Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gilmore Shifts Focus from White House to Capitol Hill

Jim Gilmore has apparently decided that his chances of getting the GOP nomination aren't as good as Tom Tancredo's or Tommy Thompson's, since he's gotten out while the other two are among those still in the race:

Former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III is dropping his underdog bid for the Republican presidential nomination today, he told The Politico in an interview.

Gilmore said he has been approached about running for Virginia governor a second time, and about running for U.S. Senate if Sen. John W. Warner (R) retires. Gilmore said he will consider both options. Reflecting his long-held interest in Old Dominion politics, he said he will start a political action committee to support Republicans running for the state senate and House of Delegate.
To me, it's the timing that's most interesting. What was to prevent him from staying in the race a few more months to see whether something changed? After all, with McCain on life support and Newt not yet in, he might have thought it worth his trouble to stay in the race, in case Fred Thompson faltered and a 'real conservative' was wanted. That's slim odds, but what else was there to do with his time?

My guess is that he wants to be in the 2008 Virginia Senate race early. With the moves by Congressman Tom Davis to prepare his bid and people talking about conservatives such as Eric Cantor or Bob Goodlatte, he might have decided to make sure that he's one of the first out of the gate. And he couldn't do that while running for President.

It could be that he wants to be Governor again of course, but the next gubernatorial race is not until 2009.

Putting Words in Petraeus's Mouth

Senator Reed says it looks like David Petraeus is ready to quit. (After all, that's all the Democrats seem to mean when they say 'change course.')

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said his impression from a conversation with General David Petraeus was that the leader of U.S. troops in Iraq “seemed very eager to come forward as quickly as possible with a new direction and policy.”

Reed, the co-sponsor of legislation that would require President Bush to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April of next year, recently made his tenth trip to Iraq and spoke with Petraeus, who is slated to report to Congress in September on the progress of the war.

The senator said, in an interview with C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” show that is expected to air Sunday, that he was surprised that Petraeus went out of his way to say that he might have something to say in August and not wait until September.
Somebody better tell the White House, because that doesn't seem to jive with what they're saying. Tony Snow for example, gave no hint of this the other day.

Congressional Democrats have complained privately that Petraeus has acted at times, like a cheerleader for the war effort. They have argued that as a military person, he should prosecute the war and leave policy decisions to the elected. Having brought his purported opinions into the debate (again), they better not complain if he comes to Washington again to set the record straight.

It's worth noting that Petraeus's tone as relayed by Reed is rather different from what he told the Christian Science Monitor on the record a few days ago:

The release of a White House report Thursday, showing the Iraqi government had only made "satisfactory" progress on eight of 18 benchmarks, may accelerate a congressional push for a midterm accounting, with some critics saying July is the new September. Gen. David Petraeus is due to report to Congress on progress in Iraq in September.

But in an interview, General Petraeus insists, "September is September from my perspective."

"What the ambassador [to Iraq, Ryan Crocker] and I will do in September is to provide a forthright, comprehensive assessment of the situation at the time and provide discussion of the potential consequences of various courses of action that might be considered," he says...

Progress, says Petraeus, is not limited to this area south of Baghdad, but throughout neighboring provinces. "The dynamic out there that is very surprising in the past several months is the increasing rejection by the Sunni population of Al Qaeda ideology," he says.

The prospect of any hasty removal of US troops has him concerned. "If we pull out there will be greatly increased sectarian violence, humanitarian concerns.... You don't know what could happen in terms of dangerous conflicts, what could happen along the Kurdish/Shiite/Sunni fault lines, or how [Iraq's] neighbors will react."

Is Petraeus playing both sides against the middle -- telling a powerful member of the Armed Services Committee what he thinks he wants to hear, while he tells the White House another? If so, he was sloppy -- since Reed revealed it. Further, Petraeus will look silly issuing a finding in August (either official or de facto) after he and the White House have made clear so many times that the next assessment will be in September.

Or was Senator Reed projecting -- or reading more into what Petraeus said? Given the dramatic contradiction between Reed's rendition and Petraeus in the Christian Science Monitor, I have to think that's more likely.

Update: If Reed is right -- and I'm dubious -- then the President is in for a very rude awakening:

Almost every time President Bush has defended his new strategy in Iraq this year, he has invoked the name of the top commander, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus.

Speaking in Cleveland on Tuesday, Bush called Petraeus his "main man" -- a "smart, capable man who gives me his candid advice." And on Thursday, as the president sought to stave off a revolt among congressional Republicans, he said he wanted "to wait to see what David has to say. I trust David Petraeus, his judgment."

I'm sure the President believes he has a good sense of the general's thinking. But maybe Petraeus is playing his own game:

Some of Petraeus's military comrades worry that the general is being set up by the Bush administration as a scapegoat if conditions in Iraq fail to improve. "The danger is that Petraeus will now be painted as failing to live up to expectations and become the fall guy for the administration," one retired four-star officer said.


Osama's Interesting Choice

It's curious that Osama would choose to release a video that looks to everyone to have been filmed a few years ago. I'd think that he'd really want to avoid something that made everyone wonder whether he's still alive:

Octavia Nasr, CNN's senior editor for Arab affairs, said the videotape does not appear to be new.

The environment shown is similar to that on releases made before the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, in which bin Laden is seen in the company of some of the hijackers, Nasr said.

Some of the backdrops also resemble those shown in videos when the U.S. attacks against the Taliban in Afghanistan began not long after the 9/11 attacks, she added.

The last time a recording of bin Laden was made public it was an audiotape, with an Arabic transcript, released on June 30, 2006.
We'll know more over time. But assuming Osama is alive, he would realize the speculation this would prompt.

There are other factors besides death that could explain this: he's too well-hidden to risk making a new tape, or he wants his next appearance to appear even more spectacular, for example.

But this is curious.

Update: Allah confirms that this tape is indeed, pretty old. It seems pretty certain to be from 2002 -- if not earlier.

The State of Affairs in Iraq

Some really good stuff at QandO. Be sure to read McQ here, here and here. And to be disgusted at Ted Rall, go here:

Our friends on the Left are proud to say they support our troops.


It would take a pure sociopath to support someone like the soldier described by Rall.

Answering Jake Tapper's Question

A few days ago, Jake Tapper of ABC posed a question that Harry Reid could not or would not answer:

OK -- let's be kind. Harry Reid 'answered the question' the way politicians traditionally do -- by restating a related point that he'd prefer us to focus on.

