Friday, June 16, 2006

Tennessee Senate a Longshot for Democrats

Democrats have been optimistic about the chance that Harold Ford gives them to win the seat of retiring Majority Leader Bill Frist, against a divided Republican field. In a state that looks as Red as Tennessee, Democrats would need lightning to strike for a win. With the combination of a moderate-to-conservative candidate from a well-known family, in what looks like a good Democratic year, it looked like the clouds were rumbling - but the Hotline throws some cold water on that idea:

June 15, 2006
The Big Number: 38

That's the percentage of Tennesseans who know, and have an unfavorable opinion of, Rep. Harold Ford (D) in the latest Zogby poll. 51% of the state views the Sen candidate favorably, which means that while a much higher percentage of Volunteers know the guy, he's already very well-defined, especially considering his opponents. Ex-Rep. Van Hilleary (R) (54% Fav, 18% unfav), ex-Rep. Ed Bryant (R) (44%-12%) and ex-Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker (R) (52%-17%) are all less well-known, and therefore have higher potential upsides than Ford.

The Zogby poll also shows Ford trailing all three GOPers -- Corker by a margin of 46%-41%, Hilleary by a 43%-41% score and Bryant by a few 10ths of a percent, but for rounding purposes we'll call it 42%-42%. Notice that the GOPers' leads are all within the margin of error (+/- 4.5%), and it should be pointed out that Ford is crushing all three GOPers among indies. Those caveats aside, what is Ford’s ultimate ceiling? Does he need a perfect campaign to nab 51%?

Posted at 10:24 AM

The Hotline nails this. Ford's much better-known - and much more widely disliked - than a typical House member. With 38% of Tennessee voters already holding a negative opinion of him, he's going to have to spend a lot of money to convince people to reconsider. And there are simply too many competitive Senate races for big donors to give him much to work with. If these numbers are accurate, you can stick a fork in Ford.

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Smart Money on Immigration

Kate O'Beirne over at the Corner suggests that the smart money is now against an immigration bill being completed before the midterms. I think that's much too pessimistic. First, her post:

Immigration-Reform Buzz [Kate O'Beirne]

It seems that this week the smart money is on no reform bill at all before the election. The Senate is preparing for a conference while the House is not. Opponents of the McCain/Kennedy/Hagel/Martinez legislation see the Senate conferees as stacked in favor of the bill, with only 4 of the 14 Republican conferees having voted with a a majority of the GOP caucus on key conservative amendments. House Republicans seem more convinced than ever that being seen as compromising at all with the fatally flawed Senate bill is bad politics.
Posted at 3:41 PM

Kate may be right that the Senate conferees are unfriendly to the House border enforcement approach. But that's not the end of the story. First off, the Senate leadership realizes that the 'earned legalization' provisions cause major problems in the House, and will not pass. The majority of Republican Senators would be happy with a border-enforcement-only bill. The question is whether they can get one.

Can the Republicans in the Senate 'roll' their conferees? Maybe so. But more importantly, if they can't, there are other things that can be done. The Senate leadership could call for a vote on the House bill, for example. Or the House could attach its border enforcement bill to an appropriations bill (such as the Defense Appropriations) - which the Senate could not ignore. This move would give the Senate leadership a clear way around their conferees, if they wanted one. The Senate could simply adopt the border enforcement provisions included in the House, or a new set of conferees - on the appropriations bill - could accept them and include them in the appropriations conference report.

This second strategy would hold a great attraction for House Republicans - it would force House Democrats to vote again on the Republican border enforcement bill. When it was first voted on last year, only 36 House Democrats voted for it, while just 17 Republicans voted against. If it were come to a vote again, you can bet on it getting more than 36 Democratic votes, given how the ground has shifted in the last few months. That would add some more division to a House Democratic caucus that already has more than its share.

Welcome Kausfiles readers, and thanks to Mickey for the traffic. While you're here, feel free to look around, or check out my assessment of the Democratic Civil War.

Stunning Prediction by Dick Morris

I've said before, Morris is a bright guy - even though he's often wrong. Which is it here?

He says that partisan waves only become evident quite late - something I don't think is entirely accurate - and that this year a late-breaking wave is likely to put Democrats in control of both House AND Senate - though it's too early to predict that for sure.

Coming at a time of great GOP optimism - at least compared with all of 2006 up until now - it's interesting that Morris picks NOW to make this preciction:

Looks like a GOP wipeout but the trend doesn’t show yet

Current surveys show a tendency toward the Democrats but do not show a rout as of yet. But any Republican strategists who take comfort from that did not live through 1986 or 1994, the two most recent years when a party trend swept through Congress like a plague, killing the deserving and the undeserving alike.

In both of those years, the trend toward the party that eventually won manifested itself only in the last week of polling and really only in the last few days. So it will be in 2006.

Whether there will be a rout or not is anybody’s guess — mine is that there will be and that the Democrats will win both Houses of Congress. But you won’t see the process one way or the other in today’s polling data.

In 1986, the Republicans had no idea they would face a decimation of their Senate delegation. Many party leaders were insecure because the Reagan Revolution class of 1980 was coming up for reelection, and they worried that many of these young senators had not sufficient time to sink their roots and came from states where a Democrat would probably win in normal times. But nobody could foresee the extent of the Democratic Party victory, enough to keep the Senate in their control until 1994 despite losing the presidential race in 1988.

In 1994 the trend was even less evident. President Clinton traveled to the Middle East two weeks before the election to oversee — and take credit for — the signing of a peace accord between Jordan and Israel. When he returned, his approval ratings were higher than they had been in months and he was brimming with confidence that the Democrats would hold on to both houses. When the debacle struck, he was totally surprised and unnerved, as were Democratic strategists from coast to coast.

Why does party trend manifest itself so late in the polling process? Why is it so hard to pick up early on?

Despite the promptings of pollsters, voters do not focus on congressional or even senatorial races until much later in the process. Beforehand, they watch and listen but do not collect their thoughts or correlate their overall partisan inclinations with the votes they must cast in their own specific race. That thinking takes place only at the end.

...A bit less than half of all voters say that the country would be better off if the Democrats ran Congress, while a bit more than one-third say they would like the GOP to remain in charge. Bush’s ratings are regularly below 40 percent, and his profile on the issue that voters care about most, energy prices, is virtually nonexistent.

The main GOP issue is terrorism, but as we succeed in the war on terror its saliency is dropping every month. Corruption has become a one-party issue, and the blame is falling squarely on the Republican leadership in Congress.

That a Kennedy fell off the wagon and Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) flew off the handle are not enough to besmirch the Democrats. Rep. William Jefferson’s Louisiana larceny — keeping $90,000 in his freezer, a new definition of frozen assets — is also not enough to offset the spectacle of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) resigning and the House leadership running for cover.

So this year will probably be a wipeout for the GOP. Enough to lose control? Probably. But, the point of this column is that it’s too soon to tell.

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Light Blogging this Weekend...

Family considerations.

I'll leave you with this Roll Call piece on the expulsion of Bill Jefferson from the Ways and Means Committee. The vote among Democrats was closer than expected, and this must still be ratified by the full House. It will be interesting to see if Republicans try to make this more uncomfortable for Democrats, but I think that's unlikely.

GREAT quote from Pelosi, by the way. And it's not often I say that:

House Democrats Approve Jefferson’s Expulsion From Ways and Means
Thursday, June 15; 10:36 pm
By Steve Kornacki,
Roll Call Staff

In a Caucus meeting that dragged on for well over three hours, House Democrats on Thursday night endorsed Rep. William Jefferson’s (La.) expulsion from the Ways and Means Committee in a vote that was somewhat closer than expected.

