state ID in order to identify themselves at polling booths for elections, a common-sense manner of avoiding the kind of voter fraud that Milwaukee experienced in the last presidential election. Despite the fact that Georgia will offer the IDs for free to indigent citizens, the New York Times still finds itself screaming about "poll taxes": In 1966, the Supreme Court held that the poll tax was unconstitutional. Nearly 40 years later, Georgia is still charging people to vote, this time with a new voter ID law that requires many people without driver's licenses - a group that is disproportionately poor, black and elderly - to pay $20 or more for...

September 15, 2005

Bush Speech: Better Late Than Never

I missed the live broadcast of George Bush's speech on Hurricane Katrina this evening from New Orleans, attending a board meeting of a local non-profit and having dinner with good friends. When I came home, I went right to the computer and watched it with the First Mate via stream on CNN before I read any other commentary, and while I heard it late, I welcomed the tone and the messages. In fact, I view his speech in exactly the same way. Bush did a marvelous job of touching on the despair, the heroism, the personal stories that touch hearts and motivate us to greater efforts, as well as the policy decisions that will spring from Katrina's aftermath. Unfortunately, this speech came about a week late. He may well undo the political damage done by the massive confusion of the first few days in the weeks and months ahead if...

September 17, 2005

The Governator Will Be Back

Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to run for a full term as California's governor despite sagging poll numbers. In a suprisingly early announcement, Arnold told a San Diego audience that he had no intention of leaving his reforms unfinished: The announcement came at the end of a public forum here, after a carefully screened crowd questioned him about his efforts to revamp California's schools and its budget process. No one, however, asked him about his plans for next year, when his term expires, even though his appearance had been heavily promoted as the place for announcing his re-election bid. So he asked himself if he would run. "Of course, I'm going to finish the job," he said. "I'm a follow-through guy." "I'm not in there for three years," Mr. Schwarzenegger added. "I'm in there for seven years. Yes, I will run again." The crowd inside the auditorium applauded, as protesters outside...

September 20, 2005

Can We Look For Experience Over Expedience?

Count me among the many bloggers who have a bout of head-scratching over the appointment of Julie Myers to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency within the DHS. Since the GOP base has become increasingly restless anyway about the Bush administration's lack of focus on the southern border, one would hope that the President would at least have appointed someone who had experience and knowledge of the subject matter for him or herself, even if the topic does not interest Bush -- perhaps especially if the topic does not interest him. Apparently not. Instead, the White House proposes to put a 36-year-old bureaucrat with no immigration experience, no experience leading any organization this size, and whose last assignment consisted of being Bush's HR specialist. What gives? And get this -- for an HR specialist, she appears oddly ignorant of nepotism issues. She just married Michael Chertoff's chief of staff,...

September 21, 2005

Hillary 'Endorses' Blaming Bush For 9/11 Terrorism

One of the lessons a politician learns is to be careful what she autographs. According to the New York Sun, Hillary "endorsed" a protest placard that blamed George Bush for the 9/11 attacks: Mrs. Clinton concluded her remarks yesterday by saying, "We are better than this," and lamenting the "disgraceful treatment of the people left behind in the Gulf Coast." While departing the event, she was asked to "endorse" a sign held by a demonstrator blaming President Bush for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Iraq war, and the devastation wrought by Katrina. Mrs. Clinton autographed the poster. I doubt that Mrs. Clinton did this completely out of oversight, either. While she has made strides in reinventing herself as a Democratc moderate, helped in no small measure by her political party marching over a radical-Left cliff over the past few years, she needs to stay connected to that...

Dem Dirty Tricks In Maryland?

Maryland Democrats opposing Michael Steele's possible run for the Senate seat opened up by the retirement of Paul Sarbanes apparently got hold of his credit report, a violation of privacy laws. Two staffers have resigned, and the FBI apparently will investigate the campaign: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said Tuesday that two of its employees obtained the credit report of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a potential Republican challenger next year for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Paul Sarbanes. Phil Singer, spokesman for the committee, said in a statement issued in Washington that the two employees have resigned. He said the credit report was not used or disseminated to anyone, and the incident was reported to the U.S. attorney's office. "While the DSCC did not authorize the employees to access Mr. Steele's credit report, we regret that this incident occurred and apologize to Mr. Steele," the statement said....

September 22, 2005

Just When South Dakota Looked Safe ...

Look who might stage a comeback attempt in politics -- the former obstructionist and Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle. According to the AP, Daschle has quietly organized a new political-action committee and will start making policy speeches, the first in Iowa: Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's interest in public office isn't necessarily latent: he has set up a new political action committee and plans a Jefferson-Jackson Day speech in the politically pivotal state of Iowa. ... Steve Hildebrand, director of the new committee and Daschle's former campaign manager, said the well-known Democrat from South Dakota "is not going to rule out opportunities to play important roles in public service." "It could be president, it could be vice president, it could be something else," Hildebrand said. "It could be nothing." He said Daschle's Iowa speech, scheduled for the state party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Nov. 5, will probably be his most...

Schumer Staffers Get Free Vacation For Privacy Violation

Senator Chuck Schumer, who runs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has long decried the potential for identity theft and the loss of privacy in the marketplace. In April of this year, Schumer introduced legislation to create an entire new bureaucracy for "data merchants", the Schumer-Nelson ID Theft Prevention Bill. What penalties does the Schumer-Nelson bill prescribe for violations? A thousand dollars per violation, for starters, and repeated violations probably would get escalated. So what did Schumer and the DSCC do with two staffers that got caught with Lt. Governor Michael Steele's (R-MD) credit report? Apparently gave them a two-month vacation with pay, according to the New York Post: Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Schumer-headed Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said two staffers were instantly suspended with pay in July after admitting they obtained the credit report of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who is running for Senate. Sources...

