Saturday, August 19, 2006

Vigilante Racial Profilers...

Fascinating story from the Daily Mail. Airline passengers feared that two arabic men on the plane were terrorists, and refused to allow the plane to take off until the men were removed.

Apparently these men were not terrorists, but what happens if more passengers do this? I would have thought it unlikely, figuring that if it was not done after September 11, it never would be. But apparently people are not content to see 75 year old caucasian grandmothers treated the same as 22-year old arabic men. Will more of this happen?

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

House of Representatives in Suspended Animation

Well, they say that nothing happens in Congress in August. That's especially true this year, when a fire has cut off most power to the Longworth and Cannon House Office Buildings. I was up there today, and the buildings were without air conditioning, most lights, and most elevators. It wasn't quite Logan's Run or Mad Max, but think The Postman and you're close.

Hhhmmm... perhaps the House ought to look into hamsters...

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Meet Your GOP Candidate: Joe Lieberman

You heard it here a while ago. Now Political Wire confirms it: the National Republican Senate Committee supports Joe Lieberman for re-election.

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Jane, You Ignorant Slut...

While on travel, I had the chance to listen to a well-known, non-partisan, political analyst, and a member of the staff of the NRCC talk about expectations and projections for the fall elections.

First the non-partisan: he was not encouraging (if you're a Republican). He said that it's looking likely that the Democrats will retake the House. He noted similarities to 1994, and said that with Bush's popularity extremely low and with Bush's poll numbers appearing to be largely 'frozen,' (an assertion I don't really agree with), it's hard for the GOP to get much traction. This analyst said that for some months, 'macro' polls showed the GOP in big trouble, but that the dynamics of individual races did not seem to follow. He said that as time has gone on however, those races have materialized into ones that the Democrats are likely to win. He also noted that the GOP always took solace in the fact that while the GOP overall was unpopular, most voters still supported their own GOP incumbent. That has changed as well he said, so that now polls show that people are no longer so supportive of their own Congressman. Lastly, he said, polls show that Democratic voters are more highly motivated than their GOP counterparts.

He concluded by saying that this year looks like a big wave - on the order of 15-20 seats. But he added that in such years, the wave usually develops in such a way that about 5 more incumbents get beaten who were thought completely safe. So his guess is that unless something big happens to change the dynamic, the GOP will lose the House with a few seats to spare.

Anyway, the next day I heard from an NRCC strategist who took a completely different point of view. He explained why the GOP will retain control of the House. The key he said, is that the GOP has better candidates, is better at getting out the vote, and has recognized that elections cannot be nationalized (an assertion with which I don't completely agree). On this latter point, he said that Democrats have been trying in vain for years to win a majority based on Iraq, gas prices, corruption, and other meta issues. He said that the reason for their failure is that local issues dominate local races.

I'm not sure that the GOP is set to lose the House. Partly this is because there remain few truly competitive races. NRCC chair Tom Reynolds has pointed out that Democrats needed to win 87% of all competitive races to win the House. Further, Ken Mehlman is the GOP secret weapon. He organized Get-Out-the-Vote efforts for the GOP in 2004 and before, and his ability to identify GOP voters and get them to the polls is unparallelled. Recall that in 2004 Kerry was sure he won the White House, because the numbers showed that Democrats had voted in such large numbers that there was no way he could have lost. The only problem was that Mehlman turned out more GOP voters than Democrats thought possible.

Further, elections can be nationalized. This is pretty basic, it seems to me. Why would there be a '6-year curse' which turns out dozens of members of the President's party, if an election isn't nationalized?

Anyway, the GOP will lose some seats because people are coming out to vote against Bush. But there is no reason that they can't also gain an advantage from pointing out to voters that Nancy Pelosi and her team oppose some of the key laws and tactics being used by the administration to frustrate terrorist attacks. I think that however disappointed voters may be with Bush, they recognize that it is no accident that there have been no successful terrorist attacks in the US since September 11. If reminded why that is so, I think voters will respond by supporting Republican candidates.

On the Senate, this analyst thinks it rather likely that the GOP will stay in control. He said that it is easy to project the GOP losing 5 Senate seats, but hard to get to the 6th (which Harry Reid needs to become Majority Leader). This analyst says that Rick Santorum and Conrad Burns are more or less goners. It is not difficult to project Lincoln Chafee, Mike DeWine, and Jim Talent as losers. But he said that for Democrats to retake the Senate, they then need to win a long-shot - in Tennessee or Virginia. He does not think that especially likely.

But with regard to Santorum, check out Tim Chapman and Political Wire.

