Saturday, April 14, 2007

Meet the 800 Pound Gorilla

Great profile of Fred Thompson by Stephen Hayes. Thompson comes across as almost too good to be true: a recognizable, non-threatening, self-assured, Presidential, conservative from humble beginnings, whose comfortable in front of a camera and not 'from Washington.' A few highlights:

Over the next two decades, Thompson would appear in dozens of films and television shows as a character actor, often one who personifies government strength. It is a role that seems to fit. "Literally, I don't think Fred ever acts," says Tom Ingram, a longtime friend from Tennessee who now serves as chief of staff to Senator Lamar Alexander. "He played himself in Marie, and he's been playing himself ever since."

There's a key. People don't know Fred Thompson; they know the roles he plays. You have to suspect that since he's played the same character over and over, that that's what you'll see if exposed to him frequently over the course of a campaign. But it's nice to hear that from someone who knows him.

Thompson ran on a strong small-government--even antigovernment--message. "America's government is bringing America down, and the only thing that can change that is a return to the basics," he said. "We will get back to basics and make the sacrifices and once again amaze the world at how, in America, ordinary people can do very extraordinary things." Thompson emphasized issues that would appeal to disaffected voters--making laws apply to the members of Congress who pass them; congressional pay raises; entitlement reform.

This message doesn't even need much fine-tuning for use this year and next...

In his final months in the Senate, Thompson concentrated his efforts on legislation that would create the Department of Homeland Security. He fought efforts by Democrats to subject the new workforce to union and collective bargaining rules that apply to federal employees more broadly. The bill passed two weeks after the 2002 midterm elections, on a vote of 90-9.

"This is the most significant thing I've been involved in and certainly the most significant thing I've had my name on because it involves the main function of government, and that is protecting its citizens."

More than four years later, munching on a turkey sandwich and sour cream and onion potato chips at his dining room table, he displays an unusual willingness to second-guess his own decision. After Thompson criticized the growth of bureaucracy under the new director of national intelligence, I asked him why the new bureaucracy under Department of Homeland Security is any different.

"Well, to tell you the truth, in retrospect, we may conclude that it wasn't any different. But it got to the point where almost anything would have been an improvement," he says. "A lot of those agencies were in and of themselves dysfunctional, so bringing them together was not going to make everybody greater. . . . But you've got to start somewhere and you can't wait until everything is just right until you start coordinating. So we were kind of jumping aboard a moving train."

It was an admirably honest appraisal of what he once pointed to as the crowning achievement of his career in Congress. As we spoke, I was struck by the fact that Thompson didn't seem to be calibrating his answers for a presidential run. On issue after contentious issue, I got the sense from both his manner and the answers he gave me that he was just speaking extemporaneously. Many of his answers would drive a poll-watching political consultant nuts.

My suspicions were confirmed when Thompson asked at one point if he could have a transcript of our interview. "I found myself talking on some subjects that I haven't really thought that much about," he explained. "Oh, so this is what I think, huh?"

Thompson addresses issues candidly and without talking points. He tells you what he really things: a genuine straight talker. Better still - he seems like a straight talker!

It sure seems like Thompson has decided to get in, and now all that awaits is the announcement. And once he does get in, he seems like he'll be awfully strong. I have to think that given his attractiveness and his strong conservative record, he could crowd out Romney and McCain very quickly - leaving essentially a two-man race with Giuliani. His record will be pretty thoroughly scrubbed, but if nothing untoward emerges, you have to think he will be a very strong candidate in the general election.

Global Warming Responsible for ALL Weather Effects

This one is over at Insty.

Novak: Emanuel to Turn Up Temperature on Bush

Novak has a range of interesting items this morning, including news on Fred Thompson's anticipated announcement of candidacy, and Karl Rove's non-participation in the debate over immigration.

He also report that Rahm Emanuel intends to ratchet up the pressure on the Bush administration over the US attorneys 'scandal:'


Rep. Rahm Emanuel, House Democratic Caucus chairman, plans a major speech in the next two weeks to be delivered at a non-partisan site that will depict the controversy over President Bush's dismissal of U.S. attorneys as a part of a broader pattern of corruption.

Emanuel plans to say that the U.S. attorneys issue, in the public mind, "will be to corruption what Katrina was to incompetence." He will paint a pattern of Bush administration abuses that include the Interior Department, General Services Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Education on student loans.

Such an attack would get lost amid the flood of partisan oratory if delivered on the House floor. Consequently, Emanuel has been searching for a non-governmental site, such as the National Press Club or the Brookings Institution. Emanuel is credited with making the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys a major issue for Democrats.

Frankly, I'm not sure I understand this - politically. The Bush administration is near its end. Weakening him further may damage the Republican 'brand' a little more, but the party will be 're-branded' next year when it selects a Presidential nominee. Since that nominee will have at best an arm's-length association with President Bush, that nominee won't suffer much from the President's unpopularity.

In the meantime, damaging the President further means that it will be harder to work with him. Does that help the Democrats? They'll finish their term of unified control of Congress with nothing to show for it, and perhaps a reputation for partisan attacks and obstruction.

It will help increase the appeal of an outsider candidate who can 'change the tone.' I suppose that benefits Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and perhaps Barack Obama.

The Aircraft Even Cheney Couldn't Bring Down

Marines to deploy tilt-rotor aircraft to Iraq

After 30 years of technical development and 18 years of program development, the Osprey tiltrotor is cleared for action in Iraq, deploying to support Marine Corps operations in western Iraq and Anbar province.

Friday, April 13, 2007

That Was Fast

Earlier today Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti announced that he would not respond to the request of two state lawmakers for an advisory opinion on whether former Senator John Breaux is eligible to run for Governor of that state. Reading between the lines, you have to guess that Mr. Foti didn't want to tell Breaux that he was probably ineligible.

And in response, Mr. Breaux announced tonight that he will not be a candidate:

Democratic former U.S. Sen. John Breaux said Friday he will not be a candidate for governor this fall because he did not get a definitive legal opinion from the state attorney general clearing up his status as a citizen of the state.

In a lengthy statement issued through the state Democratic Party, Breaux said the failure to obtain "a clear declaration of my status as a citizen greatly inhibits my ability to conduct a campaign based on the issues instead of the law. I said I would be guided by the attorney general's opinion and, therefore, will not be a candidate."

Attorney General Charles Foti refused to issue an opinion, claiming the matter would ultimately go to court and should be resolved by a judge.

This really puts Louisiana Democrats behind the proverbial 8 ball. Breaux was their best candidate, and now they'll turn to weaker hopefuls. Furthermore, Bobby Jindal is cruising in polls and has raised millions for the race. At this point, he's looking like the clear favorite for the seat.

What to Do About White People

Ace points to this video from Andrew's Dad. It's a townhall-style meeting in Seattle apparently, where an African American says that the only solution to society's problems is to get rid of all white people.

I couldn't help but think of this old Eddie Murphy sketch, from back when he was really funny:


Last year Joe Lieberman proved that he didn't need the Democratic party to win election in Connecticut. Since then, he's been more liberated (if possible) to say and do whatever his conscience tells him. Now he's endorsed the re-election of Republican colleague Susan Collins, in what is sure to be a heavily targeted race:

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman said he is endorsing Sen. Susan Collins in her 2008 re-election bid and will campaign on her behalf.

