Saturday, November 18, 2006

WalMart, Edwards & Self-Interest

A must read from John at Powerline about the 'young kid' on John Edwards's staff who didn't know better than to shop at Wal Mart for quality products at low prices. Money quote:

...But beyond mocking liberals, Schweizer makes a more profound point: when conservatives act in a hypocritical manner, violating their own principles, they go astray and screw up their lives. When iberals, on the other hand, act hypocritically, they usually are also acting reasonably. They find their principles hard to follow in their own lives in part because their principles are wrong.

This case is a good example. Edwards recited the very silly liberal critique of Wal-Mart as a threat to low-income people. His aide, however, when charged with buying the Senator a PS3, quite reasonably went to Wal-Mart because he knew he would get the best price there. Which is, of course, why Wal-Mart is one of the greatest boons to people of modest means in recent history. Edwards should learn from his aide, not criticize him.

Read the whole thing.

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When Bloomberg is President...

...the Quadruple Bypass Burger will be illegal.

If you live in Tempe, Arizona, you can still get one at the Heart Attack Grill ("Taste Worth Dying For"), served by a hot 'nurse,' (which has apparently brought on a lawsuit by the Arizona State Board of Nursing). Wheelchair service is reportedly included. And if you manage to get it all down without dying, you can get flatliner fries as well.

It's a testament to our PC, health-conscious culture that places like this and FatBurger survive and flourish. I suspect it's only a matter of time before they face a lawsuit from the estate of some heart attack victim who happened to have dined there. Gorge yourself before they go away.

By the way, it's interesting to me that Rudy Giuliani is regarded on the Left as an intrusive proponent of the prurient nanny state because he cracked down on crime and made New York City manageable again. Michael Bloomberg by contrast, is trying to eliminate smoking and trans fats - to start with. And you hear hardly a complaint from the Left about 'letting us alone' and 'respecting individual choice.'

Could it be because Bloomberg is a liberal, and Giuliani a 'conservative?'

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Canada: Credit Where Credit is Due

I've ripped on Canada for it's unwillingness to support the Iraq war and their non-participation in missile defense, but they are doing their share of the heavy lifting in Afghanistan, particularly in comparison to some of our other NATO "allies". So, thank you neighbor.

Meanwhile, some of our other NATO buddies are deploying troops and then doing their best to make sure they don't see any actual combat. I'd like to know which of the European Powers won't let their forces "operate at night".

Baker Meets with the Syrians

The Syrian ambassador describes his meeting with the Iraq Study Group. This can't be very encouraging if you are Israeli, Shiite Iraqi, or a Lebanese who actually hoped to have a free country someday.

That being said, my prediction is the Study Group recommendations have even less impact then the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Their proposals for Iraq will have all the strength of your standard, bi-partisan, written-by-committee, white paper. I doubt they will even be able to play midwife to a new level of federal bureaucracy, falling short of the bar set by the 9/11 Comission. I just don't see an "Office of the Director of National Intelligence for Iraq" in the cards.

South Korea: Still Wobbly

The President seems to be getting what he wants from the general membership of the APEC conference: a unanimous statement condemning the DPRK for July's missile tests and last month's nuke test. Unfortunately, South Korea refuses to wholeheartedly endorse the Proliferation Security Initiative. South Korea has the most to lose in any military conflict with the DPRK so it is clearly in their interest to proceed cautiously with any policies that, if fully executed, could lead somebody to shoot somebody. But the article also says that the South does not want to "contribute to any instability that would send refugees flowing over their border." Color me perplexed. Wasn't it the East European underground refugee railroad to Austria that facilitated East Germany's collapse and set the Warsaw Pact dominoes falling? Just asking. I know not all tinpot Stalinist tyrannies are the same, but facilitating a refugee crisis in the DPRK may not be the worst thing in the world.

Fat, Dumb and Happy

If we fail in Iraq, here's a picture of the guy who will have defeated us. Not Zarqawi, not Sadr, not Usama and certainly not Saddam. He's a Shiite Baghdad "policeman" who, along with 150 of his colleagues, is protesting an Interior Ministry order to redeploy from Sadr city over to a Sunni neighborhood across town. Here are the details. They claim they're happy to "defend" Sadr city, but their lives won't be worth diddly in a Sunni neighborhood. On the face of it, that's almost understandable. It's easier to police your own turf than a neighborhood where you're not wanted. Problem is, they aren't policing. In their own words, they're "defending". They're not there to enforce the law on their own. They just want to protect their own from the Sunnis across town.

For example, on a day when we're told American and Iraqi forces are scouring the country for kidnapped American contractors, an American soldier, and dozens of Iraqis from the Education Ministry, these officers find time to jump around in the streets of Sadr city, in uniform, brandishing weapons. Doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence. I'm not sure this is the sort of civil authority that will allow democracy to thrive.

On a side note, I'm also perplexed as to why in a county of rampant unemployment, poverty, and generally hard livin', the police department is willing to hire a guy who seems to be roughly 50 pounds overweight.

