Reynolds Paints Hopeful GOP Picture

July 31, 2006 at 10:17 pm

Roll Call reports that Tom Reynolds talked about the districts where Republicans face the toughest challenge this year, as well as those Democratic districts that are targeted. There are not really any surprises on these lists, but the overall picture seems encouraging for Republicans:

Reynolds Concedes Colleagues Vulnerable
July 31, 2006
By David M. Drucker,
Roll Call Staff

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) named names Friday, indicating where he believes the committee will be most active this fall.
Questioned at a news conference held 102 days before Election Day, Reynolds identified the 14 Republican Members he believes could face the toughest time getting re-elected, and an additional three he is monitoring just in case. The New York Republican also telegraphed where the NRCC is likely to be the most active on offense, citing nine Democratic seats that present his party with its best opportunity for gains.

…In Connecticut, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Reynolds sees difficult political environments statewide and a total of nine seats in play — as well as two competitive Indiana races, but emphasized he is pleased with the campaign performance of the incumbents thus far. He practically ridiculed many of the Democrats gunning for Republicans in those districts.

On the flip side, Reynolds expressed confidence that nine Democratic seats are ripe for the taking, including two in Georgia.

“We’re going to go the distance down there,” Reynolds said.

…Adding to his confidence is the NRCC’s decision to cede control of the committee’s get-out-the-vote efforts to the Republican National Committee and its chairman, Ken Mehlman.

Mehlman’s success running the Bush-Cheney ’04 ground game and Rep. Brian Bilbray’s (R-Calif.) special election victory in June has Reynolds convinced Republicans have a key edge on the ground.

“If money is the mother’s milk of politics, then GOTV — get out the vote —is the survival kit of politics,” Reynolds said.

Republican Incumbents Reynolds Deemed Vulnerable

• Connecticut Reps. Nancy Johnson, Christopher Shays and Rob Simmons. Reynolds said all three are running excellent campaigns, despite the “tough” environment.

“Chris Shays has been a candidate, and an active candidate, for well over a year. Sometimes he [begins] much later after he works very hard as a Member of Congress, and then starts a campaign, maybe [around] now. That’s not the case with him” this year.

• Ohio Reps. Steve Chabot, Bob Ney and Deborah Pryce. “Ohio’s got a lot of action in it,” Reynolds said. “We will just make sure that because the Democrats have targeted [it], that our candidates are out and moving forward.”

• Pennsylvania Reps. Michael Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach and Curt Weldon. “The Philadelphia suburbs are tough turf,” Reynolds said. “How well [GOP Sen.] Rick Santorum does in the Philadelphia suburbs means whether he comes back. Three seats are in there.”

Gerlach, he said, is “in one of the tougher seats in the country.” And Weldon “has a serious opponent running against him; the retired rear vice admiral of the Navy in his race.”

• Rep. Clay Shaw (Fla.). “Clay Shaw has a tough race in Florida almost every time” Reynolds said. “[His opponent] is a skilled state Senator coming at ’em. I think that Shaw is clearly down there working. He’s raising money; this isn’t new for him.”

• Rep. Heather Wilson (N.M.). “Heather Wilson has one of the toughest seats in the country. The race starts almost the day after election. I think Heather, as an Air Force Academy grad, Rhodes scholar, is like a combat veteran of politics. She is totally focused.”

• Rep. Jon Porter (Nev.). Senate Minority Leader “Harry Reid [D-Nev.] handpicked his opponent and is coming at him,” Reynolds said. “Five thousand new people a month are showing up in that Las Vegas-based seat. I think Porter is doing everything right. … Jim Gibbons (R), our colleague from Reno, is running for governor, I think that bodes well.”

• Indiana Reps. John Hostettler and Mike Sodrel. “When you look at Mike Sodrel, he’s going to have a tough re-elect, he knows that,” Reynolds said. “He’s taken two trips to my knowledge, one to Afghanistan and then one to Iraq. The rest of the time he is home working in his district, grinding out the race, town by town.”

Republican Incumbents on Reynolds’ “Watch” List

• Bilbray and Rep. Richard Pombo (Calif.). “I’ve noticed that there hasn’t been too much attention on Richard from Democratic circles,” Reynolds said.

• Rep. Dave Reichert (Wash.). “We’ll watch Reichert in the area of the state of Washington,” Reynolds said. “I’ll say to you that, one of the things I’ve had for a hunch that we’ll see if it plays out: I think Washington Republicans felt ripped off when they lost their governor’s race. I think there’s an intensity of voter interest both in the U.S. Senate seat as well as some of the House seats.”

Reynolds’ Democratic Targets

• Rep. Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), who is facing state Del. Chris Wakim (R). “Mollohan is [in] a Republican seat,” Reynolds said. “He’s been banged up in media accounts. We have a very good candidate in Wakim, who is a West Point grad, Harvard educated; came home, started his family business with his wife. …We’re going to continue helping him — we like everything we see there.”

• Rep. John Spratt (S.C.), who faces state Rep. Ralph Norman (R). This is “John Spratt’s toughest race since, probably, ’94,” Reynolds said.

• Rep. Melissa Bean (Ill.), who faces investment banker David McSweeney. “That is a good Republican seat,” Reynolds said. “We have a very good candidate there in McSweeney. He is continuing to do the things he needs to do.”

• Georgia Reps. John Barrow and Jim Marshall, who face former Republican Reps. Max Burns and Mac Collins, respectively. “I’ve seen good results in Max’s effort there, both in shoe-leather retail politics, and in fundraising,” Reynolds said. “He’s a pretty interesting guy.”

• Rep. Leonard Boswell (Iowa), who faces state Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti (R). Boswell “has never been a great performer in this seat,” Reynolds said. “We’re very impressed with where we are.”

• Rep. Charlie Melancon (La.), who faces state Sen. Craig Romero (R). “This guy’s filing was $1.2 million in the second quarter,” Reynolds said. “I promise you he got my attention. I think there’s an interesting opportunity there.”

• Rep. Chet Edwards (Texas), who is facing Iraq war veteran Van Taylor (R). “I’ve always been impressed when I’ve been down there helping [Taylor] raise money with the type of people he brings to events,” Reynolds said.

• Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.), who faces retired Navy officer Doug Roulstone (R). Roulstone “is, every day, moving forward in the types of things he needs to do as a candidate and a fundraiser,” Reynolds said.

To the extent that this represents a complete list, things sound OK for Republicans. Even if they were to lose the dozen targeted seats and not make any gains in Democratic seats, they would retain the majority. That’s not a very likely outcome of course.

The worry remains whether there will be a larger wave, which sweeps out all these incumbents and more.

Reynolds also makes an important point: that the person in charge of the GOTV effort is Ken Mehlman, who devised the strategy that turned out a record number of Republican voters in 2004. That operation was so succesful that even though the Kerry campaign hit the total number of voters it targeted, it was still swamped by Republican turnout. If Ken Mehlman can do anything like that this year, Democrats will be aiming for a takeover in 2008 - for the 7th straight election.

 

Cross-posted from the Influence Peddler.

Sounding the Alarm

July 31, 2006 at 10:10 pm

Doug McKinnon has the honor of being considered a threat by Hugo Chavez. He wrote this weekend on why Chavez should concern us:

Many I have spoken with in our government, including career diplomats, consider Chavez to be ultimately a greater threat to the national security of the United States than Osama bin Laden or any terrorist group operating out of the Middle East. Having been in Venezuela many times and having met with the opposition leaders in that country, I strongly agree with that assessment.