Lieberman, a former Democrat turned independent, is returning the favor to Collins, a Republican who supported and campaigned for him in his 2006 election in Connecticut. Although Lieberman is an independent, he continues to caucus with Democrats.

Lieberman's announcement comes amid speculation on who will challenge Collins for the Senate seat in the 2008 election. Democratic Rep. Tom Allen has signaled that he might run for the seat, but has not announced he will do so.

Lieberman told the National Journal's "CongressDaily" on Thursday that he is ready to support Collins even though he doesn't know who the Democratic nominee will be. He said his political action committee has contributed $5,000 toward Collins' campaign.

I wonder how long Senator Lieberman can demonstrate such 'independence' before there is pressure on his Senate colleagues to kick him out of the caucus. Under Senate rules, Republicans cannot force a reorganization that would make Mitch McConnell Majority Leader, so expelling Lieberman might not even cost them their committee chairmanships.

Also see Hotline on Call.

Would Venezuela be Better Off Without Oil?

A interesting piece from the American Scholar:

The founder of OPEC, a Venezuelan by the name of Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, had a different take on the country’s vast oil deposits. “It is the devil’s excrement,” he declared. “We are drowning in the devil’s excrement.” When he delivered that judgment in the 1970s, it was, to put it mildly, a contrarian view. Who could complain when a surge in oil prices had boosted Venezuela’s fiscal per capita income to equal West Germany’s? Several booms and busts later, however, that statement doesn’t seem so outlandish. Oil has shaped every aspect of Venezuela, from its economy to its citizens’ values to its style of governance. Survey that legacy, and so-called black gold begins to look like a poisoned gift.

Dependence on one export has strapped the country’s financial fortunes to a roller coaster. When oil prices are high, many Venezuelans enjoy an enviable quality of life, particularly for a developing nation. The state doles out subsidies to domestic businesses, adds thousands of state jobs, and keeps the domestic currency artificially strong, which makes imports cheap. This state-dispensed bounty has helped create a carefree, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may mentality in Venezuelans and fostered a concomitant sense of entitlement. After all, with money seeping out of the ground, what incentive is there to work? Of course, government can only apportion handouts when the cash box is full. When oil prices fall, government revenue plummets, and the state is forced to curtail the spoils.

The prudent approach would be to leverage the country’s petroleum wealth to fortify other sectors of the economy. But Venezuelans gravitate to leaders who swear oil reserves can keep the party going indefinitely. Chávez is the latest in a long line of irresponsible, populist presidents, and if he has his way, his successor won’t emerge for many years. Chávez is demanding—and is expected to receive— authority to run for unlimited reelection. Still, even as he concentrates power, broader trends could determine how long his unlimited term in office lasts. Chávez’s standing—like so many things in this country—may depend more on the price of oil than he would like to believe.

Via Free Exchange.

The Democrats' First 100 Days: Much Ado About Nothing

Read it over at the Standard.

Update: Rob covers this as well.

Blue on Blue in the Hispanic Caucus

Linda Sanchez follows her sister's lead in avoiding the "heave-ho" from the Hispanic Caucus by quitting first.

Putatively called a Bad Word by the chairman of the caucus, the Sanchez sisters must now tramp through second thoughts that perhaps it would have been better for them to avoid such hortatory language concerning old rumours which were better laid to rest with the other sleeping dogs of southern California politics, which have made for all manner of strange bedfellows.

Boris the Spider

Is Berezovsky planning a new Russian revolution? Read it at the Standard.

Imus is Just the Beginning

Conservatives will be gratified at the news that Don Imus - who saved Bill Clinton's Presidential candidacy, vilified Bush and Cheney on a daily basis, and generally gave dozens of Democratic politicians a soapbox to preach their message to white men - has been fired. For better or worse, his comments seem to have ignited a national dialogue over the perjoratives we use for women generally - and african-american women in particular - that are deemed acceptable for some, but not others.

Conservatives might think that the logical next topic of discussion would be the hip-hop culture that promotes the acceptance of vile terms to describe women. But rest assured, that's not the next step that liberals have in mind. Their goal is to start getting conservative talk radio hosts knocked off the air. The first target might well be Michael Savage:

For decades, on the radio, Don Imus sowed the winds of insult, hatred and racism. And this week — after one ugly comment that shocked an entire nation — he finally reaped the whirlwind.

Good for NBC for getting his poison off the air. The only question is: Why’d it take them so long? The Rutgers basketball champions weren’t the first women, blacks or Jews he’d offended.

Imus insisted that he and his producers were just trying to be funny. But it wasn’t funny when he called Gwen Ifill a White House “cleaning lady.” It wasn’t funny when he called the “Jewish management” of CBS a bunch of “money-grubbing bastards.” It wasn’t funny when Imus producer Bernard McGuirk said that “bitch” Hillary Clinton would have “cornrows and gold teeth before this fight with Obama is over.”

Yet MSNBC allowed Imus to get away with all that and more — until he picked on the wrong target: a talented group of young women, and their coach, who represent the best of America. And, of course, until sponsors began to cancel their advertising.

As reprehensible as Imus’s comments were, however, the sad fact is: He’s not the worst. There are far more hateful voices on the air. Like Michael Savage, a nationally syndicated talk show host, who called one listener a “Sodomite” and told him to “get AIDS and die.”

So the sacking of Don Imus is not the end of cleaning up the airwaves; it’s only a good beginning. Don Imus is gone. Next: Fire Michael Savage!

As far as Michael Savage goes, I don't listen to him, and I wouldn't miss him if his show ended. I'm sure Press is right in asserting he's said some highly offensive things.

But you know where this is headed. There will soon be calls for the dismissal of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and other mainstream conservative talk show hosts. The Left has contended for years that these radio institutions are purveyors of hatred. Prepare to hear a lot more of that in the near future.

Update: A lot more over here.

Al Gore Will Be the Dem Nominee in '08

That's the prediction from John Feehery, a bright former Capitol Hill staffer:

I predict Al Gore will be the nominee for president for the Democratic Party.

Here is my reasoning: First, by the end of this year, it will become clear that Rudy Giuliani is the strongest candidate from the Republican side, panicking Democrats who know that neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton can beat Rudy. (In full disclosure, I am on Team Rudy, not officially, but emotionally.)

This is after a vicious summer, where Hillary and Barack savagely beat each other up with their campaign fortunes. The Clinton team is plenty tough, but don’t underestimate the Daley clan, who are strongly backing the junior senator from Illinois.

This fight will get ugly, and it will devastate both candidates.

For personal reasons, John Edwards drops out of the race or he would likely be the beneficiary of the Hillary-Obama war.

Hollywood, who once loved Hillary, has turned on her. And because they are so desperate to have one of their own (a film-maker, I mean) in the White House, they will turn on Obama as well, begging him to take the number-two spot.

Al Gore, Oscar-winner, champion of the environment, Southern Democrat, will allow himself to drafted, after a summer of saying no.

I can't say I agree. I think that Hillary, Obama, and Edwards represent more or less the best the Democratic party has to offer now. I don't see any reason to anticipate - as Feehery does - that Edwards will drop out. And I think that among the three, Democrats can find an acceptable candidate. And as long as the polls continue to show such troubles for Republicans generally, they'll be able to convince themselves that any of the three has a good chance against Giuliani - or whomever.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

UN Seeks New York's Finest

The Secretary General asks Mayor Bloomberg to consider sending (more) New York City police for UN peacekeeping missions.