By a 99-58 margin, the Democrats sided with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), whose persistent calls for Jefferson’s voluntary resignation have been rebuffed by the Louisianan, who is being investigated by federal prosecutors over bribery allegations. Jefferson indicated that he will press forward and not quit, even as his options wither.

Barring a change of heart on his part, Jefferson’s removal will now be taken to the House floor by Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (S.C.). Clyburn did not say when he would introduce the resolution, other than to say he probably wouldn’t do so Thursday night

After the meeting, Rep. Mel Watt (N.C.), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, wouldn’t say whether he or any other CBC member would object on the House floor to the change in Jefferson’s committee status, which by tradition would be introduced under a unanimous consent agreement. An objection would force a floor debate and a recorded vote.

Going into Wednesday’s meeting, even Jefferson’s supporters conceded that his fate seemed settled, with Pelosi’s muscle presumed to be enough to corral a sizable pro-expulsion majority. Last week, the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, a group packed with the Leader’s loyalists, had overwhelmingly voted to recommend Jefferson’s removal, and in the run-up to Thursday’s Caucus session, only a handful of voices from the 43-member CBC publicly rallied to their colleague’s defense.

But some Democrats were apparently swayed by the argument that Pelosi was acting without precedent – specifically, that no rank-and-file committee member had ever been stripped of his or her seat without charges being brought or being convicted of a crime. In the end, nearly 60 members of the Democratic Caucus defied their Leader in the secret balloting.

...“I told all of my colleagues, ‘Anybody with $90,000 in the freezer -- you have a problem with this Caucus,’” Pelosi said.

The meeting, held on the same day as a lengthy House debate on an Iraq war resolution, was supposed to last little more than an hour, with each side being given 20 minutes of floor time and Jefferson himself being permitted to make his case.

But shortly after Jefferson spoke to his colleagues – a 10-minute address that, he told reporters, resulted in a standing ovation – Rep. Steve Rothman (N.J.) surprised the Caucus by offering a motion to table the expulsion resolution until the Caucus drew up rules for removing rank-and-file members from their committee assignments.

“In the absence of any rule, I felt that this was extremely arbitrary and inviting potential abuse,” said Rothman, a former Bergen County (N.J.) Surrogate Court judge. “The standard being, if things looks bad, remove him or her from the committee.”

That sparked two floor debates: one over Rothman’s motion itself, and one over whether the vote on the motion should be conducted by secret ballot. Ultimately, the Caucus opted for paper ballots, which then had to be drawn up, resulting in another delay.

“They really [screwed] this up,” one disgusted Member said as he left the Caucus room during a break in the proceedings.

Finally, Rothman’s motion to table was defeated, 91-61, with more than 50 Members not voting – they were either on the House floor participating in the Iraq debate or attending the White House picnic, Democratic leaders later speculated.

With Rothman’s motion defeated, debate over the original resolution resumed, finally wrapping up shortly before 8 p.m.

With Pelosi standing just behind him and to his right, Clyburn, a CBC member who has steadfastly refused to reveal his opinion of the Jefferson matter, announced the decision. He seemed to suggest that election year politics – Democrats have pinned their hopes of reclaiming the House in part on selling the public on the concept of a Republican-sponsored “culture of corruption” – played a hand in Pelosi’s insistence.

“Mr. Jefferson has the right, and I think the responsibility, to defend himself in these legal proceedings,” Clyburn said. “Mrs. Pelosi has a right, and I think a responsibility, to make a political decision in the best interest of this Caucus.”

That provoked groans and vocal expressions of disbelief from some CBC members who stood off to the side listening.

“I probably agree with [Clyburn] that the decision, in the absence of a rule – that one explanation is political expediency,” Watt said when it was his turn at the microphone a few minutes later. “But I don’t think that’s the way we ought to proceed.”

Watt also warned of electoral repercussions for the Democrats this fall, arguing that grass-roots black voters might view the move as racially motivated, even if Watt and others say they don’t believe it is.

“A number of them will import that there is a different standard in our Caucus that is based on race,” Watt said.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

House Democratic Crybabies

A number of House Democrats held a press conference yesterday to complain about the terms of debate for the resolution to be debated today on Iraq and the Global War on Terror. They cleverly tied their wrists with yellow ribbons to show that 'their hands are tied' (clever, see?), and that this is a false debate:

Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) complained Wednesday that House leaders were not going to permit Democrats to offer amendments to the resolution, forcing them into a position of either voting against supporting the troops or for the Republican formulation of the war.

"Our hands are tied — literally — on the floor of the people's House," Abercrombie said at a news conference, his hands tied together with yellow rope to symbolize his frustration. "Do not put us through the farce and the fraud of a pseudo-debate."

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) was unsympathetic.

"That is not a 'gotcha.' They have a decision to make. That is what we get elected to do," Boehner said.

So already this is sort of amusing. Faced with charges that they are insufficiently committed to winning the War on Terror, Democrats respond by complaining that the charge is unfair, and then they tie their hands with yellow ribbon and say that they are powerless.

Smart politics! Here's another idea: try nominating a WAR HERO for President!

Moving on, the kernel of their argument is that they are being forced to either vote yes or no - with no opportunity for amendment - on this resolution:

2d Session
H. RES. 861
Declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.


June 12, 2006
Mr. HYDE submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


Declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.

Whereas the United States and its allies are engaged in a Global War on Terror, a long and demanding struggle against an adversary that is driven by hatred of American values and that is committed to imposing, by the use of terror, its repressive ideology throughout the world;

Whereas for the past two decades, terrorists have used violence in a futile attempt to intimidate the United States;

Whereas it is essential to the security of the American people and to world security that the United States, together with its allies, take the battle to the terrorists and to those who provide them assistance;

Whereas the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other terrorists failed to stop free elections in Afghanistan and the first popularly-elected President in that nation's history has taken office;

Whereas the continued determination of Afghanistan, the United States, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will be required to sustain a sovereign, free, and secure Afghanistan;

Whereas the steadfast resolve of the United States and its partners since September 11, 2001, helped persuade the government of Libya to surrender its weapons of mass destruction;

Whereas by early 2003 Saddam Hussein and his criminal, Ba'athist regime in Iraq, which had supported terrorists, constituted a threat against global peace and security and was in violation of mandatory United Nations Security Council Resolutions;

Whereas the mission of the United States and its Coalition partners, having removed Saddam Hussein and his regime from power, is to establish a sovereign, free, secure, and united Iraq at peace with its neighbors;

Whereas the terrorists have declared Iraq to be the central front in their war against all who oppose their ideology;

Whereas the Iraqi people, with the help of the United States and other Coalition partners, have formed a permanent, representative government under a newly ratified constitution;

Whereas the terrorists seek to destroy the new unity government because it threatens the terrorists' aspirations for Iraq and the broader Middle East;

Whereas United States Armed Forces, in coordination with Iraqi security forces and Coalition and other friendly forces, have scored impressive victories in Iraq including finding and killing the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi;

Whereas Iraqi security forces are, over time, taking over from United States and Coalition forces a growing proportion of independent operations and increasingly lead the fight to secure Iraq;

Whereas the United States and Coalition servicemembers and civilians and the members of the Iraqi security forces and those assisting them who have made the ultimate sacrifice or been wounded in Iraq have done so nobly, in the cause of freedom; and

Whereas the United States and its Coalition partners will continue to support Iraq as part of the Global War on Terror: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) honors all those Americans who have taken an active part in the Global War on Terror, whether as first responders protecting the homeland, as servicemembers overseas, as diplomats and intelligence officers, or in other roles;

(2) honors the sacrifices of the United States Armed Forces and of partners in the Coalition, and of the Iraqis and Afghans who fight alongside them, especially those who have fallen or been wounded in the struggle, and honors as well the sacrifices of their families and of others who risk their lives to help defend freedom;

(3) declares that it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq;

(4) declares that the United States is committed to the completion of the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure, and united Iraq;

(5) congratulates Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and the Iraqi people on the courage they have shown by participating, in increasing millions, in the elections of 2005 and on the formation of the first government under Iraq's new constitution;

(6) calls upon the nations of the world to promote global peace and security by standing with the United States and other Coalition partners to support the efforts of the Iraqi and Afghan people to live in freedom; and

(7) declares that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the noble struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.

