Saturday, September 29, 2007

What Does Newt Have Against Patrick Ruffini?

Patrick Ruffini, 4:22 pm yesterday:

Newt is Running

On Hannity last night, Newt said he would collect pledges over the Internet. That means he's almost certain to reach the $30 million goal he's set for himself. Whether he can actually raise that amount is another matter entirely.

If I'm a person of modest means but I want Newt to run, I can "pledge" to max out at $2,300. Heck, I can even throw in the wife to up it 46 Benjamins. That doesn't mean I will actually give that much.

Newt would need only 14,000 of his fans to flood the site with $2,300 "pledges" in order to declare a broad public groundswell for his candidacy.

Sound far-fetched? You've seen what Ron Paul supporters do. You think Newt fans wouldn't do the same if they believed his entry into the race depended on it? And if Newt's people actually left the system this open -- i.e. didn't require you to leave a credit card that could then be charged -- I guarantee this hack would spread like wildfire on the blogs the minute the site went up.

Newt is either totally naive (highly unlikely) or knows exactly how the Internet game is played. This deal is rigged.
The Politico, 2:23 pm today:

Gingrich decides against White House run
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) decided Saturday morning not to run for president just as his staff was preparing to launch a website to seek $30 million in pledges, his spokesman told Politico.

Gingrich had planned to seek pledges as part of a three-week exploration without making any formal declaration of candidacy for the Republican nomination — an approach that several Republican leaders said was legally questionable...

Rick Tyler, Gingrich's spokesman, said lawyers told Gingrich that dabbling in a presidential campaign could endanger the non-profit status of his group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, which is holding a workshop in Cobb County, Ga., on Saturday.

“He had to make a choice between being a citizen-activist, raising the challenges America faces and finding solution to America’s problems, or exploring a potential candidacy,” Tyler said.

“It’s legally impermissible to do both. It was the necessary choice. It was the only choice.”
The least Newt could have done was wait a few days.

That said, it's a relief that the 2008 field seems at last to be complete. While many Republicans seem still to wish that Ronald Reagan was running, he's not about to declare. And if you can't find someone to like in a field that ranges from Rudy Giuliani to Alan Keyes, then no Republican candidate would do the trick. And to the extent that people (like me) were fascinated at the idea that Gingrich might jump in... well, suffice it to say that he is as flawed as any other GOP candidate.

The dissatisfaction with the current candidates probably says more about the party than it does the candidates, too. If we as a party were not consumed with the question of where we go in the post-George Bush era, and if George Bush and his administration were not themselves so unpopular, the field might look very different. Or, one of the candidates we have might look much better.

I suppose that's a roundabout way of saying that we are where we are. We have the field we have and the political environment we have. And while things could certainly look better, I think we can win with the candidates we have.

Let the race begin!

Limbaugh on Solid Ground on 'Phony Soldiers'

House Democrats are apparently considering a resolution to castigate Rush Limbaugh for having the nerve to allege that there are 'phony soldiers' bragging about their exploits in Iraq. As long as they're at it, perhaps they'll actually denounce the phony soldiers. Fact is, there are thousands of 'phony soldiers' nationwide; the problem is so great that Congress passed legislation to crack down on the epidemic. Jesse MacBeth is just the tip of the iceberg.

Publications like the Army Times and Navy Times have written about phony veterans many times. A sample:

Justice Department officials in Washington state detailed Porter’s story, along with seven other people accused of — or already convicted of — being military frauds, during a news conference Friday on VA fakers.

“We take it seriously because this money is meant for veterans, not for fakers,” James O’Neill, assistant inspector general for the VA’s office of investigations, told Military Times.

“Every dollar that’s lost to a faker is one more dollar that can’t be spent on a veteran,” said O’Neill, whose office is responsible for rooting out those who defraud VA.

More from the same publication:

It’s not unheard of for Marines to embellish their service after leaving active duty or for civilians who’ve never served to pass themselves off as Marines. It’s happening all over the country this very minute...