Family Weekend

So light blogging.

Check out the always worthwhile Novak for a look at Michael Steele's plan to become an African-American Rush Limbaugh. That's an unfortunate reference if he plans to run for office again, but great if he intends to make boatloads of money.

Elsewhere in the world, the college football game of the millenium (well, 6 years in anyway) is today at 3:30 Eastern.

The Club for Growth reminds us that the Cold War started to end 20 years ago, with the famous Tear Down this Wall speech. Oh wait - that wasn't 20 years ago...

And Ace gives us a look at the moderate, reasonable plans of the incoming Senate leadership.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Blond, James Blond

As a long-time fan of the novels of Ian Fleming as well as the distantly-related movie franchise based on his characters, I welcome the latest incarnation of James Bond opening tonight across the U.S.

Trivia question: who first made a dramatic portrayal of Bond?--probably not whom you think.

The early reviews of the film zero in on a manifestation of a characteristic of the novels which was hinted at in the early cinematic Connery versions and then lost in the increasingly ridiculous plot twists and gadgetry of the Roger Moore era--that James Bond as written was a borderline sociopath, a killer who was very much on the razor's edge of virtue in a morally ambiguous universe.

Fleming was entirely a product of the era of total war, and his service in military intelligence drained from him any illusion that intelligence work was anything other than the work of "rough men who stand ready to do violence."

It is worth noting that the Broccolis toyed with the harder-edged version of Bond drawn in Fleming's novels with the much-maligned Timothy Dalton editions of the franchise at the end of the Cold War, but retreated swiftly to the anodyne Pierce Brosnan when critics and audiences found Dalton's rendering too dark. I hesitate to draw firm cultural conclusions from Hollywood sausage-making, but it seems that the Broccolis have decided that the mood of the nation is now willing to reconsider its attitude towards rough men doing what needs to be done to protect the Anglospheric way of life.

Early reviews from critics suggest that the Broccolis were correct, and the weekend box office will be the proof of the pudding.

Perhaps the dissatisfaction Americans have with the use of force and violence as instruments of foreign policy, in Iraq most notably, is not with the use of force per se (which is a bugbear to many on the Left), but rather with use of force which is not focused remorselessly and relentlessly on the elimination of threats but rather on open-ended crisis-management. Staying the course in Iraq has been rejected, but the Left goes too far to assert that the Americans voted for pacificism or political appeasement of global villains who call for the annihilation of other nations "in a sea of fire" or "driving them into the sea."

Today's Other Race

Everyone paid a great deal of attention today to the races for Republican Minority Leader and Whip - and they were clearly important. But the other critical race was for NRCC chair. And here in Washington, people remember the successful ones: Rahm Emanuel, Tom Davis, and Bill Paxon are the three House campaign committee chairs whose names I remember (I only go back about 15 years in this town).

Tom Cole is the man who's going to try to add his name to that list, and become one of the really successful campaign chairs. To do it, he will have to raise lots of money, recruit good candidates, make shrewd decisions about where there are weak Democratic candidates who look strong, and vice-versa. In short, he'll have to win back the majority. For that, he needs 15 seats.

His resume looks good.

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I Question the Timing

Holy Cow! Bo Schembechler dies the day before Michigan plays its biggest game in years?

John Cooper better watch his back.

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Al Gore Invented This?

All hail Doug Engelbart, the man who invented the Mouse (pictured at left), and received a patent for it on this date in 1970:

In 1970, a U.S. patent was issued for the computer mouse - an "X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System" (No. 3541541). The inventor was Doug Engelbart. In the lab, he and his colleagues had called it a "mouse," after its tail-like cable. The first mouse was a simple hollowed-out wooden block, with a single push button on top. Engelbart had designed this as a tool to select text, move it around, and otherwise manipulate it. It was a key element of his larger project - the NLS (oN Line System), a computer he and some colleagues at the Stanford Research Institute had built. The NLS also allowed two or more users to work on the same document from different workstations.

So now you know: Doug Engelbart is the man responsible for 'Mouse Finger,' which afflicts many millions today.

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Alive! It's ALIVE! IT'S ALIVE!!

Comprehensive Immigration Reform, that is.

Silly, silly conservatives! You failed to see the method to the madness!

You thought that appointing Mel Martinez as RNC Chair, returning Trent Lott to leadership, and electing the same leadership team that lost the House were isolated incidents, which did nothing more than demonstrate how out-of-touch DC Republicans are.

Well, they may be out of touch. But is there a method to the madness? Were they trying to leave you numb and speechless so you couldn't respond to the real plan: the adoption of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (TM) by the Republican Congress before the Democrats take over?

That's right! Don't let the Democrats get the 'credit:'

Specter to Take Another Stab at Immigration Bill Before Year Ends
Thursday, Nov. 16; 3:01 pm
By Erin P. Billings,
Roll Call Staff

After meeting privately with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) earlier this week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said Thursday he is moving forward with plans to resurrect the languishing immigration reform measure before the end of this year.

