I’ve Been YouTubed On The YouTube Debate

Yesterday on CQ Radio, I spoke with Rep. Tom Cole of the NRCC on a wide variety of topics relating to the Republican caucus in the House. However, I decided to ask Rep. Cole his opinion on the YouTube debate towards the end of the interview. I thought he might demur, given his focus on Congress rather than the presidential race, but instead he gave a rather impassioned plea for Republicans to engage in the debate.
CQ Radio listener TechRepublican put together an excellent YouTube presentation:

Oh, the irony! It’s excellent, and it serves as a reminder that one can find something newsworthy at CQ Radio every day.

Which Party Is The Most Partisan In Congress?

Both parties like to blame the other for failing to exercise independence in Congress. Their supporters blame the members of the opposite side for excessive partisanship which keeps Washington DC from accomplishing anything for the people. The Washington Post decided to take a look at the 110th Congress to see which party exercises the most partisanship — and the Democrats win the prize.
In fact, the Democrats take nine of the top ten partisan spots, as well as scoring 8 points higher in partisanship as a party. The lone Republican ties for first, though:
100% – Charlie Norwood (R-GA)
100% – Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
99.7% – Nita Lowey (D-NY)
99.4% – Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA)
99.1% – Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
98.9% – Xavier Bacerra (D-CA)
98.7% – Diana DeGetter (D-CO)
98.6% – Gary Ackerman (D-NY)
98.6% – Hilda Solis (D-CA)
98.6% – Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)
98.6% – Al Wynn (D-MD)
Of course, Norwood is dead, and has been since February (h/t: The Anchoress). After Norwood, the next Republican comes in at 94.8%. JoAnn Davis (R-VA) has only cast 134 votes, however, as she has missed significant time while fighting a recurrence of breast cancer. She comes in at #174 on the list of partisans — which means that Democrats occupy all of the previous 173 slots, of those among the living, anyway.
In comparison, Republicans occupy all of the ten positions for the least partisan Representatives. The percentage of party votes for these range between 68%-78.4%. The first Democrat at that end of the spectrum comes in at #18.
If people want to know which party better puts bipartisanship into practice, and which holds the top living 173 slots for partisanship in Congress, the Post has the information for them. (via The Moderate Voice)
UPDATE: Hey, what do you know? The Democrats win in the Senate, too! The Republicans make it a little closer, being less partisan by only six percentage points this time (88.5%-82.3%), but the Democrats sweep the Top Ten Partisans again:
97.8% – Dick Durbin (D-IL)
97.1% – Ben Cardin (D-MD)
97.1% – Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
97.1% – Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
97.0% – Joe Biden (D-DE)
97.0% – Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
96.7% – Jack Reed (D-RI)
96.7% – Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
96.6% – Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
96.6% – Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
The most partisan Republican in the Senate is the newly-seated John Barasso of Wyoming, at #13 on the list but with only 51 votes. Of Republicans who have served more than a few weeks, Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is tops … at #28. Republicans take the top 14 spots of the most bipartisan Senators, with Lousiana’s Mary Landrieu breaking the Democratic jinx.
Democrats — They put the party in partisanship!

Does The NAACP Endorse Dogfighting?

Michael Vick had a bad day in court, as one of his co-defendants apparently flipped and will cooperate with federal authorities. However, Vick got some public support from the NAACP — which accused the government of “piling on” in prosecuting Vick:

The president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP criticized the prosecution of Vick at a news conference Monday morning. Dr. R.L. White, Jr., accused the government of “piling on.”
“There’s a penalty in football for piling on,” White told reporters. “After a player has been tackled and somebody piles on, they’re penalized for unnecessary roughness. Today, the NAACP blows the whistle and warns the powers that be that you are piling on.”

Will the NAACP clarify this statement? Are they now endorsing dogfighting and opposing the prosecution of those who allegedly stage these events and slaughter dogs who don’t perform? Filing charges in court when grand juries hand down indictments does not qualify as “piling on” — unless one wants to argue that the alleged activity should go unprosecuted completely.
Vick could be innocent of the charges, but that will be the jury’s decision. In the meantime, the NAACP just take a 5-yard penalty for offsides, and perhaps keep their mouths shut until after the trial. Something tells me that Vick can afford better representation than Dr. White.