Posers, in other words, are getting less ambitious. Among the dozen or so cases that have popped up so far this year — including five recent ones in this week’s issue — some are merely claiming to be a Marine, without all the battlefield exploits and mounds of chest candy. Those who do claim valor among their traits aren’t shooting for the Medal of Honor or service crosses. Fake Silver Star cases seem to be en vogue, as are phony Purple Hearts.

Want more? Here's a whole website devoted to the problem. Here's another website with numerous news stories about it.

How serious is the problem of 'phony soldiers?' Congress last year passed legislation to allow prosecution of people who claimed medals that they had not earned. It passed both the House and Senate unanimously. It was introduced by Congressman John Salazar (D-CO), whose press release on the measure lists several phony heroes -- Michael O'Brien, Lawrence Hammer, and Gilbert Velasquez. The stories above mentioned Larry Porter, Merrick Hersey, Michael Heit, Carlos Valle Rios (a registered sex offender, by the way), Preston Garris, Glenn Marshall, Tim DeBusk... the list goes on and on. According to NPR, there are 50 ongoing investigations by the FBI into violations of Salazar's legislation.

When Limbaugh referenced 'phony soldiers,' he specifically cited the case of Jesse MacBeth. Liberal critics have laughably complained that he cited only one case while using the plural. Fact is, there are dozens and dozens on the public record, and it seems highly likely that there are thousands nationwide.

Here's ABC News' recent report on phony heroes and Operation Stolen Valor:

If Congress intends to criticize Limbaugh for talking about people like Jesse MacBeth, what message does that about how seriously the offenses of MacBeth and others like him? It would directly oppose the message they send last December, when they passed the Stolen Valor Act.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance Watch: National Security Edition

Read it at the Standard.

Missile Defense Brings Down Simuated North Korean Missile

Read it at the Standard.

Solving Tomorrow's Problems, Today

The team at NRO has gone off the deep end:

The situation with the Romulan Empire is rapidly becoming the defining crisis of our age.

Over the course of this magazine’s four centuries (not counting the Great Interegnum during the Eugenics Wars, when conservatism was deemed a mental defect) National Review has always endeavored to chart a course balancing idealism with realism. Even in its infancy, facing the first great existential crisis of Old Earth, we argued for challenging aggression, whether in the form of the Soviet threat or the violence done to humanity through hubristic tinkering with the genetic code. We are proud to say that our opposition to the Soviets played its part in the prevention of one nuclear holocaust and saddened that our warnings fell on deaf ears before as so many of us were marched off to reeducation camps on the Mars colonies. After the Interregnum we counseled a different course when making first contact with the Klingons and the Romulans than that chosen by Starfleet Command. History has vindicated us on both scores, which is small comfort given the terrible price we all paid for Starfleet’s stubbornness.

Read the whole thing. I remain convinced that we must not lose sight of the Suliban threat.

Are Democrats Leading with the Chin on Social Security?

In 2000 and 2004, George Bush bucked Republican orthodoxy by touching 'the third rail,' and discussing his plan for private accounts within Social Security. The logic was that the US investor class had grown large enough that more voters would approve of the idea than disapprove. It's unclear whether that was true, but clearly the Democratic attacks on Social Security had lost some of their 'zing.'

Now James Pethokoukis of US News suggests that the willingness of some Democrats to embrace tax increases to increase Social Security revenues may be making a foolish move:

As far as dealing with Social Security goes, raising taxes—by lifting the cap on taxable wages—seems a popular way of returning solvency to the system. (Such a move, by the way, would be the largest tax increase in American history.) Here's Barack Obama: "I think that lifting the cap is probably going to be the best option." Forget about cutting projected increases to benefits. (As Americans get richer, benefits get fatter since they are linked to wages rather than inflation...)

My take: I've recently started a running series in this blog looking at how the weakening economy might create a situation for Republicans in 2008 that's reminiscent of the 1992 election. But there is another economic factor at play here, too. Can Republicans use the tax issue as an effective political weapon against Democrats? Up until now, I've doubted it. (My friend Larry Kudlow of CNBC, though, thinks taxes will be a big loser for Democrats just as they were for Walter Mondale back in 1984.)