Folks on the Left are angry that conservatives can't accept Reid's response, and they see that Tapper question as over the line of journalism, and into 'advocacy' territory. ThinkProgress points us to a more complete answer to the question of what happens in Iraq after we leave. They say that:

[Getting U.S. troops out of Iraq’s multiple conflicts and positioning troops in neighboring countries puts the United States in a better position to]

prevent Iraq’s multiple sectarian conflicts from spreading beyond its borders and gives Iraq and its neighbors the right incentive to help resolve Iraq’s internal conflicts.
I took a longer excerpt than ThinkProgress, because I think the bracketed text is useful. Among other things, it helps us realize that this plan includes redeploying troops within the region. That probably includes Saudi Arabia, which would allow Osama bin Laden again to use the presence of US troops there as a reason for jihad.

More broadly, the Reid view seems to be:
U.S. Policies Must Accept the Reality of Iraq’s Fragmentation

Iraq’s leaders are fundamentally at odds over what Iraq is, how power should be distributed, and who should control the nation’s oil wealth. To advance its own national security interests, the United States needs to come to grips with this new reality of Iraq’s fragmentation and respond by diversifying our military, diplomatic, and development presence in and around Iraq. We need to build on the efforts of the Bush administration to put more emphasis on provincial and local leadership rather than on working primarily with the national government.

The United States should mitigate the increasingly violent fragmentation in Iraq by ceasing the unconditional arming and training of Iraq’s national security forces until a political consensus and sustainable political solution is reached... Training and equipping Iraqi security forces risks making Iraq’s civil war even bloodier and more vicious than it already is today. It also increases the dangers that these weapons will one day be turned against the United States and its allies in the region.

Furthermore, the United States should discard its plan to build the world’s largest embassy in Baghdad and instead make plans to reassign diplomatic and intelligence personnel throughout Iraq and neighboring countries with adequate protection. We should encourage Middle East leaders and the United Nations to continue working with Iraq’s national leaders to peacefully settle their differences over power-sharing, but the United States should not unilaterally continue to try to force an immediate resolution of Iraq’s political disputes.

Where security conditions permit and where it is practically possible, the United States should reassign U.S. personnel to secure consulates around Iraq in order to assist in local efforts to address Iraq’s problems more effectively. The localities of Iraq are where politics shape Iraq’s future, not in the isolation of the Green Zone. Finally, to fulfill a key moral obligation to the Iraqi people, the United States should increase the number of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons it might accept annually from the current level of 7,000 to 100,000.
I find it ironic to speak of a 'moral obligation to the Iraqi people,' when the essence of the plan seems to be 'Iraq is hopeless, so wait for the civil war and genocide to shake themselves out and then deal with whoever's left standing.'

I'd also argue that to the extent that Democrats argue for US troops to remain in Iraq to fight Al Qaeda, this scenario renders that goal pretty difficult. After all, how do we find and eliminate the anti-US/Al Qaeda terrorists among the warring factions, without getting involved in the civil war?

As has been clear for a while, Democrats want to frame the Iraq question as 'do you want US troops to continue dying?' The answer to that is self-evident for anyone. The broader question ought to be 'how do we best serve US interests in Iraq and the region.' The answer to that question for many Americans might well be 'withdraw.' But given the dangers associated with the collapse of Iraq -- one essentially acknowledged here -- we ought to at least have the debate.

Turning up the Heat on Musharraf

Mullah Dudallah promises new and more spectacular attacks against the US and the West. He promises that they will be bigger than the attacks in the UK, which led to zero injuries. So there's at least a decent shot he'll be right about that.

Taken with the other news -- the report that Musharraf has OKed US attacks within Pakistan's borders, and his promise to eliminate extremism, and with Dick Cheney's surprise visit still in recent memory -- I wonder if things might not be coming to a head in Pakistan. At least, it seems that the US and Al Qaeda are taking actions that make it harder by the day to run a middle course between the two.

The Foolishness of High Corporate Tax Rates

Carter Wood notes the great editorial yesterday in the Wall Street Journal on the counter-productive nature of high corporate tax rates:

Some good news on the tax cutting front: Last week lawmakers approved an 8.9 percentage point reduction in the corporate income tax rate. Too bad the tax cutters are Germans, not Americans.

There's a trend here. At least 25 developed nations have adopted Reaganite corporate income tax rate cuts since 2001. The U.S. is conspicuously not one of them. Vietnam has recently announced it is cutting its corporate rate to 25% from 28%. Singapore has approved a corporate tax cut to 18% from 20% to compete with low-tax Hong Kong's rate of 17.5%, and Northern Ireland is making a bid to slash its corporate tax rate to 12.5% to keep pace with the same low rate in the prosperous Republic of Ireland. Even in France, of all places, new President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed reducing the corporate tax rate to 25% from 34.4%.

'Robin Hood' politics is preventing the US from promoting economic growth by instituting the same type of reforms. Of course, it doesn't seem right now as if we need to do all that much to encourage economic growth -- so low is unemployment. Perhaps conservatives ought to save this for a presidential election year?

Friday, July 13, 2007

What Happens if we Leave Iraq

Frank Sesno of CNN tackles the question:

Iran will not suddenly make nice. Al Qaeda will not call the whole thing off...

There is enormous concern in the region. We don't talk about that very much, but I was having a conversation last night -- a fascinating one -- with a senior Arab diplomat who is very worried that the United States could precipitously cut and run -- not his words -- but leave, and that, he says, would leave a vacuum and nature abhors a vacuum and he is so worried, he says, that this conflict will spread; that Turkey and Iran and others will get involved - and it just gets worse...

End of Catch and Release Reducing Apprehensions

But the data apparently don't tell us whether it's affecting illegal border crossings overall.

Elizabeth Newell of Government Executive reports:

Between Oct. 1, 2006, and June 30, 2007, Border Patrol agents made 682,468 apprehensions along the southwestern border, compared to 894,496 in the same period the previous year [that's a 24% drop -- the Editor]. The greatest decrease occurred in the Yuma, Ariz., and Del Rio, Texas, sectors.

In a statement, CBP said this drop indicates a decline in illegal cross-border activity. CBP spokesman Michael Friel said increased surveillance on the southern border, coupled with the decrease in apprehensions, gives CBP a good picture of activity levels.