…Again, as I write this, Chavez has just finalized a $3 billion deal with Moscow to buy 24 fighter jets and 53 attack helicopters, Russian submarines and 100,000 AK-103 Kalashnikov machine guns, and to have the Russians build him a Kalashnikov factory in Venezuela so he can manufacture his own weapons.

…Just as I’m assuming Delahunt had no problem with Chavez hosting the president of Iran in Caracas last year, where, on the agenda, was the topic of “introducing nuclear elements” into Venezuela. While Chavez says he only wants nuclear reactors from Iran, many experts fear he is trying to import Iranian missile technology and, potentially, weapons grade uranium. All of this, a mere two-and-a-half-hours south of Miami by jet.

By the way, Chavez and Iran’s Ahmedinejad see each other as ‘trenchmates.’ Doesn’t that give you the warm and fuzzies?

I hope that we do not fail to ‘connect the dots’ on Chavez.

Cross-posted from the Influence Peddler.

Does Immigration Hurt Republicans?

July 31, 2006 at 10:05 pm

Charles Taylor doesn’t seem to think so.

I don’t know many who challenge the idea that immigration can be a winning issue for Republicans this year - as long as they produce an enforcement bill. The debate seems to be whether it will cause more damage down the road with latino voters.

It will be interesting to see how widely it is used by Republican candidates. Immigration seems to ‘cut’ more away from the borders. It will be used by some of the Ohio and Pennsylvania candidates mentioned by Tom Reynolds - those on the ‘watch list’ - in the same way that Taylor is using it in North Carolina.

Cross-posted from the Influence Peddler

Thanks for the Opportunity, Tim

July 31, 2006 at 10:03 pm

Well, Tim takes a well-deserved rest, and I reap the rewards.  Tim has graciously offered me the chance to guest blog here - along with Heritage’s Larry Scholer - and I’m happy for the chance.  While I may not be able to fill Tim’s shoes, I hope I can add a little something.

 And if you like what you read, feel free to check out my blog, the Influence Peddler.

The Editor at IP

What the Cool Kids are Doing

July 31, 2006 at 2:44 pm

While some teens are wasting their time playing the choking game this summer (or is that last summer?), others are immersing themselves in conservative culture.

The New York Times reports,

Young people with old books is a common sight on the conservative circuit, and perhaps a growing one. While the movement has long sought to transmit its intellectual heritage to its young, that mission shows signs of new urgency amid fears of ideological drift.

Everywhere young conservatives turn there are conferences, seminars and reading lists that promote figures from the movement’s formative years. Along with Kirk, they include such canonical names from the 40’s and 50’s as Friedrich A. Hayek, Frank S. Meyer, Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley Jr.

The entire article is worth a read.  Its main flaw, however, is its focus on what could be called “mainstream” organizations.  The real fun is in the camps and organizations that fly under the radar–like this Randian camp for kids. 

Camp Indecon offers opportunities and experiences unlike any other summer camp.  For example:

Last year, we had a fifteen-year-old girl with a Catholic upbringing who came to camp for the first time. Turned out one of the sixteen year-old boys was very much attracted to her, and she to him, and one evening they got into a discussion in which he explained what Objectivism was.

Later, he won her heart with a compelling explanation of the Objectivist Center-Ayn Rand Institute schism.

–Larry Scholer

Governing by Popular Opinion

July 31, 2006 at 12:57 pm

By combining a minimum wage increase with estate tax provisions, the House coupled two politically popular ideas.  Americans favor raising the minimum wage, and they don’t like the estate tax.

In their study of what the public knows about economic policy, economists Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger found that 75 percent of those surveyed favored an increase in the minimum wage.  In their survey, 60 percent of self-identified conservatives favored an increase in the wage.

The Tax Foundation does an annual survey of American attitiudes toward various tax issues.  This year’s survey found (again) that the federal estate tax is the least fair federal tax.  Moreover, 68 percent of those surveyed favored completely eliminating the estate tax.

The House’s action on the minimum wage came after a concerted effort by Democrats to keep bringing up the issue whenever they could.  Indeed, the minimum wage highlights the various Democratic agenda that have been rolled out recently.  Republicans finally bowed to the pressure because, we were told, Republican moderates needed a minimum wage increase to help win in November.

Democrats, however, have not bowed to Republican pressure to repeal the estate tax even though over two-thirds of the public supports full repeal.  You don’t hear much chatter that Democrats are going to lose in November because they have successfully blocked full repeal of the estate tax.  Indeed, CQ has reported that changes to the estate tax has poisoned the minimum wage hike legislation for Senate Democrats.

The wrangling over the minimum wage suggests a dynamic that is not particularly helpful. Republicans are doing what is politically popular even if they disagree with the policy. Democrats are able do what is politically unpopular when doing the politically popular thing violates their beliefs.  Why do Republicans feel the need to accept something (e.g. a minimum wage hike) that they generally oppose in order to appease voters who, by and large, favor a wage hike?  The American public wants to eliminate the estate tax, but the Democrats don’t, so they vote against legislation that would tweak or kill it.  Democratic opposition to something that is politically  popular has not, as far as I can tell, damaged Democrats.  They surely aren’t going to lose elections over it. 

I wonder what would happen if Republicans had done something that was politically unpopular and voted against a minimum wage hike.  A lot of conservatives would be happy.

If Republicans feel the need to pander to the general public, one wishes that they would do it in a way that would not have the harmful effects of a minimum wage hike.  How about some legislation honoring this year’s American Idol finalists?  (There was a resolution last year by the way.)  Or a Sense of Congress expressing shock and disappointment over recent doping scandals.

The last minimum wage increases happened in 1996 and 1997 when Newt and Dick Armey were running the show in the House, so it seems to be a recurring issue for Republicans.  And, the increase obviously didn’t seem to help them in 1998.  Maybe governing by popular opinion is not the answer.

–Larry Scholer

 

Foreign Aid Event

July 31, 2006 at 11:50 am

In about 15 minutes, Paul Wolfowitz will be speaking on foreign aid at the Heritage Foundation.  The event has drawn a crowd, so seating is at a premium.  Never fear: you can watch from the comfort of your desk here.

–Posted by Larry Scholer

The last late night of the GOP majority?

July 28, 2006 at 11:40 pm

Horatius thinks the fiascos on display in Congress at the wee hours of this evening spell doom for the GOP…and I must admit, he makes a frighteningly compelling case.

Weekend links…and video

July 28, 2006 at 3:41 pm

EDITOR’s NOTE: I will be on vacation for the week of July 30-August 5. I will have little to no access to the internet so my posting will be light. In my absence, Larry Scholer, a Heritage Foundation colleague and former Dartmouth Review guy will be providing guest posts.

  • Momentum builds for pork database
  • Let Israel win the war
  • There are still conservatives in France…for real
  • Republican triangulation at conservative’s expense
  • Bubba has still got it
  • Imperialist Russia returns
  • McCain backtracking on campaign finance (good)
  • A porker with an agenda
  • Quin believes Landis
  • I hope he didn’t do it
  • Does the Times have a “gentlemen’s agreement” with Ned Lamont?
  • Newt expresses confidence in Condi
  • Technorati turns 3

Who is more of a straight shooter?

July 28, 2006 at 1:59 pm

Giuliani or McCain? And which one is more likely to win the hearts of conservatives? The Influence Peddler makes a good case for Giuliani on both counts.