Now what is so unfair about this resolution? Either you agree with it or you don't. The Democrats complain that this resolution politicizes the debate. Are you kidding me?

This complaint comes from the same folks who went to Baghdad before the war and said they believed Saddam over President Bush. The same folks that complained that the press can't film coffins arriving from Iraq. The same people who ran to the cameras breathlessly to excoriate the President over Abu Gharib and Haditha, and who say that regardless of what the facts may ultimately show about such events, senior military officials should be punished, and Rumsfeld forced to resign. The same folks who are trying to rewrite history on the questions of WMD in Iraq.

The same people who forced this debate!

THEY are complaining that this resolution 'politicizes' the debate.

Well you know what? When you win the majority, you can write the resolution. Until then, you can have your say - 5 hours worth of debate time - and then vote 'aye' or 'nay.'

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House Set to Debate Iraq Today

The House will today spend 10 hours debating a resolution regarding the War on Terror. You can read the resolution here.

The Post covers the debate here, and notes that the resolution cannot be amended - simply voted up or down. Bet on 'up.' The Post piece highlights the Republican divisions on this issue, and features an amusing quote from Ray LaHood, saying it is a dumb idea to debate the resolution. No word on whether he has expressed this view to Wayne Gilchrest and several others, who joined with Democrats to force this debate.

And while the Democrats forced this debate in the hope of political gain, it looks like they may wind up more divided than the GOP (next post).

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Democratic Fissures Showing

The Hill notes that on the eve of the House debate today over Iraq, a Democratic caucus meeting turned into a 'circus,' over Iraq. 'Leaders' of the 'Out of Iraq Caucus' berated Minority Leader Pelosi over her failure to lead more aggressively on troop withdrawl. Others are criticizing Pelosi for 'poor political judgment' in not preventing her ally John Murtha from announcing a planned challenge to Steny Hoyer.

Republicans could not have hoped that an opposition with such wind at their backs could become so divided so quickly, without any major shift in the electoral terrain. Republicans have had some successes lately, no doubt - Zarqawi, the economy, improved polls, a special election win in California - but nothing to explain how House Democrats have fallen apart over Iraq, Jefferson, the Murtha leadership bid, and probably immigration, before too long.

If you're a Republican, read the whole piece:

Anti-war Dems blast Pelosi over endgame
By Josephine Hearn

A series of recent internal disputes have sown discontent in some quarters of the House Democratic caucus, threatening to disrupt the unified front Democrats have used to frustrate Republicans in the 109th Congress.

Despite a superior position in the polls and impressive unity on key votes, House Democrats have been feuding in recent weeks over such issues as the seat of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) on the Ways and Means Committee, the ambitions of two of their most respected members to be majority leader in a Democratic House and their long-standing lack of consensus on whether to redeploy troops out of Iraq.

Such tensions were in full display yesterday morning at a caucus meeting on Iraq where three members of the Out of Iraq Caucus clustered around a microphone to berate House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) loudly for failing to take a stronger stand on leaving Iraq.

At times having to speak above her colleagues, one member of the caucus, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), told Pelosi that the Out of Iraq Caucus members have been “leaders on this issue,” according to several attendees, and that they deserve to play a more prominent role in the House’s planned debate of Iraq policy today.

“We’re all leaders,” Pelosi replied.

Several Democrats came to Pelosi’s defense. Rep. Anna Eshoo (Calif.) attempted to quiet the increasingly unsettled crowd, while Rep. George Miller (Calif.) approached a handful of Out of Iraq Caucus members, most notably Reps. Lynn Woolsey (Calif.), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), and engaged in a “heated conversation,” one witness said.

“The whole thing was a circus,” a Democratic aide said. “The reaction of most people was to leave.”

...Caught unawares by Murtha’s challenge, Hoyer spent five days shoring up support and had contacted nearly all of his colleagues before Murtha called it off. While some members were elated to see Hoyer challenged, many others, perhaps a majority of the caucus, saw the race as ill-timed and felt Hoyer had done well by them as whip and political leader.

Some were upset that Pelosi had not deterred Murtha from launching the bid and had remained silent on the race for days after it had begun.

“The fact that she said nothing about it for so long and that she allowed him to go through with it in the first place, it shows terrible political judgment,” one House Democrat said.

Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said, “The House Democrats are unified, organized and disciplined. They’re keeping their focus on winning the House in 2006. Unlike the Republicans, the Democratic Caucus promotes diversity of ideas, and they come from the bottom up, unlike the top-down, rubber-stamp approach that Republicans use.”

The Jefferson dispute exposed fissures between Democratic leaders and many members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Democrats are expected to vote today to remove him temporarily from Ways and Means.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Kos Getting 'Pragmatic?'

Apparently since the Kos crowd backed Jim Webb for the Senate in Virginia, and Mark Warner for President, they are congratulating themselves for their 'pragmatism.' Do you think that Joe Lieberman appreciates their openness toward conservative Democrats?

I know what the Left will answer: pragmatism means supporting more conservative candidates in more conservative states, not just supporting conservatives. Still, they are showing a lot of love to two newcomers, and throwing old reliable under the bus. That's not very pragmatic. The money it will take to KEEP the Connecticut Senate seat Democratic could probably be spent a lot better against Jim Talent, Conrad Burns, Jon Kyl, Rick Santorum, or several other Republicans.

Is this pragmatism with a grudge?

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Lieberman Lead Slipping Further?

According to Political Wire, Lieberman leads Lamont by just 6 points. I'm not sure the source of the Rasmussen number, but I believe that this is a poll among all Democrats. As before, that would probably tend to overstate the lead for Lieberman, and shows why he is preparing for an Independent bid.

Frankly, I'm very skeptical of this poll. If it is accurate, then the lead of a popular, 3-term incumbent who is nationally recognized and well-known, has evaporated to virtually nothing in a matter of weeks - without any significant advertising so far. (Anyone in Connecticut, please correct me if I'm wrong about the advertising.) Political careers don't shatter like this without a major event causing it.

That said, there's little doubt that Lieberman is in a real race for renomination, and Lamont's folks have to like their chances right about now.

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Has Hell Frozen Over?

Is this what Snow in Iraq looks like?

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Sometimes They Write Themselves...

Congressman Henry Waxman, would-be Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, should the Democrats retake the House majority, has a gift for timing. He conducted an interview with National Journal (subscription required), in which he talked about the bipartisan manner of leadership he would bring to the Government Reform Committee if he became Chairman, and lamented the 'partisan witch hunts' that the Committee is known for:

Waxman Says He Would Lead Panel In Bipartisan Manner
House Government Reform ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the outspoken 16-term lawmaker whose passion for oversight has been directed at corporate giants in the auto and tobacco industries, is quietly laying the groundwork for chairing the watchdog committee if Democrats win back the majority in November.

"If I became chairman I would focus on two things. One, that I maintained a good working relationship with [Government Reform Chairman Davis], and two, that I would take a more vigorous approach in areas where taxpayer dollars have dissipated," Waxman said in an interview with CongressDaily. "I wouldn't disappoint myself if I were chairman," he said with a smile.