While Republicans keep talking about Democrats rolling back the Bush tax cuts, most Democrats have only committed to repealing provisions affecting wealthier Americans. Plus, the last big tax increase Americans remember was Bill Clinton's in the 1990s, yet voters also probably associate the '90s with an economic boom.

But the Social Security tax hike would affect people making just under $100,000 and make the social insurance program an even worse deal for younger workers. This might be a huge opening for Republicans. I think Hillary Clinton also realizes this since she has been noticeably vague on how she would deal with Social Security. Here is how she answered moderator Tim Russert's question on raising the income cap: "Well, I take everything off the table until we move toward fiscal responsibility and before we have a bipartisan process. I don't think I should be negotiating about what I would do as president. You know, I want to see what other people come to the table with..." Ah, that explains things.

Since Hillary is likely to be the nominee, the political damage to Democrats of advocating tax increases would likely be limited. After all, if she's not advocating the tax increase, then she can't be criticized for it. But the situation is different with Congressional candidates -- should any of them identify themselves with such an approach.

Hat Tip: Instapundit

Our Porous Northern Border

I've written before that we give excess attention to the question of security at the US border with Mexico, at the expense of security on the border with Canada. If our primary goal is to stop illegal immigration, obviously we must consider first the US-Mexico border. But that's not because our southern border is less secure than our northern border. The fact is the US-Mexico border is much more heavily defended and policed than the Canadian frontier. If we are concerned about security -- about someone sneaking into the US, or sneaking a device into the US -- we must increase our focus on Canada. With that in mind:

Government investigators crossed the northern border into the United States carrying simulated radioactive materials and narcotics without being stopped by authorities in recent testing, the Government Accountability Office announced Thursday.

In one case, an alert citizen notified Border Patrol agents of suspicious activity — one of the GAO investigators on the Canadian side of the border had passed a duffel bag to investigators on the U.S. side — but agents were unable to locate the investigators, “even though they had parked nearby to observe traffic passing through the port of entry,” according to the GAO report on the investigation.

At a Senate Finance hearing on the investigation, Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking Republican Charles E. Grassley of Iowa said the GAO’s findings were alarming. But Ronald Colburn, deputy chief of the Office of Border Patrol, said he was not surprised by the report. “We agree with GAO’s findings. . . . The border is not as secure as it needs to be.” But, Colburn said, “we’ve come a long way,” citing a recent decline in illegal activity on the border...

As of May 2007, Border Patrol has 972 agents on the 5,000-mile northern border and 11,986 on the 1,900-mile southern border. Colburn explained more agents are assigned to the Mexican border because “99 percent” of illegal crossings and contraband smuggling takes place on that border.

This is not an argument for reducing attention to the border with Mexico. But if you think we're safe from infiltration because of all the Border Patrol agents, the border fence (virtual or otherwise) and all the rest of that stuff we've purchased, you're wrong.

More here and here.

Politico: Kerrey's Possible Senate Run Complicated by Hsu

You read it here weeks ago, the Politico expands on it today:

If former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey decides to run for the Senate, it’s clear that he will have to address his connections with Hsu, whom he recruited to serve on the board of the New School under his presidency.

The Hsu affair already is being used by Republicans as leverage to try to ward off a run by Kerrey, the Democrats’ favored candidate to compete for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel.

Republicans privately acknowledge that Kerrey is a first-tier candidate and hope their attacks dissuade him from jumping in. They would have an easier time retaining the seat if Kerrey didn’t run.

“Bob Kerrey was not only a receiver of contributions [to the New School], he actively recruited [Hsu] to the New School,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher. “Nebraskans need to be aware of that.”

Politico fails to note the specifics on the public record about Hsu's donations to the New School. As I pointed out, he donated at least in the tens of thousands of dollars. Specifically, the New School's 2005-2006 annual report lists the following Hsu donations:

  • To the University: $10,000-$24,999 donation
  • To the Eugene Lang College: $10,000-$24,999 donation
  • To Parsons the New School for Design: $5,000-$9,999 donation
  • To the Eugene Lang College 'Restricted Grants': $10,000-$24,999 donation

With regard to the three listings of donations in the $10,000-$24,999 category, I can see no way to determine whether this constitutes three donations, or one (or two, for that matter). Since the report includes all these listings however, I'm reproducing them here.