Dark days for conservatives?

July 28, 2006 at 11:19 am

Erick Erickson says not since the passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug Act have things been so bad for conservatives in Congress:

Earlier this week, the House leadership killed Kevin Brady’s (R-TX) “Sunset” bill, which would have killed every federal agency in twelve years, unless Congress reauthorized them. A similar proposal from Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) was also pulled.

At the same time, conservatives are losing the battle on the minimum wage. While Dick Armey was Majority Leader the legislation never saw the light of day. And now, after just a few months of saying “no,” John Boehner is saying “bring it on,” waffling like John Kerry on the issue.

House conservatives oppose minimum wage hike — Leadership doesn’t care

July 28, 2006 at 10:41 am

Members of the Republican Study Committee have officially put their GOP leadership on notice as to their opposition to scheduling a vote on an increase to the minimum wage — read their letter here.

But as Congressional Quarterly reports, their efforts may not be good enough to overcome the squishiness of the GOP’s powerful mushy middle:

Over the course of 48 hours, prospects for a pre-recess vote to raise the nation’s minimum wage shifted from unlikely to probable — a change driven by the fears of House Republicans who know their election opponents will pounce if Congress fails to act.

“A minimum of 30 members need that vote so they don’t get skewered and barbecued over the summer break,” said Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill. “They know the 30-second commercials have already been cut.”

Members of the party’s small moderate faction spurred their leaders to action by making a credible threat: They notified leaders on July 26 that they would prevent the House from adjourning for the August recess until a minimum wage boost was considered on the floor. By late Thursday, the House appeared close to a deal. The Rules Committee passed a resolution allowing for a minimum wage bill to be considered Friday.

UPDATE: My Heritage Foundation colleague Mike Franc debunks the myths surrounding the minimum wage and explains why it would actually hurt low-wage workers:

An enduring urban legend about minimum-wage workers is that they are married adults struggling to raise children in Dickensian-style poverty. As Kennedy said in a recent Senate floor speech, “Minimum-wage workers are forced to make impossible choices between paying the rent and buying groceries, paying the heating bills or buying clothes.” Their families, he said, lack health care and adequate housing. Their “daily fear” is “poverty, hunger and homelessness.”

The data, however, tell a very different story. While some minimum-wage workers are primary breadwinners raising young children, the overwhelming majority are either younger workers honing their skills in entry-level positions or part-time, mostly female workers from middle-class homes supplementing their spouse’s income.

Read the rest here.

Ken Blackwell blogger outreach

July 28, 2006 at 9:59 am

Quin Hillyer notes two quotes that he found particularly impressive from Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s visit with conservative bloggers this week:

1) “It’s a simple principle:… Capital seeks the path of least resistance and most opportunity. … A confiscatory tax code [is] the handmaiden of big government,” and it harms the economy.

2) “The flip side of poverty is wealth creation….There is an upward-mobility tradition in our society.” Black voters, too, understand that we can “build an asset base that actually wins the war on poverty.” And Blackwell, who would become the first black governor in Ohio’s history, said he is aiming for a majority of the black vote.

To which I add: If there is any one candidacy that should interest conservatives this year, it is Blackwell’s. He’s the real deal, a principled conservative on issues across the board, and he’s impressive as can be. He has proved his vote-getting potential as mayor of Cincinnati and as a thrice-elected statewide officeholder.

Also interesting in Hillyer’s post is his take on the Pence-Hutchison immigration proposal:

Rep. Pence and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison have put together a superb package on immigration reform. It combines truly tough border security (which must be in place and certified effective for two years before the other parts kick in) with the Pence/Helen Krieble program that will set up a market-based system for guest workers run from centers outside the United States and requiring all currently illegal workers to leave the United States before becoming eligible for the program. Sen. Hutchinson added several other good ideas as well; all told, this bill is both creative and conservative, through and through. That’s why a host of leading conservatives already have endorsed it.

I hope Landis didn’t do it

July 27, 2006 at 4:57 pm

This whole Floyd Landis doping story is a real bummer. I was rooting for Landis…not just because he is an American, or because he is from my home state of PA…but because he was a tough guy who had put in his time loyally pulling Lance to victory in the past.

It was amazing to see him make a miracle comeback in the tour…and now it is all in doubt.

Booo!

Professor Bainbridge asks “why does it matter whether a player is on the juice or not?”

It matters, because this was (as a fan of cycling, I hope still is) a great sports story. A mild-mannered Mennonite from PA dutifully rose through the ranks, overcame a bad hip, parents who didn’t want him to ride, naysayers who said he couldn’t do it, a collossal meltdown on a key stage in the tour and more only to miraculously come from behind and win the tour.

If he was doping, the story is lame. Nobody wants to root for cheaters.

That’s why it matters.

Plus, the French are just gonna love this if it’s true…

Hotline’s blogometer

July 27, 2006 at 3:15 pm

I read Hotline’s Blogometer most every day. I like it — it provides a good service. But I have to say, every once in a while I just get irked by the Blogometer’s insistence on labeling every blogger either a “righty” or a “lefty” and then often breaking the blogosphere down into only those two camps. It seems sometimes that too many assumptions are made about bloggers and their positions because they are a “righty” or “lefty.”

Case in point, today’s Blogometer in which the Patrick Hynes flap was the lead story:

Hynes’ righty blogger friends were quick to forgive. Ryan Sager at RCP Blog: “Hynes is handling this correctly. There’s basically no excuse for not disclosing the relationship earlier. And his past comments about similar scandals on the Left now look awfully hypocritical. But, unlike on the Left, it’s not all deny, deny, deny. He handled something in the wrong way, and now he’s saying so forthrightly.” Tim Chapman: “I think Hynes is handling the whole thing quite well.” Instapundit: “Hynes acted as go-between on our podcast interview with John McCain; I didn’t realize he was actually being paid by McCain’s PAC. Not sure it would have mattered, really, but I would have liked to know.”

Less affiliated bloggers pointed out a little hypocrisy in Hynes position. Wonkette’s David Weigel: “But Geraghty skips the best part of this - Hynes’ reaction to the 2005 news that Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas had served as a consultant for Howard Dean while keeping up his blog.” Beltway Blogroll (go team!): “The controversy surrounding Hynes is even more interesting in light of some of the criticisms he has leveled against top bloggers on the left. He has been particularly critical of [Matt] Stoller. At The Channel Changer, a blog of his focused on competition in the communications industry, Hynes has called Stoller a “suspected paid Google/MoveOn shill” in the battle for “network neutrality.”

“Less affiliated bloggers?” As if Hynes, Glenn Reynolds, Ryan Sager and myself are inextricably bound on every issue because we are all part of the center-right blogosphere. Fact is, I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Sager and I have briefly met Reynolds and Hynes once — both of whom I was happy to meet. I suppose I am being nitpicky here, but it just irks me.

It isn’t like this isn’t a common occurance on the Blogometer. Almost every day Hotline’s Blogometer breaks down the blogosphere as “righty” vs. “lefty”…there is very little room for nuance or give and take. I also wonder if this approach — always righty vs. lefty — doesn’t contribute to the already coarse nature of some discourse between bloggers of different political persuasions.