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Lieberman Angering Dem Colleagues

Hey folks - been on travel a few days, but I've returned and will be blogging more in the next few days. First item of interest on my return is this news from The Hill that Democratic Senators are growing angry with Joe Lieberman's recent actions in his Independent campaign for Senate.

I've been saying for months that Joe Lieberman will have a hard time returing to the Democratic caucus if he is re-elected as an Independent. Stuff like this will make it tougher.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Even a Broken Clock...

is right twice a day. I have to agree with Senator Levin that the results in Lebanon are uncertain at best. However, he goes on to say:

"It seems to me you've got to be very objective, very straightforward, very
honest about what we are facing if you're going to try to rally the world
against the terrorist threat."
And right there he loses me, at the same place where the Democrats always lose me, the recommended course of action. I would argue that if we actually were "very objective, very straightforward and very honest about what we are facing" we would admit to ourselves that "rallying the world" is no way to solve the problem. Allowing the world to rally is what got us a UN resolution that preserves Hezbollah. If we're objective, straightforward and honest, we're going to realize that if you want something done right, you're going to have to do it yourself, whether that's in South Lebanon, Sadr city or somewhere in the mountains of Pakistan.

North Korea Has Its Hand Out Again

I haven't been keeping a very good eye on the DPRK lately but it looks like the recent flooding in the North has accelerated the reestablishment of DPRK-ROK contacts, at least in the area of humanitarian aid. Evidently, the South Koreans can't stand to see the unfortunates north of the border suffer and that concern trumps any desire to punish Pyongyang for its recent missile tests and continuing nuclear program. And in my humble opinion this one of the few occasions when that kind of self-defeating humanitarianism is understandable. I have to think that any South Koreans who hope for reconciliation with the North are basing those hopes on the belief that the two countries are one people. And it's hard to watch your own people suffer under any circumstances.

Nevertheless, it is another reminder of one of the greatest disadvantages we and our allies have in dealing with those who threaten us. We just can't seem to stand the sight of blood anymore, particularly when it's the other guy's.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Final Humiliation.

If you think this lackluster "war" damaged Israel's credibility in the region, you haven't seen anything yet. Obviously the Israelis aren't looking for Jackson's involvement, but the fact that circumstances permit Jackson to stick his nose in shows just how hollow Omert and Bush's claims of "victory" really are.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Nationalizing the Elections

There's a shift going on in how the parties are approaching the midterm congressional elections. Up until now, Democrats have been trying to nationalize the elections, while Republicans have been trying to localize them. The Democrats have been succeeding, as current polls show the GOP taking it on the chin; it seems that if elections were held today, the GOP would likely lose the House of Representatives. (I encountered a Democratic Member of Congress the other day discussing with lobbyists how she anticipated handling her subcommittee when she chairs it next year).

Well, now I think we're starting to see evidence that Republicans are accepting that the election has been nationalized, and that they're trying to frame the issues on which they are nationalized. I've noticed this first on immigration, where endangered Republican incumbents Charles Taylor and Thelma Drake (to name but two) are attacking their opponents for being soft on border control. I am sure that there are already others, and they will be many before the elections. I know of longtime GOP incumbents in both Ohio and Connecticut for example, who are shocked at the depth of feeling among constituents about immigration. This is true in lots of places around the country, and will lead many GOP incumbents to run ads on immigration. I would also not be shocked if the House GOP re-passes the Border Security bill in the last days before the election, to try to make it a central issue on election day: Democrats either hand the GOP a major victory, or stand in the way of border protection.

As I alluded to the other day, Republicans may try to tie Democratic congressional candidates to party leaders who oppose things like wiretaps, surveillance of terror financing, and the like. Now the Hotline notes that Tom Reynolds - the Republican campaign chief - is starting to do this:

Is NRCC Chair Tom Reynolds setting up what the fall nationalized (televised) GOP message is going to be with this attack on House Dem leader Nancy Pelosi: "As a New Yorker who witnessed first-hand the grievous destruction brought on this country by terrorists, I say to Leader Pelosi that she ought to be ashamed to have voted against doing everything possible to prevent such an attack. The wiretap provision of the PATRIOT Act has proven itself invaluable in fighting the Global War on Terror and Congresswoman Pelosi is on the record opposing it.

The GOP is likely to suffer serious losses in the elections. This may be an effective strategy for reducing them.

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You Gotta Pitch to the Slugger

I disagree with Jonathan Last's friend - but judging by the comments section, I am the only one. How often do conservatives decry the lack of civility in society, and a lack of respect for basic right and wrong.

If we're talking Major League Baseball, I'm walking the slugger in a heartbeat. But this is Little League we're talking about. I could live accept walking the slugger to get to a weak hitter; that's baseball. But you can't take advantage of the fact that the weak hitter is also a cancer patient.

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