Saturday, January 27, 2007

Star Trek Meets Monty Python

Great, or totally lame?

I think it's great.

AP: House Democrats Shut out the GOP

Jim Abrams sums it up. Makes me wonder if he's been reading the IP. (I'm never above shameless self-promotion):

Democrats deny they are seeking retribution for 12 years of perceived slights. They also say they are not reneging on the assertion, in their bill of rights, that bills should go through a process of open hearings and full debate where the minority party can offer amendments...

During the past week, Democrats pushed through, with limited GOP input, two major bills: One would take away the pensions of lawmakers who commit crimes and the second would give partial voting rights to delegates from U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

Earlier hopes of a new era of civility quickly dissipated with the pensions bill. Republicans claimed that, without their knowledge, Democrats made last-minute changes that were written on a napkin...

Tempers grew even shorter on the delegate bill.

Democrats were sensitive to the fact that not a single Republican amendment had been allowed over the first three weeks of the session. So they ruled a GOP amendment OK to debate — even after the sponsoring lawmaker decided to withdraw it.

Boehner then introduced a resolution criticizing Democrats for trying to force the amendment. That effort failed by a party-line vote...

It appears that Republicans will have to wait a bit longer before they see how sincere Democrats are about giving them a voice.

The House this week plans to take up legislation to fund most federal programs through Sept. 30, the end of the current budget year. This task was foisted on the Democrats because the last Congress, with GOP in control, failed to pass all but a few spending bills.

With the House trying to work out a deal with the Senate on that spending plan and Congress about to begin work on the 2008 budget, there is no time to open up the bill to proposed changes, Hoyer said.

"I want to tell you candidly," he told the No. 2 House Republican, Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, "that I believe there will not be a full opportunity" to offer amendments.

Check here, and here.

If he writes about Fizzy Fruit, Mr. Abrams and I will have speaks.

Coolest Hotel You'll See Today

It's the Radisson SAS hotel in Berlin. What sets it apart? The world's largest indoor hotel aquarium. It's about 35 feet across, and 80 feet or so high. If you stay in a room looking over the inner atrium, this might be your view:

And here's what the aquarium itself looks like:

More cool photos here.

Ohio Dems to Bring Back the Draft

That's right - Ohio Democrats - this isn't a federal draft. And it's not for the National Guard - or any other military service for that matter. Ohio's Secretary of State wants to institute compulsory service for poll watching:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio's secretary of state is considering a plan to draft poll workers to supplement an aging work force and shorten the job's long hours, a spokesman said Saturday.

Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, plans to ask the GOP-controlled Legislature to authorize the proposal, Brunner spokesman Jeff Ortega said Saturday. Experts said Ohio would be the first state to use a draft.

Brunner believes the move would lower the average age of poll workers from 72 and ease the workload. Ohio has about 47,000 poll workers - or just over four per precinct.

Prospective poll workers would be notified by mail that they would be needed for two days of training and would be required to work an eight-hour election day. Currently, poll workers are in precincts for all 13 hours the polls are open.

Brunner met with House Speaker Jon Husted on Thursday, one day after bringing the idea up before an enthusiastic Ohio Association of Election Officials at their annual meeting, Ortega said. But the speaker gave the plan a cool reception.

``The first reaction is that we think voting and the democratic process is voluntary and not mandatory,'' Husted said. ``We agree on the goal. But this is not the only way to do it.''

Speaker Jon Husted is of course, a Republican. So once again we have a case where it is Democrats who actually push to create a draft. At least this time they didn't try to blame it on Republicans.

Ham Nation

Go check out Mary Katharine Ham (was that the name of the Church Lady?). She reminds us that the end result of the global environmental movement is frequently the continued impoverishment of the world's most vulnerable. The flip side of this of course, is that dynamic, growth-oriented capitalism is essential to clean water, clean air, and 'sustainable development:'

Our Faltering Economy

Strong sales of new homes, and durable goods orders. And all it took was a few months of a Democratic Congress!

I'm Younger than I Am

You Are 34 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

My wife won't believe this; she thinks I'm in my 50s.

Hat Tip: ALa

Welcome Headlines in GWOT

Commandos go after Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, and identifying a trend.

McCain's Stumble; Giuliani's Fundraising

Novak covers both of these topics in his column:

Dour McCain
By Robert D. Novak
Saturday, January 27, 2007

Democratic strategists who had feared Sen. John McCain as the potentially unbeatable Republican candidate for president in 2008 were surprised and delighted by his dour appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" last Sunday.