Fred Flop Or First Fruits?

Apparently, three million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to go. According to The Politico, that’s how much money Thompson raised in his first month as an official non-candidate. The number comes a little south of expectations, which has some people in panic mode prematurely:

Fred Thompson plans to announce Tuesday that his committee to test the waters for a Republican presidential campaign raised slightly more than $3 million in June, substantially less than some backers had hoped, according to Republican sources.
Thompson plans to make the disclosure in a filing with the Internal Revenue Service, as he continues to operate his prospective campaign as a political organization that does not require disclosure to the Federal Election Commission. …
Some are already saying a prospective Thompson run is a flop. “I just don’t see it anymore,” said a key Republican who had been extremely enthusiastic about a Thompson candidacy.
“That number is really underwhelming. There were indications it could be double that. They’ve been saying that people were waiting for Fred, and the money was going to pour in. He looks like he’s already losing momentum.”

The situation needs a little historical context, the Thompson campaign insists. They sent around a response just a few minutes ago, pointing out that Thompson did pretty well — compared to the exploratory fundraising of the current frontrunners. Rudy Giuliani only raised $258,660 in his first 30 days, and John McCain pulled in $1,130,351 in his first month. They also point out that Mitt Romney loaned his campaign $850,000 during the exploratory phase.
Exploratory candidates have somewhat ambiguous limits on the total funds they can raise as well. The FEC rules stipulate that they have to stay within “what could reasonably be expected to be used for exploratory activities”, a clause that the folks at DailyKos accused Thompson of violating. The Fred team points out that The Politico just covered that story about three weeks ago.
I recall hearing that the expectation out of the gate was $5 million, which would have been a substantial number for a non-candidate. That number may not have come from the Fred campaign itself but political analysts gauging what Fred would need for a running start. In that sense, three million would be disappointing, but that’s only if one buys that analysis. Given his status and the limitations of his fundraising activities, this is not a bad number.
We already know the Q2 fundraising for the current candidates. Extrapolating his fundraising to a full quarter, Fred would have raised $9 million as a non-candidate. That’s what John Edwards raised in Q2 as a top-tier Democratic candidate, and only $2 million below John McCain. Had he met the $5 million goal, he would have outraised Romney and come just below Giuliani.
I think that Fred has no reason to panic. In fact, I’m a little suspicious of these themes of impending disaster halfway through the year before the primaries, especially for candidates and non-candidates who draft double-digit support in national polling.
UPDATE: Mark Tapscott concurs:

There is also a technical term for a supposedly high-ranking GOP operative who would so quickly conclude that $3 million raised in 26 days for an unannounced candidate is evidence of “a flop.” That technical term is “unvarnished garbage.” No truly experienced national political operative would make such a claim, unless he was talking to a reporter looking for a quote that serves somebody’s agenda.


This weekend, the Minnesota open-borders contingent turned themselves into the equivalent of Fred Phelps when they decided to picket the home of Senator Norm Coleman — as he and his family prepared to bury his father, Norm Coleman, Sr. Coleman’s presumed opponent for the 2008 Senate Race, Al Franken, couldn’t breathe a word of sympathy for Coleman, and some — not all — of the liberal bloggers here in the state followed his lead:

A few hundred protesters crowded together briefly Sunday afternoon on the sidewalk and in the street in front of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman’s St. Paul home, shouting for an end to immigration policies and enforcement practices that the demonstrators say unfairly divide families.
The rally — during which participants first gathered at Summit Avenue and North Lexington Parkway and then marched about a mile to Coleman’s house on Osceola Avenue — came a day before today’s burial of Coleman’s father, Norman Coleman Sr., at Arlington National Cemetery. He died Thursday of bladder cancer at 82.
Protest organizers discussed whether to change their plans in reaction to the elder Coleman’s death, said Alondra Espejel, with the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network.
Seeing parallels in the grief felt by Sen. Coleman and that of children who have had parents deported, organizers decided to go ahead.