Specter said the three Senators, at the core of negotiations over the legislation, “decided to make an effort” to spend the next month working to bridge the divide between the House and Senate over the issue. He said the Nov. 7 elections, in which Republicans lost control of both chambers, sent a signal to Congress that voters want immigration reform now, and it is incumbent upon lawmakers to heed that call before the end of the 109th Congress.

“I’d like to do it,” Specter said. “We have time.”

Specter said he already has talked to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) about his intentions, adding that he expects Frist will discuss the matter with Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) when the two leaders meet later this week. The Judiciary chairman said he is also engaging the White House on the issue...

While the Iraq War clearly was the dominant issue in the 2006 elections, immigration reform was certainly a factor in some key races, Specter noted.

“A lot of people went down [over it],” Specter said. “And, we have another election in two years.”

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), a chief backer of comprehensive reform, said Thursday he also believes Congress has time to move forward. The chamber is expected to remain in session through the end of December...

A lot of people went down over it? Go ask JD Hayworth if he thinks he went down because he was too tough on immigration - and if he thinks that passage of an amnesty would be the right way to go.

I think this is deader than dead. But it's shocking to me that some folks lack the political sense to know when to let go of the third rail.

In particular, Roll Call notes that Specter had already conferred with John McCain and Bill Frist. Does this imply that they both back this approach?

If so, McCain must be nuts if he think he can continue down this road - alienating conservatives - and still get the Presidential nomination. He isn't the only candidate.

Title Credit: Young Frankenstein

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Pelosi's Ongoing Challenge

It's almost universally agreed that Nancy Pelosi's gamble that she could depose Steny Hoyer and replace him with John Murtha was a significant shot to her leadership and credibility. Apart from that, it serves to alienate her from Hoyer's constituency - which includes many Blue Dogs, moderate Freshmen and New Democrats.

Those are important groups. Unlike the strongly liberal Black Caucus and Latino Caucus, these groups will differ from Pelosi and a number of the liberal committee chairs on important policy points. The GOP Minority - if it's well led - will constantly be looking for issues and votes where they can split the more moderate Democrats from their liberal leadership.

So the moderates have voted against her on Hoyer. Now they're going public with their disagreement on the Harman-Hastings question. What will be next? At some point, I'm going to write a piece about why minimum wage poses a challenge. It could be that, or it could be somewhere else.

The point is, Pelosi's leadership is in danger if any part of her caucus gets used to parting company with her. Once is understandable, twice is unfortunate, but if it starts to become routine, her effectiveness will be seriously undermined. The last thing she wants is a situation where a rump group of moderate Democrats joins with Republicans on big issues to frustrate her goals. And while we're nowhere near that point yet, you have to wonder why - just one day into her Speakership - you can see it on the horizon.

Along those lines, Roll Call reports:

‘Tuesday Dogs’ May Join Forces
November 16, 2006
By Jennifer Yachnin and Susan Davis,
Roll Call Staff

In an effort to boost their influence in the sharply divided chamber, members of the moderate Republican and Democratic House factions indicated Wednesday that the two groups may coordinate efforts in the 110th Congress and could move to create a formal bipartisan coalition in the new session.

Members of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition and the centrist Republican Tuesday Group met in advance of the Nov. 7 elections, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) said Wednesday, to discuss areas where the groups could align.

“We have a lot of common interests,” Matheson, a co-chairman of the Blue Dogs in the 109th Congress, said of his meeting with Republican Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), who co-chairs the Tuesday Group...

“At this point, we’re starting a dialogue,” Kirk said in an interview Wednesday, adding that the recent influx of new moderate Democrats elected last Tuesday will bolster opportunities to govern “from the political center...”

“There’s a lot more that unites us than divides us,” said Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), who will be a co-chairman of the Blue Dogs next year. “The American people expect us to reach across the aisle. There may be temptation to ‘get even’ [with Republicans in the 110th Congress], but I think that would be a huge mistake...”

“We’re not going to be a rubber stamp for anyone. We’re going to help bring our party back to the middle,” Ross said of the 44-member coalition, which includes nine freshman lawmakers. “We have a lot to say about what passes or doesn’t pass when it reaches the floor...”
This doesn't sound like a group that's predisposed to bend to Pelosi's wishes. She'll need to listen to them and make sure that her agenda offers them something. That's probably a good thing, because strong-arming is not going very well for her so far.

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It's Boehner and Blunt

Boy, do I eat crow. Blunt reportedly won 137-57.

And I believe Members really thought it was important to show that they got the message of 'change' from the election. They sure must not have liked the alternatives.

Given that the cast of characters looks completely the same, it's going to be all the more important that there are substantive changes. The GOP positions on earmarks, spending levels, congressional reform, health care, immigration, and other issues had better be well thought out and popular with the base.

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Boehner Wins Big

So John Boehner is the new Minority Leader, by a margin almost as one-sided as Nancy Pelosi's when she won. I hope that House Republicans do not take the one-sided vote as a sign that the status quo is acceptable.