One Democratic leader referred to McCain's performance, in suggesting President Bush's additional 21,000 troops may be inadequate, as "comatose." A Republican adviser to McCain said it was one of the worst performances ever on "Meet the Press." The senator's defender said he could not be expected to be cheerful about a plan to send additional U.S. troops in harm's way.

A footnote: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is picking up support for president among House Republicans, headed by former Speaker Dennis Hastert...

Dollars for Rudy

Texas Republican contributors are being solicited to spend $30,000 for dinner with former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani at the Houstonian Hotel in Houston Feb. 1 to finance his "presidential exploratory committee." The "private" dinner will follow a 6:30 to 8 p.m. cocktail reception, costing $2,100 a person and $4,200 for couples.

The best-known host of Giuliani's Houston event is billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens Jr., chairman of the private equity firm BP Capital Management. Also on Giuliani's Texas fund-raising team are Tom Hicks, whose company owns the Texas Rangers baseball team; oil industry executive Jim Lee; and lawyer Patrick C. Oxford.

A footnote: A Giuliani fund-raiser will be held Jan. 29 in Pacific Palisades, Calif., at the home of Bill Simon, the 2002 Republican candidate for governor of California, costing $2,300 a person and $4,600 per couple.

Tom Hicks is the owner of the Texas Rangers, whose former managing partner was George W. Bush.

Dems: We're Not Sitting on Our Hands

Steny Hoyer says that Democrats may update the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. It's an interesting idea - politically. To Democrats, it may seem attractive because it could shift the emphasis away from undercutting the President's authority, in favor of an affirmative move to prosecute the war:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrats may push a new bill authorizing the use of force in Iraq -- replacing the 2002 bill that allowed the Bush administration to proceed with the war, a top Democrat said Friday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer -- number two in the House behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- said that is one step Democrats might pursue to change conditions in Iraq.

After a series of congressional hearings on the war, "we will then explore appropriate ways to affect the policy and strategy being pursued in Iraq," Hoyer said in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

"Possible vehicles" include spending bills for military and diplomatic activities in Iraq "and possibly a revised authorization for the use of military force in Iraq that more accurately reflects the mission of our troops on the ground," he said.

Next week, the Senate is expected to pass a bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, and, Hoyer said, the House will likely pass an identical bipartisan resolution.

The problem is that it's hard to put lipstick on a pig. Congressional Democrats don't support the military effort in Iraq; the majority of Democrats wants to pull out as soon as possible. But as we have seen, they are unwilling to force a withdrawal by cutting off funds; they're unwilling even to cut off funds for the surge. So what will Hoyer's 'new authorization' call for?

Hoyer can try to change the focus, but the resolution has to say something. And right now, the Democrast won't go on the record forcing a pullout, and they certainly won't go on the record in favor of continuing the operation. And however strong their feeling about the mission and the President, they still can't escape the political calculus: they want the President to be entirely responsible for whatever happens, even as they carp and criticize.

Until that changes, Democrats are limited to talking. For now at least, that's all Hoyer's 'new authorization' represents.

Hoyer's rationale for the timing of this move is interesting though:

"Frankly, it is time for the president to accept that we are no longer involved in a nation-building exercise, we are involved in conflict resolution."

I remember back when we tried to avoid nation building. Times sure change, huh?

Schilling for Senate

The Boston Herald notes that the idea of Curt Schilling for Senate is very popular on conservative talk radio in Massachusetts. However, Schilling isn't as sure that he's interested:

WRKO also put up an online petition yesterday asking people to choose between Schilling and Kerry. As of yesterday evening 800 votes had been cast and Schilling was leading by 96 percent.

Feinberg said he wants to build a real campaign around Schilling and will present him with the results of the online poll.

But Schilling may doesn’t feel he’s a good match for Capitol Hill.

“While I am a registered voter, I have too many problems with the political scene, and I don’t think I’d fit into it,” he said.

Schilling, who is planning to retire from baseball after this season, did give a glimpse of what he would do in a political office. His first task would be to “fire everybody and anybody who had anything to do with the Big Dig,” he said.

Schilling said in 2008 he’ll vote either for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whom he called a personal friend, or Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). “If they are both on the ticket it will be a tough choice,” he said.

Schilling is likely to be as strong as any other Republican candidate in Massachusetts, and probably stronger than many. But if he wants to pursue a political career, he'd probably be tempted to return to Arizona. He was born in the West (Alaska), went to college in Arizona, and is a hero in Arizona for pitching the Diamondbacks to the World Series. Plus, a Republican has a lot stronger future in politics in Arizona than in Massachusetts.

But Schilling does seem the type to take his own counsel, so who knows what he'll decide. And he sure would make a nice contrast with Kerry, wouldn't he?