"You would think, logically, [that] additional resources would lead to an increase in apprehensions," Friel said. "But we've increased situational awareness and apprehensions have gone down. It's fair to say that is a good indication of decreased overall activity."

But T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, was skeptical.

"I think it's far more likely that there's been a shift," Bonner said. "Any time you put pressure in one area, there will be a shift. Smugglers are interested in getting their cargo across the border, whether it is human cargo or contraband. They're not going to do a frontal assault on our area of greatest strength."
Apprehensions can drop for a variety of reasons: fewer immigrants might be trying to cross, or they might be crossing via some other route -- or something else might have changed:

Both Bonner and Friel agreed that a 48 percent decrease in the level of apprehensions of non-Mexican nationals -- called "other-than-Mexicans" by CBP -- was the result of a policy change last August. Before then, other-than-Mexicans, if caught illegally crossing the border, were given notices to appear in court and released into the United States. Most did not show up for their court date.

Friel said the end of the "catch-and-release" policy for non-Mexicans has been a deterrent. "DHS has expanded expedited removal, allowing us to apprehend and remove nationals from countries other than Mexico," he said. "The end state is that when you're able to apprehend and remove someone, the story gets out."

Bonner said previous apprehension numbers for other-than-Mexicans were inflated by the fact that many turned themselves in voluntarily in order to get a permission slip to be in the country until their court date.

"Now they're the most desperate because there's a big difference between being sent 15 yards and 1,500 miles," he said. "They are the ones taking every conceivable measure to ensure they don't get apprehended."

It's not clear to me from the article how much of the overall drop can be attributed to the fall in the number of other-than-Mexican apprehensions. Also, read the full article to get the good news about how the reduction in apprehensions is leading to enhanced efforts against drug smuggling.

But if other-than-Mexican apprehensions are down, is it simply because those immigrants are no longer turning themselves in (as Bonner implies), or because they have been legitimately deterred? After all, if you're going to spend a lot of time, money, and effort to get from Guatemala to California, and you expect to be returned right away -- maybe you'll decide it's not worth the effort.

It could also be because Mexico itself is apprehending a lot more illegal immigrants coming across their southern border. That would significantly 'drain the pool' of other-than-Mexican immigrants traversing the US-Mexico border.

What does this all mean for the current immigration debate?

9/11 Bill Slowed Down by Jurisdictional Fight

This is like beating a drum. Every day there's a new story about the inability of Congress to move forward on legislative priorities -- half the time due to opposition from the GOP, but the other half due to poor management or Democratic infighting. Today it's the recommendations of the 9/11 commission:

Senior House Democrats and aides are expressing frustration with the prolonged negotiations over legislation that would implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

The legislation, passed by the House and Senate in January, likely will go to a conference committee next week to reconcile differences between the two bills, according to two Democratic lawmakers. The drawn-out pre-conference has resulted from a bevy of jurisdictional disputes between House and Senate committee chairmen.

And while we're at it, let's recall that the legislation doesn't even meet the promise of Democrats to implement all the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. It fails to reform the committee oversight system in Congress, leaving DHS and other agencies answering to many masters, rather than leaving direction and accountability in the hands of a few leaders. It is a recipe for failure.

The 9/11 Commission was emphatic on the need for reorganization:

Recommendation: Congressional oversight for intelligence-and counterterrorism-is now dysfunctional. Congress should address this problem. We have considered various alternatives: A joint committee on the old model of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy is one. A single committee in each house of Congress, combining authorizing and appropriating authorities, is another...

The leaders of the Department of Homeland Security now appear before 88 committees and subcommittees of Congress. One expert witness (not a member of the administration) told us that this is perhaps the single largest obstacle impeding the department's successful development. The one attempt to consolidate such committee authority, the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, may be eliminated. The Senate does not have even this.

Congress needs to establish for the Department of Homeland Security the kind of clear authority and responsibility that exist to enable the Justice Department to deal with crime and the Defense Department to deal with threats to national security. Through not more than one authorizing committee and one appropriating subcommittee in each house, Congress should be able to ask the secretary of homeland security whether he or she has the resources to provide reasonable security against major terrorist acts within the United States and to hold the secretary accountable for the department's performance.

Recommendation: Congress should create a single, principal point of oversight and review for homeland security. Congressional leaders are best able to judge what committee should have jurisdiction over this department and its duties. But we believe that Congress does have the obligation to choose one in the House and one in the Senate, and that this committee should be a permanent standing committee with a nonpartisan staff.

None of this is included in the bill that the Democrats falsely promise will implement all the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Guess they're keeping all the promises they meant to keep, though.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Jimmy V at the 1993 ESPYs

I notice that the ESPYs are coming up in a few days, and more people are reaching my page in search of Jimmy Valvano's speech at the 1993 show. I don't really watch the ESPYs, but that speech touched me and many others who've lost a loved one to cancer. So I'll post it and think about my mom -- who thought Valvano was fantastic:

The text is here, as well.

"Shut Up" They Explained -- Harry Reid Edition

Some questions aren't fun to answer.

Changing the Debate on Iraq

Read it at the Standard.

Rudy & the Firefighters

A must-read from Jim Geraghty.

Hoyer's New Chief of Staff

Majority AP covered a little while ago the hiring of a former pharmaceutical lobbyist to run the shop of Nancy Pelosi's second-in-command:

In 1999, Lierman, then a lobbyist with Capitol Associates Inc., made a $25,000 low-interest loan to U.S. Representative James Moran, D-VA8., who he described as “a dear, close friend.”

“Five days later,” the Washington Post reported, “Moran signed on as one of more than 70 co-sponsors to a bill sought by a Lierman client, drugmaker Schering-Plough, which sought to extend the patent on its allergy product Claritin. Consumer groups were lobbying against the bill, saying it would be costly for consumers and would delay access to cheaper, generic drugs.”

The Post further reported, “Moran also sent a letter to moderate Democrats seeking their support for the bill.”
Today the Politico has a warm piece on Lierman, in which they touch lightly upon the incident:
Lierman came tantalizingly close to being elected to Congress himself, losing by just 5 percentage points to longtime Republican Rep. Connie Morella in 2000 in Maryland's 8th Congressional District.

Surging in the polls, Lierman was closing in fast until a newspaper reported that Lierman had given his longtime friend Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) a $25,000 loan days before Moran signed on to a bill extending a patent on a drug for which Lierman was a lobbyist.