The point is the labels that are so frequently and so freely thrown about more often than not serve to dilute the actual substance of the labeled blogger’s post. Essentially, incessantly labeling the blogger’s post as one or the other before then grabbing a quotable nugget from the post leaves the Blogometer’s readers feeling no need to follow the link and learn what else the quoted blogger had to say. After all, they already know all they need to know: said blogger is a “righty” and falls along predictable “righty” lines.

In the above example, if a Blogometer reader followed the link to read my entire post, they would have discovered that the one line in which I commended Hynes handling of the situation was almost an aside and was not by any means the meat of the post. The meat of the post was about how I was happy to see conservatives in the blogosphere policing their own…despite sharing roughly the same political philosophy.

Nevertheless, the Blogometer is a helpful publication that I will continue to read. I am just bugged by this issue. It seems too simplistic, too easy. Those guys over there are smart smart journalists, I have met some of them and have been thoroughly impressed. I think they could be a little better.

Then again, if I had to read as many posts as they do everyday and then break down all the different bloggers’ arguments I might be tempted to simplify things as well.

GOP moderates win the day (again)

July 27, 2006 at 1:34 pm

It looks like GOP House leadership is preparing to cave to GOP moderates and Democrats on the issue of minimum wage. Erick Erickson at Red State reports that GOP leadership is set to schedule a vote on an increase in the minimum wage — a move any economist with his head screwed on straight will tell you leads to increased unemployment — without even brokering a deal on adding some good policy to the package.

Erick has a good idea:

The GOP should add strict border security to the minimum wage bill. After all, if the House increases the minimum wage, there is going to be an increased rate of illegal immigration to offset the higher wages employers must pay legal residents. The net result will be higher illegal immigration and increased unemployment of legal residents as employers replace them with illegal immigrants who are not documented.

UPDATE: Indications are that some sort of conservative policy will indeed be attached to this legislation to lessen the pain. Still, it’s too bad that this is being scheduled for a vote.

Reid goes off message

July 27, 2006 at 12:14 pm

Apparently Chuck Schumer forgot to send Harry Reid the Maliki-is-an-anti-semite DSCC talking points. While Dems were all over the hill this week denouncing the Iraqi Prime Minister and seeking political gain from the issue, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid appeared somewhat reasonable compared to his colleagues.

The LA Times: 

Maliki did make a better impression on others. The Senate’s top Democrat, Harry Reid of Nevada, said that at the breakfast, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari noted that during an Arab League meeting last week, Iraq had joined Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt in criticizing Hezbollah’s actions.

Reid said that although Maliki did not specifically mention Hezbollah during the breakfast, the prime minister repeatedly said his government opposed terrorism “everywhere in the world.”

“I feel better having gone to the breakfast,” Reid said.

Code Pink doesn’t like John Bolton

July 27, 2006 at 10:33 am

Code Pinkers interrupted the Bolton hearings in the Senate moments ago doing their best to shout down John Bolton. Pretty funny actually…in a pathetic sort of way.

UPDATE: An observer on the hill emails:

In his opening statement at the confirmation hearing of Ambassador Bolton this morning, Senator Dodd claimed that Ambassador Bolton has held a disdain for multilateral diplomacy, and that Ambassador Bolton has not changed his position on that matter. Senator Dodd then claimed that Ambassador Bolton had trouble building consensus for US positions at the United Nations. This assertion is clearly belied by the facts. As recently as two weeks ago, Ambassador Bolton was instrumental in securing the unanimous vote on Security Council Resolution 1695 condemning North Korea for its missile launches and requiring all states to prevent trade and transfers in North Korea WMD and missile technology. As another example, Ambassador Bolton led the Security Council to adopt Resolution 1638 unanimously, which established the mandate to arrest Charles Taylor should Mr. Taylor return to Liberia and facilitate his transfer to the Special Court for Sierra Leone for prosecution.

See Bolton’s opening statement here.

Urban Transformation

July 27, 2006 at 10:27 am

La Shawn Barber has thoughts on yesterday’s Urban Transformation conference at Heritage.

Confirm Bolton

July 27, 2006 at 9:21 am

The Heritage Foundation’s Peter Brooks in today’s NY Post:

YOU don’t often get an opportunity to right a terrible wrong. But the Senate has a chance to do just that when it gives the nomination of John Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations a second look today.Last year, after hearings best described as a character smear, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee refused to give Bolton its blessing, denying the president’s nominee any real chance at a straight “up or down” vote by the full Senate.

But President Bush still needed an ambassador - and a strong one - at Turtle Bay. So, after last summer’s Senate meltdown, he wisely gave Bolton a “recess appointment.” That temporary posting ends when the Senate recesses this year - unless the senators vote to confirm Bolton.

Playing politics with the Middle East

July 27, 2006 at 12:01 am

My weekly column is up…here is the intro:

Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer and Charles Schumer boycotted a joint session of Congress yesterday when it convened to hear Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The duo’s gesture was an effort to make a political statement along with their House colleagues.

On July 25, nineteen House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert in which they decried July 19 comments made by Maliki regarding Israel. Maliki had come down on the wrong side of the fence when commenting on the current Middle East crisis, saying, “We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression.”

Continue reading to understand why the Democrats acting on this issue are blatantly playing politics.

House leadership promises earmark reform in fall

July 26, 2006 at 5:38 pm

Good to hear…Mark Tapscott has the details.

A mind reading IRS?

July 26, 2006 at 3:58 pm

A bill crafted by Senator Chuck Grassley masquerades as a tax cut but in reality is a tax hike. The Telephone Excise Tax Act, approved by Grassley’s Finance Committee, would actually be an $8.8 billion tax increase according to a report released by the Joint Committee on Taxation.

As if that wasn’t troubling enough, the bill contains a provision referred to as the “economic substance doctrine.” That would empower the Internal Revenue Service to determine the motivations behind individuals’ financial decisions. In an effort to close tax loopholes, the bill would allow IRS officials to review tax-related transactions and draw conclusions as to the reasoning behind those transactions.

So the next time you deduct your home mortgage interest, you may be subject to the whims of a bureaucrat in the IRS. Were your motivations pure? Or where you just trying to avoid paying more in taxes?

Conservatives on the hill are incensed by this intrusive tactic that basically allows bureaucrats to become mind readers. Besides, is it not perfectly legitimate for people and companies to do their best to avoid paying more in taxes than they are legally obligated to?

Lawmakers ought to be simplifying the tax system, not making it even more complex.

Grassley’s bill could receive floor time after the Senate returns from its August recess.

More on blogger disclosure

July 26, 2006 at 3:07 pm

The Patrick Hynes story referenced this morning takes another twist. Danny Glover interviewed Hynes this afternoon. In that interview Hynes had more disclosures.

Moral Reconstruction: A model for urban transformation

July 26, 2006 at 1:33 pm

This afternoon I am attending a conference here at the Heritage Foundation focusing on inner city revival. The conference boasts a stellar panel and can be watched live here.

Heritage has teamed up with the BOND organization to host this conference. Below is a description of the conversation:

Our nation’s Gulf Coast Region continues to face serious and ongoing problems in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This Town Hall style Conference will focus on solutions to these vexing policy issues. Transformation of the human spirit, however, is a key ingredient, because the destruction of this spirit is at the heart of the great breakdown witnessed during and following in the wake of these natural disasters. Our conference will seek to outline options and identify solutions that could serve as a model for rebuilding, not only the Gulf Coast, but also for transforming America’s inner cities and urban areas.