And on another note, it is endlessly fascinating to me that so many athletes-turned-politician wind up being Republicans. Heath Shuler is probably the only Democratic former athlete I can think of right now (with Bill Bradley and Tom McMillen being the only others of recent vintage). On the other side, you have John Elway, Steve Young, JC Watts, Jim Bunning, Phil McConkey, Darrell Waltrip and Earl Monroe among the athletes who have sought office as Republicans, or considered it. And that's only off the top of my head. I am sure there are many others.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More Liberal Support for our Troops

Go check out the Crabitat, for a story about those whose ignorance we should pity. Our men and women in uniform deserve our full support. Those who are willing to give their last full measure of devotion to our country, and to each of us, deserve nothing but thanks.

Andy Roddick: Good Loser

If I had been routed like Andy Roddick was on the tennis court, I doubt I could have spoken this candidly about it:

After a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 drubbing from Federer in the semifinals of the Australian Open, Roddick delivered a stream of deadpan one-liners and jokes that revealed a wry sense of humor.

He was asked what it was like to be on center court at the end of a Grand Slam semi in which he was sent packing in straight sets in just 1 hour, 23 minutes.

"It was frustrating. It was miserable. It sucked. It was terrible," Roddick said. "Besides that, it was fine."

Roddick was asked to explain the match starting from the point where the score was 4-4 in the first set.

"I got broken. Then I got broken three more times. Then I got broken two more times in the third set. Then it was over 26 minutes later. Is that what you saw, too?" he said.

Questions turned to Jimmy Connors, the former great who is now coaching Roddick and who the player had earlier said helped to boost his game and his confidence to the point where he believed he was ready to challenge nine-time Grand Slam winner Federer.

Reporter: "What did Jimmy say to you straight after the game?"

Roddick: "He gave me a beer."

What was Connors advice coming into the match?

"There was a lot of strategy talk," Roddick said. But, "It's not so much like, `If you're down 6-4, 6-0, 2-0 ...' We didn't really talk about that. Oops."

The performance is already available on YouTube. The good part of the press conference runs from about 40 seconds, for about 3 minutes:

My favorite line: 'My dad didn't raise me to run away.'

Hat Tip: Galley Slaves

Rooting for Curt Schilling

As a Yankees fan, I hate Curt Schilling.

Wait - hate is a strong word... but it is the right one, now that I think about it. Hate.

Nevertheless, he'll have me firmly in his corner if this comes to pass. I may even donate money.

Update: The Herald notes that Massachusetts Republicans are talking about giving Kerry a tough race in 2008. No one would be happier than I to see it happen. But folks, this is Massachusetts we're talking about. They've voted for Kerry and Kennedy for years. Do you think they're going to wake up now?

Suddenly, I Can Afford Giuliani's Speaking Fee

Now he's free.

John Edwards' New Digs

I'd say that I've seen nicer, but I'm not sure I have.

Of course, the bigger scandal is Edwards' summer place. I think the home in North Carolina is mostly a rental property.

Anyway, what she said.

Joe Kennedy & Hugo Chavez: Perfect Together

This is disgusting:

Citgo can do whatever it wants to try to drum up business. But if Joe Kennedy had any self-respect, he wouldn't be a cheerleader for the authoritarian thug in Venezuela. Here's Kennedy's defense. But he might want to take a lesson from these folks, who understand what Chavez is about.

Hat Tip: ALa

Is Al Gore Running

Rolling Stone suggests that some people who know Al Gore are certain that he'll be running for President in 2008, and think he'd be the favorite for the Democratic nomination:

Indeed, Gore is unique among the increasingly crowded field of Democratic contenders. He has the buzz to beat Obama, the substance to supplant Hillary, and enough stature to enter the race late in the game and still raise the millions needed to mount a successful campaign. "Very few people who run for president can just step in when they want, with a superstar, titanic presence," says James Carville, the dean of Democratic strategists. "But Gore clearly is one of those. He's going to run, and he's going to be formidable. If he didn't run, I'd be shocked."

Look at what Gore has been up to lately, and it's hard to escape the impression that, on some level, he is already running for president. Over the past few months he has made high-profile appearances on the Today show, the Tonight Show and Oprah, and he displayed his trademark deadpan humor in a stint on Saturday Night Live. "He's keeping himself viable by keeping himself in the public eye," says Donna Brazile, who served as Gore's campaign manager in 2000...

But the nation's most experienced political strategists agree that Gore is carefully laying the groundwork for a possible run. "He's running in a nontraditional way, which has been powerful," says Bill Carrick, a veteran Democratic consultant. "It has made him look much more interesting than if he had just been the former vice president sitting out there and thinking about a run."