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Blue Dogs Make Waves: Bye, Bye Alcee?

Remember back when Hoyer beat Pelosi's pick for Majority Leader - John Murtha? I said that if Murtha lost, she faced a situation where other powers in the Democratic caucus would try to exert their own influence, and she would wind up catering to Committee chairs and acting more as a 'first among equals' than as a leader.

Well, looks like that's happening, and it's only taken about 12 hours.

Blue Dogs back Harman for Intel panel chair
By Josephine Hearn

Eighteen members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative House Democrats, wrote Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Thursday imploring her to choose Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) to chair the House Intelligence Committee next year.

"Congresswoman Harman has served as Ranking Member of the Intelligence Committee with skill and distinction. ... She has helped lead the bipartisan reorganization and reform of our intelligence community and has served as a strong voice for Congressional oversight of the Administration and its national security policies," wrote Reps. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and others. "Both our Caucus and Party have counted on Congresswoman Harman to answer forcefully and credibly to partisan critics who have questioned Democrats’ commitment to protecting our nation."..

The letter came just hours after the caucus issued a stinging rebuke to Pelosi in the race for House majority leader. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) beat Pelosi’s candidate Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) decisively, drawing on the support of many centrists such as the Blue Dogs.

Many of those same centrist feel that Harman, a Blue Dog herself, has served admirably on the committee and deserves to continue. But some progressives believe Harman has been too compliant with the Republican chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.).

Good for the Blue Dogs. As in the case of Murtha, the Blue Dogs are trying to protect Ms. Pelosi (and the rest of the House Democrats) from herself.

As in the case of Murtha, Hastings as Intel Chair would put the lie to the Democrats' promise to change the 'culture of corruption' in Washington. The Blue Dogs recognize that apart from a security risk, he would be a national embarrassment.

Fresh on the heels of Hoyer's win, Pelosi has to be tempted to 'stay the course' with Alcee. To bow to the pressure and select Harman might be perceived as a sign of weakness. That's the last thing she wants now.

Still, you have to hope she does the right thing. If she sticks with Hastings, it sounds like her hand cannot be forced. But it will come back to haunt her.

Update: If Pelosi feels she needs to push Hastings aside, the negative public response is giving her ample 'cover' to do so. The LATimes is the latest to call for Harman, rather than Hastings, as Intel chair.

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Oh Dear...

Ugliest car ever? Probably.

I believe the dashboard is made out of the bridge console of the original Enterprise, from Star Trek.

Hat Tip: Mickey

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

MKH: Battle of the Ex-Girlfriends

Mary Katharine Ham is pretty funny. Check it out:

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GOP's Jindal Eyes Governor's Race - Again

This would be great for the GOP and great for the State of Louisiana. Hopefully the campaign does not become a debate over who was more responsible for the Katrina mess - Governor Blanco or President Bush.

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TSG Beats me to the Punch Line

You call that a knife? A Florida convenience store clerk fends off a machete-wielding would-be thief with her own machete.

There is surveillance video (Windows Media or MPEG).

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Left Doesn't Understand Terrorism

A lunatic who mailed white powder and threatening comments to a number of public figures - most of them liberal or Democratic - reportedly posted on the Free Republic site, and was allegedly a fan of Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingraham. So those bright folks on the Left are wondering - does this make Malkin a terrorist?

The answer is no. It does not make her - or anyone - a terrorist. It means they have a lunatic fan.

It doesn't even make you a terrorist to have your core supporters practice violence to shut down debate and attack people, or even when you ignore a series of attacks and threats against political opponents.

None of these incidents threatened anyone's life (reports indicate the white powder was a non-threatening substance), but that's not the point. These tactics are abhorrent and unacceptable social behavior. Those on the Left and Right can ought to be able to disagree honorably, without accepting violence or threats of violence against those on the other side.

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It's Hoyer

And apparently it was a one-sided vote.

So now we know which of Pelosi's nightmares she will live for the next two years. The first act of her new majority was give her a 'no-confidence' vote.

And it isn't really a divided caucus, either. The vote for Hoyer was 149-86. That's not really all that divided.

So what does this show? That House Democrats will defy Pelosi, that she is out-of-touch with the will of her caucus, and that Hoyer has a sizeable constituency of his own. By making this such a high-profile, high-stakes contest, Ms. Pelosi may have graduated Mr. Hoyer from second-in-command to legitimate rival - something that would not have happened if she had not tested her influence in this contest.

Congrats, Ms. Pelosi. How's that 'gamble' working for you?

Update: Miriam asks, 'what do you expect when you put the Speaker's gavel in the hands of America's children?'

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New Lobby Group Launched To Make Howard Dean's Life Harder

Leaving aside the embedded editorialisation in the headline,

Think Tank Will Promote Thinking: Advocates Want Science, Not Faith, at Core of Public Policy

The Washington Post brings us yet further evidence yesterday that liberals/progressives are not going to let the Democratic Party settle down into a governing posture representative of the cultural concerns of the majority of Americans without a tooth-and-nail fight. The hastily plastered-over alienation of the Democratic Party from conventional Judaeo-Christian culture we saw in the 2006 elections has already generated its own backlash on the Left.