Is he insane? Doesn't he realize that New York City cops are trained to use force - even to fire weapons - when needed? They're not really cut out for blue helmet stuff.

As a more practical matter, many New York City cops are national guardsmen and women, and as such are subject to activation for military engagements. Many have served - and are now serving - in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Is it really a good idea to drain the pool for both the New York City police and the US military, to support UN missions to which we already give great manpower and funding? Not likely.

On Iraq, What is the Democrats' Endgame?

Read it over at the Weekly Standard.

Civil Wars: Yours and Mine

Sen. Joe Biden yesterday announced he'd found a civil war into which he was eager to inject U.S. forces:

Biden calls for military force in Darfur

Now, of course, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, but can anyone explain how Sen. Biden could coherently and simultaneously believe that U.S. military force will break the cycle of violence in Darfur, but cannot hope to do so in Iraq (whereas announcement of a partition will)?

Surprising Introspection from the Beeb

Although they certainly don't present the analysis self-critically:

'Death to US': Anti-Americanism examined

It may be bridge too far, but I'm inclined to view this article as part of a general European trend, including Sarkozy's promising lead in France, Merkel's strong stand in Germany, and the Italian soft left's sanity check all as data points along the curve of the EU as a whole coming to grips with the prospect of a nuclear Iran given the demographic trench they've dug for themselves. Even previously neutered Spain is beginning to see the writing on the wall.

The signs worldwide are looking up, U.S. policymakers shouldn't be stampeded by a fringe Left which has historically shown it prefers humanitarian disaster to a military success which might, due to the Left's own obstructionism, redound primarily to the benefit of Republicans.

Category: Things I Don't See on the Evening News

Read it over at the Standard.

Roundup II

Bobby Jindal is raising the kind of money that tends to scare away credible opposition. Adam notes that he retains a big lead over Breaux in the polls as well. (And this poll is in line with others).

Barack Obama's views on Iraq continue to evolve.

The New York Times is worried that you might be supporting Mayor Giuliani without realizing he's liberal on some issues. They care about conservatives a lot, and just wanted to make sure you know.

Turning David Koresh's Waco Ranch into a tourist attraction?

Your next TV may be thinner than your wallet. You can get it from Sony later this year.


Lots of stuff this morning. Rather than make this too long, I may post a second 'roundup.'

Reid and Pelosi recognize they made a political mistake: they were going to allow the President to say they refused to talk with him about Iraq funding. They realized that, and have accepted the invitation.

I've not previously commented on Imus; I think it's stunning that a man who has made a career saying inappropriate and offensive things is being crucified for this inappropriate and offensive thing. It seems only a matter of time before he loses his job altogether (because money talks). Normally in society Imus would then seek counseling, write a book and do the talk-show circuit to rehab his career, and then re-emerge on radio. Imus is a singular personality though, and I wouldn't be surprised if he simply retires to the Imus Ranch. After all, he's made more money than he'll ever need, and he's already shown that he's not cut out for the Sharpton/Jackson apology circuit. My guess is that his 'retirement' is at hand. (But is he going down swinging or relishing a fight?)

Bob Novak looks
at the CIA's confusing and inconsistent responses to questions about Valerie Plame's status. I imagine that Tom Maguire will have his usual insightful commentary.

Drezner points to a TNR piece suggesting we shouldn't be worried too much - yet - about Iran's nuclear enrichment program.

Wow! I've never seen this before! Jonathan Rauch notes that a politician can only be elected President or Vice President within 14 years of his (or her) first election to high office. By that rule, McCain, Giuliani, and (perhaps) Hillary Clinton are out.

Democratic political consultant Doug Schoen advises Democrats to give the President the clean Iraq supplemental that he's asking for. Clearly though, there's a strong push for brinkmanship on the part of Democrats. We'll see what they offer next, but I doubt it's a 'clean bill.' (Hat Tip: Tabin).

Uncle Jimbo picks up on a surprising question from Scott Pelley, while explaining why he'll oppose John McCain. In a perfect world, I'd be with him. If only this world were perfect.

Egad. ALa has a question for you today. My answer: assuming I have my current life and my current future as an alternative, then no. I'll play the hand I've got.

Lots of good stuff from Captain Ed today. With regard to his note that Howard Dean has his work cut out for him in trying to smooth ruffled feathers with Denver unions, I believe there were rumors some months ago that the DNC might be able to switch locations to New York - although I can't imagine it at this point.

Rob calls our attention to some good sites made available by Eric Cantor.

Andy Roth points to the first ever recording of a US President. It was Benjamin Harrison. Not surprisingly, the recording is a tirade against Helen Thomas.

The Politico captures conservative women in their natural habitat.

McCain's Turn to Shine

Hotline On Call reports that Senator McCain's campaign re-organization is leading to a reduction in staff:

Sen. John McCain 's campaign retooling continues.

Manager Terry Nelson is trimming some of the organization's vestigial edges to pare down costs and more efficiently distribute key staff. Contrary to rumors, the campaign is not shedding weight in order to slow down its cash burn rate. [It's not to slow down the 'cash burn rate', only to cut costs. Huh? - The Editor?]

Nelson has decided to eliminated several staff positions from the campaign's May budget, some yet to be filled. In addition, several campaign consultants will see their contracts modified. Others currently on retainer will work for the campaign on a per-project basis.

Key departments, including political affairs, communications and the field staff in early primaries states -- were spared, and some instances, are still hiring.

A campaign aide characterized the changes as "minor adjustments..."

McCain's first quarter filings will be available on Saturday. [MARC AMBINDER]

This contributes to the notion that McCain's campaign is in 'disarray,' an easy story to write. But I think that the Senator has an opening here. While Mayor Giuliani got the public funding of abortion mess behind him quickly, I think that because of that kerfuffle, there are conservative supporters of the Mayor who might be willing to 'kick the tires' on McCain. Expectations for McCain are as low as they can be right now, and he has latched onto an issue (in Iraq) that gives conservatives a reason to like him.

I expect Senator McCain to recover some lost ground in the weeks ahead.

If Jim Gilmore Falls in the Forest...

The Politico reports that Jim Gilmore is saying that the GOP Presidential race needs a real conservative, and he is it. If you read blogs with any regularity, you know that. He's been saying it for months. He's even received some attention for saying it. But right now, no one is listening - since Fred Thompson has freezed that part of the race:

Republican primary voters need to rally around an authentic conservative presidential candidate before the 2008 nomination is claimed by an ideological imposter, former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore told The Politico Wednesday.

The situation is so dire, Gilmore said, that his home state is in danger of falling to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York or another liberal Democrat in the 2008 election if Republicans don't offer a candidate with the proper conservative message.

Gilmore spoke to Politico editors and reporters in the first of a series of sessions with Republican candidates in advance of the May 3 GOP Presidential Candidates Debate. The event is being hosted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in conjunction with MSNBC and

Ten candidates have accepted invitations to participate in the debate, the first of the cycle for Republican presidential candidates. It will air exclusively on cable's MSNBC, with full coverage on The Politico will stream the debate live on, providing an exclusive and unprecedented opportunity for viewers to ask and vote on questions via the Internet.

Last year at this time, George Allen had already built a nice following of folks who were eagerly looking forward to his Presidential run. It's interesting that a traditional, conservative Virginia Governor has been unable to inherit the mantle formerly held by the traditional, conservative Virginia Senator. It's interesting, but ultimately the point is moot.