Updates and observations later…

Pence-Hutchison immigration plan gets nod from blogger

July 26, 2006 at 12:44 pm

Hugh Hewitt calls the Pence-Hutchison immgration reform plan “common sense on immigration“.

You would be asleep too

July 26, 2006 at 10:40 am

With Harry Reid’s energetic and dynamic speaking style, I can’t really blame Robert Byrd for being asleep on the job.


Disclosure in the conservative blogosphere

July 26, 2006 at 9:57 am

Yesterday it was announced that Patrick Hynes of Ankle Biting Pundits would be retained by Straight Talk America, John McCain’s PAC, for political work with New Media. It took the conservative blogosphere less than 24 hours to rightly criticize Hynes for not disclosing his relationship with McCain’s PAC earlier than he did.

Jim Geraghty at TKS points out that the announcement came on July 25 but Hynes had been involved with the PAC for some time before that and had posted numerous times in favor or defense of McCain on his blog. Mark Tapscott says “rule number 1″ for bloggers should be disclosure of financial relationships.

I think Hynes is handling the whole thing quite well…see his mea culpa here.

This just goes to show that on the right side of the blogosphere, credibility, transparency and full disclosure are cherished values.

UPDATE: Danny Glover has some good observations here.  In reference to my point above about cherished values, Glover wonders “how cherished those values really are when the transparency and full disclosure come after bad publicity.” Point taken…but my point was more in reference to the way in which the conservative side of the blogosphere policed itself within 24 hours. The posts by Geraghty, Tapscott and others  are indicative of a zero tolerance policy that exists in the conservative blogging community. To me, that is a commendable policy.

Mapping the conflict

July 26, 2006 at 9:23 am

NZ Bear has an interactive map chronicling events in the Middle East. He integrates blog posts and news items into the map. Pretty darn cool…

Details of the Pence-Hutchison immigration proposal

July 26, 2006 at 9:19 am

The Washington Post has an outline of the Pence-Hutchison immigration plan.

Meanwhile, the proposal is being criticized by Senators who crafted the McCain-Kennedy bill. This via Congressional Quarterly ($):

“I think some of it seems difficult to implement,” said Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who played an active role in crafting Senate bill provisions that would lead to citizenship, over time, for most illegal immigrants who can show they have been in the country at least two years.

Martinez said he was particularly concerned about a Hutchison-Pence proposal that would require all illegal immigrants to leave the United States before seeking visas to work here, and about the length of time immigrants would have to wait to be eligible for permanent residency.

Ken Salazar of Colorado, a leader on immigration among Senate Democrats, said the Hutchison-Pence proposal appeared “unworkable.” A plan that requires illegal immigrants to leave would have the reverse effect, he said, driving many deeper into hiding.

The Senate bill had the support of “20-plus Republicans and most Democrats,” and “that’s where we should start,” Salazar said.

Finally, Pence and Hutchison have penned an OpEd for today’s Washington Times in which they lay out their plan.

Al Jazeera criticizes Santorum

July 25, 2006 at 5:43 pm

You know you are on the right side of an argument when Al Jazeera thinks your remarks are “repugnant.”

For the record, the remarks in question are here.

The Hill’s glitterati

July 25, 2006 at 3:03 pm

The Hill newspaper today releases their annual 50 Most Beatiful People on the hill list.

Hat Tip: Influence Peddler, who reveals what I have long suspected: he is a former hill staffer.

Ken Blackwell courts bloggers

July 25, 2006 at 2:46 pm

Ohio Secretary of State and candidate for Governor Ken Blackwell today joined a weekly meeting of conservative bloggers for an hour long discussion. From my perspective, Blackwell was impressive. He talked about the importance of having an ideology, a consistent worldview, from which you derive governing principles. People knock “idealogies” all the time. But as Blackwell pointed out, you must have some foundational set of principles that you believe in or else you are nothing more than a political pragmatist flapping in the swirling political winds.

Blackwell is a conservative’s conservative: a free marketeer with a moral compass.

Mary Katharine Ham was in the meeting today, she has a great roundup.

Is YouTube the new CNN?

July 25, 2006 at 2:14 pm

My Heritage Foundation colleague James Gattuso comments on this on his blog, The Technology Liberation Front.

Pence remarks at Pence-Hutchison presser

July 25, 2006 at 12:26 pm

The full remarks of Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Pence at today’s Pence-Hutchison presser are in the extended section. Here are two key grafs:

Two months ago President Bush set out his views on immigration reform to the American people. He said: “There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation.”  As I said a few days after the President spoke, I believe there is a rational middle ground, but amnesty is not the middle ground on immigration reform.

I always have seen the solution as a four-step process.  Securing our border is the first step.  The second step is to make the decision, once and for all, to deny amnesty to people whose first act in the United States was a violation of the law.  The third step is to put in place a temporary worker program, without amnesty, that will efficiently provide American employers with willing temporary workers who come to America legally.  The final step is tough employer sanctions that ensure a full partnership between American business and the American government in the enforcement of our laws on immigration and temporary workers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Huge public opinion turnaround on Iraqi WMD

July 25, 2006 at 10:03 am

Wow…this is surprising:

Half of Americans now say Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded the country in 2003 — up from 36 percent last year, a Harris poll finds. Pollsters deemed the increase both “substantial” and “surprising” in light of persistent press reports to the contrary in recent years.

UPDATE: John Hawkins makes a good point:

The “surprising” thing here isn’t that the number of Americans who believe Saddam had WMD’s has risen from 36% to 50%, it’s that the number isn’t 100% since 500 WMDs have been found. Certainly you could argue that the WMDs might be of limited use because of their age or that they weren’t part of ongoing program, but after finding WMD stockpiles in Iraq, it’s impossible to successfully argue that Saddam didn’t possess them. Of course, he had WMDs!

Reid won’t support funding for border security

July 25, 2006 at 9:54 am

An interesting email from the Hill:

In case you missed it, just a few short hours after U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Jon Kyl called for an emergency border security funding measure that would better secure America’s borders, aid law enforcement and re-energize House-Senate negotiations on immigration reform legislation, Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid’s office told Congressional Quarterly this afternoon that the proposal “smacks of desperation” and that Reid was “very unlikely” to support it. Notably, the story did not contain a single alternative proposal or idea offered by Senate Democrats for moving the deadlocked negotiations forward.

Pence-Hutchison proposal looks to bridge divide

July 25, 2006 at 8:30 am

This morning at 10:00 in the U.S. Capitol Radio and TV Gallery Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Representive Mike Pence will unveil a revamped compromise immigration reform plan. The Washington Post:

The proposal — sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Tex.) and Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) — would pressure illegal immigrants to “self-deport” to their home countries within two years of the law’s enactment and apply for a new kind of visa that would allow them to return to the United States quickly and work legally if a job awaits them. They would have to work here for 17 years, however, to be eligible for U.S. citizenship.

The plan, which has received mixed reviews from those briefed on it, is aimed at unifying Republicans on an issue that has bitterly divided them for months and threatens to damage the party in future elections…

Hutchison and Pence consider it the foundation for a possible compromise between the Senate, which voted for a plan that would provide a new path to citizenship, and the House, which has demanded that Congress focus only on securing borders for now. Former House majority leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.), a critic of the Senate bill, said the new proposal could be “a bridge between the two bodies.”

Armey, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie were briefed on the plan in hopes that they would help build pressure on skeptical lawmakers, the aides said. White House officials, including presidential adviser Karl Rove, have been told of the framework but not the details. A Republican close to the White House said President Bush “won’t be crazy about it, but I think he would sign it.”