Gore has carved out a public role for himself that's usually reserved for rock stars and Tour de France winners. What Bono is to Third World debt and Lance Armstrong is to cancer, Gore is to global warming. "He's the indispensable character in the drama of the climate crisis," says Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "If it has a happy ending, he'll be the hero. If it has a tragic ending, he'll be the tragic hero." And like Bono, Gore can pack a house, even in red-state America: In January, tickets for a Gore speech at a 10,000-seat stadium in Boise, Idaho, sold out in less than twenty-four hours...

Gore's biggest opponent for the nomination would likely be Hillary Clinton -- and no one in the current field of Democrats is better situated to capitalize on her weaknesses than Gore. In September 2002, just before Clinton and every other Democrat who hoped to run for president voted to authorize the war in Iraq, Gore gave a no-holds-barred speech inveighing against the invasion. "The chaos in the aftermath of a military victory in Iraq," he warned, "could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam."

At the time, recalls Carrick, Washington insiders dismissed the speech as sour grapes. "The Democratic establishment all said, 'Oh, Al's just out there doing this because he's bitter. This just proves he's never going to run again.' But they all proved to be wrong and he was exactly right. There's nothing more powerful than that."

Thanks to his vocal opposition to the war -- and his decision to back Howard Dean's anti-war candidacy in 2003 -- Gore has all but sewn up the backing of the party's "Netroots" activists. Eli Pariser calls Gore "a close friend of MoveOn," and Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos, is equally unabashed in his support. "More than any other Democrat over the last four years, Gore has actually delivered," says Moulitsas, one of the Internet's most influential organizers. "If Gore enters the race, it's his nomination for the taking." In an online poll of 14,000 activists held in December by DailyKos, sixty percent voted for Gore. By comparison, Clinton received just 292 votes...

Most of gore's closest associates believe that he is unlikely to run. "He's hanging out with interesting people, he's making money, but he's still having a serious impact on the political discourse," says Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network. "You could look at all that and say, 'My God, he'll never run for president.'"

But others who have worked with Gore insist that he is simply biding his time. "Gore seems committed to being a late candidate," says Dick Morris, the strategist who masterminded Bill Clinton's '96 campaign. "He's not going to be out front as a playmaker. He's going to wait and see if there's room for him..."

Letting others battle-test Hillary's viability as a front-runner has an added benefit for Gore: It allows him to put off a bruising political confrontation with Bill Clinton. Some insiders suggest that a reticence to take on his generation's most brilliant political mind -- and someone renowned as a take-no-prisoners campaigner -- is the primary factor keeping Gore off the roster. "It's one thing to distance yourself from Bill Clinton, as Gore did in 2000," says a Democratic strategist who has advised both men. "It's another to run against Bill Clinton when the former first lady is heading the field."

If Gore does decide to run, there is no question that his entry into the race would instantly reshuffle the deck. "He would dislodge a whole lot of Hillary support," says Luntz, "opening up this race so that anyone would have a shot." He would also have history on his side: Andrew Jackson and Grover Cleveland, both of whom won the popular vote but lost the presidency, reached the White House on their next tries...

But Gore's greatest appeal may come, ultimately, from what he represents to voters fed up with two terms of the Bush administration. "He'll be able to make the case that he should have been president already," says Carrick. "And that had he been president, things would have been a lot different, with the Iraq war being Exhibit A."

This, agrees Luntz, is Gore's greatest draw. "Democratic voters in 2008 are not only looking to turn back the last eight years, but to erase the last eight years," he says. "If I were working for Gore, I'd message around a single word: Imagine. 'Imagine if I'd been president instead of George W. Bush. Imagine where we'd be today.' "

It certainly seems that Al Gore is more popular today than he was 8 years ago, and you have to think that if he runs in 2008, there will be lots of people who'll wish that he had been President instead of Bush. But there's a big difference between that and voting for him in 2008.

Democratic primary voters will remember that Gore in 2000 ran in a time of peace and with the benefit of the 'great Clinton economy.' Looking back, 2000 looks like a new 'era of good feelings,' with the public blissfully unaware of the terrorist threat that was about to become front page news. And Gore ran a bad campaign and managed to lose. He was stiff and programmed, and managed to make a range of bad mistakes. From 'the kiss,' to his bizarre debate performances ('cluck-clucking,' and heading over to Bush's podium), to his managing to lose his home state, there are plenty of missteps for his rivals to point out. Reminded of them, will primary voters back Gore again?

His entry into the race would have an interesting effect on the Democratic side. There are recent polls that show him in third, behind Clinton and Gore - roughly on par with Edwards. I'm not sure how much you can tell from those polls though, since respondents may have already decided that he's not a candidate.