As long as Fred Thompson is flirting with a candidacy - and for a little while after - there won't be any room for other 'Reagan conservatives' to make headway. As long as Thompson can handle the questions that have popped up about his views on abortion, he'll fill that open slot. Candidates like Gilmore (and Duncan Hunter, and Tommy Thompson) will have to bide their time and find a chink in Thompson's armor. Only after primary voters see a flaw in him (or he declares that he won't run), will they be able to make headway.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Hobgoblin of Small Minds

Senator Reid, in an interview for today's Washington Post, suggests that he is willing to cut all sorts of deals, as long as he can return to his anti-U.S.-victory-under-a-Republican-adminstration base with the pro-forma U.S. withdrawal from Iraq--even as he acknowledges that bad guys in Iraq will need killing for the forseeable future:

"Democratic aides are already discussing how to proceed once the expected presidential veto is issued. One idea with growing resonance would be quick passage of a war spending bill without conditions but with only enough funds for a few more months of war. Then negotiations over binding language to force a change in war policy would begin anew.

'With a little bit of ingenuity,' Reid said yesterday, compromise is possible. He suggested leaving Special Operations forces in Iraq and setting up military bases in Kuwait or Jordan where counterterrorism operations and Iraqi military training could continue."

So we could just bus our troops in from Kuwait whenever an Al Qaeda cell in Baghdad needs to be whacked, but otherwise business as usual.

In addition to its breathtaking cynicism, this does open a whole new realm of negotiating possibilities:

--We could have the Iraqi government declare U.S. forward operating bases in Iraq U.S. consular territory. This, since the same argument is good enough in the minds of Iranian leaders to immunise Iranian agents operating within Iraq, should also satisfy Iranian demands that we evacuate.

--We could announce a 150,000-man military exchange program with the Iraqi army, effective immediately.

--We could agree to a hard deadline for withdrawal of soldiers--no later, say, than April 11, 2080, rather than April 2008.

Please feel free to add your own hairsplitting legalisms for ingenious legal negotiator Reid's consideration.

Looking at the Iraq Supplemental

Read it over at the Standard.

The End of Peak Oil?

Read it over at the Standard.

Note to Team Moloch

With the Senate poised to review the House's latest attempt to compel taxpayer funding for research destructive of human embryos, the manufacturers of consent to taxpayer-funded destruction of embryos would be well advised to make sure that everyone on their team is using heartstring-plucking poster children with long-term viability. The Washington Post article on today's debate points out the problems with choosing the wrong mascot:

"Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who introduced the act with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), drew particular attention to a 12-year-old diabetic girl he recently met, who he said must inject herself with insulin 120 times a month.

'If adult stem cells could provide a cure for juvenile diabetes, she'd gladly take it,' Harkin said, suggesting that only embryonic stem cells have the capacity to cure diabetes.

In research to be published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists from Brazil and the United States showed that adult stem cells may indeed help cure diabetes. In that study, 14 of 15 patients with early-onset Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes, could stop taking insulin after undergoing a procedure that partially destroyed their immune and blood systems and then reconstituted those systems with the help of stem cells that had been isolated from their blood in advance."

I'm sure notional Catholic Tom Harkin will seize upon this opportunity to reboot his thinking and get back on board Evangelium Vitae.


Does Mickey Kaus have a scoop on Fred Thompson?

Taliban vs. Taliban in Afghanistan? What will we do, what will we do!

From the 'good news on Iraq front,' the Marine Corps Commandant suggests we have 'turned the corner' in Anbar, and Fouad Ajami reports cautious optimism in Iraq. The latter is a long and interesting piece about the US mistakes in Iraq, and the decisive moment at which Iraq finds itself.

A staff member at Katie Couric's CBS Evening News has plagiarized from the Wall Street Journal. Shouldn't there be a rule of thumb about plagiarizing from someone who buys ink by the barrel?

Drezner is haunted by the trailer for 'Away From Her.' I don't know him, but I gingerly suggest that you may need to be of a certain age to feel that way.

Mike Goldfarb looks at Romney's promise of 4% of GDP for national defense. It represents more than currently budgeted, but might not be enough. I've advised that McCain stake ground as the Republican proponent of the most muscular military.

The liberals at the View defend Imus. Truly stunning. Only one voice of reason in the lot. Is it so hard to understand that our right to freedom of speech is a guarantee against government sanction? The notion that 'freedom of speech' means the right to say whatever you want without criticism is obviously an inherent contradiction. If you may say whatever you want and I have to shut up about it, then my freedom of speech is violated. And a certain moron in this clip takes it further - claiming the right to be paid to utter unpopular views.

Don't worry about Bin Laden. DiCaprio is taking him down.

Labor unions have been threatening to disrupt the Democratic convention in Denver next year. There's even been talk of moving it to New York. But now Howard Dean is headed to Colorado to smooth ruffled feathers.

I wrote a while ago about the vulnerable Tasmanian Devil. Now comes word that the Australians have a plan to save them from the bizarre disease threatening them with extinction.

DNC Hones Secular Outreach

Howard Dean chose Easter Sunday as the day to extend an olive branch to the non-religious community. Better still, he disguised it as a message to Christians. How did he pull off this neat trick? By offering Easter wishes without mentioning Christ, the resurrection, or anything else you might find in the Bible:

Then, a week later, the DNC celebrated Easter with another statement from Dean, including his definition of the holiday. "Easter Sunday is a joyful celebration. The holiday represents peace, redemption and renewal, a theme which brings hope to people of all faiths."

Dean's Easter statement seems to bend over backwards not to mention Jesus and demonstrates either a misunderstanding of the evangelical community or a fear of alienating other voting blocs with religious talk.

"This press release, absent any reference to Jesus, without whom the Easter resurrection story is meaningless, is apparently a sad reflection of a 'lowest common denominator' religious outreach of the Democratic party," said Richard Cizik, Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, "Wake up and smell the Easter lillies! This kind of outreach will not pass the smell test of any evangelical."

Frankly, Webster's New World Dictionary, which is not regarded as a particularly spiritual or political source, has a better definition of Easter: "an annual Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus."

The DNC statement is striking, particularly since Democratic outreach to evangelicals is on-going (including Dean's speech at Eastern University just last week) and the importance Democratic strategists have put on using the right language to appeal to evangelicals. Democrats like to point to recent conservative evangelical leaders' attacks on Cizik as evidence that they are making progress, but based on Cizik's comments, evangelicals aren't moving en mass toward the Democratic Party anytime soon.

Dean and the DNC simply missed the target this Easter. The press release was astonishing because it's sole purpose was to acknowledge a religious holiday, yet it was painfully-worded to avoid being religious. If this press release was part of the Democratic Party's outreach to evangelicals, they probably would have been better off just skipping it altogether.

Can you picture the conversation over at the DNC?

"Hey wait - should we tell Dean he forgot to mention Jesus?"

"Better not - you know how strongly he feels about faith, religion, and bike paths."

Update: Philo notes in the comments that Howard Dean seems to have no problem understanding Passover; there's only one religion that ties him in knots.