And now for some details:

The government would spend about two years instituting the security changes. U.S. companies would open Ellis Island-type centers in many countries to process applications for a new kind of work visa, known as the Good Neighbor SAFE (Secure Authorized Foreign Employee) visa. The government would create tamper-proof identification cards that contain personal information and biometric technology designed to minimize fraud. Illegal immigrants would be required to return to their home countries and apply for the SAFE visa. They would undergo criminal background checks and health screenings and would need to prove that a U.S. job awaits them.

The new visa would be offered only to immigrants from countries that are part of trade pacts covering Canada, Mexico and most of Central America. The SAFE visas would be good for two years and could be renewed five times, for a total stay of 12 years. At any point, the holders could return to their home countries and apply for U.S. citizenship without paying a fine or back taxes. But they would have to wait in line.

Illegal immigrants could extend their stay beyond 12 years by applying for a five-year X-Change visa, which requires a job and a clean record. After 17 years in the system, X-Change visa-holders could go through the citizenship process without leaving the United States.

Any proposal that is labeled a “compromise” seems to me to have an uphill climb. Both sides — the Senate with their amnesty McKennedy bill and the House border security first crowd — are so dug in that a “compromise” plan may be dismissed simply because of its name irregardless of the contents of the proposal. Pence and Hutchison have a tall task in selling their proposal to their colleagues.

Meanwhile, President Bush is still pushing the issue hard. In a speech yesterday he again pushed for comprehensive reform:

“Congress is now considering legislation on immigration reform,” Mr. Bush said. “That legislation must be comprehensive. All elements of the problem must be addressed together, or none of them will be solved at all.”…

In calling on Congress to act, Mr. Bush was trying to bridge a wide gap between the Senate and House. Each chamber has passed an immigration bill, but the two versions are vastly different in intent and content. The Senate version would offer eventual citizenship for many illegal aliens, while the House version is far tougher and focuses on border security.

And then, as if the issue was not complicated enough, there is this:

The Republican base is being rejuvenated, some conservative activists say, by a flurry of congressional action on “values” issues such as marriage safeguards, flag protection and abortion restrictions, as well as President Bush’s veto last week of stem-cell legislation.

They warn against counteracting that progress with a comprehensive immigration bill that conservatives consider amnesty.

This is exhibit A as to why the Pence-Hutchison proposal may be a longshot.

UPDATE: On the other hand, Pence and Hutchison may have hit the sweet spot. Mike Allen reports:

The first two years of the program would be dedicated to border security. Then, under a mechanism known as a trigger, the President could certify to Congress that the borders were secure and the temporary worker program would begin.

A House Republican leadership aide said members “are looking for a safe landing zone as far as a guest worker program that can’t be defined as amnesty,” and that the plan appeared to provide just that.

On the Senate side, a Republican leadership aide said that senators “are looking for an alternative” and that the Hutchison-Pence proposal “might be another way to keep the conversation on immigration moving forward.” However, he said some senators were contemplating attaching a border-security measure to an appropriations bill, and said that might have a better chance of passing before the midterm elections in November.

It does seem that the last option mentioned — a simple rider enacting border security first — would be less controversial than Pence-Hutchison and would calm the political storm on the right. If that option gains momentun it will do so to the detriment of the Pence-Hutchison proposal.

Finally, Majority Leader John Boehner has penned an OpEd today calling for border security first.

Kyl, Cornyn urge full funding for border security

July 24, 2006 at 4:43 pm

Senators John Cornyn and Jon Kyl today called on the President to support a supplemental spending bill that would fully fund border security efforts authorized by Congress. The move is an effort to move the ball forward in the debate over immigration reform which has stalled of late.

From a Cornyn-Kyl press release:

Sen. Cornyn said: “While I am still very much committed to a comprehensive immigration reform bill, I believe that for the legislative process to move forward, the White House and the Congress must restore public confidence in the government’s ability - and will - to enforce the immigration laws. It is for this reason that we have sought the President’s support for a supplemental in our letter today, and we are hopeful that it will re-energize discussions between all parties in our effort to reach a compromise on this very important issue.”

Sen. Kyl said: “I continue to believe that Congress must address immigration reform in a comprehensive manner that starts with securing the border. There is much that Congress can do immediately to address our border security needs. That is why we are making this request to the President today. Emergency funding for border security will send a clear message that the government is seriously committed to the enforcement of its border.”

In other immigration news, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Congressman Mike Pence are scheduled to hold a joint press conference tomorrow in which they will talk about the issue of immigration reform. Pence has offered an immigration reform compromise plan and Hutchison has expressed interest in helping find a workable compromise between the Senate and House versions.

The press conference is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in the Capitol.

Child Custody Protection Act

July 24, 2006 at 2:50 pm

As the Senate nears the start of debate on the Child Custody Protection Act — a bill that prohibits the transportation of minors over states lines for the purposes of having an abortion by anyone other than that minor’s parents — it is worth noting the amendments that will be put forward by opponents of the bill.

Senator Barbara Boxer has an amendment that would nullify the law in the case of incest. But the Boxer amendment fails to define incest and essentially creates a situation wherein a boyfriend could transport a minor across state lines for an abortion as long as said minor tells the doctor she is a victim of incest. The amendment might be less laughable if their was a requirement that the incest have been reported to law enforcement officials.

Boxer’s amendment also fails to acknowledge that the Child Custody Protection Act includes a judicial bipass mechanism that could waive the law in certain cases.

Senator Diane Feinstein is offering an amendment that exempts clergy from the law. Essentially, any member of the clergy could transport a minor across state lines for an abortion without notifying parents. That sure sounds nice, but anyone who wants to become a member of the clergy needs only to spend five minutes filling out forms online at the Universal Life Church. After that…presto…they are clergy and are no longer subject to this law.

Heritage nabs a high profile blogger

July 24, 2006 at 2:27 pm

At The Heritage Foundation this week it was announced that Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters will begin blogging regularly on the Heritage Policy Blog. Ed will blog on various policy items that Heritage works on. His addition to the Heritage team is very exciting and will help Heritage continue making inroads with the blogoshere.

Welcome aboard Ed!

Check out his latest post here.

Is Syria about to crack?

July 24, 2006 at 11:21 am

My Heritage Foundation Colleague Peter Brookes tackles the question on the Real Clear Politics blog:

Is Syria panicking? Could be. Just take a look at Damascus’ evolving stance over the duration of the conflict. First, Syria said nothing about the Hizballah-initiated armed attack into Israel that resulted in the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. No surprise there as Hizballah is Damascus’ cat’s-paw after all.

Then as Israel responded to the Hizballah provocation with force and massed troops on the Lebanese border, Syria said that if Israel invades Lebanon, it will send in troops. Next we hear whispers that Damascus may be seeking an opening-even rapprochement–with Washington a year after the U.S. recalled its ambassador. Even more interesting, Syria said it is willing to help the U.S. with al Qaeda, in Lebanon of all places.

This week in Congress

July 24, 2006 at 10:57 am

HOUSE:

The House this week is set to consider 31 bills on suspension. With only five legislative days remaining before the House leaves for August recess, there will be extra incentives for lawmakers to pass legislation that they can tout when they are home in their districts. As such, there is rightly concern amongst conservatives that the taxpayer may get fleeced this week.