Speaking Of The Usual Suspects

The groups that will gather in Washington DC for a major anti-war protest this weekend have financial ties to major leftist fundraisers like George Soros and Theresa Heinz Kerry, and beyond them to communist organizations and radical left-wing groups, the Washington Times reports today. The conduits for the rallies appear to be the ubiquitous front groups International ANSWER and the UPJ: The groups gathering in Washington this weekend to protest President Bush and the war in Iraq have ties to radical left-wing groups and communist organizations and have enjoyed the support of the left's biggest financial supporter, George Soros. ... The leaders of ANSWER, founded three days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, are connected to the Workers World Party, a Marxist group that has expressed support for such dictators as North Korea's Kim Jong-il, Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic and Iraq's Saddam Hussein. The latter two have been ousted from...

September 24, 2005

Frist Has Some Explaining To Do

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist faces a serious investigation into his finances after apparently directing the sale of stock while his assets supposedly remained in a blind trust -- and dumping family-business stock just before the bottom dropped out. Today's Page One story in the Washington Post reports that Frist specifically ordered the divestiture of family shares of the family business: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is facing questions from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission about his sale of stock in his family's hospital company one month before its price fell sharply. The Tennessee lawmaker, who is the Senate's top Republican and a likely candidate for president in 2008, ordered his portfolio managers in June to sell his family's shares in HCA Inc., the nation's largest hospital chain, which was founded by Frist's father and brother. A month later, the stock's price dropped 9 percent in...

September 25, 2005

Frist's Smoke And Fire

Stephen Bainbridge and Power Line have done excellent work in examining the charges of insider trading that have prompted an investigation of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. That should surprise no one, of course; Stephen and Paul Mirengoff have outstanding legal minds and a wealth of knowledge on the regulations surrounding stock trading. However, both Stephen and Paul miss two aspects of this story. The first involves a separate legal question in my original post, but not referenced in either of their responses. The AP reported separately from the Washington Post that Bill Frist knew that he owned the HCA stock despite the trust supposedly being blind. His trustees informed him by letter that they had purchased a significant amount of the stock two weeks before he told people that he had no idea what kind of assets he had in that portfolio: Frist, asked in a television interview in...

September 28, 2005

When Johnny Met Cindy

Ever in search of ways to endear himself to the national media, John McCain met with so-called "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan, who returned the favor by calling McCain a "warmonger": Peace mom Cindy Sheehan didn't change her opposition to the war in Iraq after meeting Tuesday with one of its supporters, Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran whom she called "a warmonger." ... "He is a warmonger, and I'm not," Sheehan said after meeting with McCain. "I believe this war is not keeping America safer."... Sheehan and McCain had met once before, shortly after the funeral of her son. Sheehan said Tuesday that McCain told her then that her son's death was "like his buddies in Vietnam" and that he feared their deaths were "for nothing." McCain, however, denied he made such a statement. McCain later told reporters that he had been misled into believing that her delegation included some...

DNC Supports Race Baiting, Paper Of Record Misses It Entirely (Update)

When Charlie Rangel called George Bush "our Bull Connor", I didn't pay much attention to the comment. Rangel, after all, often issues ridiculous and deplorable statements, and the notion that anyone can compare the firehose-directing, dog-siccing racist of Birmingham with the President who has put African-Americans into such jobs as Secretary of State -- twice -- shows more than just a little disconnect from reality. It demonstrates a full-blown schizophrenia and paranoia that Rangel all too often vents in his scratchy voice. A paranoid Rangel doesn't amount to news. Having the DNC back him up, as the New York Sun reports, is another matter entirely (subscription may be required): The Democratic National Committee yesterday refused to distance itself from Rep. Charles Rangel's comparison of President Bush to an infamous Southern segregationist, Theophilus "Bull" Connor, remarks the Republican National Committee identified as "hate speech" and urged the DNC to repudiate. ......

It Takes A Thief ...

In my Weekly Standard column today, I note the lack of media interest in the scandal that Hugh Hewitt dubbed "Chuckaquiddick". Senator Chuck Schumer runs the DSCC, which we found out last week had fraudulently obtained the credit report of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele -- and had kept it quiet for over two months. I write that what this scandal needs is Congressional hearings, chaired by an expert on data privacy: Where would we find experts on data privacy in Congress to hold this hearing? For starters, we would need senators and congressmen like--well, like Chuck Schumer. Schumer, after all, co-authored and sponsored the Schumer-Nelson ID Theft Prevention Bill, introduced in April of this year to discourage the kind of actions that Barge and Weiner took on Schumer's behalf. At the time, Schumer himself said the following, a prescient warning about how someone's personal information could be abused: [O]ur...

DeLay Indicted By Partisan DA

A Travis County, Texas grand jury indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on a single charge of conspiracy to violate state campaign-finance laws earlier today, a long-awaited result of a years-long investigation by Travis County DA Ronnie Earle. The indictment will force DeLay to step down from his leadership position until either a trial or a dismissal. Roy Blunt will take over most of his responsibilities temporarily, with some falling to David Dreier and Eric Cantor: The indictment accuses DeLay of criminally conspiring to inject illegal corporate contributions into 2002 state elections that helped the Republican Party reorder the congressional map in Texas and cement its control of the House of Representatives in Washington. The four-page indictment alleged for the first time that DeLay himself participated in a conspiracy with others to funnel corporate money into the 2002 state election "with the intent that a felony be committed." In the...

September 29, 2005

Color The WaPo Editorial Board ... Skeptical

The indictment of Tom DeLay by DA Ronnie Earle has split the blogosphere into predictable battle lines, with liberal bloggers celebrating the indictment and conservatives, such as myself, pointing out the long history of partisanship that Earle has displayed in his pursuit of DeLay. Lost in the shuffle, for the most part, is the indictment itself. Apart from the arguable partisanship, the argument for a criminal indictment on the basis of the kinds of transactions alleged appears very weak, as even the Washington Post acknowledges: Nonetheless, at least on the evidence presented so far, the indictment of Mr. DeLay by a state prosecutor in Texas gives us pause. The charge concerns the activities of Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), a political action committee created by Mr. DeLay and his aides to orchestrate the GOP's takeover of the Texas legislature in 2002. The issue is whether Mr. DeLay and his...

September 30, 2005

Private Property Rights Making Comeback From Extinction?