If Gore were to run, I would have to think his support would draw significantly from both Clinton and Obama. Some of Hillary's support probably comes from folks who are looking for a continuation of Bill Clinton's policies; they might see Gore as a better vehicle. Others who back Hillary because they see her as more electable than a neophyte like Obama, might also switch to Gore. From Obama, he would likely peel off some of the hard left, anti-Hillary crowd.

As the race develops though, I think Obama might benefit the most. If Gore joins Hillary and Obama in the 'Top 3,' then I think it helps Obama make the case for somebody new. Competing against Hillary and Gore, Obama can ask voters whether they really want to back in time 8 years - to the team that lost in 2000 - or whether they want to try something new. I suspect that could be a strong appeal.

And if Gore were to get the nomination, it's unclear to me he would be a favorite in the general election. First off, the folks who stand on street corners yelling 'repent! the end is near' rarely win popularity contests. Gore's remedies for global warming are costly and extreme (just one example here), and some of the bloom will be off the rose once people re-examine his policy proposals. Further, one way or another, Iraq is not likely to be a deciding issue in 2008. President Bush will either have set a course for a withdrawal or draw-down (which I consider likely) or the Republican nominee will. So outside the Democratic primaries, I don't think opposition to the war will be a big issue.

Expect this issue to get a lot of attention, since the campaign has started so incredibly early. The media will be beating the bushes looking for some new angle, and a potential Gore entry might sell some papers. Nothing else is.

Hat Tip: Taegan Goddard

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Left Again Pressing for Impeachment

If you ignore everything that Tom Maguire has written about the Plame affair, assume that Dick Cheney has broken the law, and then somehow convince people that Cheney's alleged lawbreaking constitutes an impeachable offense by Bush with regard to Iraq... then well, it must be time to impeach:

The news from former vice presidential chief of staff "Scooter" Libby's trial on charges of obstructing a federal investigation -- particularly the revelation that Vice President Dick Cheney wrote a memo that effectively confirms his intimate involvement in strategizing about how to counter the inquiry into the Bush administration's politically-motivated outing of CIA operative Valarie Plame -- should slowly but surely edge the prospect of impeachment back onto the table from which Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi removed it.

Cheney is expected to testify in the Libby trial and, if a federal jury rejects his testimony as less than credible, that would seem to create an appropriate opening for members of the House who take seriously their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution to entertain a discussion of impeaching the vice president...

The New Mexico impeachment initiative, one of several currently moving forward in state legislatures around the country, is designed to force members of Congress to take seriously the increasingly-popular demand that the president and vice president be held to account for misleading Congress over the Iraq war, supporting torture, engaging in illegal spying on U.S. citizens and using their offices to punish critics...

With President Bush and the Republicans still sinking in the polls, there's not much chance that Nancy Pelosi would foolishly toss him a lifeline like this. She's well aware that whatever message the voters were sending in November, it was not 'impeach the President.' However, it will be fun to watch the Democratic leadership try to respond rationally to people who regard Keith Olbermann as a newsman.

Update: Looks like the Nation is giving bonuses to people who write on impeachment. Liz Holtzman pens a piece as well. Ms. Holtzman seems to have made a career out of advocating impeachment recently. It's nice to see she can find work, given that her political career ended in negative campaigning and ethical improprieties:

New York City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman's reelection bid collapsed before the September primary when a city investigation reported that she showed "gross negligence" in dealings with the Fleet Bank. She had given Fleet a lead underwriting role on a New York City bond seven months after Fleet loaned $450,000 to her 1992 U.S. Senate campaign. Holtzman, who became a national figure for her forceful questions in the Nixon impeachment hearings, found herself saying she "did not remember" if she knew that Fleet was seeking underwriting business when she met with bank officials about a campaign loan. What she did say was that she wished she "had done things differently

The Wave of the Future

If you like your soda carbonated, why wouldn't you want your fruit carbonated, too, right?

After all, it's just an effort to eat healthier:

It's Fizzy Fruit — whole grapes or slices of apples or pineapples carbonated in a secret process with the same carbon dioxide that's in soft drinks but without added sugar.

At a time of resolutions to eat better and calls for healthier snacks for kids, two powerhouses of food retailing, Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven, just began selling Fizzy Fruit in some stores in the Southeast and Southwest. Disney thinks enough of the product that it plans a March promotion for Fizzy Fruit cups tied to its upcoming film "Meet the Robinsons."

The fruit is raising eyebrows as one of the more unusual — if not provocative — food items in stores.