That’s a load of horse hockey, and it’s the same thought process used by Phelps and his gang of heartless idiots when they stage homophobic protests during the funerals of American service members. Deportation is not death, no matter what one thinks of American immigration policy. The MIFN saw an opportunity to exploit the death of Coleman’s father and afflict the Coleman family during their mourning — and to grab some headlines. The MIFN and every person at that protest are nothing but ghouls.
In comparison, Al Franken is merely classless. Given the chance to show some humanity and either acknowledge Coleman’s loss or focus on other topics, Franken did neither. It speaks volumes about Franken and his lack of taste, as well as his singular focus on himself. At least Franken had the sense to stay off of Coleman’s sidewalk.
However, we should acknowledge those who did show class. Liberal bloggers and Coleman opponents MNPublius and Centrisity had the class to acknowledge the personal loss of our state’s Senator. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows these two blogs. Others … didn’t, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone, either.

Senate Ethics Bill Falls Short

The Senate has agreed on the language of its ethics bill, and the 107-page behemoth will move to the floor shortly. According to sources on Capitol Hill, the bill signals a retreat on earmark reform in several ways. Section 521 has had the following changes made since its initial adoption in January:
1. The new bill allows the Majority Leader, not the Senate parliamentarian, to unilaterally decide whether or not a bill or conference report complies with the earmark disclosure requirements. In other words, Harry Reid makes the decision whether legislation he brings to the floor complies with the new standard. How … convenient.
2. The new bill eliminates the requirement that earmark lists be searchable. It’s easier to hide in a crowd, isn’t it?
3. The original version prohibited the inclusion of earmarks that benefitted its sponsor Now that prohibition has been restricted to earmarks that only benefit its sponsor — which means that an earmark that raises the value of a member’s property is OK if it raises someone else’s property value, too. It makes the prohibition almost meaningless.
So much for the reform Democrats promised in 2006. They can’t even deliver what they promised in January.
UPDATE & BUMP: Lots of reaction now to this news. NZ Bear has posted the text to the bill. Mark Tapscott has a chart up of the changes, and comments:

Some of my Senate sources have gotten a copy of the 107 page “ethics and earmark reform” bill crafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
What they are finding in it confirms what I’ve suspected for months – Reid and Pelosi are for the most gutting concrete earmark and ethics reform while preserving just enough of the appearance of reform to be able to claim to have fulfilled their 2006 campaign promises.

Only to those who pay no attention to the issue ….

CQ Radio: NRCC Chair Tom Cole

blog radio
Today on CQ Radio (at the special time of 1 pm CT), we’ll have Representive Tom Cole, chair of the National Republican Congressional Caucus, to discuss candidate recruitment and the 2008 campaign. The GOP has more hope of recapturing a majority in the House than the Senate, and we’ll talk about the differences. We’ll also review the new NRCC website, and their other effort, The Real Democratic Story.
At the bottom of hour, we’ll welcome Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House to debate the YouTube debate and whether the GOP should participate. We’ll definitely want your calls on this topic, so call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation!
Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:
Add to iTunes

As The Meme Turns

When the media began to portray Senator John McCain as the presumptive front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, many in the blogosphere scratched our heads and wondered what brand the punditry had been drinking. Later, as McCain’s numbers started to drop during the immigration debate, the media published a series of political obituaries for McCain, even though he raised nearly as much money as Mitt Romney in Q2 and outperformed John Edwards. Some predicted that the media would shortly begin to write comeback stories, painting McCain as a courageous underdog, sometime in the fall.
Those predictions turned out to be incorrect — in their timing:

John McCain has been campaigning in New Hampshire for months, but when he took the stage last week at a town-hall meeting in Keene, it felt like a reunion tour. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” pumped on the sound system, and when the onetime GOP presidential front runner arrived, many of the 200 people packed in the room leapt to their feet, cheering. McCain railed against partisanship in Washington and attacked the free-spending ways of his own party. “It’s getting harder to do the work of the Lord in the city of Satan,” he said, prompting laugher and applause. A few feet away, a handmade campaign sign hung on the wall: THE MAC IS BACK! …
A friend, who declined to be named while discussing private conversations, says the senator is in “better spirits than I have seen in months.” The scrappy war vet was never very convincing as the Anointed One anyway. Now he’s reverting to the formula that helped him win New Hampshire in 2000: a lean, insurgent candidacy heavy on retail politics and promises to take on Washington. (It’s the same underdog storyline the media, which McCain used to call “his base,” once found so appealing.) He’s left the pricey Straight Talk Express bus at home. And when he flies, he’s going commercial. “I’m starting from scratch,” McCain tells NEWSWEEK. “But I believe we can do what we were able to do in 2000.”

McCain never left. As Mark Twain once remarked, rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. Without doubt, his campaign has more than its share of problems, but the media managed to explode them into a catastrophe that lacked only McCain’s ignominious withdrawal to cap the meme. And when that was not forthcoming, some pundits questioned his sanity.
They should question their own sanity. The life, death, and rebirth of McCain’s presidential campaign has been almost entirely a media delusion. McCain had serious obstacles to the nomination at the beginning, and while Rudy Giuliani’s resonance with the GOP base is surprising, no one expected McCain to gain the trust of the party without serious struggles. Those intensified during the immigration debate, and will remain with McCain throughout the rest of the primary campaign — and no one knows that better than McCain himself.
However, he still holds a significant place in the polls, and he still can raise funds His $11.2 million in Q2 put him behind only organizational juggernaut Mitt Romney and Giuliani, the former by less than $3 million. His 16% puts him third in most polling, while Romney only garners half of that. He outraises and outperforms John Edwards, the #3 candidate for the Democrats, who has not had the political death watch applied to him.
And now, the media apparently has started its new meme, although one which McCain’s campaign will welcome enthusiastically. Instead of trying to provide overarching narratives, perhaps the media should take a deep breath, gain some perspective, and leave the rest for retrospectives in 2009.

Survey On Surveillance Says — Bring It On

ABC News has published a fascinating poll on the use of public surveillance systems for law enforcement, and the results will surprise many, especially civil libertarians. Over 70% of Americans support British-style CCTV systems in the US, and that support crosses all demographic boundaries.
At Heading Right, I take a look at the internals of the poll, which show a unanimity seldom seen in these partisan times. I also look at the privacy argument and debate what expectations of privacy anyone should have for actions taken in public. (via Memeorandum)

They’ve Got To Admit, It’s Getting Better

Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of the center-left Brookings Institution take to the pages of the solidly-left New York Times with an unusual mission. The pair have recently returned from Iraq to study the military effort by the US, and they have some bad news for the Gray Lady’s readers. We really have turned the corner in Iraq:

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.
Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.
Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

O’Hanlon and Brookings point out the differences that created the shift in fortunes. The chief change comes at the top. General David Petraeus has transformed the mission, the strategy, and the tactics, which has transformed morale and set the US on track to building the Iraqi nation from the bottom up, instead of the top down. The men and women on the ground understand and appreciate the difference, and they have responded with enthusiasm.
The Iraqi Army has also greatly improved. While a few units remain “useless”, the authors found this to be the exception rather than the rule, as they observed before. It also has integrated to a far greater degree. During previous visits, the armed forces were almost exclusively Kurdish, but now represents the rough proportions of the Iraqi nation. They operate much more effectively, as do the Americans, who have learned how to interact with the local populace and to guide the Iraqi security forces.
They also note the effectiveness of the EPRTs, which came up in our conference call on Friday. Col. Stephen Twitty called them a “great asset”, and these authors agree. When fully staffed, these reconstruction teams coordinate with local Iraqis to restart their community economies effectively. This will have to happen quickly in order to put Iraqis back to work and give them a real stake in success — and the administration should ensure that the EPRTs remain fully staffed.
In fact, O’Hanlon and Pollack recommend that Congress stop talking about withdrawal. They conclude with a near-heresy: they recommend sustaining the current effort until 2008. Now that we have found a formula for success, have brought the Iraqis on board with our focus on their worst enemy, and have figured out the nation-building process, it would be a tragedy to throw all of this success away.