The greatest irony in this article is in fact the date of its publication--Nov. 15, the day the Catholic Church honours as the Feast of St. Albert Magnus, the Dominican founder of scholasticism, the discoverer of arsenic--the first element to be identified by scientific process--and with the Franciscan Roger Bacon and the unrelated Francis Bacon one of the three central figures in the development, establishment and propagation of the scientific method. The conceit that empirical science and physics can serve as a substitute for hard thinking about metaphysics and ethics proves to be an idee fixe which many on the Left clearly prefer to the prospect of representing an American public embarassing to them.

Tommy Thompson Thinking White House

In sports, they say a playoff series doesn't begin until someone wins a road game. That is, until something unexpected happens. Well, Tommy Thompson just did something unexpected.

Thompson is a conservative former governor of a swing state in the midwest, whose hallmark during his tenure was aggressive reform efforts. He did a stint as HHS Secretary, but probably qualifies as a 'Washington outsider.' Further, he's a fresh face.

All those things would be assets if he chooses to run.

Could be interesting.

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Just Wondering...

Has anyone heard any spoilers about the upcoming Tom Hanks movie, Charlie Wilson's War? I'm just curious - because apparently Wilson writes that Speaker Tip O'Neill forced him to take a spot on the Ethics Committee to short circuit an investigation into Murtha.

I was just wondering whether this is going to be shown in the movie. And you know, it's got Tom Hanks - I bet a LOT of people are going to see that movie when it comes out next year...

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House Leadership News

Barton bows out of the Minority Leader race and throws his support to Boehner. From what I'm hearing, it's not likely to be very close.

Meanwhile, Murtha says he has the votes to win. I don't know whether that's false bravado or, or the result of Ms. Pelosi's arm-twisting. I think Charlie Gonzalez sums up the sentiments of many:

“We’re trying to say it’s a new day, and unfortunately, we’ve started a new day with unnecessary controversy,” said Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas), a Hoyer ally. “Members see this as something unnecessary, something counterproductive, something that is sucking up all the oxygen in the room when we really need to work on improving the functioning of the House.”

Looks like the era of good feelings is over.

By the way, Bob Novak also characterizes Pelosi's move as a mistake, which put the Democrats in a no-win situation.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Who Am I? Why Am I Here?" -- Updated & Bumped

With apologies to American hero, the late Admiral James Stockdale, am I far off?

What other former military man was so consistently a train wreck at those times when he was unfortunate enough to get national attention?

Not that I think that's a bad thing in a Congressional leader, of course...

Update: Mickey provides the Hardball transcript where Murtha explains what he meant by 'total crap.' It's revealing, in the way that politicians usually try to avoid:

MURTHA: Let me tell you, I agree that we have to return a perception of honesty to the Congress. I agree with what Nancy's trying to do. The crap I'm talking about is the crap that people have violated the law, the crap that the kind of things that have happened with Abramoff, the kind of things that have happened with some of the members—

Why is it that politicians are always so focussed on the perception of honesty, rather than actual honesty?

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Murtha & Hoyer Tied

So I hear, from a Congressman counting votes for Murtha.

Why is it tied? Because Pelosi is playing real hardball:

The second continues from 11/12, when Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi injected herself in the race. While her inital letter backing Murtha was initially seen as simple loyalty, but now, she's making phone calls and button-holing members for their support. Baltimore Sun's Hay Brown reports the speaker-in-waiting is playing hardball: She summoned Rep.-elect Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to her office to ask why Gillibrand was supporting current Dem whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and, completely coincidentally, asked for Gillibrand's committee preferences.

Sounds like she is taking this like a real test of her leadership. If she loses (er, if Murtha loses), it will be a serious embarrassment. Maybe that's the pitch - don't make Pelosi look impotent this early in her speakership.

Of course, if Murtha wins, it will be a major embarrassment for the Democratic caucus, as well.

It's stunning that they've arrived at a no-win situation so fast!

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Lou Dobbs Elected to Senate

So it appears from Senator-Elect Webb's op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal.

Clearly, Webb is not going to fit well into either the Republican or Democratic caucus. He looks like a populist and cultural conservative, who's likely to support minimum wage increases, tax cuts, border fences, increased military spending, and who knows what else.

I bet he'll spend a lot of time with Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Chuck Hagel.

Update: DailyKos throws this piece in the face of those who may have characterized Webb as a conservative. I would never characterize him as a conservative, but I would not describe Pat Buchanan that way, either. The two sound a great deal alike, to me.

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That Giuliani Boomlet...

So now folks are surprised at the strength of a potential Giuliani candidacy, and they're starting to look more closely at his record. It shows that he is a pretty strong liberal on social policy. If he keeps his positions on gun control, gay marriage, immigration, and abortion, he'll never be on a national Republican ticket.