Food scientist Steven Witherly predicts kids may like it so much that overall fruit consumption actually could rise. But Witherly, author of the upcoming book "Why Humans Like Junk Food," warns, "The consumption of nonfizzed fruit may decrease."

Next up: carbonated soy, broccoli, and wheat germ.

Changing How Washington Works

So the House Democrats promised a five-day work week as part of changing Washington. Wondering what they're up to today? Check the House schedule here:

Thursday - JANUARY 25, 2007

The House is not scheduled to meet.

Friday - JANUARY 26, 2007

The House is not scheduled to meet.

OK, so they're not working a five-day workeek. How's the effort going at opening up the proceedings, to ensure that the minority has a chance to influence the process?

Don't ask.

Next week the House will consider a bill to fund the government for the rest of 2007. It will encompass dozens of agencies and spend hundreds of billions of dollars. How many amendments will the House debate?

None, apparently.


...Mr. Lewis and Mr. Obey are involved in what we are doing here, and we are, after all, talking about nine bills, numerous departments and agencies and objects, and frankly, if that bill is open to amendment, CRs, as you know, generally come with closed rules, and they are clean CRs usually, but even some nonclean CRs, and that is for the public's sake, things that have additional items other than simply funding levels at a given level, have been closed rules.

Obviously to try to get through nine different bills on the House floor between now and February 25, much less February 15, if the bill is open to amendment, as appropriation bills generally are, as you know, would be something probably we would not be able to do. So that is being discussed, trying to figure it out.

I don't have a definitive answer for you here on Wednesday, but I want to tell you candidly that I believe there will not be a full opportunity in the sense that there has been, and I am not sure that I can represent to the gentleman that there will be an open rule.

Read the debate and you will see that the GOP Whip doesn't seem phased at the prospect of not being allowed to offer amendments. It is true that in the past, the GOP might have recommended a closed rule (permitting no amendments) on such a bill. But weren't the Democrats going to usher in an era of open debate? So far, through 57 votes and three weeks of debate, the House hasn't even voted on one amendment!

Isn't that sort of - you know - undemocratic?

Chris Dodd's Amy Carter Moment

Heh. At least Dodd can rest easy, knowing it won't be this moment that cost him the Presidency:

Senator Christopher Dodd returned to Connecticut on Friday for the first time since announcing his candidacy for president January 11th on the Imus in the Morning program. He dared not say to Imus what he told the audience of 600 people at the Old State House early in the evening.

Imagine the hoots of derision by the Imus menagerie if Dodd has shared his "Ask Amy" moment with the popular talker. Dodd wound up his tub-thumping speech by telling the enthusiastic audience that his 5 year old daughter Grace had asked him one recent morning, "What will my life be like?" A politician who touts his experience as much as Dodd does ought to know better. What a wise moppet it is who asks such questions of her dad over breakfast. Given the discreet eye-rolling quotient that accompanied that part of the speech, the five-term senator might want to leave the domestic hokum at home.

In what could be a chilling foreshadowing, Dodd's Friday night speech, locals noted, was quickly shoved off the news by the dramatic demolition and implosion of the 35 year old New Haven Coliseum on Saturday morning.

No, what cost him the Presidency is the whole 'obscure cookie-cutter liberal Senator with no executive experience from a small state' thing.

The coliseum implosion was only so-so as these things go, anyway.

The Right Way to Go Green

Mortman has it.

British Muslims Push for Censorship

ALa has the story:

"...A report by the Islamic Human Rights Commission argues that films as diverse as The Siege, a portrayal of a terrorist attack on New York starring Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis, the Disney film Aladdin and the British comedy East is East have helped demonise Muslims as violent, dangerous and threatening, and reinforce prejudices.

The study, titled The British media and Muslim representation: the ideology of demonisation, argues that Hollywood has a crucial role in influencing how the public views Muslims.

A survey conducted as part of the research revealed that Muslims in Britain felt negative images of their faith on the big and small screen had consequences in their daily lives. Those interviewed "found a direct correlation between media portrayal and their social experiences of exclusion, hatred, discrimination and violence".

And if you didn't see this, check it out.

If CAIR and their British brethren put as much effort into combating Islamic terrorism as they do in combating negative perceptions of Muslims, there wouldn't be any negative perceptions of Muslims.

Back to the top.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Giuliani: The Electable Conservative

So says Steven Malanga of the City Journal:

But in a GOP presidential field in which cultural and religious conservatives may find something to object to in every candidate who could really get nominated (and, more important, elected), Giuliani may be the most conservative candidate on a wide range of issues. Far from being a liberal, he ran New York with a conservative’s priorities: government exists above all to keep people safe in their homes and in the streets, he said, not to redistribute income, run a welfare state, or perform social engineering. The private economy, not government, creates opportunity, he argued; government should just deliver basic services well and then get out of the private sector’s way. He denied that cities and their citizens were victims of vast forces outside their control, and he urged New Yorkers to take personal responsibility for their lives...