Thanks Nancy, But What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Hard to believe that right after Nancy Pelosi begs, borrows, and steals to cobble together a majority of the House in favor of a date-certain for withdrawal from Iraq, liberals want to know when they'll get their turn:

The Progressive Caucus, with its 72 members, now represents the largest faction of House Democrats. But its concerns sometimes get short shrift as leaders look to curry favor with the Blue Dogs, a group of 43 conservative House Democrats.

In one instance last month, liberals mounted a vigorous campaign to modify the $124 billion wartime spending bill to require the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by Christmas. But Democratic leaders opted for a more moderate plan, coupling a longer withdrawal timeline with a series of waivers to allow the president to circumvent some new requirements. The approach frustrated many liberals, who blocked the bill's passage for a day before grudgingly agreeing that passing any withdrawal timeline was better than handing the Republicans a victory...

House liberals do not have as tight a hold on their party as Republican conservatives once did. They represent a plurality of the majority, and some are resentful when they lose out to the less numerous Blue Dogs.

"We're saying balance. What helped us get here was not a cautionary tone but a bold tone," Grijalva said, adding that the House's expected consideration of comprehensive immigration reform would be a "litmus test" for how strongly Democratic leaders would press legislation favored by liberals.

Yet others reject the notion that liberals haven't been rewarded. They cite the recently passed Employee Free Choice Act, a favorite of pro-labor Democrats, or the Democrats' early move to raise the minimum wage.

It's appropriate to count the minimum wage and pro-labor legislation among liberal victories. The House Democratic leadership created a majority that was not there for a date certain for withdrawal from Iraq. There's also been a laser-like focus on investigations and subpoenas. What more can liberals expect? Impeachment of the President and Vice President?

Particularly with regard to Iraq, it's clear that the measure the House has passed is destined for a veto - if it even passes the Senate. Apart from making Blue Dogs in swing districts take even tougher votes, what difference would it make if Ms. Pelosi had added another $40 billion in pork-barrel projects to buy enough votes to pass a more extreme measure?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pelosi Headed to Iran Next?

At least this will help reduce the criticism for her trip to Syria:

BRIT HUME: Nancy Pelosi, the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Syria in four years, and insisted again today that she did not say to president outside -- president bush are all out -- bashar al-assad [unintelligible] she and Tom Lantos again defended the mission. Jim angle reports.

JIM ANGLE: House speaker Nancy's and Tom Lantos, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, apparently stung by their visit to the Middle East, the the need to defend their trip again.

REP. NANCY PELOSI [FILE]: When we went to Syria, there was no division, no difference in the message that the president has been sending forth and the message that we delivered.

REP. TOM LANTOS [FILE]: I was appalled at the attempt by the administration to minimize and mischaracterize the nature of the mission.

ANGLE: Pelosi's high-profile visit to Syria, where many middle eastern terrorist groups have their headquarters and a smiley appearance with the president drew sharp criticism. Today, Pelosi insisted there was no difference between what she conveyed to the Syrians and the administration policy.

REP. PELOSI [FILE]: Our message to the president was a very direct one, very consistent with the united states president's message. We were very unified. We left our differences at home. We spoke about where we were unified as a country.

ANGLE: That argument was undercut last week when it Lantos told reporters -- and another member of the delegation, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, said this marked an alternative democratic strategy for foreign policy in the middle east. This was adjusting some change -- olmert immediately disputed saying there was no such change.

REP. PELOSI [FILE]: At that time, we also spoke to prime minister olmert, who has just to carry a message to Syria that israel would be ready to resume negotiations if and when serious stopped -- Syria stopped its support for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

ANGLE: That is something that the U.S. has unsuccessfully pressed Syria to do for years. Lantos told Reuters that he has every intention of going back and he complained that he has been trying to get a visa to visit Iran, but that the Iranians have refused. If he were to get one, he would go tomorrow morning and the Speaker would go with him. A trip that would be much more controversial than the last one.

HUME: Jim, I think you are right. Is the army stretched too thin or adapting to a new kind of war? We will look at that we come back.

The mind boggles. Given the bipartisan scorching she received for botching the message to Assad, you have to wonder if she'd say anything at all to Ahmadinejad.

Let's hope that visa doesn't come through. And if you're Ahmadinejad, do you think that entrusting your message to Nancy Pelosi will make you look good right now?

Iraqi Spokesman: No Civil War, Just a War Against Civilians

Read it over at the Weekly Standard.

Starting Earlier and Earlier

So apparently these 6 and 7 year old are encouraged to form an 'Impeach Bush' club.

I can't believe how irresponsible this is. As a conservative, the most dangerous thing I allow my kids to do at this age is carry a gun.

Some Ideas for John McCain

As John McCain prepares to re-launch his campaign, I thought I'd offer some suggestions. First off, it's smart for him to focus on winning the war in Iraq. As the Post points out, polls show that 70 percent of Republicans support winning the war in Iraq. To promise that you will fight for victory in Iraq is sound politics. Some other ideas for campaign themes:

  • Promise to expand the size of the US military
  • It's clear that the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other strategic and regional commitments, are taxing the US military. As Iran, North Korea, and even Venezuela have engaged in saber rattling and inflammatory rhetoric, many believe that the US is unable to respond militarily given our existing commitments. An expansion of the armed forces would increase flexibility and enhance the credibility of threats of action. It would also bolster the argument that we're serious about winning in Iraq and winning the War on Terror.
  • Don't propose the largest tax cut
  • Rudy Giuliani is staking a claim to the mantle of biggest supply-sider and biggest tax-cutter. Mitt Romney seems to want to compete with him. Don't try to outbid. First, you lack credibility. Second, your line is that it's more important to win the war. Commit to extending and making permanent some of the Bush tax cuts, and say that you would like to do that for all. But say that winning the war comes first. Also, stress your bona fides on fighting pork; you have more credibility on that than anyone else in the race.
  • Seize on a domestic reform issue - such as schools or health care
  • It's important to show that you're a reformer. Make it a priority to fix either our broken health care system or our broken educational system. Embrace free market principles such as choice and accountability.
  • Promise to fix entitlement programs
  • Medicare and Social Security are headed toward bankruptcy, and Washington has been unable to address it so far. Promise to work with Congress on the appointment of a Blue Ribbon panel to recommend a plan for fixing the program - which would be guaranteed a vote in Congress before the 2010 midterm election. Do not commit yourself to a reform plan, but say that you'll wait to hear from the panel, and insist that whatever they recommend receive a vote.
  • Promise to serve only one term
  • It seems that nearly every Presidential election, there is some candidate who kicks around the idea of promising to serve only one term - to address concerns about age, or demonstrate a willingness to tackle controversial issues with politically-difficult solutions. This works for you for both reasons. So tell voters that you are on a mission - to win the war in Iraq, lay the groundwork for victory in the War on Terror (which will last for many years) and address critical challenges. And serving only one term will free you from concerns about re-election that might impair your ability to act decisively.
  • Pick a Vice President early (Fred Thompson?)
    Because you will only serve one term, your VP will have a leg up in the 2012 race. So name him or her early. I pick Fred Thompson because he is reported to be a good friend of yours, might be willing to forego the race in 2008 in exchange for an advantage in the 2012 race, and because he is clearly very popular. There are a limited number of choices for you, since you really can't pick another sitting Senator. I might look at Mark Sanford (a rising star from an important primary state), Condi Rice, Haley Barbour, Tommy Thompson, or even Jeb Bush

Don Imus on the Couch

Since there is nothing the media find more interesting than themselves, we have lately been treated to the world-leader-assassinated level of coverage of the verbal misadventures of noted boor Don Imus. While the potential disruption of the media lockerroom which is Imus’ radio program is of marginal interest to those interested in public policy the real drama playing out is the intersection of media business practice, Bonfire of the Vanities political theatre and the sexual power struggle which has come to drive most of our modern cultural activities.