Although the loan was later cleared by the House Ethics Committee and the Justice Department, the incident cost Lierman in the midst of a tight race.

WPost: Give 'the Surge' More Time

Surprisingly, the Post gets it just right:

...Advocates of withdrawal would like to believe that Afghanistan is now a central front in the war on terror but that Iraq is not; believing that doesn't make it so. They would like to minimize the chances of disaster following a U.S. withdrawal: of full-blown civil war, conflicts spreading beyond Iraq's borders, or genocide. They would have us believe that someone or something will ride to the rescue: the United Nations, an Islamic peacekeeping force, an invigorated diplomatic process. They like to say that by withdrawing U.S. troops, they will "end the war."

Conditions in Iraq today are terrible, but they could become "way, way worse," as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, a career Foreign Service officer, recently told the New York Times. If American men and women were dying in July in a clearly futile cause, it would indeed be immoral to wait until September to order their retreat. But given the risks of withdrawal, the calculus cannot be so simple. The generals who have devised a new strategy believe they are making fitful progress in calming Baghdad, training the Iraqi army and encouraging anti-al-Qaeda coalitions. Before Congress begins managing rotation schedules and ordering withdrawals, it should at least give those generals the months they asked for to see whether their strategy can offer some new hope.

The Post does not add -- but ought to -- that this is really a sham by the Democrats anyway, who have shown that they're brave enough to mock and browbeat the President, but too timid to do what they profess to believe in. As Captain Ed says:

If the Democrats wanted a withdrawal, they would simply cut off the funding for the deployment. No one disputes that they have that power -- but the Democrats don't want to take responsibility for what comes afterwards. It's not wishful thinking but political expediency that drives their efforts this summer.

Tom Davis Getting Ready for a Senate Run

In a Virginia that seems to be turning purple (with two straight wins by Democratic gubernatorial candidates), Tom Davis probably represents the GOP candidate of the future. He is moderate, and he's from the DC suburbs. But is the Virginia GOP ready for someone so different from Virginia's last GOP Senator -- George Allen?

Davis, who is politically moderate and from Northern Virginia, is considered unlikely to escape a nomination challenge from the ideological right.

Case in point, the Traditional Values Council sent out a press release Wednesday with this blistering headline: “Waxman-Davis Bill Opens Door to Requiring Protections For Wide Range of Bizarre Sexual Acts.”

Former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R), who is currently running for president, is the candidate many Virginia conservatives hope will jump in the race if Warner retires.

Republican Virginia Reps. Eric Cantor and Bob Goodlatte also are mentioned as possibilities.

In Virginia, nominees are chosen either by party primary or convention — a decision that is the incumbent’s to make. In cases where there is no incumbent, the choice falls to the state party’s central committee.

Conventional wisdom holds that Davis likely would fare much better in a primary scenario than at a convention, which would be dominated by social conservatives.

“If it’s a convention, I think that Davis is in big trouble,” said one GOP consultant who is closely aligned with conservatives. “His money advantage is not all that useful at a convention.”

Don't Wait Up for that Energy Bill

Looks like even though they're giving up on any attempt to generate new energy through their energy bill, Congressional Democrats are still having problems making progress:

While Democrats in both chambers have repeatedly blamed Republicans for obstructing their agenda in the 110th Congress, congressional sources say there is escalating tension between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on energy legislation.

Reid told senior lawmakers on a conference call late last month that Pelosi could be making a mistake by not passing the energy bill that recently passed the Senate and instead moving ahead with a House plan that will open up an intra-party battle, according to one person on the call.

A spokesman for Reid declined to comment...

One of the key aspects to the Democrats’ energy bill is a ramp-up in fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by model year 2020.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and an ally of the auto industry, has been vehemently opposed to an increase in automotive efficiency standards, and has sparred openly with Pelosi over the future of the nation’s energy policy.

Hoyer said yesterday the House may punt the issue until bicameral discussions, but predicted that a final conference report would include language on auto efficiency standards similar to what passed the Senate.

But Dingell could be the lead House negotiator in a conference committee. And Reid on the conference call suggested that House leaders could be erring by negotiating with Dingell, the source said.

When Republicans held the majority, it was difficult to pass major legislation over the opposition of Dingell due to his tenacity and his skill in building coalitions on his priorities. It will be doubly difficult now that he is Chairman.

Novak: Vitter's in Trouble

Not being especially interested in the David Vitter/Deborah Jeane Palfrey story, I haven't posted anything on it. And I guess I thought that while Vitter is undoubtedly (and appropriately) embarrassed about it, it's not the sort of thing that kills a Senate career. Put it this way: if I were a Louisiana voter, I would 'forgive.'

Novak writes (in his E-mail newsletter) that it won't be that simple:

Vitter: The admission by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that before being elected to the Senate he was at some point a client of an infamous Washington escort service may appear to have little political significance for now. The senator does not face re-election until 2010, and his wife was apparently made aware of the situation long ago.

  1. However, the matter will not rest there by any means. First of all, the accused madam involved -- Deborah Jeane Palfrey -- is going to trial and has announced she will subpoena Vitter. Her defense is that her service was not a prostitution ring, so the nature of Vitter's testimony, under oath, would be to show exactly what he did while using the "escort service" and how many times he did it. Vitter could avoid going into such lurid detail by taking the 5th Amendment (after all, solicitation is a crime), but that would also look very bad for him.
  2. Second, this is not the first time Vitter's morals have been called into question. When he ran for Senate in 2004, his enemies brought up old accusations (from when he first ran for Congress) that he had had a year-long affair with a prostitute in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
  3. Beyond that, tales about Vitter's behavior abound in Louisiana. Even if every single one is false, this revelation suddenly gives them new currency. In the future, Democrats will send mailings at the right times and exploit his weakness.
  4. Unlike the embattled Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), Vitter is a Republican. His base will be much harder to mollify when it comes to charges of wrongdoing. True, Jefferson is actually accused of malfeasance in office (bribery), but Republicans are always held to a higher standard by their own voters, who tend to place special value on family issues.
  5. As Louisiana's only statewide-elected Republican, Vitter is currently the don of GOP politics there. This scandal not only devalues his political currency, but it also embarrasses other Republicans. Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), a Vitter protégé, is far and away favored to win the governor's race later this year. But now he is saddled with Vitter. Jindal has already called for Jefferson to step down. Will he call for Vitter to do the same?
  6. Democrats will have lots of fun with this. They may not be able to win the governor's race, but they could make it more competitive by using Vitter to embarrass Jindal. Vitter cannot step down right now even if he wants to, because he would be replaced by a Democrat. If he wants he leave, he has to wait until Jindal becomes governor...