Read the whole, lengthy piece. Malanga makes a great argument that Giuliani is a conservative on taxes, spending, welfare, policing, and a range of related issues. This is all true, and it is important. It's heartening to be reminded of all that Giuliani accomplished in making New York 'work' again.

But when people express fear that he is too liberal to be nominated by the Republican party, none of those issues is the reason for the concern. It is all wrapped up in abortion, gun control, and immigration. The Mayor will need to come up with the right way to address those concerns before he can hope to become the President.

I'll also add this: it's high time that people accept that Giuliani's support among conservatives is not due to ignorance about his views. People are aware that he is not a 'Reagan conservative.' And I bet he has some supporters who assume that because he is from New York, his record is probably more liberal that it actually is. Those folks might even be pleasantly surprised as they learn more about him.

But as I've said before: Reagan isn't running this year. If the choices are McCain, Romney, Giuliani, and... whoever - well, I suspect that Giuliani can hold his own with any of them.

Hat Tip: Scott Johnson

Update: Check out Captain Ed as well - another conservative who thinks Giuliani is to be taken seriously.

Update II: Not enough people have seen the great Bill Murray movie 'Quick Change,' which is set in New York before Giuliani was Mayor. The movie revolves around how nothing is good in New York, and nothing works in New York. The main characters all want to get out. If you watch it today, you'll find it hard to believe it's a depiction of the same city. That is largely due to Rudy Giuliani.

Update III: Another blogger asserts that a film called 'Ghostbusters' (sp?) is arguably better-known than 'Quick Change,' and also serves to portray pre-Giuliani NYC in a pretty harsh light. Guess I'll need to rent that movie - if I can find anyone who's ever heard of it.

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Chavez Re-enacts Old Monty Python Skit

He says that Castro is 'almost jogging.' Maybe he means that they rolled the body downhill. Sometimes those can look similar.

How did he prove that Castro is doing well? He showed a letter signed by him:

Chavez held up a letter and said, "I'm going to show you something, for those who say that Fidel is dying, that he can't talk, that he can't move."

The TV camera zoomed in on the letter and on Castro's signature in black ink. "Look closely at the strokes of the signature. We are extremely happy, Fidel, about the news of your recuperation."

I know I'm not the only one reminded of this:

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I've Signed

Have you?

Hat Tip: Say Anything

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Jesse Jackson: I Am Somebody

I knew that Jesse Jackson had gone on Saturday Night Live and read Green Eggs and Ham (terrible picture quality), but I never realized that it was sort of a self-parody of his appearance on Sesame Street years before.

This is the funniest/scariest thing I have ever seen:

I don't think my daughter can watch this DVD anymore.

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Senate Democrats Block Earmark Reform

What a surprise. Congressional Democrats call for fiscal reform and changing the culture in Washington, but flip-flop en masse to oppose earmark reform. Twenty Senate Democrats voted for a virtually identical when it was proposed by Tom Daschle. Now that it's offered by a Republican however, they block it without ever having to take a vote on the merits.

Here's the roll call. Forty-seven out of forty-eight voting Democrats voted against cloture. (Remember that when Senate Democrats complain about the pernicious, anti-democratic nature of the filibuster, by the way).

Here's what some Democratic leaders had to say about the proposal when Senator Daschle offered it in 1995:

Sen. Byrd, 3/21/1995
“The Daschle substitute does not result in any shift of power from the legislative branch to the executive. It is clear cut. It gives the President the opportunity to get a vote. So I am 100 percent behind the substitute by Mr. Daschle.”

Sen. Byrd, 3/22/1995
“I have no problem with giving the President another opportunity to select from appropriation bills certain items which he feels, for his reasons, whatever they may be, they may be political or for whatever reasons, I have no problem with his sending them to the two Houses and our giving him a vote.”

Sen. Feinstein, 3/21/1995
“What a line-item veto is all about is deterrence, and that deterrence is aimed at the pork barrel. I sincerely believe that a line-item veto will work.

Sen. Dorgan, 4/25/1996
“I have long believed that giving the President line-item veto authority will be helpful in imposing budget discipline. I think it will be helpful in preventing unsupportable spending projects from being added to spending bills without public notice, debate, or hearings. I have voted for the line-item veto three times in the past three Congresses.”

Sen. Biden, 3/27/96
“Mr. President, I have long supported an experiment with a line-item veto power for the president.”