Still no word on whether the New School will return these donations from Hsu, as the University of Arkansas has done.

What Limbaugh Said

Read it at the Standard.

Commitment to Principle: One Man, Four Votes

A local news station reports on the practice in the Texas legislature of members voting on behalf of other members who are not present:

It certainly appears that this is an accepted practice in Texas -- done with the knowledge and consent of the lawmakers not present. In the US Congress at least, Members are not permitted to cast proxy votes for one another. Further, this type of practice would be far harder to pull off, since Members must present a voting card in order to record a ballot.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Eric Egland for Congress

Patrick Ruffini makes the case:

From corruption to influence peddling to selling out his conservative principles, John Doolittle has failed. The answer is Eric Egland, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and true conservative. I urge you to support the $10,000, 4-day online fundraiser for this worthy primary challenger being spearheaded by Red State.

In light of the ongoing FBI investigations into John Doolittle’s ties to Jack Abramoff, many potential challengers are talking about getting in. But Egland is the first and still the best. He understands the War on Terror firsthand, and his work supporting our troops has already earned the respect of the blogosphere. On earmarks, he’ll vote with John Campbell and not like appropriator John Doolittle who scored a miserable 2% on the Club for Growth’s RePORK Card and voted to send your tax dollars to the Charlie Rangel School of Public Service.

California’s 4th district has already been burned by one career politician, and its next Representative needs to be just the opposite. The district needs real change — not just a different Congressman, but a different kind of Congressman. If you want to clean our own house before the voters do it for us, there is no higher priority than CA-4. If you want someone who will go beyond just party-line votes on Iraq and the War on Terror, Eric Egland is your man.

One thing is certain: John Doolittle will have a hard time holding this seat, given the ongoing FBI investigation into his association with Abramoff. This is one of the rare cases where a first-time candidate is likely to be stronger than an incumbent. In a year when the NRCC and Republican candidates generally are dealing with a fundraising disadvantage in comparison to Democrats, it makes sense to nominate a candidate who can hold the seat cheaply, rather than one who will suck up resources best spent elsewhere.

According to, Doolittle spent $2.6 million holding onto his seat in 2006, against an unknown candidate who spent a million dollars less. How much more will Doolittle need to spend in 2008, when his Democratic opponent will have established his credibility, and will receive more assistance from a national Democratic organization flush with cash?

If the race can be won more cheaply by another candidate, so much the better.

Update: Things get a little dicier for the incumbent:

A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas to six aides to embattled GOP Rep. John Doolittle (Calif.), who is under investigation by the Justice Dept. over his ties to imprisoned former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The subpoenas were issued to Ron Rogers, Doolittle's chief of staff; Dan Blankenburg, deputy chief of staff; Alisha Perkins, scheduler; Evan Goitein, legislative director; Martha Franco, senior executive assistant; and Gordon Hinkle, field rep.

This is starting to seem like a case where the incumbent agrees to step aside in return for assistance with paying legal bills.

Barney Frank: Democrats Closing Debate in the House

Things have to get pretty bad for the pot to call itself black:

More here:

The rule — from the House Rules Committee — barred virtually all Republican amendments to the flood-insurance measure, even in cases where Frank had told the Rules Committee he wanted to work with the sponsors.

"She called me and said I’ve shut down all the Republican amendments,” Frank said, describing a phone call he received later from Rep. Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.), who chairs the Rules panel. And when Republicans protested, Frank twice voted “present” on successive leadership-backed motions related to the matter.

Frank’s criticism is striking, coming from a strong liberal with ties to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who controls the makeup of the Rules committee and so the panel’s conduct ultimately reflects on her.

“I just move paper,” said a committee aide, when asked to explain the crackdown on Republican amendments. But other Democrats on the Rules Committee were described as upset with the decision, and Republicans accused Slaughter of retaliating for their having issued a report this week critical of her management of the panel during this first year of the new Democratic Congress.