Waxman, who joined the Government Reform Committee just after his party was thrown into the minority in 1994, would also focus on a host of other issues that he says are lacking congressional oversight. In a quick response that suggested he had considered the prospect of taking over the committee, he rattled off as top priorities congressional investigations into the prison abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib; the intelligence used by the White House to justify going to war in Iraq; no-bid contracts for reconstruction efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, and evaluating how GOP-sponsored legislation in the House undermines state authority.

Waxman released a study on the state pre-emption issue last week, but said he did not lobby for the full committee to take it up because "I didn't want to put Chairman Davis on the spot ... and I didn't think he'd want to" push the topic himself.

The bipartisan approach to oversight that Waxman imagines would be vastly different than in the days when Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., was at the helm during the Clinton administration -- the last time the House and White House were controlled by opposite parties. Burton led a series of contentious hearings looking into the Clinton administration's campaign finance practices, an investigation that Waxman once called "a partisan witch hunt," according to the Almanac of American Politics.

But in today's embittered political climate, widely considered more partisan that ever, Waxman admits it would be difficult to make friends on the other side of the aisle while conducting his own investigations. "A lot of our legislation will not move very far," he said, noting that even if Democrats win back the House in November, their chances in the Senate are less optimistic.

Waxman also voiced a longing for the return of "a real deliberative process" over legislation at the committee level and bemoaned the increasing use of suspension of the rules to pass bills. The result, he said is that "the expertise of members on both sides of the aisle have become less important."

The lawmaker points to the pending overhaul of the U.S. Postal Service overhaul bill as an example of substantive legislation handled in a bipartisan manner. The legislation, awaiting conference, stands to revamp the postal service for the first time in 30 years, changing how the agency raises rates and operates its pension plans. The ranking member said discussions have been free from partisan bickering because, "I think Chairman Davis decided he wanted to make it that way."
By Jessica Brady

What else happened yesterday? Well, someone named Henry Waxman - obviously not the same 'bipartisan' Henry Waxman - asked Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis to convene hearings into Karl Rove, and his conduct with regard to the leaking of the identity of Valerie Plame.

Could he not even wait a day?

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Mollohan Explains 9,000 Percent Gain

Roll Call (subscription required) reports that Alan Mollohan had a good year in real estate in 2005, after a property he owned gained 9,000 percent in value in a 4-year span. Oh - and he didn't report it properly the first time around.

The article also notes that Mollohan secured an earmark for a bankrupt business partner, whose firm reportedly did little work for the money.

This explanation from Mollohan will not satisfy anyone, and will only send people scurrying to dig up more info on what other Mollohan friends and partners were recipients of earmarks. Indeed, even on the Left, this explanation is greeted with skepticism. Recall too, that the FBI is still investigating this. Mollohan is in serious trouble.

It's almost comical that Nancy Pelosi has only just announced an end to the Democratic focus on the 'Culture of Corruption.' The timing is fortuitous, since it could not survive in the face of the behavior of Bill Jefferson, Alan Mollohan, Cynthia McKinney, and a passel of others:

Mollohan Made $1M-Plus in Real Estate in 2005
June 14, 2006
By John Bresnahan,
Roll Call Staff

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) made more than $1 million in 2005 alone from real estate investments, and the value of Mollohan’s stock in a Washington, D.C., condominium building that he, his wife and his cousin owned increased by more than 9,000 percent in value between 1999 and 2003, according to documents released by the West Virginia Democrat on Tuesday.

Mollohan also acknowledged that after a “comprehensive review” of his financial disclosure statements from 1996 to today, he would have to file amended reports covering the five-year period from 1999 to 2004 due to “a relative handful of unintentional and immaterial mistakes” included in those filings.

But Mollohan claimed that a lengthy examination of his financial dealings during the last decade exonerated him of charges made in February by the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog group. The NLPC has alleged that Mollohan was trying to disguise the dramatic increase in his personal wealth during the last several years by failing to disclose or misrepresenting the true value of his assets.

...Mollohan released his 2005 financial disclosure report on Tuesday, a day before it was required to be publicly unveiled, along with an extensive analysis of his real-estate transactions from 1996 to 2005.

Mollohan said he would be filing amended financial disclosure statements for 1999 to 2004, due to small, “inadvertent errors” in the reports he submitted to the House ethics committee for that period.

Mollohan, however, rejected any suggestion that there were “sinister motives” behind those errors, and he blasted the NLPC for its attacks on him.

“The documents prove that the National Legal and Policy Center has wildly exaggerated the inadvertent errors on my past financial disclosure statements,” Mollohan said in a statement released by his office. “They also show that NLPC is dead wrong in implying that I improperly benefited from my office.”

...Ken Boehm, chairman of NLPC, said that Mollohan’s latest document release did not satisfy his group’s concerns. “It begins to show we were correct all along,” said Boehm of the fact that Mollohan had to file amended disclosure reports. “And the unanswered questions are the same as they have been all along — what is the relationship between his earmarks and his personal finances.”

Overall, Mollohan’s reported personal assets for 2005 were worth at least $8 million, and he reported liabilities in excess $3.43 million, according to his latest financial disclosure statement.

In 2000, Mollohan’s assets were worth a minimum of $179,000 and his liabilities totaled at least $170,000.

...Mollohan also released a “Chronology of Real Estate Transactions” from 1999 to 2005 that provides far more detail than was previously available.

In that document, Mollohan said he and his wife, Barbara, as well as his third cousin Joseph Jarvis and Jarvis’ wife, formed a company called Remington Group LLC in 1996. The four co-owners contributed a combined $50,000 to start the company.

Jarvis had previously worked in real estate, but he ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1994, according to the Knight/Ridder Tribune News Service. A company owned by Jarvis received a $1 million earmark in 1995 thanks to Mollohan to develop software to help decommission Energy Department nuclear sites, and subcontracted most of that work out since it lacked the technical expertise to execute the contract.

Remington Group was formed to buy 17 renal units in The Remington, an apartment building in downtown Washington, D.C. Instead, the Remington Group bought the stock of Remington Inc., the company that actually owned the units. The Remington Group secured a $1.5 million mortgage to cover the purchase.

Over the next several years, the Remington Group and Remington Inc. purchased seven more units in the same building, including three owned by the Mollohans. In 1999, Remington Group and Remington Inc., were merged into one company, named Remington, Inc. The company secured a $2.3 million bank loan, and then bought an additional unit.

In 2001, Mollohan inherited interest in a West Virginia company that owned hotel property and a farm from his father, the late Rep. Robert Mollohan (D-W.Va.). Alan Mollohan has stated the he received a “sizable inheritance” from his father’s estate.

Late in 2002, the Mollohans began investing in the North Carolina beachfront property with Laura and Donald Kuhns. Altogether, the Mollohans and Kuhns have jointly purchased five lots in Bald Head Island, N.C.

The Mollohan’s vacation home fetches nearly $9,000 per week in rental fees during peak summer season. The couple is now selling the home and asking for $3.7 million, according to recent media reports.

The Mollohans claim a minimum value on all five Bald Head Island properties of more than $3.1 million. They also have mortgages on the properties of at least $2.2 million.

By October 2003, the Mollohans were benefiting from a scorching real-estate market in Washington, D.C., and refinanced their half interest in Remington Inc., for $4.1 million, according to the West Virginia Democrat’s documents. The company had purchased more units in the downtown building, giving it 26 in total, and both the Mollohans and the Jarvises received nearly $762,000 from the company at that time.

In addition, throughout 2003 and 2004, the Mollohans bought additional properties in Canaan Valley, W.Va. Remington Inc., bought its 27th rental unit.