On the flip side, The House may vote on tow competing Sunset Commissions — authored by Representatives Kevin Brady and Todd Tiahrt. The bills would create commissions to determine the viability/effectiveness/fiscal worth of federal programs. For more on these commissions go here and here.

The House is also scheduled to vote on a conference report for a pensions package. The pension bill is the last tax train leaving the station before a long recess and it may include language on a death tax compromise. Of note, the conference report contains a huge airline bailout that conservatives have a real problem with on the fiscal side.

SENATE:

All drilling all the time…Senator Pete Domenici’s offshore drilling bill will be the central focus in the Senate this week. The bill authorizes drilling in off shore regions in the Gulf including off the Florida coast. The debate will turn political as the nation is facing rising prices at the pump and increased Middle East tension. Majority Leader Bill Frist will hold a cloture vote requiring 60 supporters on Wednesday. It is not yet clear whether or not Frist has the votes to move to an up or down vote on the bill.

On Tuesday the Senate will resume debate on the Child Custody Protection Act — a bill that prohibits the taking of minors across state lines to have an abortion. Frist has said he intends to complete Senate work on this bill by Tuesday.

Unlike the House, the Senate will not recess at the end of this week. They will work through the first week of August.

Martinez sees long term GOP loss

July 24, 2006 at 10:09 am

Florida Senator Mel Martinez thinks the House position on immigration threatens the long-term viability of the Republican Party. Martinez cites recent polling that shows Republican numbers amongst latino voters falling drastically.

Martinez had read a news story about the poll at breakfast and said that “it is no surprise. I have seen it coming.” The day before, he said, he had met with a group of House Republicans, looking for support for a compromise on the immigration bill that he helped shepherd through the Senate.

Martinez said he warned the House members that their opposition to the guest worker provisions in the Senate bill and its opening a path to citizenship for the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants estimated to be living in this country was damaging the party.

But he made no headway. “They go to their town meetings and all they hear from the people there is ‘close the border,’ ” Martinez said. “They think that’s the way to get reelected this year. They don’t think about the long-term cost.”

While Martinez’s worry about the long-term consequences amongst latinos is a matter open for debate, the short term consequences for Republicans of passing Hagel-Martinez is not. As Jonathan Weisman reports, for many House Republicans up for reelection this fall, their hard-line stance on immigration is the only thing they have going for them:

In a year of bad omens for Republicans, there is at least one potential bright spot: immigration.

Most Republicans in the House and many in the Senate are pushing to crack down on illegal immigration and are vowing to fight anything that could be construed as amnesty or guest-worker status for undocumented workers already in the United States. This stance excites the conservative base at a time when many on the right are disenchanted with their party over high spending and other issues.

I am not discountint Martinez’s concerns about the immigration debate. But he has not given his House colleagues anything to work with. The Hagel-Martinez-McKennedy bill is amnesty for millions. That is a political non-starter and rightly so. You can’t blame House Republicans for making the right choice between amnesty and border security only.

Will Casey strike out?

July 24, 2006 at 9:44 am

Salena Zito asks the question in a Weekly Standard OpEd. Despite leading incumbent Rick Santorum by double digits, Democartic challenger Bob Casey, Jr. is anything but a sure bet:

The fact is, though, that Bob Casey Jr.’s potential weaknesses–and Santorum’s political strengths–make this race far from over. Casey’s been here before. In 2002, eight weeks before the Democratic gubernatorial primary, he had a 26-point lead over current governor Ed Rendell. But, as soon as Casey had to stake out ideological ground and say where he stood on the issues, that lead evaporated. A similar dynamic can be seen in this year’s Senate race. So far, Casey has been afraid to take stands. On national affairs, says Dan Ronayne, press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Commmittee, “When Casey does speak to issues, it is in platitudes based off Democrat talking points.” As Ronayne tells it, while Casey has said he opposes introducing personal savings accounts into Social Security, he hasn’t yet said how he would handle the coming entitlement crisis. And on tax cuts, Ronayne goes on, Casey “says he would vote to repeal the [Bush cuts] for the top one percent, but would he have voted against the bills as presented to the senators in 2001 and 2003?” (The Casey campaign did not respond to requests for comment.)”After 10 years in public office, we still don’t hear from Bob Casey on where he stands,” says Kent Gates, a senior strategist for Brabender Cox, a media firm working with the Santorum campaign. “He does not want people to know that he is socially conservative in southeastern Pennsylvania, and he does not want voters in western Pennsylvania to know that he is a big spending liberal.”

Weekend links…and video

July 21, 2006 at 5:22 pm
  • A dark cloud advances
  • The veto
  • Katrina all over again?
  • World Trade Center
  • National Security and the Israeli Media
  • Will Syria give up Hezbollah?
  • More than a Global War on Terror
  • Blogger gathering
  • Landis the Lionheart
  • Almost halfway
  • Will a Gen-Xer ever be President?
  • 10 oddest iPod accessories


Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center wins hearts of conservatives

July 21, 2006 at 11:42 am

Rave reviews from most conservatives for this new movie based on 9-11…Michelle Malkin has the roundup.

Dems to spend $30 million

July 21, 2006 at 9:20 am

Democrats are planning to spend the big bucks this fall:

Signaling a new phase in the struggle for control of Congress, House Democrats have reserved time for more than $30 million worth of campaign advertising this fall in roughly two dozen congressional districts, with a heavy emphasis on the Northeast and Midwest.

The Democratic targets include clusters of Republican-held seats in the Philadelphia area held by Reps. Jim Gerlach, Curt Weldon and Michael Fitzpatrick, as well as the Ohio River Valley, where Reps. John Hostettler of Indiana, Geoff Davis of Kentucky and Steve Chabot of Ohio can expect a protracted televised barrage.

More on the Voting Rights Act

July 21, 2006 at 8:55 am

As mentioned, the Senate yesterday caved to the pressure of political correctness and passed the Voting Rights Act without any amendments to fix existing problems that have been well-documented. The Washington Times writes it up:

States outside the South are largely exempted from the law’s most stringent requirements, which apply to areas where black voters were often disenfranchised before 1965.

“Some of the data in the act is based on 1968, 1972 turnout models, and the act does not reflect some of the progress, particularly in my region of the country; and I think it should have, but it doesn’t, so we will just move on,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, chastised his colleagues for refusing to stand up for Southern states and pointed out the South’s successful record of registering black voters and electing black politicians.

“The voter-registration rates among blacks in the covered jurisdictions is higher than in the uncovered jurisdictions,” he said and added statistical data, “During the time of the act’s passage, voter-registration rates for African Americans was at about 29 percent; now nationally it is at about 62.2 percent for noncovered jurisdictions and 68.8 percent for the covered jurisdictions.”

Southern Republican senators were all but forced to vote for the bill despite their objections and without any amendments, after Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, allowed debate but made it clear with the support of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, that he would not support amendments to the version sent to them by the House…

…The expiring provisions extended yesterday will be in effect until 2031. The language of the law will remain identical to what was passed in 1982, the last reauthorization, with the only differences being the recorded data on voter registration and participation and trends on new and old violations.

Call it what it is

July 21, 2006 at 8:19 am

Hugh Hewitt points out the Los Angeles Times’ striking display or moral equivalence in respect to the terrorist group Hezbollah.