Here is a link to the Republican report that made the Democratic Committee Chair so angry. Highlights:

  • The new Majority's Rules Committee has rewritten bills to include massive tax increases and Medicare cuts with no debate.
  • The new Majority's Rules Committee has rejected more Minority-sponsored amendments than the previous Congress.
  • The new Majority's Rules Committee has issued more than double the number of closed rules allowing for no amendments than the previous Congress.
  • The new Majority's Rules Committee has adopted a policy of turning some Members of Congress away at the door of the Committee when they attempt to submit amendments.
  • The new Majority's Rules Committee has reduced by an entire day the amount of time Members have to review legislation and submit amendments for consideration.
  • The new Majority's Rules Committee has abandoned its pledges for regular order in the House, instead jamming through huge bills with less than 24 hours for review.

So the Democrats fail to live up to their promises by stifling debate and shutting out Republicans. Then when Republicans point it out, Democrats respond in such a draconian fashion that even Barney Frank complains. Nice.

Did the American people vote for pettiness and vindictiveness last November? Democrats are delivering.

Update: More at the Hill.

Politico: Democrats Could be Doing Much More to End War

Read it at the Standard.

Rangel's Slanders

Read it at the Standard.

The 2008 Candidates and their Comic Book Counterparts

This is a pretty funny item from Comedy Central. I have to love the mental image of Rudy Giuliani as the Punisher, or Fred Thompson as Onslaught:

Of course, you can't look at this without thinking of Ace's Definitive D&D Guide to the Democratic Presidential Candidates (2004). Of Kucinich, Ace said:

The interesting thing about making up a D&D character for Dennis Kucinich is that you know, with a very high level of confidence, that he's made up D&D characters for himself already. If there's one Democratic candidate who knows how many hit dice a Gelatinous Cube has, it's Dennis Kucinich. You've gotta know that somewhere in the back of his one of his closets is a first-print copy of the Fiend Folio, pages stuck together with decade-old bong resin.

Obviously, he's a Druid. You know, the whole Commune with Nature thing; he's like a Vegan, sickly-pale Beastmaster. He doesn't actually fight monsters; instead, he casts one of his many Summon Squirrels spells, shouting out, "O, my Friends of the Silver Forest! Come to me, O Woodland Creatures! Protect me from this fell beast!" You know, that kind of pansy shit.

And the big problem isn't that he's played the game. No, the problem with Dennis Kucinich is that he's the guy that got way, waaaaay too into D&D. The guy you worry about.

He's the guy that just can't limit himself to a two page character sheet; no, he's written a sixteen page opus about his character, tracing his family's lineage back to the Age of Chaos, and he's spent three months sculpting his own miniature because it's just imperative that his figurine displays his correct arms (broadsword in the right hand, sickle in the left) and armor (dragonhide studded leather). He's always talking in that godawful British accent he got from hearing other people repeat Monty Python bits, and he's forever nattering on about his character's improbably-convoluted backstory, how he was the bastard son of the Black King Gondorad, how he served in his youth as a guard in the King's Royal Concubinage (and what ribald tales he can tell you of that!), and that his evil half-sister Orgasma is forever scheming against him, lest he ever lay claim to the Black Throne.

And you're like, "Dude, that's all well and good, but I just need to know your Armor Class so I can see if this gnoll hits you with the stick."

And it's still true today.

Hat Tip: Joe

Newt's American Solutions Offers 'Real Change'

I received a chain E-mail from Newt today promoting his agenda for American Solutions. It says that solution number one is electing a President who's a former Speaker of the House from Georgia.

Just kidding.