In 2004, with real estate markets still strong, the Mollohans were able to refinance some of their properties. They also “withdrew equity” in those properties worth more nearly $232,000.

In 2005, additional refinancings of the North Carolina and Washington properties allowed them to withdraw another $1.01 million in equity. The couple is carrying a $4.975 million mortgage on their half of Remington Inc.

According to an accountant retained by Mollohan, and whose report the Congressman released Tuesday, the average value of each unit owned by Remington increased from nearly $108,000 to $275,000 from 1999 to 2003.

This boosted the value of the Mollohan’s stake in the corporation worth from a negative $38,000 in 1999 to nearly $3.6 million in 2003 — an increase of 9,438 percent over a four-year period.

Overall, the Mollohans have been able to take nearly $2 million in equity from their real estate holding over the last decade while still seeing those assets increase in value.

In addition, a recent Wall Street Journal article also highlighted the relationship between Mollohan and the CEO of FMW, Dale McBride, whom Mollohan has described as a life-long friend.

Mollohan and McBride purchased a 300-acre farm together in West Virginia in May 2005. In December 2005, FMW won a $2.1 million NASA contract from a program funded through a Mollohan earmark.

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An Improved GOP Mood

Roll Call (subscription required) reports today something that's been in the wind the last week or so: improved prospects for Congressional Republicans:

Good Run Buoys GOP
June 14, 2006
By Ben Pershing and Erin P. Billings,
Roll Call Staff

After months of negative headlines and dismal poll numbers, House and Senate Republicans are taking the past two weeks’ run of good news as evidence that the party’s political fortunes may be on the rebound.

Last week’s assassination of Iraqi terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the solidification of the Iraqi government, the GOP’s open-seat victory in California’s 50th district and Tuesday’s news that White House adviser Karl Rove will likely not be indicted in the CIA leak probe have combined to fuel a sense of cautious optimism among Republican Members and aides.

“It’s like a camel hitting an oasis,” said Senate GOP Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.). “It’s nice to get some water.”

Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.) said Republicans certainly feel that “things are improving,” and said it appears that the majority is starting to move beyond its low point.

“We’ve been in a rough patch for a while,” Brownback acknowledged. “For months, it just didn’t seem like anything we’d try was working. Momentum has shifted.”

On the House side, a veteran lawmaker said of his fellow Republicans, “They’re calmer. You can see it.”

As he has repeated tirelessly, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) emphasized that the victory in California showed that individual races would be won in November on local issues rather than national trends.

But Reynolds did add that the best way for Republican lawmakers to regain confidence about their standing across the country would be for President Bush’s numbers to rebound, something Reynolds believes is slowly starting to happen.

“This is the best news the president has had in months,” Reynolds said.

If Republicans are actually in the midst of righting their ship, then the polls haven’t yet detected a significant shift. But the most recent public survey does contain some hopeful news for the GOP.

A USA Today/Gallup poll taken June 9-11 — after al-Zarqawi’s death — and released Tuesday showed that Bush’s approval rating had crept up to 38 percent, his best showing since February.

The percentage of respondents saying the Iraq war was a mistake dropped 6 percent since April (from 57 percent to 51 percent), while the percentage who believe the U.S. can win the war rose from 60 percent in April to 69 percent in the new survey.

...But Democrats cautioned that the GOP shouldn’t get too excited about their recent good fortune.

“Two good days doesn’t make up for nine months of President Bush polling around 40,” said Jennifer Crider, spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said: “Republicans are desperate to glom onto any good news.”

Manley argued that the GOP has lost far too much ground already to turn things around, contending that Republicans are no longer credible on the very issues they hope to use against the Democrats this fall.

...Immigration looms as an issue that has prompted significant disagreement within the party, and public finger-pointing could result if the House and Senate can’t send a compromise bill to Bush’s desk before the election. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that it would be difficult to complete a bill this year if it wasn’t done before the August recess.

...On the ethics front, Tuesday’s news about Rove was particularly welcome, House and Senate Republican sources said, since he is such an influential and well-known Republican. If he’d been indicted, the case could have given Democrats additional fodder for their anti-corruption campaign.

But those sources also noted that Republicans are crossing their fingers that no other indictments of top GOP lawmakers will be handed down in coming months — and that Democrats continue to produce their own share of corruption headlines. Republicans privately remain worried that several Members could face indictment charges related to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and other scandals.

...Several top aides said the GOP Conference knows it must continue to highlight differences between the two parties as the months progress, including policy divides over the war, fiscal discipline and social matters — all issues that rally core Republican voters and point out fractures among Democrats.

“There is a choice in this,” said one senior Republican Senate staffer. “If this election is about a choice, it helps us. The best thing we have going for us is the Democrats. If we can define them, we can make it a choice about us.”

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lieberman (D-CT): Going, Going...

Update: On June 14, Political Wire reports that Lieberman's lead over Lamont has slipped to 6 in the latest poll.

When I wrote up the history of the 2008 Presidential campaign, I noted that Joe Lieberman lost his bid for renomination to the Senate in 2006. And Political Wire reports that Lieberman and his team are preparing for that as a real possiblity. Further, Lieberman's campaign manager has apparently told a Connecticut radio station that Lieberman will not back Ned Lamont if he is the Democratic nominee. Longtime backers are encouraging Lieberman to run as an Independent, and Lieberman has said nothing to indicate he won't.

Lieberman's defeat in the primary would raise very seriously the specter of Connecticut sending a Republican supporter to the Senate this year. Now don't get me wrong; I've already noted that while Lieberman's primary lead is small, he would win handily as an Independent. But if he were so elected, why exactly would he then back Harry Reid for Majority Leader? I mean, Lieberman IS a Democrat. He has refused entreaties to switch parties, often enough that I take him seriously. He ran for President as a Democrat. AND, he clearly is a man of principle. So there is a lot that could keep him a Democrat.

But if his own party kicked him out, aided by the Chairman of the DNC, why for heaven's sake would he go back to get kicked around some more? No, I think that if Lieberman is denied re-nomination, and elected as an Independent, he is likely to swallow hard and back a Republican as Senate leader. The Democrats are likely to be one vote further away from retaking the Senate Majority - and it would be a vote that they intentionally kicked away.

Please be aware that I will continue to tout my "prediction" about the primary every chance I get, until it actually looks like it is wrong. At that point, it will be quietly and unceremoniously swept under the rug.

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Esquire Readers Have Good Taste

Esquire magazine has reported the results of their recent poll, asking men what one woman in the world they would like to invite to a dinner party. The winner: Condoleezza Rice. Second went to Oprah Winfrey and third to Angelina Jolie. In all fairness, Rice is hotter than Oprah, and brighter than Jolie.

Do you think Madeline Albright would have done as well, when she was the world's pinup queen?

Tell people you have a list where the first name is Rice, the second Oprah, and the third Angelina, and see how long it takes them to guess what exactly, this is a list of:

Rice voted most popular dinner companion
June 13, 2006 - 9:34AM

When Esquire asked American men who they would invite from a list of 14 notable women to a dinner party, they chose Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - over such stars as Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson.

Rice was followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie in a national survey published in the magazine's July issue.

The 29-question survey, conducted by Beta Research Corp, polled 1,083 men aged 25 and older.

Asked which famous man they would invite to dinner, 37 per cent picked Tonight host Jay Leno.

Bill Clinton placed second, trailed by George Clooney and President George W Bush.

Men said they most admired former Secretary of State Colin Powell (5.9 per cent).

Clinton and Bill Gates tied closely behind (5.8 per cent) and Bush placed third (5.3 per cent).

The president did, however, place first in another category: least admirable man in America. He got 14.8 per cent of the vote, while Clinton came in second - again - at 7.8 per cent.

