Stevens’ tactics

August 31, 2006 at 3:59 pm

Lest anyone think Senator Ted Stevens‘ hold on the Coburn transparency bill was for any other reason than retribution for Tom Coburn’s Bridge to Nowhere amendment, there is this quote.

When the Senate was debating Coburn’s amendment to defund the Bridge to Nowhere on October 20 Stevens took the floor “to warn the Senate” against supporting Coburn’s measure. “I don’t threaten people,” said Stevens. “I promise people.”

Well, Stevens did keep his promise.

Newt: No Pelosi

August 31, 2006 at 3:32 pm

I cannot agree with these sentiments more:

  • One or more bills to clarify the legality of National Security Agency programs to monitor phone calls, financial transactions and other communications involving suspected terrorists and persons in the U.S.
  • Legislation granting explicit approval for the military tribunals used to prosecute suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. (The Supreme Court ruled in its Hamdan decision that the current system lacks proper authorization from Congress.)
  • A legislative enhancement of our port security that would establish more stringent security standards for ports and authorize an additional $5.5 billion for port security needs.
  • Final approval of the annual spending bills for the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.
  • A second attempt to confirm John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Pressure on secret-holder mounting

August 28, 2006 at 9:25 am

The Washington Times today runs a story about the Porkbusters effort to smoke out the secret holder of a Senate transparency and accountability bill:

Sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, and Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, the bill would require the administration to create a searchable Web site that would list the name and amount of any federal grant, contract or other award of money amounting to $25,000 or more.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, tried to win speedy passage just before the Senate left for its summer break, but at least one senator objected anonymously.

Now Porkbusters.org, a Web site dedicated to exposing wasteful government spending, is conducting a public campaign to smoke out the obstructor or obstructors, while blogs on both sides of the political spectrum have weighed in, demanding action on the bill. Mr. Frist has also vowed to get into the act, promising to try to pass the bill again when Congress returns from its break next month.

“For reasons of policy and politics, many bloggers are rightly outraged that S. 2590 was shot down when I attempted to bring it up for a vote prior to the August recess,” Mr. Frist wrote in an entry last week on the blog of Volpac, his political action committee (www.volpac.com).

The Federal Times reported that one senator has a “secret hold” on the bill. Holds are an unofficial part of Senate parliamentary tradition that allow a single senator to delay action anonymously.

Dem divisions on Iraq complicate fall strategy

August 28, 2006 at 8:24 am

As has been the case for a long time now, the Democratic party is divided on the issue of withdrawal from Iraq. A recent Washington Post survey bears this out:

Of the 59 Democrats in hotly contested House and Senate races, a majority agree with the Bush administration that it would be unwise to set a specific schedule for troop withdrawal, and only a few are calling for substantial troop reductions to begin this year, according to a Washington Post survey of the campaigns.

But inside the beltway Democrats, especially in Congressional leadership are playing from a different playbook:

While Republicans have largely stood by Bush in opposing a timetable for troop withdrawal, congressional Democratic leaders this month coalesced around calls to begin drawing down troop levels by December, with no specified pace or completion date. But rank-and-file Democrats are far from unified.

Hitchens gives Maher’s audience the finger

August 26, 2006 at 12:58 pm

It’s hard to fault Christopher Hitchens for his outburst yesterday on Bill Maher’s show. Here we have Hitchens explaining a deadly serious situation wherein Iranian President Ahmadinejad has for all intents and purposes made clear his desire to bring about a third world war when he is interrupted by Maher. While explaining the warped worldview of the maniacal Iranian who thinks the messiah is about to return Maher interjects, “so does George W. Bush, by the way.”

Then Maher’s acolytes of moral equivalence who warm the seats in his studio burst into doting applause.

Hitchens proceeds to correctly call the audience “frivolous” because they will clap at any senseless blather that seeps from their high priest Maher’s mouth, and then he loses it.

“F*&^ you, f%$ you,” says Hitchens as he gives the audience the middle finger.

Dealing with Bill Maher is frustrating enough, I suspect being subjected to the idiotic scorn of his legions of lemmings is downright maddening.

Watch the train reck unfold here.

Weekend links…and video

August 26, 2006 at 11:30 am
  • The junior senator from Judeo-Christian nation
  • Agenda journalism
  • Keystone Arkansas flashbacks
  • Republicans can still win in the midterms
  • The political value of blog ads
  • Mr. Bush’s communication problem
  • Case for transparent government is open and shut
  • The Lebanese don’t think Hezbollah won
  • McCain gobbles up more campaign talent
  • CNN to rerun 9/11 coverage
  • MSM transparency at its best


Nervous Republicans?

August 26, 2006 at 10:23 am

Robert Novak reports:

A political indicator of hard times ahead for Republicans is frantic activity during the current congressional recess by GOP staffers contemplating life under a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

Several Republican aides, including many working for House members from safe seats, are seeking employment elsewhere. Most of them have never worked under Democratic control and dread the prospect of minority status on Capitol Hill.