As the campaign develops, he'll need to clarify what he thinks about these issues, and how much was (*ahem*) 'forced upon him' by virtue of his constituency in New York City. A potential formula for the 'clarification is here.

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Fund on Murtha

Worth a read.

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Weird Story of the Day

Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is the answer to a trivia question. While defeated by Nick Lampson as a write-in candidate in the race to succeed Tom DeLay, she did win the special election to serve out the last 7 weeks of DeLay's term. Upon arriving at the office, she was reportedly so hostile to DeLay's former staffers that they quit en masse:

The woman who was sworn in this week as the interim Republican successor to ex-Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was, shall we say, not a hit with holdover DeLay aides. In fact, they showed their feelings about their new boss Tuesday by walking out of the office en masse and resigning, effective immediately. The DeLay refugees, who included

DeLay’s personal chief of staff, David James, walked out of the office, Von Trapp family-style (though without the singing) and huddled at Starbucks to get their wits about them.

The interim Member, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (R), who won the special election to replace DeLay but lost a write-in campaign for a full two-year term, only will be serving in Congress until Jan. 3, when Democrat Nick Lampson, who won the general election, takes over. But even just for these few weeks, it appears, Sekula-Gibbs wants things just so.

She showed up to take over DeLay’s old office on Thursday and, according to sources familiar the office dynamics, was “mean” to the staff. On Tuesday, at her new Member’s open-house reception in the office, sources charged that she was less than pleased that neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney showed up with the rest of the welcome wagon, despite the fact that others who stopped by included Texas GOP Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and Texas GOP Reps. Kevin Brady and Michael Burgess. (Apparently, according to sources, she was under the impression that the president of the United States would be there to greet the seven-week Congresswoman.)

One source said, “This is a highly professional and well-seasoned staff who has worked with the best, and worst, of Members, but you’ll need to promise a Congressional Medal to anyone willing to take this one on.”

Carl Thorsen, who is now a lobbyist, hired most of the DeLay aides who stormed out of the new Congresswoman’s office when he was DeLay’s general counsel and in charge of staffing the Hammer’s personal office. He said he couldn’t imagine what it must have taken to provoke the staff to quit all at once.

“I know them. They’re exceptional and talented,” he said. “They’ve been loyal to that district and they’ve worked really hard. They’re just not a group of loose cannons.

Sekula-Gibbs’ chief of staff, Lisa Diamond, told HOH that the DeLay aides were only there “for transitional purposes,” not for the mini-Congresswoman’s full seven-week tenure, which surely will be hectic given the number of days the lame duck is scheduled to be in session.

Asked about the aides storming out of the office she said, “Ooh, oh ... I don’t know what we can say about that.” Diamond said she would not comment on personnel issues.

But she said she has worked for Sekula-Gibbs for many years and said, “I think she is wonderful to work for.”

Great line: the DeLay aids are only there for 'transitional purposes' - ie, the first few hours of a seven-week term.
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Boehner to be Leader; Worry about Shadegg

The Hill has an interesting piece on the House GOP leadership race. They report that Boehner is confident he has the votes to be Minority Leader, but that there's a lot of worry among Blunt supporters that he does not have the votes to take the Minority Whip spot. Those supporters think there's discomfort among Republicans at the idea of Shadegg in the spot, and that Cantor would be a strong contender:

With Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) all but assured of retaining the title of leader when Republicans assume the minority next year, suspense hangs on the race for whip between Reps. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the current occupant, and John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), a darling of the conservative media.

Blunt has told supporters in private that he has the votes to preserve his leadership post when members cast their secret ballots this Friday, members and an aide said yesterday, but some of those same supporters question the strength of his backing. Blunt made a similar prediction before losing to Boehner in their majority leader race earlier this year...

Concerned that Shadegg would fumble some of the procedural responsibilities required of a whip, these Blunt supporters are weighing their options to elevate Cantor to the No. 2 slot in the Republican hierarchy.

“A sizable percentage of Blunt supporters are supporting Blunt because of Cantor,” the same lawmaker said...

If Boehner wins the Minority Leader spot, Blunt doesn't have a chance. Regardless of concerns about Shadegg's ability to handle procedural responsibilities, there is no way the Republican conference will continue with the same leadership from the last Congress.

Cantor has a great deal of respect across the conference, and would be a strong contender against Shadegg.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Abramoff Has Dirt on 7-8 Democratic Senators

It's the sort of thing that makes me wish you could believe the guy. However, it seems we might never know.

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Wizbang Hosts 2006 Weblog Awards

Wizbang hosts the 2006 Weblog Awards. Go over and vote for your favorites in many categories.

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Scandals Continue to Hurt House Republicans

In this case, it looks like outgoing Appropriations Committee chairman Jerry Lewis might be the next casualty. Roll Call reports:

Lewis’ Top Approps Spot May Be Threatened
November 14, 2006
By Ben Pershing,
Roll Call Staff

As the House GOP grapples with a half-dozen leadership races on the ballot Friday, a similarly important decision awaits the Republican Conference next month: whether to keep Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.) as the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

Lewis is not facing term limits in his position, and normally a chairman would have no trouble moving smoothly into a ranking member slot. But a combination of circumstances — most notably the ongoing federal investigation of Lewis and some remaining hurt feelings from this year’s earmark reform debate — have made Lewis’ path into the ranking member post less smooth.