It sounds like a very difficult position for a man that Novak makes sound like a cut-rate version of Bill Clinton. When you think about it, it's particularly odd that this would be a real problem in the state that produced Edwin Edwards, David Duke, Earl Long, and even John Breaux -- who was well known as a 'lady's man,' during his Senate career.

Depending on how long Palfrey stays in the news -- particularly through trial and possible appeal -- this could be an even greater problem than it currently is.

Can You Take Back a Nobel Prize

Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams:

"Right now, I could kill George Bush," she said at the Adam's Mark Hotel and Conference Center in Dallas. "No, I don't mean that. How could you nonviolently kill somebody? I would love to be able to do that."

About half the crowd gave her a standing ovation after she called for Mr. Bush's removal from power.

"The Muslim world right now is suffering beyond belief," she said.

"Unless the president of the United States is held responsible for what he's doing and what he has done, there's no one in the Muslim world who will forgive him."

Does ending the mass-murdering regime of Saddam Hussein and attempting to bring representative government to the Middle East count for nothing?

Some Global Warming Perspective

Read it at the Standard.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Democrats Continue Misdirection on Iraq

Read it at the Standard.

Thompson Attacks Reach a Nadir

If you can learn anything about a man by looking at his enemies, Fred Thompson is doing all right. We've seen shrill attacks from all quarters, designed to convince conservatives that Thompson is a lying, campaign-finance-supporting, secret fan of abortion, who married a buxom 'trophy-wife' after leading a single life where he dated many gorgeous women.

Since that last one fizzled, his political enemies have now decided to try and convince us of the opposite. If he's not a licentious womanizer, then he must be gay.

The attack is pathetic, ridiculous, and irrelevant. It also demonstrates that liberals do not in the slightest believe their own rhetoric about the privacy of what 'goes on in the bedroom.' They think it's all fit for public consumption -- as long as you're a Republican.

If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, I think I can get along with Fred Thompson just fine.

Hat Tip: ALa

Update: CA Yankee has a classic way to let us know that Fred isn't announcing yet.

Update: Andrew Sullivan has printed a clarification to his original post:

Despite some accusations, I never intended the following post defending Fred Thompson's right to a sex life to in any way suggest he's gay (which strikes me as preposterous)...

Wonkette inferred some gay rumor, and then the blogosphere ran with it. Please. All I meant was that Thompson, as a single man, had had a lot of dates with a lot of women, something that strikes me - and a lot of Republicans as well - as completely fine. I have never heard a single gay rumor about Thompson and never intended to be interpreted as spreading one.

Sullivan's comments stand on their own. I read them as I did because Wonkette read it that way, several commenters read it that way, and multiple Lefty blogs are and were printing the rumor contemporaneously with Sullivan's post.

You're welcome to draw your own conclusions.

John McCain IS Henry IV

Philip Klein turns to the Bard to find the silver lining in McCain's cloud:

By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.

Read the whole thing. He properly identifies the 'bright side' of McCain's predicament. But of course, it probably still won't be enough.

The World's Most Dedicated Goalie

Stay around at least until he hits the truck with his stick:

And while we're on the topic, was I the only one not aware that Steve Carell is Maxwell Smart? That could be a fantastic movie.

Bush's Unfinished Business

USA Today gets it completely wrong:

Among pressing issues left on the table: What's next in Iraq. How to restore America's reputation around the world. Whether to extend tax cuts that expire in 2010. What to do about Medicare's looming shortfall. And how to complete the job of helping the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Katrina.

No new president gets a clean slate — global politics and the economy don't run in neat four-year cycles — but presidential scholars say the unfinished business Bush will leave for his successor is unprecedented since at least World War II.

"I can't think of a single modern president about to bequeath to his successor such a difficult agenda and such a damaged presidency," says Paul Light of New York University.

I admit that you have to think back a full 6 years, but the man who took office in 2001 had to deal with a global conspiracy to destroy the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and either the Capitol or the White House. It was a plot that had been developing for many years, dating back at least to the attack on US troops in Lebanon under President Reagan. And the two previous tenants of the Oval Office had done little or nothing to address the danger; one of them even forewent the opportunity to take the mastermind of the whole plot into custody.

There was also a need to deal with the coming bankruptcy of entitlement programs -- but that one is getting passed on to the next President, too.

Sounds like George Bush came into office with a lot on his plate, too.

Morris Argues for Iraq Pullout

Morris is a political strategist and not a military man, so take his opinion for what it's worth. But whether you are for or against the surge, or for or against the mission overall, he makes one point that is tough to argue: that a drawdown may be politically necessary in order to preserve the option for military action in Iraq down the road.

...The lesson of Vietnam is clear: If the public get so turned off on a military intervention, it will force Congress to ban any further involvement, making it inevitable that our enemies win. But if the administration salvages a modicum of public support by way of a prompt but gradual withdrawal, it will preserve the option of re-entry by air or land should an adverse situation arise. We probably could have stopped the North from winning in Vietnam had Congress not banned any air or ground involvement after 1974. We must not fall into the same trap in Iraq...

But Bush faces a stark choice: If he doesn’t begin pulling out, his party will lose the White House, lose Congress by stunning and likely filibuster-proof margins, and his tax cut and education reforms will be repealed. His footsteps will be obliterated from history. It will be as if he never served.

And yeah, I'd say his rhetoric is a little over the top.

Kerry Vulnerable, but Has No Realistic Challengers

The Hill has the story. Kerry could be had -- either in a primary, or the general. But it would definitely take a strong challenger -- think sitting Congressman, or former Governor. None of those is in the offing -- at least not yet.

In fact, some analysts see Kerry among the more vulnerable incumbents up for reelection in 2008. Whether that translates to his defeat in 2008, however, is a far different question.

In a state as blue as Massachusetts, the Democratic Party is lined up firmly behind the fourth-term senator. Combine that with the $11 million already in Kerry’s campaign fund, and the task for any challenger is tall.

“The polling that’s out there shows that if he decided not to run, voters would be OK with that,” said Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report. “And he may be vulnerable to a primary challenge, but it’s going to have to be a really serious one.”