More than a global war on terror

July 21, 2006 at 6:39 am

My weekly column is up…here is a teaser:

On Tuesday, the Iranian Hezbollah group released a statement embracing the prospect of a third world war. The group, which has ties to the Lebanese terror faction currently lobbing rockets at Israeli civilian centers, claimed it was ready to dispatch 2,000 terrorists “to every corner of the world to jeopardize Israel and America’s interests.”

World War III? Are we really on the precipice of a global conflagration? Yes, according to some conservatives.

Read the whole thing here.

Coburn chairs Iran hearing

July 20, 2006 at 5:01 pm

Today Senator Tom Coburn chaired a Senate Hearing on Iran. “The purpose of the hearing is look at the status on Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities, European negotiations and the UN Security Council, and the feasibility of further negotiations, democracy promotion, sanctions, and/or military options,” says Coburns subcommittee website. More here.

Cornyn comments on Annan call for cease fire

July 20, 2006 at 4:35 pm

Texas Senator John Cornyn today in a conference call with reporters responded to UN Secretary Kofi Annan’s call for a cease fire in the Middle East:

“The problem is that Hezbollah, a terrorist organization supported by Syria and Iran is reigning down terror on civilians in Israel as we speak and there has to be some way to stop it…..The question is how we would accomplish that. It takes two to tango and it’s clear this fight is between Iran, Hezbollah and Syria, and then Israel. But I believe that unless Hezbollah would refrain from launching rockets into civilian neighborhoods than I believe that Israel has a right to search out and destroy the capability that allows them to do that. My hope is that the need to do that will be over very soon and they will restore some uneasy peace and stability to the region because obviously it’s concerning to all of us.”

Conservative net farm team for 2008?

July 20, 2006 at 3:51 pm

Robert Bluey asks, “who will be the Peter Daou of the right?” He has put together an impressive list of blog-savvy people who might be worth considering if your a conservative 2008 contender. He includes me on the list kindly, but there are far far more qualified folks on this list. Nevertheless, thanks for the vote of confidence Bluey.

McConnell: Kofi Anna is wrong

July 20, 2006 at 3:31 pm

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell telling it like it is today in reference to Kofi Annan’s criticism of Israel’s tactics against Hezbollah:

“Kofi Annan is wrong. He ought to read Resolution 1559 which not only called for the Syrians to get out of Lebanon but also for Hezbollah to disarm. Unfortunately for the Lebanese they are living with armed terrorists in their midst and unfortunately for the Israelis this group is right next door. Imagine if we were attacked by a neighbor here. We wouldn’t sit still and take it—we would go after the people lobbing rockets onto our population. The Israelis’ response, it seems to me, is appropriate under the circumstances.”

Rick Santorum is invaluable

July 20, 2006 at 2:30 pm

Conservatives may quibble with some of Rick Santorum’s policies here and there. But today, in a major policy speech speech at the National Press Club, Santorum demonstrated why he is an invaluable and irreplaceable member of the Senate GOP majority. In my opinion, there is no member of Congress who speaks with more precise moral clarity on the big issues of the day. In his speech Santorum echoed Newt Gingrich’s recent comments about world events and the scale of the threat facing the United States:

Today the biggest issue facing our children’s future is a war. Not, as so many describe it, the War on Terror. Not the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. But the world war, which at its heart is just like the previous three global struggles.

In those wars we fought against European tyrants and their allies, from the Kaiser to Hitler to Lenin, Stalin, and their heirs. We fought them because we knew that our survival was at stake. The tyrants would never stop attacking us until they had defeated us, or we had defeated them. Our only choices – choices imposed on us, not chosen by us – were either winning or losing, because there was no way out.

More Santorum:

And Iraq will never have the security it deserves so long as the Islamic fascists are in power in Iran. I believe we must fight for a strong Lebanon, a strong Israel, and a strong Iraq. That requires effective action against Iran. The longer we wait, the more people will be blown up, tortured, incarcerated, intimidated, and assassinated.

In 1979 Iran declared itself our enemy and for 27 years it has proven the truth of those words. A democratic Iran may not end the war against Islamic fascism, but without it this war will last to be our children’s war, not just ours. We owe it to them, it is our watch, it is our challenge.

Historians may write of this time in American history that we were not the greatest generation- that we fell short on many fronts. But may they also write that like our ancestors we too fought for freedom, that we too confronted evil, that we too endured a great trial and won a victory for the future of mankind.

I attended today’s speech and was impressed with the forcefullness with which Santorum delivered his comments. He received multiple rounds of applause in the usually buttoned down NPC. I commend the entire speech to you. It is well worth the read. Read the rest of this entry »

Interconnectivity

July 20, 2006 at 11:47 am

Want more evidence of the interconnectivity that Newt Gingrich has been arguing exists between current world events? CNN breaking news reports:

– Iranians were believed to be present at North Korea’s July 4 missile tests, assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator with Pyongyang, testified today.

Senate rolls over on Voting Rights Act

July 20, 2006 at 10:22 am

The Senate this morning is debating a 25 year extension of the Voting Rights Act. The VRA will be debated and voted on without any amendments. This is unfortunate, because there are some very serious problems with the extension as it is currently written. Despite these problems, a heavy fog of political correctness that currently hovers over the Senate floor will no doubt ensure overwhelmning passage of the bill.

For a list of problems with the bill, go here.

UPDATE: President Bush speaking before the NAACP moments ago got his greatest applause line: “I look forward to the Senate taking up this act and promptly passing, without amendment.”

Voinovich: Why I’ll vote for Bolton

July 20, 2006 at 9:55 am

Ohio Senator George Voinovich, who broke down in tears because of his opposition to John Bolton’s nomination to the United Nations post, has changed his mind. He explains why in this morning’s Washington Post.

Good move Senator Voinovich. Now perhaps you can educate some of your fellow moderates as to the virtues of a strong UN Ambassador.

Conservative split on foreign policy

July 20, 2006 at 9:18 am

The Washington Post today on a split amongst conservatives in regards to Administration foreign policy practices:

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who is considering a bid for president, called the administration’s latest moves abroad a form of appeasement. “We have accepted the lawyer-diplomatic fantasy that talking while North Korea builds bombs and missiles and talking while the Iranians build bombs and missiles is progress,” he said in an interview. “Is the next stage for Condi to go dancing with Kim Jong Il?” he asked, referring to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the North Korean leader.

“I am utterly puzzled,” Gingrich added.

Kenneth Adelman, a Reagan administration arms-control official who is close to Vice President Cheney, said he believes foreign policy innovation for White House ended with Bush’s second inaugural address, a call to spread democracy throughout the world.

“What they are doing on North Korea or Iran is what [Sen. John F.] Kerry would do, what a normal middle-of-the-road president would do,” he said. “This administration prided itself on molding history, not just reacting to events. Its a normal foreign policy right now. It’s the triumph of Kerryism.”

Not all conservatives subscribe to such views. Some prominent conservatives, including William F. Buckley Jr. and George Will, have been skeptical of the mission in Iraq and, in Will’s case, much of the ability of America to build democracy abroad. In his syndicated column yesterday, Will referred to the neoconservative complaints in observing that the administration is “suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature.”

Yesterday, in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, House Majority Leader John Boehner described these critics as “Monday morning quarterbacks” which “we have too much of in Washington.”  But I don’t think it is fair to dismiss this criticism in such a willy nilly manner. Gingrich and others who are criticizing the Administration have presented a compelling case for a more muscular, Reagan-esque foreign policy posture. To this observer the Administration would do well to hear them out.