“I think he’s out,” predicted a senior GOP leadership aide...

The Justice Department currently is probing Lewis’ relationship with ex-Rep. Bill Lowery (R-Calif.) and his now-defunct lobbying firm, Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White. The firm had a lucrative business obtaining earmarks from Lewis for defense clients and for towns in the Californian’s district. The investigation is an outgrowth of the probe that brought down jailed ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.)...

Given that the GOP just lost its majority based at least in part on voters’ distaste for Congressional scandals — particularly the Cunningham story and the Jack Abramoff affair, both of which centered on earmarks — some Republican leadership sources said they thought the Conference would want to create a clean slate by removing a potential magnet for negative publicity from such a prominent slot...

If Lewis is pushed out, he has no obvious successor. Former Appropriations Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.) would not be barred by Conference term-limit rules from returning as ranking member. Below Young on the panel roster are GOP Reps. Ralph Regula (Ohio) and Hal Rogers (Ky.), both of whom were defeated by Lewis for the chairmanship in 2005...

If Lewis is pushed aside, it's unclear to me that this will have any effect on efforts to reform the appropriations process. No appropriations committee chairman will be an enthusiastic reformer, and the senior Republican will not be the chairman in any case.

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Murtha-Hoyer Getting Uglier

The partisan in me takes delight at the Democratic infighting that escalated today, with Murtha accusing Hoyer of planting Abscam stories against him.

Murtha's connection to Abscam has been public knowledge since... when was Abscam? 1980? And there has been a significant amount of attention to it for months - at least if you were paying attention to Murtha's campaign this year.

Murtha's only legitimate complaint is that the mainstream media has been in the tank for the Democrats, and has buried all stories of Democratic corruption until after election day. Murtha may think that the sudden attention to this story can only be due to Hoyer, but really it's just the media rediscovering Democratic corruption now that it's 'safe' to do so. That's already a well-known phenomenon.

If the New York Times had done a big story on Murtha's Abscam involvement a few months ago, he could legitimately say it was old news, and that the voters did not care about it. Another case of Democrats wanting to have it both ways.

A nutty attack like this one will only show Murtha's fellow House Democrats that he doesn't know how to react in the spotlight. It's likely to undercut his campaign. As a partisan whose side would clearly be helped by Murtha's ascension to lofty heights, I can only be disappointed.

Still not convinced that Murtha is behind and needs to gamble? Check out how Steny Hoyer is acting.

I think that internecine squabbles like this one can only help Republicans, but regrettably, it's unlikely to amount to much in the long term. Few recall the competition between Jerry Lewis and Dick Armey shortly before the Republicans took Congress, or the Bob Walker/Tom DeLay faceoff for Majority Whip right after. Neither one proved a long-term impediment to the new majority. I suspect that this will cause some problems, but it will probably be overcome before long.

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Senate Majority Leader? Jesus...

That's not an exclamation, it appears to be how Reuters views Harry Reid. Or is this just setting up impossible expectations for Reid?

I think I'm sick of Democratic leadership already.

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Giuliani Jumps In

Rudy Giuliani has formed a Presidential exploratory committee.

Tradesports shows John McCain as the favorite for the GOP nomination in 2008, and there's clearly good reason for that. After McCain's 50%, the next two contenders are Romney and Giuliani with around 13%. After those three, there is a significant dropoff.

It's seeming less and less likely that Ronald Reagan is going to come back to life and sweep the primaries. Rather, it looks like these are our candidates.

I don't know enough about Romney, despite the fact that he has a strong following in certain parts of the blogosphere. But if I have a choice of two not-really-conservatives, Giuliani has a big leg up over McCain, in my book. And all my conservative friends agree.

It seems that the job of a blogger is to talk to 3 friends and extrapolate national trends (Mickey said that somwhere). Doing that tells me that if Giuliani defers to the conservative views of the majority of Republicans on abortion, gay rights, and gun control, he will be the nominee.

Analysts have said all along that Giuliani is too socially liberal to get the Republican nomination. But most conservatives have a strong aversion to McCain, and he is doing nothing to win them over. To me, this creates a clear opening for Giuliani. I believe he has more credibility with conservatives than does McCain, and stands a fair chance against him in the primaries.

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Weigh in on GOP Leadership

New Zealand Bear has taken the lead in organizing a forum for bloggers to pose questions to the candidates for House GOP leadership positions. Check it out, and consider the questions posed by the Editor. They are:

  • One reason that the Republican Congress fell in popularity was the perception that Members of the House could not be trusted to police themselves, and enforce ethics rules themselves. Will you advocate an independent, outside ethics process for Members of the House, so that voters can be sure that elected officials recognize they are not part of some privileged 'club' that is answerable to no one?