Over the past thirty years, private property rights have steadily retreated in the face of an unprecedented hunt by environmentalists and grasping government agencies. Starting with the Nixon-era Endangered Species Act and reaching its nadir in the recent Kelo Supreme Court decision, owners of property have found their rights to hold and develop their property as they see fit increasingly restricted. Now, however, with the public outrage over Kelo still reverberating through political circles, Congress may finally push back on behalf of private property rights. On a mostly party-line vote, the House approved important restrictions on the application of the Endangered Species Act that requires the government to reimburse owners for the loss of any commercial value to their property under ESA enforcement, and not just only if all commercial value is lost: The House passed legislation yesterday that could greatly expand private-property rights under the Endangered Species Act, the...

So Who Was Miller Protecting?

The more that I think about the denouement of Judith Miller's three-month stay in prison, the less sense it makes. It didn't sound right to me last night when word leaked that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby had given her a personal assurance that she could name him as her source, even though he had repeatedly waived any confidentiality agreement before she went to jail. Now, having read some of the comments by her attorney Bob Bennett, it makes no sense at all. Power Line notes that Bennett blames Libby for not speaking up sooner and letting Miller off the hook: Miller's lawyer Bob Bennett is way out of line as he makes the rounds of the talk shows suggesting that Scooter Libby should have called Judith Miller earlier to personally assure her that she had his permission to testify. For example, he told Wolf Blitzer: Mr. Libby knew where Judy...

October 2, 2005

Will Fitzgerald Attempt A Conspiracy Indictment? (Update)

Most of us have wondered why Judith Miller's testimony about Scooter Libby held such importance to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he allowed her to walk away from a contempt charge merely to provide what appears to be corroborative testimony to what Libby has already told a grand jury. Miller wouldn't talk until Libby and his attorney practically had to beg her to do so, as Power Line notes with their discovery of the letters sent by Libby's attorneys to Bob Bennett, who represents Miller. Fitzgerald wound up giving Miller the same deal he gave Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post, which only required them to testify on a narrow basis about specific sources. Now the Post reports that inside sources in Fitzgerald's office tell them that the strategy has evolved. Instead of finding an act of criminal behavior, which they have apparently not found, Fitzgerald wants to create a...

Bad Day For Rangel On The Blogs

Rep. Charles Rangel had a bad day on the blogs yesterday. First Mark Tapscott completely discredits Rangel's assertions that the all-volunteer armed services draw disproportionally from poor families in his latest research. The Heritage Foundation compares recruitment data from 1999 to 2003 by zipcode and income levels, and finds that the Clinton-era recruitment relied more heavily on lower-income enlistees: Note the proportions of recruits from each of the five demographic quintiles, organized according to per capita income by zip code. The percentage of recruits from the poorest quintile is actually lower in 1999 and 2003 than the percentage for the richest quintile. In fact, the percentage difference between the richest and poorest quintiles increases between 1999 and 2003! And the highest percentage is actually in the second richest quintile of recruits, followed by the richest quintile. It is no exaggeration to say America's most prosperous families bear the greatest share...

October 3, 2005

Miller's Lawyer Wanted Same Deal A Year Ago

This revelation didn't receive a lot of notice, but the lawyer for Judith Miller told reporters yesterday that he asked Patrick Fitzgerald for essentially the same deal a year ago that sprang Miller from prison last week. This seems to indicate that Fitzgerald really wanted testimony from Miller on another matter and later on settled for testimony about Scooter Libby instead: Floyd Abrams, the attorney for New York Times reporter Judith Miller, said Sunday he had tried a year ago to reach an agreement with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald concerning Miller's testimony about the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity. ... Appearing Sunday on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Abrams said: "I tried to get a deal a year ago. I spoke to Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, and he did not agree at that time to something that he later did agree to, which was to limit the scope of the...

October 4, 2005

The Second Indictment: Second Verse Stinks Worse Than The First

The grudge match between Ronnie Earle and Tom DeLay went from blatantly political to surreal yesterday after Earle managed to get an indictment within hours of empaneling a grand jury that had eluded him for months with a previous panel. After DeLay's attorney Dick De Guerin filed an expected motion for an expected dismissaal of the indictment Earle issued, one that lacked any mention of lawbreaking on DeLay's part, Earle's sudden ability to add money laundering to the charges raised eyebrows throughout the legal world: The new indictment was brought on the first day of deliberations by a newly empaneled grand jury in Austin. The grand jury that brought the original conspiracy charges against Mr. DeLay, and which had been investigating the lawmaker for months, was disbanded last week. Without an explanation from the prosecutors, local criminal law specialists seemed perplexed by Mr. Earle's actions, saying they may reflect an...

Cohen To Democrats: Think Or Shaddap

It's not often that the Democrats lose Richard Cohen, one of the Washington Post's op-ed writers. It usually happens in any week with two Tuesdays, but otherwise it takes a blatantly bad move on their part to raise his ire. Remarkably and to his credit, Cohen castigates Democrats over two issues that they widely see as great openings for themselves in reversing their political fortunes -- Tom DeLay's indictments and the mostly ill-informed criticisms of Bill Bennett. Cohen chides the Democrats for not only forgetting their manners but also their good sense in trying to make political hay out of either: That was especially the case last week when I started reading what Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, had to say about Tom DeLay, her Republican opposite. I fully expected boilerplate, something about innocent until proved guilty. But Pelosi crossed me up. DeLay, as it...

October 5, 2005

Kuwait Weighs Its Stance Towards Israel

Long one of the hard-line nations against Israel despite their American ties, Kuwait has served as a bastion of Arabic thought for decades. They housed Yasser Arafat and thousands of PLO activists during the group's heyday in the 70s and early 80s, when the entire movement went on the run. Now, however, the unilateral Gaza withdrawal has chnaged the calculations of the region, and Kuwait is no exception, the New York Times reports today: Kuwaiti newspapers in recent days have floated the idea that the country could take steps to reduce hostility toward Israel as a means of helping the Palestinians, prompting a quiet debate about Kuwait's decades-old strategy of isolating Israel. The discussion breaks long-held taboos and brushes at an emotionally explosive subject for Kuwaitis, who had long considered themselves among the standard-bearers for the Palestinian cause. But experts emphasize that it remains no more than a discussion at...