At the superficial level the drama is that a crochety old man has used a Bad Word and rudely drawn negative attention to a widespread African phenotype, negative attention to which phenotype many people of recent African descent have developed strong sensitivity. Immediately, we should understand that something other than the superficial story is being worked out, because the words in question have all been operating at the margins of acceptable discourse for some time, now, and the crochety old man in question has operated in that region of marginally acceptable discourse throughout his career. The sudden scruples evinced now suggest that it is not mere rudeness to which the crochety old man’s detractors object, but rather that this particular crochety old man chose to be rude in this particular way.

To begin with the first Bad Word in question, our attention is initially drawn to its sexually charged origin. It times passed, the word was regarded as objectionable in polite usage because it imputed a woman with an antisocial detachment of sexual activity from conventional social restraint. Such a blot on the personal honour of a woman in more patriarchal times necessarily reflected not only on the woman in question, but on her entire family, possibly resulting in violent attempts by members of the family to force retraction of the insult. In our modern brave new world of sexual liberation, the word is more typically regarded as objectionable, not because we fear the consequences of a rash or improper judgment of the woman so labeled, but rather because the traditionalist assumptions originally imbedded in the word are regarded as retrograde and contrary to current notions of human freedom to live by one's own standards of conduct. Activists who crusade against the word’s common usage in vulgar musical usage typically do so not because they object to the implied labeling of some particular women as antisocially sexual, but rather, generally, because they object to the notion that society has any grounds on which to render judgments about the sexual activity of anyone. Imus’ sin in using this sexual term seems initially not to be that anyone fears any danger of popular perception that the women of the Rutgers basketball team engage in activity traditonally regarded as immoral, but rather that by using the term he sustains the notion that sexual behaviour, of women at least, is subject to social objection or stigma.

Now, of course, we know from Imus long broadcast history that he does not subscribe to many principles of traditional views of sexual morality; rather we see that his usage of the term was coloured by the fetishisation over the last century, by the major arbiters of our culture, of the pathologically antisocial aspects of fringe elements of the American underclass--especially of the African-American underclass--which has over the past half century seen the near total collapse of outward observance of traditional notions of sexual morality. One aspect of that fetishisation has been the embrace by much of the youth of all classes of a caricatured posture of sexual anarchism grounded in the glamourised transactional sexuality of prostitutes and their pimps. While one presumes that Mr. Imus has little direct experience with the desperate nature of the existence of underclass prostitutes, the fantasy of familiarity with the pathologies of the underclass were a necessary precondition for Mr. Imus’ usage of the term in its modern-day minstrel-show context of sexual bravado and anarchism.

While the sexual libertinism, bravado or anarchism of the term used by Mr. Imus could not reasonably be judged to have been meant seriously, because Mr. Imus has never demonstrated either any knowledge of the character of the women of the Rutgers basketball team or any commitment to any sexual ethic beyond simple hedonism, the term used did ignite controversy because Mr. Imus did in fact use the term in a judgmental way, albeit a judgment which had nothing to do with any commitment to traditional notions of sexual morality. It should be pointed out that Mr. Imus did not choose the term in question, rather it was suggested to him by his producer, also in the studio--whose usage of the term we have seen to date almost no objection, confirming our notion that simple usage of the term was not by itself taboo—in the context of Mr. Imus’ attempt to express condemnation of the overall lack of physical attractiveness he found in the Rutgers’ basketball team. Rather, it was the usage of the term in the context of the second offence, drawing attention to some of the players’ hair texture which seems to have ignited the storm.

The politics of hair texture within the African-American community are inflammatory indeed, because they combine at a stroke issues of personhood, sexual desirability, class and cultural cohesion. While research on the role inborn notions and cultural conditioning play on perceptions of beauty is still ongoing, the cultural premium placed on women having long, sleek hair in American society is a clear fact. The challenge this presents to women of more recent sub-Saharan African descent has been a continuous topic of debate and discussion for African-Americans. This debate has oftentimes assumed a political cast, since the questions and problems of intermarriage and assimilation are central to questions of the enduring nature of African-American identity. The political, Afrocentric aspect of this question may have been the aspect to which Mr. Imus was attemping to allude in characterizing some of the players as indifferent to mainstream standards, in contrast to the players from the University of Tennessee, which would explain his willingness to inject himself into the grooming decisions of the players. What was meant as a left-handed compliment, praising their stoic indifference to mainstream standards while keeping Mr. Imus himself safely in the mainstream instead linked with his prior sexual allusions to become a social and cultural condescension.

That this judgement was rendered in the context of a womens’ athletic competion only exacerbated the situation. The very existence of women’s athletics trades on the unreconciled double standard which endures because of the fundamentally transactional nature of post-traditional sexuality. On the one hand, women are to be allowed to participate in athletics which were traditionally foreclosed to them as contrary to traditional standards of modesty, but on the other hand, womens’ activists demand that women be shielded from direct athletic competition with men, since the biological facts of sexual dimorphism would militate to condemn even the most athletically gifted women to junior-varsity level participation on purely meritocratic grounds. In the context of equality between the sexes, we could offer no argument for privileging female participation at the highest levels by the creation of entirely separate leagues of competition (separate but equal, anyone?) except in those sports such as figure skating or gymnastics in which the aesthetic properties of the athlete are explicitly part of the competition. The fact that we have instead constructed parallel athletic structures indicates that values other than equality and athletic excellence are being pursued. The mentality enshrined into law by Title IX is an artifact of the fundamentally adversarial nature of the post-traditional sexual settlement, in which men are presumed to be motivated in their interactions with women primarily by the motive to economically subjugate women as a precursor to extracting traditional patriarchal sexual arrangements. Since men and women are fundamentally in conflict in this view, carefully legislated and judged legal compulsions must be erected to shield women from exploitation by the economically incumbent males. Mr. Imus’ sexually-charged criticisms of the Rutgers women therefore also constituted a subversion of the fiction that female athletics exist as purely athletic competitions without the subtext of sexual politics which has resulted in such vanities as the WNBA and Brandi Chastain marketing undergarments as a form of women's empowerment.

While Mr. Imus himself could not be credibly construed as a defender of traditional sexual morality, he is clearly a powerful media personality whose judgments of attractiveness do carry some perception-shaping weight in the culture at large. The sexual pejorative Imus used has, in his circles, been completely evacuated of serious moral import, but it retains the sting of a denied truth. As such, it does have some currency as an insult generally deployed against women of lower status, whose imputed sexual morality is indistinguishable in practice from the women of higher status, but whose lower status makes the behaviour in question shameful by its association in lower class women with their lower status. In attempting to use the term in its transgressive/hip mode, Imus stumbled into making a fatally revealing linkage betraying not only his own personal sexual associations (which are ostensibly beyond judgment in our sexually liberated times), but also a more general sexual ethic which is profoundly threatening to many lower status women. Mr. Imus presumably has no strong feelings about the manner in which African-American women groom their hair, but his readiness to associate a natural style in African-American women as essentially lower class reveals a mindset which presumes sexual attractiveness to upper-class non-African males is a precondition to upper class status for women. Mr. Imus presumably has no special animus against female athletes, but his conflation of their style of play with their sexual desirability, racial heritage and social prospects expose him to attack from his quondam allies against traditional sexual morality in the women’s’ movement. Combined, these three factors make a poisonous brew which Mr. Imus now must swallow in the modern agora of round-the-clock talk television with the helpful ministration of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Elizabeth Edwards Loses Sympathy

The contempt shown by Elizabeth Edwards for an ordinary North Carolina voter - who happens to be her neighbor - is stunning. Does she not realize that her husband is a politician trying to win votes? She comes across as more offensive and patronizing than Hillary did when she declaimed any interest in 'staying home and baking cookies.'