Vote for your favorites, and hold the incoming leadership to account.

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Speaker Pelosi Bids for Real Authority

Nancy Pelosi has not only endorsed Jack Murtha for Majority Leader; she is pulling out all the stops to get him elected:

"She will ensure that they [the Murtha camp] win. This is hard-ball politics," said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a longtime Murtha supporter. "We are entering an era where when the Speaker instructs you what to do, you do it..."

If Moran’s claims are true, Pelosi is taking an enormous gamble only a week after the election propelled her into the Speakership. If she prevails, she will likely banish her onetime rival Hoyer to the back benches and send a clear signal to her colleagues that she intends to rule with an iron hand. If Hoyer wins, she loses substantial political capital and alerts the caucus that they can successfully oppose her.

If Pelosi pushes this hard, then perhaps she can defeat Hoyer and secure the 'leadership team' she wants. But it will increase the perception that Democrats are 'cut-and-run' on Iraq, and she will have taken away the only reason that Hoyer had to be a team player. More importantly, she will have told the 'Blue Dogs,' Hoyer's many freshmen supporters, and other moderate Members that their views are not particularly important to her. That's not going to make leadership easier, but it is the best case scenario (if Moran is right).

If Murtha loses the race, it will show that a large part of the Democratic conference doesn't trust Pelosi to run the show her way. This weakness will give Committee Chairmen (like Charlie Rangel, who backs Hoyer) more latitude to run things the way they want.

This would be a return to the old style of Democratic leadership under Speaker Foley. In contrast to the Speakerships of Gingrich and Hastert, Speaker Foley was almost a 'first among equals.' His job was to manage the agendas of Chairmen like Dingell, Obey, Waxman and others. Under the subsequent Republican rule, Committee Chairs generally took marching orders from the Speaker.

That might be the nature of the fight we're looking at now. Will the Majority Leader race allow Pelosi to run the House, or leave her as a glorified feudal lord, managing competing fiefdoms?

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Cisco's Human Network

This is the coolest commercial. It makes me want to join the human network, instead of living my life like a troll attached to a computer.

But wait a minute... isn't that what Cisco is selling?

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What Have We Learned

Not a lot, apparently.

I am a conservative, but I am also a Republican partisan. That is, there's sometimes a conflict between my conservative leanings and my desire for Republican victories. The partisan in me thinks it's great to try to win latino votes, and appreciates the apparent intent of this move (and the amnesty) to try to do that.

But is this really the time to poke out the eye of the conservative base? Do you think that they are basking in the glow of a great election day, and therefore won't mind you putting an amnesty leader at the RNC?

And to have first floated the name of Michael Steele? You couldn't have engineered the disappointment and hostility any better.

It's a good thing for the Democrats that they run against the Republicans. We might be the only ones they can ever beat.

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Earmark Reform

Nancy Pelosi promises that House Democrats will require sponsors of earmarks to be identified. This would maintain a GOP rule that was adopted but had not taken effect in the Congress about to end.

In the meantime, it's suddenly big news that Harry Reid has been sponsoring legislation that enriches people close to him. In this case, the enriched person is himself.

This brings to mind a reform that House Republicans should push for: require earmark sponsors to answer whether they themselves, or any individual or interest known to them, will gain financially by the earmark requested. Require lawmakers also, to specify any personal connection to the recipient of the earmark.

This would make it harder to request earmarks, as lawmakers would need to 'scrub' the request more fully before making it. They would need to do a little due diligence to determine if they had any personal connection to the grantee. Further, in cases where they are already aware of a clear connection (such as that the grantee is a campaign donor), they might think twice before making the request.

Critics might say that lawmakers could not be expected to list every potential connection that they might have to an earmark recipient, and I think that could be true. But if it the public learned after the fact that a lawmaker failed to disclose some connection, the voters themselves could decide whether the explanation passed the 'smell test.'

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Simmons Looking Good in Connecticut

The Hotline reports that Rob Simmons trails Democrat Joe Courtney by only about 60 votes, as the recount in Connecticut continues.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pelosi Blows it Again

So the Democrats have retaken the majority, and there are two great challenges they face when the national spotlight turns to them for the first time in a decade:

  • Don't look too extreme; and,
  • Keep all wings of the party happy.

So what does Nancy Pelosi do? Blow both at the same time.

So Pelosi backs Murtha over Hoyer. Let's take a look at the balance sheet. Hoyer has good relations with corporate donors and can raise money. He has legitimacy with the 'Blue Dogs' and the 'New Dems.' He has been a good soldier for Pelosi, and has made it clear in many venues that he has no intention of challenging her for leadership.

Murtha... is a former defense hawk with a tendency to say weird things.

Yeah, this is is a great idea.

Hope the Democrats enjoy the two years in the majority. Doesn't look like it will last any longer.

Update: Edited to revise my characterization of Mr. Murtha.

Welcome Instapundit readers and thanks, Glenn, for the traffic! While you're here, check out my guess at why Pelosi is taking this risk, or just look around.