According to the Boston Globe, the filing deadline in Massachusetts is not until May, 2008 -- so a former presidential candidate could still challenge Kerry -- if he chose to do so.

Just some idle speculation...

Lefty Bloggers Can't Stand the Heat

Read it at the Standard.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Congress Approval Rating on the Rebound

Looks like everything in America is pretty hunky-dory, allowing Congress to focus on the real issues ruining the lives of Americans -- the exclusive availability of iPhone on AT&T:

Its official title is "Wireless Innovation and Consumer Protection," but "Really, they're the iPhone hearings," says public interest lobbyist Ben Scott. The House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet is expected to consider the future of cellphone and wireless data communications, including the "unbundling" of cellphones from their carriers, while activists are pushing for a new wireless data network in newly-available spectrum. Both developments could ultimately affect AT&T's exclusive carrier status with Apple.

"We need to unbundle phones," according to Committee Chairman Ed Markey. He told The Street that "The consumer should be king and should be able to take their device with them, to whichever network provider is offering them a better deal…"

Iraq, Iran, oil prices, health care, education... iPhone.

Blunt: Winning Applause, But Not Devotion

Read it at the Standard.

Did Dick Cheney Use the DC Madam?

When was the last time DailyKos got something wrong?

DC Madamm[sic] talk is all the conversation in DC.

Brace Yourself.

I was just told Dick Cheney, while CEO of Halliburton, used her services regularly, they are trying to spin up a message to explain that members of his staff, in his offices, used this service to entertain foreign clients.

Apparently several of his ex-staff at Halliburton are already being besieged by calls.

Of course. Dick Cheney is the center of evil in the universe; how could he not have hired prostitutes? I almost hope this comes true, so I can watch the brains on the left explode when Cheney weathers it.

On a more serious note, is there any shame about accusing anyone on the Right of anything? Sex is private... unless you're a Republican, apparently.

At least one Kos commenter uses logic to refute the charge:

That's probably part of the problem: if the guy was getting "taken care of" on a regular basis, he might be mellow enough not to subvert the Constitution.

Perhaps we should hire some 'help' for Ahmadinehad, Chavez, and Kim Jong Il...

JPL Rolls Out the MSL

It looks pretty cool. I hope this isn't one of the ones that crashes.

They're like Star Trek movies, right? Is this an even-numbered mission, or odd?

Reid Iraq Flip Flops Coming Faster and Faster

Read it at the Standard.

Rove: Iraq Unlikely to be so Important in 2008

John Amato of the liberal blog Crooks and Liars excerpts a segment from NBC Nightly News in which it is reported that Karl Rove doesn't believe Iraq will be a big issue in 2008, because 'he hopes' that troops will be coming home from Iraq.

Bob Novak reported some months ago that the White House was convinced of the need for a drawdown by the end of 2007. Events since then have made it clearer that such an outcome is probably unavoidable. That's due not only to the climate in the US Congress, but to other factors as well.

It remains an open question what will follow the current surge (although the President is reportedly focusing more on the 'next phase'). Most of the presidential candidates on both sides agree that a residual US force should remain, with responsibility for continuing operations. Even if they are forced to sit by and watch a genocidal civil war (as the New York Times favors), they are likely to be pursuing Al Qaeda and training troops -- at least.

But with the major combat role over, and US troops unlikely to take an active role in fighting insurgents generally, the Iraq war will play a reduced role in the 2008 election. It's more likely that at least with regard to national security, voters will be focused on Iran -- or North Korea, or some other growing threat -- rather than Iraq. The candidates had better be prepared to address those issues, and not allow the debate over Iraq to hem them into untenable positions.

Cindy Sheehan's First Campaign Commercial

Heh, heh.

McGovern: Anti-War Democrat Might be in Trouble in 08

Even a stopped clock...

Among those who worry that the lessons of 1972 may still spell trouble for Democrats in 2008 is none other than … George McGovern. He is 84 now, is as opposed to the Iraq war as he was to the one in Vietnam -- and is paying close attention to the race for president.

"I'm not sure that an anti-war Democrat can win," McGovern said in an interview. "We haven't proved that yet..."

But some political analysts say they believe the McGovern experience could be repeated again, as the party's presidential candidates compete to win the favor of anti-war Democrats while leaving themselves vulnerable to charges of weakness in a general election.
The Politico mentions that Democrats are trying to walk a fine line: opposing the Iraq war while preserving national security bona fides by calling for stepped up action in Afghanistan. But that's a nuanced position which can be challenging to sell in the best of circumstances.

That's so for a variety of reasons -- partly because it's silly to claim that Afghanistan is more important, partly because Democrats are going back on their commitment to stepped up focus on Afghanistan, stepping back from their commitment to the ISG recommendations, foreswearing military action against Iran, and seem to have forgotten how worried they were about North Korea when they were running last year.

Democrats will have a hard time convincing the nation that they can seriously fight terror because they are quick to renounce the use of force to back up their diplomacy. As Libya, North Korea, and other examples show, Republicans can use diplomacy when they regard it as the right tool. But while the Democrats have a ton of credibility on using diplomacy, they're not credible in threatening the use of force. The American people will have a hard time accepting a presidential candidate who can't be believed on both.

Fisking the LATimes: Thin Gruel in Attack on Fred

The LATimes again attempts to 'educate' conservatives who don't recognize that Fred Thompson isn't really with them. They're grasping at straws. (A note: all the text in this post was in the LATimes article at the time I wrote this; history shows it could disappear within minutes):

An actor, lawyer and lobbyist, Thompson seems to have earned more forgiveness than McCain for breaking with conservative dogma, in part because his maverick streak was tempered by an easygoing manner and a willingness to stick with the GOP on most issues. But it may also be because conservatives who back him now know less about Thompson's Senate record than they do about his performance as a district attorney in the television hit "Law & Order."
This is really as far as you need to read in this article -- up to the line about Thompson's 'willingness to stick with the GOP.' Others might characterize such a person as 'a conservative.' But of course, that would really screw up the whole theme. Can't scare conservatives if you admit that that's what Thompson is.

They then turn to the pot to slam the kettle -- a supporter of Mitt Romney, who was ardently pro-choice until relatively recently:
"He carries the same baggage that McCain carries," said James Bopp Jr., an antiabortion activist who is backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination. "Time does dim memories, and people need to be reminded of his support for McCain-Feingold."
I think that most blog readers at least, are well aware of Thompson's support for McCain-Feingold, as well as his stepping back from that support. Was his vote wrong? Yes. But there's no such thing as an elected official who hasn't made the wrong decision -- probably quite a few times. It's not bad to recognize an error and own up to it.