According to the survey, most men do not aspire to be "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks.

Eighty-five per cent said they would rather be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company than win the Fox talent contest (15 per cent).

Hard to believe that George Bush - over Bill Clinton - is rated the least admirable man in America. I am beginning to wonder whether the political climate is so poisonous, that the next President - whoever he or she may be - will be more hated still than Bush or Clinton. Seems quite a coincidence that we've had two such polarizing Presidents in a row. Maybe it's not the man, but the office.

Oh well.

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Variations on a Theme

Today seems to be the day that I write about how Democrats are blowing their hopes of gaining a majority in the midterm elections, and I've just noted another piece that hits on the same theme. This is from the E-mail list of Charlie Cook, a respected elections analyst. I like this piece because he hits upon some of the same things I've had to say in the last few days:

Pride Before The Fall?

By Charlie Cook
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I guess it was in the mid-to-late 1980s, not too many years after I began meeting with congressional candidates, that I realized there was a perfect correlation between those candidates who mentioned where they might want to live in the Washington area, or were in some other way licking their chops over a job that they had yet to win, and losing.

Quite simply, their contemplation of the appropriate way to tip their hats to the crowd distracted them from actually hitting that grand slam home run, and they struck out instead.

Those thoughts have come to mind repeatedly in recent weeks, as many House Democrats seem to have begun counting their chickens before the proverbial eggs have been hatched.

First there was Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's media tour expounding on what she would do as speaker, which quickly and rather derisively became dubbed by reporters as "Nancy's Victory Lap." Needless to say, more than a few experienced party strategists winced that week, seeing it as ill-advised and in poor form to boot.

Then last Friday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., began passing out letters to fellow House Democrats on the floor, announcing that he would run for majority leader if Democrats gained control of the House.

That was even more flagrant chicken counting. Murtha, who has been a rather surprising yet steadfast ally of Pelosi, is also known to not be a big fan of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, whom Pelosi defeated for the whip slot in 2001, before she moved up to leader. Hoyer, who is ideologically and stylistically considered to be more moderate than Pelosi, was widely presumed to be in line for the majority leader job if Democrats took over. Correctly or not, many interpreted Murtha's move on Hoyer to be tacitly approved by Pelosi.

Perhaps the irony in all of this Democratic victory clucking is that it is happening at a time when the president's freefall in the polls has stopped and he has even regained a couple of points.

It was just a few weeks ago that most polls showed job-approval ratings in the low 30s; now most are in the 35 to 38 percent range. While these numbers are still terrible, they are no longer dropping.

Other diagnostic indicators, such as right direction/wrong track, have stabilized and have even ticked up a bit. And despite the steady drumbeat of congressional scandals and with subpoenas swirling around Capitol Hill, Congress' job approval rating has even marginally improved, up 6 points since last month, from 21 percent to 27 percent, with disapproval down from 71 percent to 63 percent.

As might be expected with the president's approval rating moving up a bit and other indicators getting less horrible, the still-wide Democratic lead in the generic congressional ballot test has narrowed a bit. In a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted June 1-4, Democrats had a 51-42 percent lead over the GOP among registered voters, their lowest in the five Gallup polls since February. The poll of 1,002 adults had a 3-point error margin.

Beyond quantifiable data, Republicans won last week's special congressional election in California's 50th Congressional District. A loss there would have been widely interpreted, fairly or not, as a sure sign that their majority status would be short-lived.

Extrapolating special election results to future national elections is a dangerous game, as most of those contests have weird angles that distort their projectability. As I pointed out in this column before the polls opened last week, there are likely to be very few races this November in districts in which the long-time Republican lawmaker was headed to jail and where the GOP nominee is a former House member-turned-Washington lobbyist, certainly one of the most publicly scorned professions among many voters this year.

Overconfident Democrats need to be mindful as well that many of their opportunities to pick up Republican seats are with relatively inexperienced and second- or third-string challengers. Note that a verbal gaffe by the Democratic nominee might have cost them that critical special election.

In short, this hardly seems the time for Democrats to be celebrating. Regardless of what one might think the odds are of the House turning over, those odds are a tad less today than they were a month or two ago.

For Democrats with short memories, when Congress adjourned in September 2000 for the election, they left town thinking they would win back the majority they had lost in 1994, and if the election were held in mid-September, they probably would have. However, their hopes were dashed in October.

None of this is to say that Democrats can't or won't win a majority. After all, that same Gallup poll that showed the Democratic lead had dropped some still showed that among "regular voters" -- those who say they are registered, "always" vote and who voted in the 2002 midterm -- the Democratic lead is at 15 points, 55 to 40 percent. Gallup does not switch to its "likely voter" model until closer to election time.

While Democrats have every right to feel hopeful, one can practically hear Republican strategists chortling when they see such overconfidence among top Democrats because they know what usually follows such hubris.

Charlie Cook's "Off To The Races" is published each Tuesday by National Journal Group Inc. For more information about National Journal Group's publications, go to

No Progress on Immigration Bill

Well, many are watching for signs of what Congress will do on immigration, and what sort of compromise might emerge between the widely divergent House and Senate bills. I am hearing that House Republicans - in the wake of Brian Bilbray's election in California - are standing more firmly than ever in opposition to anything that resembles an amnesty. That even includes the Pence proposal that I wrote about a little while ago. And Chairman Sensenbrenner has not begun to negotiate with the Senate yet, because they are still wedded to their bill - including a legalization. So don't expect any progress until one House - probably the Senate - budges.

Also, noticed by fairly few but holding great ramifications for the US - Mexico's Presidential election is nearly upon us. And the more pro-US of the two main candidates seems to be maintaining his lead. The President is likely to try to make sure that whatever happens on immigration, it does not damage Calderon's Presidential campaign. Right now, that probably argues against any immigration bill this month.

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On Rove, Left Needs to Move On

Well, earlier today I glibly noted that folks like Truthout and others on the Left had gotten it wrong when they claimed that Rove received an indictment from the Special Prosecutor on May 12. Apparently I was incorrect. They assert that their sources are too good, and that Rove WAS indicted.

I am no lawyer, but... leaving aside the ludicrousness of it all, and the 'double-secret indictment' angle, is that even possible?

So let's start to make a list of popular ideas the Left rejects: Bush won the Presidency in 2000, Bush won the Presidency in 2004, Karl Rove was not indicted by the Special Prosecutor, Al Qaeda existed in Iraq before the war... I'm sure there are many others.

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Pelosi Acknowledges the Obvious

Nancy Pelosi says that the Democrats are shifting away from their message about the 'Culture of Corruption,' immediately after Democrats lose a special election that framed the issue. Now she says that Democrats are in danger of being painted by the GOP as too liberal to be trusted, so they need to turn to an issue agenda. Left unsaid is that it's also because a focus on Congressional corruption is fraught with danger for Democrats, who have to defend a number of cases of their own.

This does not have the look of a smoothly-planned pivot, rather a frantic rush to shore up a weakness. Democrats have been debating for months whether they need to have an agenda to sell the voters before election day. Pelosi has clearly decided that they do. But why the suddenness of the announcement? And what will Democrats do once Republicans start picking it apart?

The Democrats are looking like a party ready to squander the great opportunity they have in the midterm elections:

Pelosi: It’s definition time for Democrats
By Josephine Hearn

With Republicans seeking to define Democrats by their votes on such hot-button issues as gay marriage, the estate tax and flag burning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is arguing that Democrats need to tell voters about themselves before Republicans succeed in doing it for them.

The time to criticize the Republicans’ “culture of corruption,” a Democratic refrain for nearly a year, is at an end, Pelosi said; Democrats need to begin promoting their own vision of America.