October 6, 2005

Grand Jury Shopping And Intimidation = Texas-Style Justice?

More about Ronnie Earle's legal practices as District Attorney for Travis County has come to light after garnering a snap indictment for money laundering against Rep. Tom DeLay. It turns out that Earle convened a third grand jury to add more charges -- because an unannounced second grand jury refused to indict DeLay at all, provoking Earle's ire: A prosecutor tried to persuade a grand jury that Rep. Tom DeLay tacitly approved illegal use of campaign money and became angry when jurors decided against an indictment, according to two sources directly familiar with the proceeding. "The mood was unpleasant," one source said Wednesday, describing prosecutor Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle's reaction. ... Little was previously known about the grand jury that refused to indict DeLay, who has maintained his innocence and accused Earle a Democrat of bringing the prosecution to politically damage him. Earle has denied the allegation...

October 7, 2005

Did Earle Break The Same Campaign Finance Law?

The Washington Times reports that Ronnie Earle may have broken the same laws on which he based the indictments of Tom DeLay and accepted campaign contributions from corporations. Stephen Dinan looked into Earle's campaign records after DeLay leveled the accusation yesterday and found evidence that Earle took money that violated state law, including union contributions: Rep. Tom DeLay said District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is prosecuting him for trying to involve corporate money in Texas politics, has taken such contributions himself. "It's real interesting he has this crusade against corporate funds. He took corporate funds, and he's taken union funds, for his own re-election. That's against the law," Mr. DeLay told The Washington Times yesterday. A review of Mr. Earle's campaign-finance filings in Texas shows that he has received contributions from the AFL-CIO, including a $250 donation on Aug. 29, 2000. He also has received contributions listed on the disclosure...

Extremism Will Not Win Elections

Two leading Democratic analysts conclude that the Howard Dean approach to national politics will prove damaging to Democrats over the long term, and that a return to centrism provides the only realistic way for the opposition to compete for power. The two former Clinton aides claim that celebrating the base may mean more funding, but it alienates the mass numbers from the center needed to defeat Republicans: Since Kerry's defeat, some Democrats have urged that the party adopt a political strategy more like one pursued by Bush and his senior adviser, Karl Rove -- which emphasized robust turnout of the party base rather than relentless, Clinton-style tending to "swing voters." But Galston and Kamarck, both of whom served in the Clinton White House, said there are simply not enough left-leaning voters to make this a workable strategy. In one of their more potentially controversial findings, the authors argue that the...

October 17, 2005

Huh?

The AP tries its hand at political analysis tonight, looking ahead three years to the Democratic primaries and the impact that the Iraq War will have on potential candidates. Despite the anti-war zealots taking John Kerry on their shoulders after his 'yea' vote on the Iraq resolution -- and despite the continued good news from the Iraqis -- Liz Sidoti thinks that supporting votes for the war resolution may torpedo presidential campaigns in 2008: Potential Democratic presidential candidates who voted to give President Bush the authority to use force in Iraq could face a political problem they supported a war that their party's rank-and-file now strongly view as a mistake. Their pro-war votes cast three years ago could haunt them as they seek early support among die-hard Democrats and gauge whether to launch formal candidacies for the party's 2008 presidential nomination. "For a lot of activists, this...

October 18, 2005

Has The Conservative Movement Started To Crack?

One reads about the coming civil war among conservatives everywhere in the media these days -- how the Miers nomination has started an internecine squabble on the right that threatens to split the GOP, usually along secular/evangelical lines. Both the New York Times and Washington Post run feature articles on this topic today -- and both get the story essentially incorrect. The Times reports on the dismissal of an important conservative voice from a think-tank position in Dallas as a harbinger of civil war: In the latest sign of the deepening split among conservatives over how far to go in challenging President Bush, Bruce Bartlett, a Republican commentator who has been increasingly critical of the White House, was dismissed on Monday as a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative research group based in Dallas. In a statement, the organization said the decision was made after...

Chewing On Straw In The Plame Case

One CQ reader, Maestro, wonders in another thread why I have not written very extensively about the Plame case over the past couple of weeks. My last post came on October 3rd, and I didn't bother even linking to the Judith Miller release and article last week. One reason for the lack of follow-up is simply practical; my schedule has grown increasingly difficult and my blogging time more limited. This past weekend went to Marriage Encounter, and work and family issues have created less of a window for blogging. However, I have to say that apart from reading Tom Maguire's excellent coverage of the rampant speculation about the case, I find very little there there about the Plame case right now. Most of the data out in the open has been there for weeks and months, and the only real news has been how little real news has come out...

October 21, 2005

Wisconsin Governor Faces Bipartisan Probe On Contract Award

A travel-services contract awarded to a hefty financial contributor to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle has triggered a joint state/federal investigation into potential bribery charges, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports this morning: Federal, state and Dane County authorities have launched a joint investigation into a travel contract given to the company of a major contributor to Gov. Jim Doyle, officials said Thursday. ... In March, Adelman Travel was awarded a three-year contract with the state worth up to $250,000 a year. Before and after bids were solicited and the contract awarded, the firm's owner, Craig B. Adelman, gave the $10,000 maximum allowed to Doyle's re-election campaign. A competing company, Omega World Travel of Fairfax, Va., led the bidding at one point in the process. But state officials said both bids were so close that they asked for head-to-head final prices - and Adelman won that competition. Also, a member of Adelman Travel's...

October 22, 2005

On The Nature Of Criticism

One of the themes that I see repeated in the blogosphere and in comments here on Miers, Abbas, and other threads here at CQ is that criticism of specific points of policy equates to a threat against the Administration. I can understand why people feel like this, especially on the Right; we have advanced our agenda by remaining remarkably united since 1994. That kind of unity has allowed us to make great electoral strides, gaining control of both houses of Congress and two terms in the White House, not easily done in during the times we have faced over the last decade. George Bush, in my opinion, has performed magnificently on a broad range of issues, including the judiciary. He has prosecuted the war on terror using the forward strategy of military engagement on the home turf of the terrorists rather than the United States. He has used that as...