At least Mr. Edwards can now focus on trying to win states other than North Carolina.

Weapons of the Future

The Daily Mail describes this as Robocop armor, but I think with a little bit of effort, it could be a stormtrooper homage:

Included in the Pentagon's Future Warrior Concept are a powerful exoskeleton, a self-camouflaging outer layer that adapts to changing environments and a helmet which translates a soldier's voice into any foreign language.

Armour-clad and armed to the teeth, this is the soldier of the (near) future

The future soldier will also benefit from 'intelligent' armour, which remains light and flexible until it senses an approaching bullet, then tenses to become bulletproof.

Perhaps worryingly, several of the planned enhancements seem to owe more than a little to Hollywood blockbusters such as Robocop, Aliens and Predator.

But officials are quick to point out that many of these systems are already working in prototype form, or are refinements of proven technologies.

How do you say 'dead or alive, you're coming with me' in Arabic?


A must-read: Time Magazine misleads on the training received by those in combat. Seems they confuse 9 weeks with in excess of 13 months.

The average federal tax burden is $17K per household. In the city of Stamford, Connecticut the average per household is in excess of $82K!

Glenn notes the low approval ratings for Congress. But in the last 17 years, approval ratings under 50% are absolutely the norm, and under 40% aren't especially unusual.

Global warming is responsible for a lot. It makes it hot, it makes it cold; it makes it rain, it makes it dry. It also causes increases in crime. Can you believe some people don't take it seriously?

Keith Olbermann thinks it's normal and acceptable for him not to criticize Imus heavily, since they work on the same network. However, he thinks that Bill O'Reilly is a hypocrite for applying a double standard to his own network.

Senators running for President miss votes.

Ron Klein gets his first Republican opponent. I am perhaps giving undue attention to the (very) early signs of challenges to freshman Democrats. However, if the GOP is to win back control of the House, they must convince potential candidates and donors that the preconditions are there to do so. And what are those preconditions? A credible Presidential candidate, reasonable levels of funding, and good candidates for winnable seats. I'm encouraged by early indicators.

The coalition has regained the initiative in Iraq.

When Rudy met Hillary. First time I've seen it.

Ross Douthat suggests that the Sopranos is about how ordinary people choose damnation over salvation. (Hat Tip: Last)

How did the Greek theater at Epidaurus produce such splendid acoustics, despite having been built in the 4th century BC? Science has the answer!

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers and thanks Glenn, for the traffic. While here, check out my suggestions for John McCain, or just look around!

House Candidates Lining Up

As I continue to look at some Freshman House Democrats whose re-election races will help determine whether Nancy Pelosi is still holding the Speaker's gavel in 2009, Roll Call offers several interesting pieces (all subscription). The first concerns Chris Carney of Pennsylvania, who defeated alleged mistress-beater Don Sherwood in a conservative district:

With no shortage of Republicans clamoring to challenge freshman Rep. Christopher Carney (D-Pa.), U.S. Attorney Tom Marino is the consensus choice of GOP power brokers, and whether he runs could prove an early test of their ability to recruit preferred candidates into targeted races.

Carney defeated former Rep. Don Sherwood (R) in the conservative 10th district of Northeastern Pennsylvania largely as a result of the incumbent’s personal foibles, leading Republicans to believe Carney is vulnerable against a scandal-free opponent. The strong Republican bent of the seat has elicited the interest of several legitimate GOP contenders — but Marino is the one Republicans want...

Marino, a baker by trade who did not enter college until he was 30, has visited Washington, D.C., twice in the past three weeks for meetings with Republican leaders about a potential Congressional bid, meeting with nearly 60 people, according to his own tally. Sources say Marino met with White House aides and is being courted heavily by National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.), among others.

And signaling that Marino could garner the support of both conservatives and moderates, he is well-liked by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), both of whom recommended him for his U.S. attorney position while he was still serving as the district attorney of Lycoming County.

The second concerns optimism in... Connecticut?

Healey sounds pretty optimistic for a man who saw his party lose two House seats and every statewide office below lieutenant governor. But he points to the municipal level when explaining why the GOP is not dead in Connecticut.

“We have about a dozen elected officials who are in great position to move into other offices in the future,” Healey said. “We have [Republican] mayors in good-sized cities where there hadn’t been in a long time.”

Mark Boughton, mayor of Danbury, is exhibit A for Healey. The city in the southwestern corner of the 5th district has a population of just under 80,000.

The 5th was represented by former Rep. Nancy Johnson (R) from 1983 until this January. She was defeated by now-Rep. Christopher Murphy (D) in November’s Democratic wave.

Boughton, who first won election in 2001, is up for re-election this year. Healey says he could see the former state Representative running for statewide or federal office some day.

New Britain, population 76,000, is another GOP bright spot, Healey said. Democrats outnumber Republicans 8-1, according to Healey, but Tim Stewart (R) was elected mayor in 2005. Also in 2005, Sebastian Giuliano (R) ousted eight-year incumbent Domenique Thornton (D) in reliably Democratic Middletown by just 807 votes.

Finally, Healey sees big things for Torrington’s young mayor, Ryan Bingham.

First elected in 2005 at the age of 22, Bingham has energized Republicans in the city of 35,000. Torrington straddles the 5th and 1st districts, while Middletown is in Rep. John Larson’s (D) 1st district...

In the 2nd, two impressive GOPers want a shot at freshman Rep. Joe Courtney (D), who unseated Simmons by less than 100 votes.

Sean Sullivan of Norwich is putting together a campaign. A graduate of the Naval Academy, Sullivan was base commander of the Groton Naval Base, among other assignments, before retiring from the Navy in 2006.

Dan Craig, who served at the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 2001 to 2005, also is mulling a bid. Currently a lawyer in private practice with a Washington, D.C.-based firm, he lives in Deep River, in Middlesex County.

Republicans would love to win back the 2nd, but Simmons has ruled out a rematch — at least for this cycle.

Connecticut is likely to prove a pretty tough nut to crack in a Presidential race, unless the GOP nominates an unusual candidate - either someone from neighboring New York or Massachusetts, or someone cut from a different cloth - like John McCain.


More seriously, these will be tough seats - but there could be an opening.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Freshman Democrats Push for Ethics Reform

Roll Call ($) reports on a long-overdue proposal to reform the House ethics process: taking it out of the hands of sitting Members of Congress. The proposal may not be ideal, in that it hands it over to former Members of Congress rather than an outside body, but this may be the best that the House can come up with:

Seeking to fulfill their campaign promises, Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and several of his party’s most vulnerable freshmen quietly introduced a bill before the Easter recess to eliminate the ethics committee and replace it with an independent outside commission made up of former Members who are not lobbyists.