“Now it’s time to talk about us. Enough of the Republicans. It’s time for us to talk about what are the priorities we’d like to see addressed, if we have the opportunity,” Pelosi said in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday.

Democrats have been struggling for months to devise a unified message to take to voters, debating whether to be general or detailed, to come out early or late, or to present a succinct list of points like the GOP’s 1994 Contract With America. Pelosi has been seen as favoring an early message, while Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who head up the campaign committees for House and Senate Democrats, have argued for focusing on Republican misdeeds.

Democrats are poised this week to unveil a portion of their domestic-policy agenda dealing with family economic issues.

“What we have to do is define ourselves so that Republicans do not define us. This is a define-or-be-defined business that we’re in, so you can’t leave it out in the open,” Pelosi said.

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Bush Does Baghdad

A great move by the President! But get ready for rehashing of the plastic turkey canard.

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Why Democrats Lose

Michael Barone points out that Democrats have been very good at winning in recent years, at least up until people have to vote.

He makes a very good point. The Democratic party needs a change of perspective. They are seen as the negative party - the party that is pessimistic about Iraq, about the War on Terror, about the economy, about America's role in the world, about their political opponents, about counting votes... about a lot of things. I think the Angry Left contributes heavily to this image - a great irony, considering that they vilify Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, O'Reilly, Malkin, and others as purveyors of hate.

Anyway, until voters are convinced that Democrats have a positive vision for the future, rather than a list of things and people they want to stamp out, Democrats will continue to have a hard time winning.

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Good News for the Congressional GOP?

Have Congressional Republicans turned the corner? There's reason for optimism. Obviously there has been news heartening to Republicans in the last few weeks: the death of Zarqawi, the completion of an Iraqi government, a focus on stopping illegal immigration, consistently good news on the economy, etc.

And if you look at the generic Congressional ballot, the numbers show improvement for Republicans. Sorry my HTML coding is so poor; the numbers below are hard to read here. You may prefer to simply look at them at the link above. However, a quick summary:

From February 28 to May 11, a total of 18 national polls of registered voters were taken, asking whether the voter intended to support the Republican or the Democrat in the 2006 Congressional elections. Of those, 16 showed a Democratic lead in double digits. Since May 15 however, 3 national polls have shown a Democratic lead of fewer than 10 points. Is this the start of improved standing for Republican Congressional candidates?

Keep in mind too, that Republicans invariably perform more poorly among registered voters than among likely voters, because Democratic-leaning voters are generally less likely to show up on election day. This means that Republican standing is probably better than shown in the polls.

USA Today/Gallup RV 6/1-4/06 42 51 7 9 D
Diageo/Hotline RV 5/18-21/06 36 42 22 6 D
Fabrizio, McLaughlin (R) LV 5/15-17/06 36 39 25 3 D
ABC/Washington Post RV 5/11-15/06 40 52 9 12 D
Newsweek RV 5/11-12/06 39 50 11 11 D
CBS/New York Times RV 5/4-8/06 33 44 23 11 D
CNN RV 5/5-7/06 38 52 10 14 D
FOX/Opinion Dynamics RV 5/2-3/06 38 41 21 3 D
USA Today/Gallup RV 4/28-30/06 39 54 7 15 D
Cook/RT Strategies 4/27-30/06 32 44 24 12 D
CNN RV 4/21-23/06 40 50 9 10 D
Pew RV 4/7-16/06 41 51 8 10 D
USA Today/Gallup RV 4/7-9/06 42 52 6 10 D
ABC/Washington Post RV 4/6-9/06 40 55 5 15 D
CBS RV 4/6-9/06 34 44 22 10 D
Time RV 3/22-23/06 41 50 9 9 D
Newsweek RV 3/16-17/06 39 50 11 11 D
NPR LV 3/12-14/06 37 52 11 15 D
CNN/USA Today/Gallup RV 3/10-12/06 39 55 7 16 D
FOX/Opinion Dynamics RV 2/28 - 3/1/06 34 48 18 14 D
CNN/USA Today/Gallup RV 2/28 - 3/1/06 39 53 7 14 D

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Pity Karl Rove

Looks like he's going to have a hard time staying in the public eye in the months ahead. The only thing he'll have to occupy his time is trying to protect Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Cheer up, Karl. The Left will always think of you as the guy who spent half of May 12 at the law offices of Patton-Boggs, receiving an indictment from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. They'll spend years and years gnashing their teeth, trying to figure out how you got away:

Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report
Saturday 13 May 2006

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.

Do you think that will provide poor Karl any solace?

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Reid: Investigate Pre-War Iran Intel


Harry Reid is concerned that just like on Iraq, the White House is cherry-picking the intel on Iran. He promises oversight and investigation.

Is this from the Nancy Pelosi school of leadership? Does he figure that the American people are concerned at the lack of partisanship in Washington, and that the one thing that will excite them is the promise of more investigations?

This is clearly part of a pattern: Democratic leaders promise their left-wing core some red meat, and then either backtrack or claim that their remarks were misinterpreted. I guarantee we will see the same from Reid. Nevertheless, this is one more piece for GOP campaign commercials this Fall, and it's going to wind up being a significant reason that the Democrats blow it this year.

How dumb can you get?

Reid tries to enlist bloggers as Democratic force
Senate Democratic leader also calling for stiffer intelligence oversight
The Associated Press
Updated: 2:12 a.m. ET June 11, 2006

LAS VEGAS - Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid made a pitch Saturday to enlist bloggers as a Democratic force in upcoming elections, and said he'll ask Congress for stiffer reporting requirements for the president and the intelligence community.

“I know fighters when I see them. You're fighters," Reid said as he began a warmly received keynote speech to the YearlyKos Convention of Internet bloggers at a Las Vegas Strip resort.

Reid, D-Nev., said he intends to introduce legislation in coming days to hold senior Bush administration officials accountable for statements on Iran -- similar to the Democratic fight to hold them accountable for their statements about the Iraq war.

"The White House cherry-picked and politicized intelligence to sell the war," Reid said. "All of us as Americans need to know if we were intentionally misled, I think we were, to go to war in Iraq, so we can make sure it never, never happens again."

...Many waved placards that were provided reading "Give 'Em Hell, Harry," and applauded Reid's declaration that "Iran cannot and will not be another Iraq."

"Because of you, no attack will go unanswered," Reid told the audience. "Because of you, no lie will avoid the truth."

Reid's proposed bill, called the Iran Intelligence Oversight Act, would require an updated national intelligence estimate on Iran, with an unclassified summary made public.

It also would require the president to report to Congress his objectives and strategies for Iran.

The administration's national intelligence director would have to show Congress that he has a process in place for reviewing administration officials' statements and ensuring they are consistent with the work of professional intelligence analysts.

"I have no doubt the White House won't like this requirement," Reid said, "but after Iraq, the American people deserve nothing less."

I'm sure Reid will say that this will not politicize intelligence, nor would it be the start of an investigation. But the intent is clear. And no doubt if Democrats were to retake the Senate, this would metastasize. It's not something that the American people will want.

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Dems Raising More Money

The Washington Post reports this morning that while the Republican campaign committees (the RNC, NRSC and NRCC) continue to maintain the fundraising edge they have enjoyed for years over their Democratic counterparts, the gap is closing. This is due mostly to the fact that the Democrats have finally learned how to tap masses of small donors - not traditionally one of their strengths.