October 25, 2005

Will Gray Lady's Attacks On Miller Stop Indictments?

Josh Gersten at the New York Sun reports today that the ongoing attacks on the credibility of Judith Miller at her own newspaper may have an unintended, ironic effect on the grand jury investigation headed by Patrick Fitzgerald. Given that her testimony and writing has been central to the efforts to tie Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to an alleged conspiracy to discredit Joseph Wilson, the continued disparagement of her truthfulness might well result in an inability to use her in support of any prosecution: Attorneys closely following the case said the sharp criticism Ms. Miller has received from her editors and colleagues may discourage the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, from bringing perjury charges against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby. According to Ms. Miller and others who have testified before the grand jury investigating the leak, Mr. Fitzgerald has shown significant interest in whether Mr....

October 26, 2005

Steele For Senate

As expected, Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele announced yesterday that he will run for the US Senate seat left open by the retirement of Democrat Paul Sarbanes. In a speech given little attention by the media, Steele highlighted his personal success story as a motivator for his efforts in politics: Steele, 47, launched his campaign Tuesday with a 20-minute speech, evoking lessons he learned growing up in a poor household that he said was "rich in turning hope into action." I think Steele has a big future in the GOP, but he has to win this race to fully realize it. His ability to command an audience, combined with his relaxed and warm public persona and grasp of public policy show flashes of both Ronald Reagan and freshman Senator Norm Coleman. Kweisi Mfume may not admit it, but Steele could certainly peel enough of the African-American vote to make the...

Do Conservatives Know How To Dissent?

My Daily Standard column, "Family Squabbles", addresses the Harriet Miers debate and the vicious tone it has taken in the conservative punditry and blogosphere. I ask the questions: have we paid too much for our unity, and has our disinclination to engage in vigorous debate on policy created such a harbor of resentment that we can no longer disagree agreeably even among fellow conservatives? If we are to govern in the majority, we had better learn how to handle ourselves better when our interests conflict. We got to this position of controlling the levers of power through the efforts of people like Hugh Hewitt, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, George Bush, Ken Mehlman, Tom DeLay, and the various bloggers and grassroots organizers weighing in on vital policy issues every day. Calling each other "pimps", "shills", "hysterics", and other names may make for memorable rhetoric but it will undermine our own credibility...

That Didn't Take Long

One could easily predict that nutcases on the far Left would start peppering the Michael Steele campaign with increasingly personal attacks, thanks to his status as a conservative African-American. However, this must represent a world record reaction time, even for the lunatic Left. Steve Gilliard, who runs the News Blog, has a new post called "Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house," an echo of the oft-tossed 'house slave' epithet that black conservatives get. Gilliard includes a photo-shopped image of Steele depicting him in minstrel-show blackface. Gilliard excuses this racist imagery as acceptable given his own status as an African-American leftist. Disgusting is disgusting, regardless of whoever puts it up on their web site. All this proves is that racism has many faces, including those who insist that people of a particular ethicity must all think alike in order to be "authentic". I doubt that Gilliard will feel...

October 28, 2005

The Fitzmas That Fizzled?

The Left has spent the last two weeks crowing about "Fitzmas" -- the day special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald climbs down the chimney of good little Leftist boys and girls and leaves copies of indictments against Bush administration officials. Since Fitzgerald's grand jury expires today, I imagine a number of these hopeful dreamers spent at least last night with very little REM sleep. Unfortunately, if the New York Times has its story correct, they may find themselves sorely disappointed. It looks like only I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will get served today: Associates of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, expected an indictment on Friday charging him with making false statements to the grand jury in the C.I.A. leak inquiry, lawyers in the case said Thursday. Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under...

Fitzmas Drizzles One Solid Indictment

I've had an opportunity to read through the indictment of Scooter Libby while waiting at the clinic with the First Mate. As I predicted, Libby resigned as soon as the indictment was made public: Friday's charges stemmed from a two-year investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame or misled investigators about their involvement. In the end, Fitzgerald accused Libby of a cover-up lying about his conversations with reporters. He was not charged with outing a spy. "Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true. It was false," the prosecutor said. "He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the...

October 30, 2005

The Myth Of Dragging Wilson's Wife Into The Niger Case

Earlier today, I listened to "Late Edition" on CNN and heard Wolf Blitzer interviewing Gary Bauer about the Plame case. Normally that would cause me to either fall asleep from apathy or change the channel to something more interesting -- perhaps a re-run of pro bowling on ESPN XXIV. Before I reached the remote, however, I heard this exchange and my jaw hit the floor: BLITZER: But even if there were no criminal -- if there was nothing criminal about the release of the Valerie Plame, was it appropriate for senior officials in the Bush -- Bush White House, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, to be talking about Joe Wilson's wife instead of simply arguing with him over the merits of the case. BAUER: Well, Joe Wilson's wife -- they have their own political agenda, which I think is fairly obvious as we have watched this unfold in recent months... BLITZER:...

November 1, 2005

Democrats Deny Open Government To American Electorate

In a move that has not occurred in twenty-five years, the Democrats shut the American public out of the Senate chamber and forced a secret session of the upper chamber this afternoon. Without warning, Harry Reid invoked Rule 21 and after an immediate second, chased out the press and Senate staffers, locked the doors -- and threw a tanrum over Joe Wilson: he US Senate held a rare secret session to discuss a scandal that led to the resignation of a top White House official last week and the intelligence used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Opposition Democrats requested the closed door session saying it was necessary to allow for a full, open debate on alleged manipulation of prewar intelligence. This shows the emptiness of Democrats, both in head and heart. As Bill Frist said afterwards, the minority party proves it has nothing to contribute except cheap political...

November 2, 2005

Democrats: Racism OK For Liberals Opposing Conservatives

The Democrats in Maryland have decided that they like racism, especially racist stereotypes such as slave gibberish and minstrel-show caricatures of African-Americans, and have publicly come out in favor of their use in political campaigns. While such imagery would get a Republican immediately denounced as a hatemonger, Democrats feel free to use them as long as their targets are conservative African-Americans, such as Michael Steele: Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican. Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log. ... "There is a difference between pointing out the obvious and calling someone...