Other aides, working on House committee staffs, would lose those jobs in a Democratic House and want to transfer now to work for safe Republican members.

Let the scare tactics begin

August 25, 2006 at 1:56 pm

Stephen Moore, writing for the WSJ Political Diary email, reports on a renewed round of scare mongering being used by Democrats for political advantage this fall:

The mid-term elections are three months away but Democratic attack dogs are already pounding Republican incumbents for harboring secret plans to destroy Social Security. “We’re getting hit hard and early on Social Security,” says a Senate leadership aide. “I’m worried this could lead to moderate Republicans renouncing their support for personal investment accounts.”

The issue has become a livewire in the key Senate battleground states of New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington. Bob Casey, the Democratic challenger in Pennsylvania, is lambasting incumbent Rick Santorum on the issue of Social Security cutbacks.

We’ve heard this record before from Democrats — a ploy that began in earnest back in 1982 when the Tip O’Neill Democrats tarred and feathered Reagan Republicans for trying to cut the cost-of-living increase in Grandma’s Social Security check. In every election since 1996, Democratic challengers have lobbed these political grenades at Republicans — but with not many casualties inflicted.

Moore suggests a counterpunch:

Republicans could flip the table on the Democrats on this politically sensitive issue by rallying behind a bill drafted by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Mr. DeMint would take the annual Social Security surpluses (i.e. payroll taxes collected each year in excess of benefit payouts) and invest those dollars in young workers’ private accounts. Mr. DeMint calls this plan “Stop the Raid, Start the Accounts.” Polling indicates that what makes seniors and young workers angriest about Social Security is that $100 billion a year is stolen from the trust fund and spent on other programs. More than two-thirds of voters say they favor something like the DeMint plan to stop their payroll taxes from being diverted to unrelated federal pork. By squirreling these dollars into private accounts, the raid would immediately end.

Rather than running away from Social Security, Republicans could take the offensive on the issue and force Congress to cease and desist from one of the greatest raids on taxpayer funds in history. “We’ve got to be smart about this,” says Mr. DeMint. “Let Democrats explain why they want Social Security dollars spent on other government programs rather than retirement. This will let clarify for voters which party favors destroying the program.”

Google Talk turns 1

August 25, 2006 at 10:18 am

Google Talk, an increasingly popular instant messaging client that I have been using for the better part of a year now, celebrates its one year birthday yesterday. If you don’t use it, read about it’s birthday and download here.

Could the fall elections produce a tie in the House?

August 25, 2006 at 10:03 am

David Keating describes what would be “an election night sight to behold.”

Pence on the border

August 25, 2006 at 9:27 am

RSC CHairman Mike Pence posts an entry on his blog after touring the border with DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Pence concludes:

As I fly back to Dallas, I believe we have made progress in border security but our U.S. Border Patrol and DEA need help. They need people, technology and funding for barriers and equipment. And they need Congress to come up with a way that people can apply legally outside the United States to meet the needs of our grow ing economy. With the resources, the people, the tools and the ability to just focus on the bad guys, our law enforcement community can secure our border and protect our nation.

Shays: Timetable needed

August 25, 2006 at 9:22 am

Moderate New England GOP’er Chris Shays is bucking the Administration by joining the John Kerry’s of the world in their call for a timetable for troop withdrawal of Iraq:

He said he found a “noticeable lack of political will” among Iraqis “to move in what I would call a timely fashion” and concluded that Iraqi officials would act with greater urgency if the United States this fall set a timetable for withdrawal.

“My view is that it may be that the only way we are able to encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis is to have a timeline for troop withdrawal,” Shays said from London in a conference call with reporters. “A timeline of when the bulk of heavy lifting is in the hands of the Iraqis.”

Is Bob Casey, Jr. the next Mark Pryor?

August 24, 2006 at 10:01 am

In 2002, Democrat Mark Pryor succeeded in defeating incumbent Republican Tim Hutchinson (my boss at the time) in the Arkansas Senate race. Pryor’s strategy in that race is eerily similar to the strategy being employed by Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. against Rick Santorum this fall.

In a column over at National Review Online I examine the parallels and tell you why history may not repeat itself this year in Pennsylvania.

Report: Intel agencies downplaying Iranian threat

August 24, 2006 at 7:49 am

A new congressional report says that American intelligence agencies are downplaying the threat Iran poses to the international community and the United States.

The NY Times:

The new report, from the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, portrayed Iran as a growing threat and criticized American spy agencies for cautious assessments about Iran’s weapons programs. “Intelligence community managers and analysts must provide their best analytical judgments about Iranian W.M.D. programs and not shy away from provocative conclusions or bury disagreements in consensus assessments,” the report said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction like nuclear arms.

Some policy makers also said they were displeased that American spy agencies were playing down intelligence reports — including some from the Israeli government — of extensive contacts recently between Hezbollah and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “The people in the community are unwilling to make judgment calls and don’t know how to link anything together,” one senior United States official said.