Newt encourages me to watch the opening presentation here and lists examples of the 'real change' that America needs:

  1. Levees shouldn't break, and the Corps of Engineers should be changed until it is reliable.
  2. Bridges shouldn't fall, and our federal and state highway programs should be changed until we have reliable inspection and repair.
  3. Students should learn, and the bureaucrats and bureaucracies that dominate failing educational systems should be changed every day until the students are learning.
  4. The border should be protected for national security reasons, and it should be protected now.
  5. English should be the official language of government, and first-generation Americans should be offered intensive English education.
  6. Congress should control spending and spend within its budget, so we can get back to the balanced budgets we had when I left the speakership.
  7. The death tax should be abolished permanently.
  8. The capital gains tax should be abolished to increase the money in our retirement accounts and to help create jobs in America.
  9. An energy strategy should be implemented to meet national security, environmental and economic goals and to eliminate the danger of foreign dictators who are manipulating us through our energy needs.
  10. Americans should not be bogged down in long, indecisive campaigns: We need a strategy for defeating our enemies, defending our friends, winning the campaign in Iraq and bringing our troops home. (Watch my speech at the American Enterprise Institute on September 10 for how to do this.)

We ought to know soon (by September 30, to be precise) if Newt will run for President. I doubt it, but there's a lot of chatter...

Update: Rob just interviewed Newt and says 'I think he's going to run.' YouTube video over at Rob's place. (I note that Rob picks up on a point I made the other day. Good for me.)

Update II: More smoke over at Political Wire.

Update III: Matt Lewis interviews Newt as well, and he sounds like a candidate. However, there will be no announcement until October 21.

Saddam Risked His Life for WMD Secrets

Read it at the Standard.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

McCain Adopts 'the Kerry Model'

Best summary goes to John Tabin:

Isn't that the model where you win the nomination because people who don't particularly like you vote for you with the hope that other people will like you, and then you lose the general election because no one, in fact, likes you?

Want to Make $125,000?

Read it at the Standard.

Lee Bollinger's Case for War Against Iran

Read it at the Standard.

Hoekstra: 'Purge the Party; Purge the Institution'

Read it at the Standard.

Paulson Pushes Entitlement Reform

Read it at the Standard.

What Liberal Media Bias?

The Associated Press features an interesting photo from Reuters in its coverage of Bush's speech encouraging the UN to pursue freedom.

They elected not to use this photo -- of Bush actually addressing the UN today.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hillary Endorses Bush's Iraq Policy

Read it at the Standard.

Corzine Breaks the Law Again

Jon Corzine seems to have escaped the public relations hit associated with his motorcade speeding to meet with Don Imus. Now he's decided to use lawbreaking for political gain. The Wall Street Journal notes that states like New Jersey have been going beyond the guidelines for SCHIP -- the State Children's Health Insurance Program -- to subsidize health insurance for upper middle income families who don't need the help, rather than the lower middle-income families the program was intended to help:

In a tardy response to this trend, the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced in August that before states could further expand their Schip programs beyond 250% of poverty, they would have to enroll 95% of children below 200% of poverty. This limit moves the most disadvantaged children to the head of the line, before subsidizing those who need it less. In practice, it also checks Schip's mission creep. Such directives are a legitimate tool that all Administrations use to shape policy.

The usual liberal precincts claim to be enraged. Governor Corzine declared that New Jersey would unilaterally disregard the HHS rules and "vigorously continue" to enroll at 350% of poverty -- the highest ceiling in the country. And he'd do so even though about 119,000 New Jersey children under 200% of the poverty line remain uninsured -- and although the state spends 43% of its yearly Schip grant insuring adults.

For several years the number of uninsured New Jersey children under 200% has held steady, while New Jersey's Schip rolls have grown by about 10% a year. One major reason is that the state continues to enroll families with incomes up to $72,275. What's more, this public coverage is mostly substituting for the private variety. A recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates the crowd-out for Schip at 60%, meaning that in order to cover four new kids the government is paying for six more who already had private insurance. This effect is even more pronounced at higher income levels: Nationally, 89% of children between 300% and 400% already have private coverage.

Governor Corzine could always tax his own residents to pay for this largesse. Then again, New Jersey already has one of the worst tax burdens in the country, and Trenton has raised taxes five times in the last six years. For the Governor, the political beauty of Schip is that it allows New Jersey to finance its spendthrift ways on the backs of more responsible states...