November 3, 2005

Lying Liars Love Joseph Wilson

Today's Wall Street Journal has a can't-miss editorial published in its open-to-all OpinionJournal website. It excoriates the "Clare Luce Democrats," those who have again appointed Joe Wilson their poster boy for the Bush-lied meme that went down to defeat in 2004 when their party used it as the only plank in their platform. Harry Reid took up that strategy himself when he led the Senate into secret session, the first time in 25 years Rule 21 had been used without agreement between the two parties: Harry Reid pulled the Senate into closed session Tuesday, claiming that "The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq." But the Minority Leader's statement was as demonstrably false as his stunt was transparently political. ... We are now seeing the spectacle of Bush-hating Democrats adopting...

November 4, 2005

Maryland Democrats Condemn Racism But Not Racists In Party

After the Washington Times exposed Maryland Democrats as willing participants in racist attacks on Michael Steele and other black conservatives, the embarrassment has caused a number of Democrats to publicly eschew such tactics. Unfortunately, they refuse to condemn the people in their party who practice such behavior on behalf of the party, putting them in the awkward position of condemning racism while excusing the racists: U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin yesterday pledged not to use racially tinged attacks in his campaign for U.S. Senate but stopped short of repudiating fellow Maryland Democrats who have said such tactics are acceptable against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele because he is a black conservative Republican. "I have never in my entire life brought race into what I do in life, and it is not going to come in now, at this stage," said Mr. Cardin, a 10-term congressman who could face Mr. Steele...

Would You Like A Coup With That Leak?

[Vox Taciturn, who recently retired from blogging due to family obligations, happily takes me up on my offer to host his guest posts. Vox, a former member of the intelligence community, attempts to connect a few dots in today's post. -- Captain Ed] Anyone who isn't purposefully and willfully deluding themselves has seen the folly of Plame-gate: The alleged White House-driven plot to seek vengeance against truth-telling Joe Wilson. That Joe has been proven to be anything but a truth-teller is beside the point; the neo-cons attacked his wife, the mother of his children, and a dedicated public servant in covert status at the CIA. That a simple search of public information something any reporter could have done, something the FBI Special Agents working for Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald surely did, and something any foreign intelligence service would have done had they decided to do business with CIA front Brewster...

November 5, 2005

Warren Beatty, Stalker

Warren Beatty and his wife Annette Bening have attempted to shadow Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger through his last several appearances in support of his referenda in California's upcoming special election. Up to now, everyone assumed Beatty had finally decided to pull the trigger and run for governor next year, starting his long-rumored political career after seeing his movie career dry up over the past decade. However, Beatty announced today that he will not run for office next year, creating a lot of confusion among Californians about why he keeps following the Governator everywhere: Actors Warren Beatty and wife Annette Bening tried to crash a campaign appearance Saturday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the governor sought to drum up last-minute support for a group of statewide ballot measures. ... Beatty planned to shadow Schwarzenegger throughout the day as the governor campaigned. He has been repeatedly mentioned as a possible challenger to Schwarzenegger,...

November 6, 2005

The Shock Of Taking Political Stands In Business

Newsweek covers a story that has percolated a while in the blogs and at a lower profile in the media recently -- the backlash against the American Girls line of dolls produced by Mattel. Designed to provide a more wholesome image than the whore-image Bratz line and a more realistic image than mechanically impossible Barbie dolls, American Girls has had phenomenal success, especially among families that consider themselves more sensitive to self-image issues. Primarily, the AmGirl market focused on more socially conservative families. Unfortunately, AmGirl made the mistake of going overtly political by donating a $50K to Girls, Inc, which used to be known as The Girls Clubs, and promoting its charitable outreach. Girls, Inc explicitly promotes the upholding of Roe v Wade and homosexual rights on its website, which AmGirl devotees soon learned. Now AmGirl and GirlsInc executives proclaim themselves "shocked" that the partnership has created such a controversy:...

November 7, 2005

The Soft (And Quiet) Landing Of Gas Prices

One of the major media stories over the past two months has been the explosion of gasoline prices. Starting with the Iraq War but exacerbated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, gasoline prices have more than doubled over the past three years and have blown by the $2/gallon and $3/gallon milestones in record time. The media used gas pricing as a baseball bat on George Bush's energy policies and foreign policy. However, since the rebuilding efforts began after the twin hurricanes in the Gulf, prices have steadily fallen, but the media hasn't done much reporting on their decline. USA Today provides one exception: Retail gas prices plunged an average of 23 cents nationwide in the past two weeks, marking a return to pre-Hurricane Katrina levels, according to a survey. The weighted average price for all three grades declined to $2.45 a gallon on Friday, said Trilby Lundberg, who publishes the semimonthly...

November 9, 2005

A Good Night For Democrats

Democrats executed a near-sweep in state elections last night, winning every contest except the mayor's race in New York City, where liberal GOP incumbent Michael Bloomberg's re-election has been a foregone conclusion for weeks. In the single bright spot for Republicans, Bloomberg won a fourth straight GOP victory in NYC (Rudy Giuliani also served two terms) and broke Giuliani's record margin of victory by beating the hapless Fernando Ferrer by 20 points. Other than that lone accomplishment, the Republicans took it on the chin. As expected, the New Jersey governor's race went to Jon Corzine, but not before his ex-wife got a chance to take a couple of below-the-belt shots at Corzine at the last moment. Despite some polling showing GOP candidate Doug Forrester pulling into a dead heat, Corzine sailed to an easy 11-point victory over Forrester. At best, the Republicans had only a longshot chance in New Jersey,...

Let's Talk About Leaks

After watching the Democrats go nuts for the better part of weeks after their much-ballyhooed "Fitzmas" fizzled out with one indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice, the Republicans have decided to climb aboard the anti-leak bandwagon. Congressional leaders have now demanded investigations into the leak of an actual CIA operation to the Washington Post, which promises more subpoenas for reporters and plenty of headlines for a CIA that has been increasingly exposed as a political player for the Democrats during the Bush administration: House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee noted that the leak, which said the CIA-run prisons are used to interrogate terror suspects, could threaten national security. "If accurate, such an egregious disclosure could have long-term and far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences, and will imperil our efforts to protect the American people and our homeland from terrorist attacks," they...