But if you want to read the good news for the GOP, you have to go all the way to the end of the article. The fundraising of the DNC is basically flat, and Howard Dean continues to fritter money away. This is something that I've written on before, and is a source of significant friction among Democrats. Further, the Post notes that the big business donors who tend to put their donations on whichever party they see as the winner 'might start hedging their bets in the months ahead.' If you ask me, it's a surprise that they have not already done so. Read the whole piece:

Democrats Closing Fundraising Gap With Republicans
Increase in Grass-Roots Support Buoys Party as GOP Efforts Falter
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 11, 2006; A01

A surge in small, individual contributions is lifting Democratic campaigns this year and is helping close a Republican fundraising advantage that has existed for years in national politics, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Democratic House and Senate candidates and their two major campaign committees are enjoying stronger grass-roots support than at any time since the GOP took over both chambers of Congress in the 1994 elections, according to strategists from both parties who have reviewed the most recent FEC data released this spring.

At the same time, Republican campaign committees are stumbling. The Republican National Committee is lagging behind its totals from two years ago, though it continues to have a financial lead over the Democratic National Committee. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, headed by Sen. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.), has raised more than $50 million this election cycle -- $6 million less than its Democratic counterpart.

On the House side, the National Republican Congressional Committee remains ahead of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But the gap is smaller than in the past, and the trends are in the Democrats' favor. The DCCC had raised 45 percent more through the end of April than it had at the same point in 2004. The NRCC, meanwhile, saw a 13 percent drop over the same period.

A similar story is unfolding in many competitive congressional races. In six of the 10 open House races -- in which incumbents are not running -- that the two leading nonpartisan political handicappers regard as up for grabs this fall, Democratic candidates are out-raising their GOP opponents, according to data analyzed by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.

..."It's seen as a very competitive election, and the Republicans are very concerned and the Democrats are optimistic," said Trevor Potter, a former Republican-appointed FEC chairman. "Some money is shifting to what is seen as a possibility of a Democratic win. By and large, people don't give to losers."

Cumulatively, Republicans still have more money than Democrats, but the disparities are less stark than in recent elections. At this point in the 2003-2004 cycle -- adding up money to the national parties, the congressional campaign committees and individual candidates through March 31 -- Democrats raised 69 percent of what Republicans did. So far this cycle, Democrats are raising 85 percent of what Republicans have.

Republican National Committee officials are privately expressing concern about a slowdown in some core fundraising programs over the past few months, which they attribute to a tough political climate for Republicans, party officials said. "The environment has not been exactly ideal," said one GOP official familiar with internal RNC operations.

There are some bright signs for Republicans. The RNC has far more money in the bank than the DNC -- $44.7 million to $9.4 million as of the end of April -- heading into the peak of the campaign season. The party is also likely to benefit from a summertime fundraising push by the White House.

...The Democratic fundraising success runs contrary to what many analysts predicted after the campaign finance system was overhauled at the end of 2002. Under the McCain-Feingold campaign law, rich individuals, corporations and labor unions were prohibited from contributing limitless "soft money" to political parties. At the time, it was widely expected that Republicans would benefit most because they had a more effective program for raising money from both political action committees and individual donors.

But the 2004 presidential election offered the first clues that Democrats could neutralize, if not overcome, the Republican money edge. Starting with then-presidential candidate Howard Dean (Vt.), Democrats raised more money over the Internet than strategists in either party anticipated. (Unlike phone banks or direct mail, Web-based fundraising has little overhead or solicitation costs.) In the general election, Democratic nominee John F. Kerry (Mass.) kept pace with Bush in head-to-head fundraising, raising $326 million to Bush's $367 million.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee offers a case study of how Democrats are starting to catch up at the congressional level. Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) is widely considered the most effective fundraiser Democrats have placed in that job in years. A veteran of the Clinton White House, Emanuel has pressured Democratic members to give more money to their at-risk colleagues and has intensified efforts to squeeze more money from individual donors. In 2002, at this point in the election, the DCCC had raised $6.5 million from donors who gave less than $200. This year, Emanuel has tripled such donations to nearly $21 million. Other Democratic committees also have experienced growth.

"They have been so bad they can only get better," said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Reynolds (N.Y.). "What you have seen is Rahm put them on a path to do so."

Over at the NRCC, which has spent more than $55 million building a list of smaller donors in recent years, contributions from individuals are not increasing much. In 2002, the committee had raised $27 million from less-than-$200 donors at this point in the election, compared with $30 million now.

...Not all Democrats are pleased with how their party is managing its money. Some big donors privately complain that Dean, now Democratic National Committee chairman, is spending too much cash too early, while Emanuel has faulted Dean for not aiming enough DNC resources at states with the toughest races this fall.

The DNC has experienced a 3 percent increase in fundraising, compared with an equivalent point in 2004, a rate of growth that lags far behind those of the party's Senate campaign committee (66 percent) and its House campaign committee (45 percent).

Some of the nation's biggest companies, which typically invest more in the majority party, might start hedging their bets in the months ahead in case Democrats win back the House, according to a top Bush fundraiser, who requested anonymity. But FEC data do not show an across-the-board shift in business support away from the GOP.

The reduced fundraising edge could wind up being critical this year.

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Winning the War on Terror

A nice report this morning from the Associated Press:

Many in terrorists' 'next generation' dead
By PAUL HAVEN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jun 9, 3:35 PM ET

They rose up quickly to take up Osama bin Laden's call for jihad, ruthless men in their 20s and 30s heralded as the next generation of global terror.

Two years later, 40 percent are dead, targets of a worldwide crackdown that claimed its biggest victory with the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's front man in Iraq.

Manhunts in Asia, Africa and Europe have pushed most of the rest deep underground — finding refuge in wartorn Somalia or the jungles of the southern Philippines. While there are still recruits ready to take up al-Qaida's call to arms, analysts say the newcomers have fewer connections than the men they are replacing, less training and sparser resources.

"There are more people popping up than are being put away," said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defense College. "But the question is whether the new ones have the fortitude to take up the mantle and carry the struggle forward. I don't see that they have."

...But Ranstorp said it was far from clear if al-Zarqawi's replacement will have the contacts, resources or capacity to match the dead leader's effectiveness at the helm of Iraqi insurgent forces.

"I'm not convinced that there is somebody ready to step in and fill Zarqawi's shoes," he said. "There may be, but it will take some time."

Globally, security forces have also had considerable success. Another four of the top 12 young militants in the 2004 list have met violent ends — in shootouts in Saudi Arabia, under U.S. bombardment in Iraq, or in an Algerian terror sweep. The seven who remain at large are on the run, and none has been able to match al-Zarqawi's success at launching large-scale attacks since mid-2004.

...For most of those at large, life is anything but easy.

Amer el-Azizi, a Moroccan-born al-Qaida recruiter in Spain, has disappeared, though Spanish intelligence officials who had his wife under surveillance say that in 2003 the woman fled to Morocco, and later turned up in London and then Afghanistan.

Little is known about the fate of Saad Houssaini, a suspected co-plotter in the Casablanca attacks. Newspaper reports said he was arrested along the Syria-Iraq border and turned over to Morocco, but Moroccan officials have denied that.

Dulmatin, a key suspect in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, and Khadaffy Janjalani, chief of the extremist group Abu Sayyaf, have taken refuge on the Philippine island of Jolo, along with a force of 70-80 men, according to Philippine military officials. They are believed to be running low on weapons and ammunition.

Zulkarnaen, an Indonesia native who is operations chief of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group, is believed to be hiding on the island of Java, though his location has not been verified since late 2002.

Two terror suspects, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, are believed to be holed up in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The men are being sheltered by extremists who are part of the Islamic Courts Union, which took over the city this week.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said earlier this year that Washington supplied information about the men and their locations to Somali community leaders and urged them to turn them over to U.S. authorities. A group of secular warlords, believed financed by the United States, attacked the Islamic forces, but was driven from Mogadishu on Monday.

It calls to mind George Patton: "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

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