“During the campaign last year I talked a great deal about ethical reform in Congress because it was an issue in the campaign,” Hill said in an interview last week. “I heard a great deal from my constituents about corruption in Congress. It was my idea to come up with a better referee for ethics in Congress because sitting Members are reluctant to investigate their own.”

Ten lawmakers joined Hill as original co-sponsors, eight of whom also are members of the freshman class. They include Democratic Reps. Bruce Braley (Iowa), Kathy Castor (Fla.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Tim Mahoney (Fla.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Patrick Murphy (Pa.) and Tim Walz (Minn.).

Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.), a prominent Blue Dog, and Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) also sponsored the bill...

Hill’s legislation would establish a 12-member House Ethics Commission — evenly split between Republicans and Democrats — made up solely of former Members who are not lobbyists. It allows for the Democratic leader to select the GOP members, and the Republican leader to select the Democrats, none of whom would be able to serve more than three two-year terms.

The commission would be authorized with largely the same responsibilities and prerogatives the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct currently holds, except the investigations no longer would be conducted by sitting Members...

Holman countered that the pool of former Members eligible to serve on such a panel is likely to be too small, and said former Members are not the ideal because many still hold close ties to their former colleagues.

Holman noted other figures that could sit on a commission include former judges and career professionals without partisan ties, citing models used by certain states and other proposals that have been floated. “The model being proposed [by Hill] is awkward, but I’m excited that the idea is there,” he said.

The bill would pre-empt an initiative already under way by Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.), who is heading up a bipartisan task force at the behest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to study whether Congress should establish an outside commission to vet potential ethics complaints. Originally tasked with a May 1 deadline to report back to leadership, Capuano and other members of the task force have indicated that deadline may slip into the middle of May.

Even if the House Ethics Committee dealt with allegations of impropriety in a completely impartial and just manner, it would not have the trust of the voters. That's understandable. This represents a significant improvement. Mr. Holman is quite right in noting that most former Representatives will be too close to sitting Members to be above reproach, but it's a step.

Credit goes to the House Democratic Freshmen for introducing this measure. Hopefully they will have the guts to push it forcefully. And I also hope that House Republicans take up the cause as well.


I believe that I've mentioned previously that the MultiNational Force in Iraq has created its own YouTube channel, where they post videos of their efforts. It's worth bookmarking. This is the latest video up there, showing troops clearing out a chemical weapons facility:

What I Did on My Easter Break

Read it over at the Standard.

Dem Iraq Moves: From Layup to Tossup?

Lots of good stuff to read over at Kausfiles today, but this item caught my eye:

From a Layup to a Tossup--The Dems Switch Debates: Here's something I only realized under prodding from Bob Wright on Bloggingheads: There are two obvious possible debates to have about Iraq:

Debate A: Was launching the war a good idea in 2003?

Debate B: Should we "surge" or withdraw in 2007?

Haven't the Democrats, by prosecuting their funding fight with Bush over setting a withdrawal deadline, succeeded in changing the Iraq debate from A to B? From a debate over the war to a debate over the surge? From a debate about the last four years to a debate about the last four months?

And if so, isn't that a really dumb thing for them to do? Debate A looks like a sure winner for Democrats--it's hard to see anything happening between now and 2008 that would convince a majority of voters that starting the war in the first place was a good idea. Debate B, on the other hand, looks much iffier, as the surge shows at least some signs of at least temporary success. Even if the Democrats are right on Debate B they might lose Debate B. The more the surge succeeds, the more Debate B becomes a tossup. But even with a muddled "surge" scorecard, Debate B might skew against the Democrats if the aftermath of a pullout continues to look bloody and chaotic.**

Only a strategic mastermind like N. Pelosi would shift from an argument her party is bound to win to an argument it might lose.*** It would be especially ironic if Democrats lose Debate B because voters are convinced withdrawing would produce a sectarian bloodbath--since that would ordinarily be a powerful additional argument for a Dem victory in Debate A (i.e., the decision to launch the war has been such a disaster that we can't even withdraw in good conscience--we're trapped)..

Read the whole thing. Mickey asks excellent questions.

In Ms. Pelosi's defense though, I don't see that this is an area where she really had much of a choice. After the 2006 midterms, the Democrats decided that their best course of action on Iraq was to let the President own it - lock, stock and barrel. The most they would do was to express disapproval.

Why the change? It's not because the political calculus suddenly changed; it's because the anti-war Left owns the party. And their primary interest isn't in political viability - it's in ending the war as soon as possible. Is this politically smart? Of course not. If the war is well on its way to being lost, then the shrewd thing to do would be to stand aside and let it destroy the Republican party. But MoveOn and the rest of the Left insisted on a strong stance by Democrats to end the war. Was that a reaction to the President's move to the surge? Maybe, but that probably doesn't matter. Pelosi had to either change course or lose a lot of support.

And it's not as if Nancy Pelosi is the only one. Harry Reid has executed the same 180 - to the point where he too, now supports cutting off funds on a date certain. And notwithstanding Senate procedures, there's actually a chance that Harry Reid's evolving view could cost him his majority - if Joe Lieberman disagrees strongly enough. Is Harry Reid more politically clumsy than Nancy Pelosi?

Further, when the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill teetered on the edge of passing the House, what pushed it over the edge? (OK, pork - but that's not all). It was the endorsement of, which suddenly led members of the Progressive Caucus to switch from opposition to support. And MoveOn endorsed the bill only because they became convinced that this was the best option available for ending the war.

So while I'm quick to criticize Nancy Pelosi when it's deserved, this isn't entirely a case of her tossing away political advantage. On issues of war and peace, the Democratic party is a subsidiary of the anti-war Left. In the long run, I think that's terrible for them - politically. But it's hard for the junkie to reject the needle.

Update: I see from watching the Mickey/Bob bloggingheads segment that Mickey touches upon this possibility.

NYT Good News Watch

Read it over at the Weekly Standard.


Fred Thompson joins the blogosphere. I may be going out on a limb, but I sure wouldn't run for President right after starting a new job.

Plus, how long can Thompson wait to get in?

Sadr redirects his troops to target the Americans.

By giving Al Qaeda what it wanted and pulling out of Iraq, Spain saved itself from future attacks by AQ, right? Perhaps not. According to 'the Croissant,' the 'Organization for the Liberation of Andalusia' may be preparing to attack Spanish interests in the Maghreb, in coordination with AQ. (Hat Tip: Counterterrorism Blog).

I'm not sure I believe this poll. Michael Barone says that a 52-40 majority of Europeans would support bombing Iran if it obtained nuclear weapons. This prompts questions, of course. What percentage would support attacking Iran to prevent them from obtaining nuclear weapons? And what percentage would support the use of ground troops, if needed? After all, a bombing from a relatively safe distance after the horse is out of the barn won't do anyone much good.

Rob Bluey looks at why Democrats enjoy such a significant advantage in online fundraising.

David Petraeus' letter to the Iraqi people.

A dose of cold water on global warming. It points up one of the primary reasons I am skeptical: global warming is always presented as having a long list of solely disastrous effects - as if no one, anywhere will have his or her life improved. That simply cannot be the case. I do not advocate climate change, but if you want me to trust your warnings, give me a balanced assessment.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

This is all I'll post today.