November 10, 2005

Will The DoJ Probe The CIA For CYA?

A joint call for Congressional investigations into a rash of recent CIA leaks by Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist may get pre-empted by a criminal probe at the Department of Justice, Jonathan Allen reports for The Hill today: Rank-and-file members of the House and Senate intelligence committees said they were in the dark yesterday about the timing and logistics of a possible joint investigation into alleged leaks from the Central Intelligence Agency, and there were strong indications that congressional action could be preempted by a potential Justice Department probe. ... The Washington Post reported last week that the CIA has been operating secret prison camps in foreign countries to interrogate detainees. Many lawmakers said they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of such black sites. At least two lawmakers, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said yesterday that the intelligence panels should defer...

November 11, 2005

He's Ba-aaaaack ....

SCENE 157. A graveyard at dusk. Slo-mo with handheld. Howard DEAN walks through the gates of a cemetery, a handful of posies in his hand. He looks nervously to either side of the fog-shrouded graveyard, seeing no one. He continues until he stops at a headstone, where wreaths of fog clear away enough for the audience to read KARL ROVE, 1999-2005. Shaking his head, DEAN places the posies on the grave just in front of the headstone -- CUE SHRIEKING MUSIC -- when a gray hand shoots out of the fresh earth and grips DEAN'S arm. A panicking DEAN cannot get any air to scream and cannot pull away. His efforts only seem to assist the corpse from its grave as more of the arm breaks clear of the surface. Just when it looks like the head must appear, DEAN finally screams -- SCENE 158: DEAN'S Bedroom. DEAN: Yeee-aaaaaaaargh! MRS...

Bush Goes Back To Offense On Veterans Day

After months of crescendoing criticism over the intelligence which led to the war, George Bush has finally heard enough. Regardless of whether his relative silence on the subject of pre-war intelligence came from a desire to allow Patrick Fitzgerald a nonpartisan environment in which to investigate the Plame leak or a desire to look forward and not ahead, clearly his political enemies -- not just opponents, but very obviously political enemies -- wanted to do neither. More than 30 months after the fall of Saddam, Bush today reminded the nation that the intelligence from which he operated had not much changed from 1998 when Congress and President Clinton used it to justify an ineffective attack on Saddam Hussein and to declare regime change the official policy of the United States. In fact, the only significant change that did occur was the circumstances in which Bush had to consider the intelligence:...

November 12, 2005

Post: George Bush Homer Gets Roger Maris Treatment

Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus "analyze" the President's speech last night and try to rebut some of the details, claiming that "asterisks dot" the argument throughout the speech. Already used in the comments here in CQ, Milbank and Pincus -- the latter especially lacking any credibility after his depantsing by Joe Wilson's misinformation campaign -- still can't deny the overall truth of Bush's speech and the despicable hypocrisy at the center of the Democratic Party's campaign to smear him as a liar: The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements. Milbank and Pincus argue that Bush had access to more information than Congress did, such as...

Will Steele Split The Black Vote In Maryland?

The candidacy of Michael Steele for the Maryland Senate seat vacated by Paul Sarbanes has some Democrats worried about a split in their most loyal constituency -- the African-American vote. Steele became the first black candidate to win statewide office when he ran for Lieutenant Governor, and now his run for Sarbane's seat may have Maryland voters in a quandry: Black Maryland Democratic leaders say Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's run for the U.S. Senate could put them at odds with black voters who would question their endorsing a white candidate, such as U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, over the black Republican. "I think at that point I'd be saying that I am endorsing the Democratic ticket," said Delegate Obie Patterson, Prince George's County Democrat and former chairman of the General Assembly's black caucus. "It would be a much more difficult task to rally the troops to get out and...

November 13, 2005

Shelby Cleared By Ethics Committee

The National Journal reports today that Senator Richard Shelby will be cleared of charges that he leaked classified material, bringing an end to a 15-month investigation. The leak concerned a translation of an Arabic-language intercept that preceded 9/11: The Senate Ethics Committee informed Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., late on Friday that after a 15-month inquiry into allegations that he had leaked sensitive national security information to the news media, that it had insufficient evidence that he had done anything wrong, and would not pursue the matter further, National Journal has learned. The Senate Ethics Committee inquiry commenced as a result of a referral from the Department of Justice to the committee on July 20, 2004, in which the department said that there existed what sources described as "credible and specific information" that Shelby might have leaked classified information to the press, and then possibly made false statements to federal investigators...

The Counter-Offensive Turns Into A Team Sport

The pushback against the ridiculous "Bush lied!" campaign taken up by Democrats in 2005 after they lost an entire electoral cycle on it in 2004 has broadened out past the White House to even the President's fair-weather friends in the GOP. Glenn Reynolds points to this exchange on Face The Nation, the CBS entry on the Sunday morning talking-head shows. Bob Schieffer tried to twist Bush's words into a complaint about criticism of war policy, and John McCain would not allow him to get away with it: SCHIEFFER: President Bush accused his critics of rewriting history last week. Sen. McCAIN: Yeah. SCHIEFFER: And in--he said in doing so, the criticisms they were making of his war policy was endangering our troops in Iraq. Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy? Sen. McCAIN: No, I think it's a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and...

Jay's Bogus Journey?

A number of CQ readers caught something significant that I missed earlier in the quote from Jay Rockefeller. In trying to attack George Bush and fend off Chris Wallace, Rockefeller tells Wallace that he went out to Arab leaders to conduct his own foreign policy: SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11. Now, what the hell was Rockefeller doing revealing his analysis of American foreign policy and the direction of war strategy to...