The NY Times article suggests (of course) that the hesitation to draw provocative conclusions about Iran is directly linked to the controversy over faulty intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. If intelligence agencies are too gun-shy with regard to Iran only because they want to avoid another controversy we could run the risk of serious calamity.

More:

The consensus of the intelligence agencies is that Iran is still years away from building a nuclear weapon. Such an assessment angers some in Washington, who say that it ignores the prospect that Iran could be aided by current nuclear powers like North Korea. “When the intelligence community says Iran is 5 to 10 years away from a nuclear weapon, I ask: ‘If North Korea were to ship them a nuke tomorrow, how close would they be then?” said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives.

“The intelligence community is dedicated to predicting the least dangerous world possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to mock the international community even going so far as to hint at an upcoming nuclear surprise.

Pence-Hutchison immigration plan gets boost

August 24, 2006 at 7:28 am

The Washington Post:

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff will tour the Texas-Mexico border this morning with the conservative authors of a congressional immigration compromise, in what will be the clearest sign yet that the Bush administration is prepared to make major concessions to reach an immigration deal this year.

Chertoff’s appearance with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) is “in no way meant to signal an endorsement” of their compromise, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said. But it was seen by supporters and opponents yesterday as a boost for the plan and a significant White House concession to conservatives.

The Administration can say that they are not endorsing the Pence-Hutchison immigration compromise plan all they want, but the optics of the DHS Cheif touring the border with the duo looks like a plug. This is in addition to the President’s personal interaction with Pence in regards to the plan (before Congress left for recess Pence had a personal audience with Bush who was reportedly intrigued with Pence’s plan). It looks to me like the White House is warming up to this would-be compromise package.

Terrorism issue breathes life into GOP

August 24, 2006 at 7:01 am

My column today focuses on the GOP’s recent uptick in the polls as a result of successes in the war on terror. You can read it here.

The next Democratic Presidential nominee?

August 23, 2006 at 10:33 am

Kathryn Jean Lopez thinks Russ Feingold, not Hillary Clinton, will be the Dems pick in 2008 to run for President:

For far too long the assumption has been that the former First Lady would be the Dems’ obvious pick. The storyline had dynastic flair, plus the sexy-milestone first-woman-president aspect. It had the wronged-woman-coming-out-on-top Style-section and glossy headline opportunities. The idea launched many a Clinton-hater (hey, nothing wrong with that, I’m a card-carrier) book. It was scary while it lasted. But the moment’s gone.

Enter Sen. Russell Feingold, three-term Democrat from Wisconsin.

He’s positioned himself as the antiwar alternative. He’s got the advantage of being able to say to anyone disillusioned about Iraq that he was (in his mind) right all along — unlike Johnny-come-latelies like former Democratic vice=president nominee John Edwards, who recently apologized for his 2002 Senate vote for the Iraq invasion. And with the recent defeat of Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary, it’s Feingold’s hour. It’s his party and he can run if he wants to. The red carpet is out.

Could liberals “LaMont” Hillary?

August 23, 2006 at 8:04 am

Despite her reliably liberal track record, Hillary Clinton is facing an anti-war liberal challenger in the NY Democratic primary. The New York Times reports:

As Ned Lamont basks in his Democratic primary victory in Connecticut, another antiwar underdog is trying to assume the same role of political giant-killer in next month’s elections in New York, though against much bigger prey: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But while Mr. Lamont united liberals and used $4 million of his own money to win his primary, Jonathan Tasini is struggling on a shoestring campaign to rise above his 12 percent standing in the polls, even as he hawks a message of left-wing anger over Iraq to an electorate that is more liberal than Connecticut’s.

Mr. Tasini has qualified for the Sept. 12 primary ballot against Mrs. Clinton, and his positions on the Iraq war, the death penalty and gay marriage are in step with the progressive groups and liberal bloggers that contributed volunteers, money and buzz to Mr. Lamont. Yet some of these partisans say they are deeply reluctant, and in some cases scared, to criticize or abandon Mrs. Clinton, who supported the invasion of Iraq.

In the meantime the contest in Connecticut is growing more fierce:

The campaign of Sen. Joe Lieberman yesterday described efforts to have Mr. Lieberman kicked out of the Democratic Party “Soviet-style tactics” and “dirty political tricks at its worst.”

“These are Soviet-style tactics,” Lieberman campaign spokesman Dan Gerstein said.
A group of peace activists has asked the New Haven registrar to strip the three-term Connecticut Democrat of his decades-long party association now that he’s running for Senate as an independent.
The activists say they are working independently of Ned Lamont, the anti-war candidate who defeated Mr. Lieberman in the Democratic primary earlier this month.

“The Lamont campaign had nothing to do with this,” said Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan. “We didn’t even know the law they were quoting. All our work is focused on beating Joe Lieberman on November 7.”