Next comes a quote from Judicial Watch regarding his failure to produce a smoking gun in his hearings on campaign finance violations:
"Thompson had a chance to show leadership and did not," said Larry Klayman, the conservative lawyer who issued the "wanted" poster to criticize Thompson for not running more aggressive hearings on President Clinton's fundraising.

"I would not vote for him for president."
I'll look forward to more vetting of the hearing, but if there was no smoking gun in evidence...
When the Senate voted in 1998 on impeaching Clinton on charges arising from his affair with an intern, Thompson was one of 10 Republicans who voted against conviction on one of the two counts.
Oh wow. He only voted to convict Clinton and remove him from office once. Would the effect have been cumulative if he had voted to convict twice?
And Thompson, a former trial lawyer, opposed elements of a GOP effort to curb lawsuits.
Unfortunate. But he opposed tort reform on grounds of federalism. It led to a strong criticism by Ramesh Ponnuru who claims -- as I read it -- that Thompson was inconsistent in applying his federalist views. He also says that Thompson voted not to cap legal fees as high as $92,000 per hour, where federalism was not an issue. Ponnuru calls for 'hard questions' for Thompson -- so be it.

Lastly, the Times also criticizes Thompson for his opposition to an amendment to outlaw abortion:
Abortion may prove to be an unexpectedly touchy area. He built a consistent antiabortion voting record in the Senate, but he also opposed a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.
I have to ask: who supports such an amendment? Certainly not any candidate for national office today. And not the current President -- who has consistently received strong backing from pro-Lifers. There are undoubtedly pro-Lifers who dream of the day when such an amendment could succeed, but it doesn't even rate a mention on a list of priorities.

Is the LATimes going to write about the problems the Democratic candidates have because they don't back forced unionization for all workers? or for full federal funding of all abortions?

Thompson is clearly scaring the Democrats. They're tripping over themselves to try to take him down a peg. But the LATimes ought to give it up. Pieces like this are only likely to help him.

Update: Also check out Allah.

Democrats Trying to End the War

Glenn pulls together a bunch of threads and thoughts about the latest effort by the Democrats to end the Iraq war. But the fact is, they had their chance. They sent the President legislation which included a date certain for withdrawal from Iraq. He vetoed it. While the Democratic netroots, and folks like John Edwards called for Congress to send him the same bill again, they elected not to do so. They caved, and presented the President with legislation to allow him to continue to prosecute the war.

This obviously, was a decision with which I agree. However, if you elect to fund the war, you are partly responsible for it.

For better or for worse, the President has had the courage of his convictions -- at least with regard to Iraq. He and the Republican party have paid a stiff price for their steady support to date. They trust that history will prove them right, and make the pain worth the price.

The Democratic leadership had the opportunity to make the same bet. If they truly believed that it was wrong, they had it in their power to end it. But because they feared the political cost, they elected not to do so. While it's clear that they are the party that wants us out of Iraq more, they shouldn't try to pretend that they're willing to take political risks for it. They may pass a bill to cancel authorization for the war, or to require redeployment, or to do a host of other things. But once the President vetoes it, it's over.

The Democratic rhetoric about ending the war is for show. They had their chance, and they passed it up.

Star Trek Watch

Aussie scientists create a transporter.

Well, not exactly:

AUSTRALIAN physicists have discovered a method that could see atoms being teleported between Sydney and Perth and pave the way for possible Star Trek-like travel in the future.

The method involves cooling down a group of atoms and shooting lasers at them, making them "appear to disappear" before using transporting them along optic fibres at light speed to another location where they can be reconstructed.

It's almost time to start the debate over what happens to the soul.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Michael Moore 'Defends' Sicko

Here's the 5+ minutes that Allah excerpts:


Moore spends more than 5 minutes yelling at Wolf Blitzer about how Wolf was responsible for the Iraq war, and how Moore was right about everything he said in Fahrenheit 911. Moore can't find a word to defend Sicko, except to constantly assert that the attack is unfair. He won't let Blitzer get in a question, and he doesn't mention a single point.

It brings to mind a quote attributed to someone who's probably one of Moore's heroes:

When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. When you have the law on your side, argue the law. When you have neither, holler.

Hollering seems to be all Moore is capable of doing.

Is the 'Electronic Fence' Vulnerable to DOS Attacks

Just another piece of information calling into question the reliability of the electronic measures we will depend upon to secure the border:

Using standard commercial 5.8 gigahertz wi-fi equipment could leave SBInet open to intentional interference. "A drug dealer could buy a laptop with built-in 5.8 gigahertz wireless and could launch a denial of service attack against SBInet," Wallen said.

He said he could detect that the SBInet wireless network used a strong form of encryption, Wi-Fi Protected Access. But the encryption would not be useful in stopping denial of service attacks, said Wade Williamson, director of product engineering for AirMagnet, which sells wireless intrusion detection systems.

Williamson said mounting a denial of service attack against a wi-fi network is a "trivial exercise" because even on an encrypted network, the address of an end user device or wi-fi access point -- known as a media access control address -- is clearly broadcast and retrievable. Anyone who wants to knock out the transmissions from the SBInet towers could capture that address, spoof it and then flood a tower or end user with data packets, Williamson said. He added that SBInet communications also could be jammed by inexpensive signal generators that could knock out the signal from the towers.

An intrusion detection system would help DHS and Boeing detect such cyberattacks and zero in on the location of intruders by triangulation, Williamson said. DHS and Boeing could also "fight fire with fire" by launching reverse denial of service attacks, he said.

George Teas, director of field engineering for Fortress Technologies, which sells wi-fi systems hardened with multiple layers of security for government users, said his company provides multifactor authentication systems that include a unique device identifier, which insures that even if hackers spoof a media access control address, they will not be able to get into a network. An attacker would not be able to take down all of the SBInet with a denial of service attack, Teas said, but just one node with traffic routed around that node.

I'm no expert, but this sounds like a problem that can be corrected relatively easily. If that's the case, why make the mistake in the first place?

Politically, proponents of 'adjustment' for the current illegal population must be able to sell the fact that the border is 'secure' -- whatever that means in a system that has traditionally been proudly porous (remember how you learned in school that the US and Mexico had the longest undefended border). Stories like this are death to that effort.