And soon enough, every state may become New Jersey. As Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus recently noted, "I think the Children's Health Insurance Program is another step to move toward universal coverage. Everyone realizes that the goal of this legislation moves us a giant step further down the road to nationalizing health care." At least Mr. Baucus isn't disguising his socialist goal, unlike Mr. Corzine.
The administration ought to call more attention to what Corzine and New Jersey are doing -- denying assistance to the truly needy in order to make it available to those who already have health insurance. The Democrats in Congress are proposing to spend billions more to expand this trend to other states. They scream about the President's decision to finance a war on terror with deficit spending; but then propose to expand health insurance subsidies for those who already have it by expanding the deficit further. Is that the fiscal rectitude the American people voted for in 2006?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Canada Emulates America

Actually, this story makes Canada seem like some bizarro form of America -- and Bruce Allen sounds like their... I don't know -- Michael Savage, or something:

In one of his regular commentaries on radio station CKNW, Mr. Allen charged last week that Canada is being pilloried by "special-interest groups" who want special rules for themselves.

He mentioned "turban-wearing Mounties," those who complain about having to wear motorcycle helmets over their turbans, and the controversy over whether veiled women should be allowed to vote.

"If you choose to come to a place like Canada, then shut up and fit in," Mr. Allen declared, adding that demands from special-interest groups are easy to solve.

"There is the door. If you don't like the rules, hit it. We don't need you here. You have another place to go. It's called home. See ya."

Mr. Allen's comments evoked a storm of outrage within the Indo-Canadian community. Punjabi radio hot-line shows have been deluged by angry callers demanding some kind of action be taken against Mr. Allen. At least one complaint has been lodged with the CRTC.

I thought that Tim Horton's, Les Habitants, and Celine Dion were a recipe for domestic tranquility. Guess the bloom is off the rose.

Hillary Clinton: Albatross or Millstone?

That's the finding of Democratic pollster Celinda Lake:

A recent survey by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, however, showed Clinton and Obama trailing former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) in the 31 Democratic-held House districts regarded as most imperiled in 2008, and even potentially serving as a drag on those lawmakers' reelection chances.

The poll was conducted in August but has not been previously reported. It paints a "sobering picture" for Democrats, according to a memo by Lake and Daniel Gotoff that accompanies the poll report.

Giuliani takes 49 percent to Clinton's 39 percent, while the former mayor's lead over Obama is far smaller, 41 percent to 40 percent. "Despite Obama's relative advantage over Clinton, both candidates are significantly underperforming against the generic Democratic edge in the presidential and even against party identification," Lake and Gotoff wrote.

The news gets worse for Obama and Clinton as one delves deeper into the survey.

While the average lead of Democratic House members stands at 19 percentage points in the 31 vulnerable districts -- all but two of which are part of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's incumbent-protection program known as Frontline -- that number sinks considerably when the lawmakers are linked to either front-runner.

"Some people say [your Democratic incumbent] is a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and will support her liberal agenda of big government and higher taxes if she becomes president," the poll stated, before asking respondents whether they would still vote for their incumbent or choose a Republican candidate.

Whether the question named Clinton or Obama, the Democratic incumbent's lead shrank to an average of six points: 47 percent to 41 percent with Clinton leading the ticket, 44 percent to 38 percent with Obama as the nominee.

Recall too, that this is the finding in the 31 most endangered Democratic seats -- most of them held by freshmen who won last year. As Members seeking their first re-election, they are inherently vulnerable.

But if this is the outcome in the Democratic seats, what will it be in the GOP-held seats? Right now Democrats speak confidently of expanding their majority; they're looking at the open seats of retiring Members like Ray LaHood, Deborah Pryce, Jim Ramstad, and others. But if Hillary or Barack is a drag in those seats held by Democrats, they will be a millstone around the necks of challengers in GOP-leaning seats.

It all calls to mind that wonderful Hillary 'defense' from Representative Earl Pomeroy:

“It’s way too early to conclude that Hillary would be a disaster downballot for the party”

I'm not sure it is too early.