November 14, 2005

Norman Podhoretz Article At OpinionJournal

The Norman Podhoretz article that appears to have inspired the GOP to finally fight back against the ridiculous and intellectually dishonest "Bush lied!" Democrat campaign now appears at the Wall Street Journal's free opinion site, OpinionJournal.com. Podhoretz takes the main thrust of a counterargument that has rumbled around the blogosphere in simpler forms and uses the data to stage a devastating rhetorical rebuttal to those Democrats who used the same intelligence in 1998 and 2002 to make themselves look tough. Podhoretz begins: Among the many distortions, misrepresentations and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed. What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in...

November 15, 2005

Senate GOP Plays Smart Tactics, Not Surrender (Updated)

Several CQ readers point out this article in today's New York Times, angry at what appears to be yet another Republican surrender to the Democrats on the national stage. The GOP has introduced a measure that will require the White House to publicly lay out a victory in Iraq and some sort of plan for the phased withdrawal of troops afterwards: In a sign of increasing unease among Congressional Republicans over the war in Iraq, the Senate is to consider on Tuesday a Republican proposal that calls for Iraqi forces to take the lead next year in securing the nation and for the Bush administration to lay out its strategy for ending the war. ... The proposal on the Iraq war, from Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, and Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, would require the administration to provide extensive new...

On Second Thought ...

I've been giving the matter of the Warner amendment considerable thought this afternoon, after reading a number of CQ commenters at lunch and listening to Hugh Hewitt in the way home. While I still think that the idea of getting Bush out in front on the war has its merits, one part of this has me convinced now that it was the wrong way to go about it. They waited until Bush left the country to do it. Now that, frankly, I missed when I first started writing this morning. If the Senate GOP wanted to send a message to the White House, the leadership should have had the courtesy to wait until the current occupant was home. Bush left for an important trip to China, where he especially needs to appear to be in charge of events back home. The GOP move could have waited for Bush to return,...

Not One Dime Adopts Its First Candidate

The National Republican Senatorial Committee wants to discourage conservative Republicans from having an option to the liberal Lincoln Chaffee, who has not only helped form the Gang of 14 which arrogated power from the majority on judicial nominations but also has attacked the Iraq War and George Bush for waging it. Even among RINOs, Linc Chaffee stands out as the extreme edge of a big-tent approach. Now, for some reason, the NRSC wants Rhode Islanders to stick with a Senator that more often than not betrays the GOP, going so far as to actively campaign against a conservative with the temerity to challenge Chaffee in the primary: Liberal Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee refused to support President Bush in the last election, opposed the GOP tax cuts and was the only Republican to vote against the use of military force in Iraq, a war he has likened to Vietnam. So why,...

Administration Official Told Bob Woodward About Plame's CIA Role Before Leak: Post

Tomorrow's Washington Post has a stunning new development in the Valerie Plame story, one that could unravel most of the investigation conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald. The paper reveals that its most celebrated reporter, Bob Woodward, learned of Valerie Plame and her employment at the agency from an unnamed administration official a month before Robert Novak revealed it in his column -- and it wasn't Karl Rove or Scooter Libby: Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed. In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not...

November 17, 2005

Bush Takes The High Road With Senate GOP Caucus

George Bush has decided to look at the Warner Amendment in much the way I first analyzed the situation, hailing the overall process that eliminated any call for a timetable to withdraw from Iraq. Speaking from Kyoto on his tour of Asia, Bush expressed his satisfaction with the defeat of the competing Democratic amendment that demanded a withdrawal schedule and told the press that the Warner approach sounded reasonable: President Bush said yesterday that it was "a positive step" for the Senate to defeat a Democrat-led effort to establish a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. "The Senate, in a bipartisan fashion, rejected an amendment that would have taken our troops out of Iraq before the mission was complete," Mr. Bush said during a press conference in Kyoto with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. "To me, that was a positive step by the United States Senate." Mr. Bush rejected a...

Haven't Heard About Abramoff In A While?

If the name Jack Abramoff hasn't come up in quite a while, it shouldn't surprise anyone. After having had a turn as the favorite Democratic bogeyman on Republican corruption, the issue inexplicably slid off the radar as the Democrats instead talked more generically about the "culture of corruption." Now we know why -- it turns out that Abramoff took much more of an equal-opportunity approach to spreading the wealth on Capitol Hill than Democrats initially let on: Nearly three dozen members of Congress, including leaders from both parties, pressed the government to block a Louisiana Indian tribe from opening a casino while the lawmakers collected large donations from rival tribes and their lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. Many intervened with letters to Interior Secretary Gale Norton within days of receiving money from tribes represented by Abramoff or using the lobbyist's restaurant for fundraising, an Associated Press review of campaign records, IRS records...

November 18, 2005

NAACP Leader Switches Parties

Doug at Considerettes notes an interesting political story that should shake up South Florida politics, especially for those who want to toss race cards around during election season. Scott Maxwell at the Orlando Sentinel reports that the head of the NAACP for Florida's Orange County has responded to GOP outreach efforts by changing his party affiliation to Republican: "I've thought about this for two years," [Derrick] Wallace said Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours after returning from the elections office. "This is not a decision I made yesterday." It is, however, a decision that rang out like a shot among political circles. Republican Party leader Lew Oliver described himself as "extraordinarily pleased," while Democratic leader Tim Shea said he was disappointed. Wallace, a construction-company exec, was candid about the fact that his business life was a big part of his decision to change. "It's purely a business decision. Ninety percent...

November 29, 2005

Abramoff Client Heading Investigation

Democrats have tried painting Jack Abramoff's sleazy and allegedly criminal lobbying efforts as a strictly Republican scandal for the last several months, tying Abramoff chiefly to Tom DeLay. However, as the investigation into Abramoff continues, more and more ties to Democrats have emerged, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Now it appears that the ranking Senate Democrat on the committee that has taken the lead in investigating Abramoff has more than a oversight connection to Abramoff himself: New evidence is emerging that the top Democrat on the Senate committee currently investigating Jack Abramoff got political money arranged by the lobbyist back in 2002 shortly after the lawmaker took action favorable to Abramoff's tribal clients. A lawyer for the Louisiana Coushatta Indians told The Associated Press that Abramoff instructed the tribe to send $5,000 to Sen. Byron Dorgan (news, bio, voting record)'s political group just three weeks after the North Dakota...