It seems as if the camel's back of 'comprehensive reform' has been broken -- at least for the near future. To the extent that's true, a few more straws won't make a difference.

Update: Drat! A commenter points out:

It's actually our border with Canada that's the longest undefended border, considering, you know, that the Mexican border starts at roughly the east-west midpoint of the country in Texas.

Of course, I remember that now. Sloppy error. I stand corrected.

For Love of the Game

Washington Nationals fans don't have a whole lot to cheer about. With the All-Star Break here, they have a record of 36-52, and are 12.5 games out of first. They have the second worst record in baseball.

When you go to a game, they realize that the on-the-field product is not quite up to snuff, so the team tries to offer other things to entertain. There song contests, giveaways, T-shirt launches -- and presidents' races:

Roll Call offers a nice look at DC's baseball silliness:

If you think it’s high school kids who had a choice between flipping burgers at McDonald’s or running the race for the Nats, you’re mistaken. The crew of roughly 15 presidents who take turns entertaining fans at RFK are adults, 9-to-5 employees who take on the second job because they love baseball and love entertaining kids.

On this night, the presidents are a teacher (George), an unspecified government employee (Abe), a “member of the legal community” (Teddy) and a government IT worker (Tom)...

So why, with steady, full-time jobs, do the presidents do what they do?

“Abe does it because he loves baseball. He does it for the fans,” Abe says. “He likes to make little kids smile and laugh. I think all the presidents like that.”

“Part of being in D.C. is being a part of the community — this isn’t New York,” Teddy says. “I can’t think of anything more quintessential of what people in D.C. get up for than doing something fun like this.”

Last season the presidents were a hodgepodge of friends of front office staff, but this year Davis hired a regular staff. About 50 people tried out at the beginning of the season, with around 15 accepted.

“It’s nice to have consistency,” Davis says. “I know these people, I hired them, and they know what they’re supposed to be doing.”

He said the presidents are a pleasure to work with.

“They really generally enjoy it,” Davis says. “Nobody comes to work saying, ‘Oh, we’ve gotta do this again?’ It’s also good to have a crew of this size so it never really gets old.”

I'll have to go for the tryouts next year...

Restarting the Iraq Debate

Read it at the Standard.

Catching up With... Fred Thompson

Wow. Eyeon08 posted these Fred videos on Saturday, and Fred's campaign team calls my attention to it first thing Monday morning. That's efficient:

In Search of the One Battery

Read it over at the Standard.

Brazil Must Choose

I looked at this last week over at the Standard.

Today Reuters looks at Brazil's stark choice: make an enemy of Hugo Chavez, or make Mercosur largely irrelevant.

The Economist also has a good look at Mercosur's challenges:

Mercosur has plenty of other problems. They start with the big difference in size and government policies among members. Under Mr Kirchner, Argentina's priority has been to protect inefficient but labour-intensive industries as it recovers from socio-economic collapse in 2001-02. Smaller Uruguay and Paraguay complain that the group has done little for them.

Brazil has made periodic attempts to “relaunch” Mercosur. It is the main contributor to a $100m development fund that is seen as a modest copy of the European Union's regional funds. Its diplomats say they want fewer trade restrictions and, at last, a common customs code (at present each country collects its own customs revenue, and tariffs are levied on goods from outside the block each time they cross a border). But in Asunción implementation of this was postponed yet again.

House Democrats Undecided on Immigration

House Democrats are undecided on how to proceed on immigration, according to Roll Call ($). What's the politically sensible move? Always listen to Rahm Emanuel to figure that out:

According to a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Democrats have yet to determine a course of action, including whether to proceed with a series of smaller bills targeted to topics such as border security rather than a single piece of legislation...

In the meantime, Congressional Hispanic Caucus leaders, who have strongly supported moving an immigration measure this year, have asked to meet with Democratic leaders this week on the issue.

“We believe there is still a possibility it can happen,” CHC Chairman Joe Baca (D-Calif.) said at a press conference June 28, following the Senate vote...

Nevertheless, some key Democrats declared the comprehensive bill effectively dead following the Senate vote.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, said after the Senate vote: “They have voted against proceeding, so we can’t proceed.”

While the California lawmaker said her panel will “consider what, if anything, we should do,” she declined to state whether the House could pursue alternate legislation, assigning that decision to Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) echoed that sentiment, blaming President Bush for failing to unite Republicans on the issue, stating: “There’s no chance of passing legislation now.”

Chafee's Revisionist History

Lincoln Chafee tells Roll Call ($) that the Republican party is pursuing a far right agenda that hurts its electoral prospects. I won't bore you with the details; you could probably write the story. Suffice it to say that he believes people don't care about flag burning, gay marriage, and illegal immigration enforcement. In his defense, that's probably largely true in Rhode Island. The amusing part to me is, his claim that he was always a loyal Republican:

Chafee, whom pundits were constantly monitoring to see if he would bolt the GOP, said he went out of his way to prove his party loyalty.

“I worked really hard at attending every Republican event,” Chafee said, noting he did not miss one of the traditional “Tuesday lunches” both parties hold in the Senate.

He frequented the less formal Thursday lunches as well. And he attended numerous social events, which were often organized by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

“I was an active member of the caucus,” Chafee said.

He acknowledged how tough being a “team player” could be for him at times, but he said he was devoted to his affiliation.

“It was difficult believing in the things I consider traditional Republican values, such as environmental stewardship, fiscal discipline, helping the less fortunate; and it changed so drastically.

That's an interesting argument for someone who, as a sitting Republican Senator, endorsed John Kerry, and said that he might switch parties if George Bush was re-elected.

Sheehan vs. Pelosi?

Sheehan vs. Pelosi? You have to imagine that Sheehan wouldn't have much of a chance. But it would be fun to watch:

Despite swearing off public life earlier this year, peace activist Cindy Sheehan would run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as an independent in 2008 unless the speaker moves to impeach President Bush, a Sheehan spokeswoman said Sunday.

'Politically Incorrect' Truths

The least interesting of these is 'most suicide bombers are Muslim.' In other inferences we may draw from the list, I am beautiful and poor:

The implications of some of the ideas in this article may seem immoral, contrary to our ideals, or offensive. We state them because they are true, supported by documented scientific evidence. Like it or not, human nature is simply not politically correct.