Sen. Levin, 3/27/96
“That so-called expedited rescission process it seems to me, is constitutional and is something which we can, in good conscience, at least I, in good conscience, support,”

Sen. Feingold, 3/22/95
“The line-item veto is about getting rid of those items after the president has them on his desk. I think this will prove to be a useful tool in eliminating some of things that have happened in Congress that have been held up to public ridicule.”

Sen. Dodd, 3/23/96
“I support the substitute offered by Senator Daschle. I believe it is a reasonable line-item veto alternative. It requires both Houses of Congress to vote on a President’s rescission list and sets up a fast-track procedure to ensure that a vote occurs in a prompt and timely manner.”

How many of these statesmen voted to avoid a vote on the amendment today? All of them. Evan Bayh (and Joe Lieberman - sort of) are the only Democrats who voted in favor of earmark reform.

I guess where you stand depends on where you sit.

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Strong Economic Growth Shrinks Deficit - Again

Last night the President promised to submit a budget that would eliminate the federal deficit by 2012. Today, the Congressional Budget Office announced that if current laws and policies remain unchanged, the budget will 'essentially be balanced' by 2011, and will have a substantial surplus by 2012. The surprising good news is due to surging government revenues.

Note that when CBO assumes that 'current laws and policies remain unchanged,' that means they anticipate that taxes will go up again after 2011, when President Bush's tax cuts are slated to expire. If Congress extends those cuts or makes them permanent, the deficit picture looks somewhat worse. CBO also projects that federal revenues will stay around 18.6 percent of GDP, a 'historically high level.'

Democrats will fight tooth and nail to maintain current policy, and allow taxes to go back up. They need to do that in order to fix the alternative minimum tax, expand domestic spending, and not increase the deficit.

Update: Andrew Roth notes the lousy job that CBO has done on capital gains tax estimates. Rather than 'cost' the Treasury $5.4 billion, the capital gains tax cut gained $133 billion in revenue.

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Is Giuliani Running

Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith explain the skepticism.

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Punchline of the Morning (Update: Kerry's Out!)

"Kerry Aides Prep Battle Plan"

I am willing to bet that even John Kerry recognizes that his chances of getting elected President are about the same as mine: one in a million. The Democratic base wants no part of him, and there is already a broad range of favorites and dark horses on the Democratic side.

And if that weren't enough, there's the matter of the $13 million that the Boston Globe notes he has left over in his campaign account from 2004. How can it not stick in the craw of Democratic activists that he left that money 'sitting on the table,' in a close Presidential race?

John Kerry has a better chance of waiting until 2012 and trying then. While that's probably a longshot, it's better than running this year. Perhaps like Al Gore, he can allow some nostalgia to develop over his effort, and entertain a Presidential bid after some time has passed.

Update: WOW! Talk about results! Kerry is not running in 2008.

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Google Gapminder

Will Google own the world? They will if they keep producing free toys like this one: Gapminder World. For (apparently) any nation on the globe, it allows you to see the change in per capita GDP and life expectancy since 1980, on an annual basis. Put a check mark next to one of the countries on the right, and click play to see how it works.

For example, I plotted Ireland, Jordan, and Sierra Leone (the latter because it ranks near the bottom in both categories). Each of the three nations shows one year when trends shifted dramatically. It makes you want to look at a history book and see what happened in the year in question.

Hat Tip: Greg Mankiw

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Senate Vote on Earmark Reform Today

Today the Senate will vote on the Gregg-DeMint 'legislative line item veto.' The vote will be as part of the minimum wage bill - because that is where the Democratic leadership insist it take place. And now the Democrats are saying it should be defeated because it's unrelated to the minimum wage.

Call your Senators and tell them that if they applauded during the State of the Union when the President said this:

Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour – when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate – they are dropped into Committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk... The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process... expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress.

then they need to vote for earmark reform today.

Reference my post on this yesterday, as well.

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State of the Union

The text is available here.

I believe the line of the night goes to my wife. When the President stated that 'we can balance the budget - without raising taxes,' she commented 'Pelosi looks like a cheerleader who doesn't understand football. She doesn't know whether to stand up and applaud or not.'

I'll be interested to learn more regarding the President's plan to reduce gasoline consumption in the US by 20 percent in the next 10 years. According to the Energy Information Administration, gasoline consumption in the US has gone up an average of about 1.6% annually in the last 10 years. It has continued to climb through steep price increases and the advent of hybrid vehicles. To arrest that increase and reverse it by 20 percent would be a dramatic achievement indeed - bringing us back approximately to 1986 levels.

Color me skeptical.

For what it's worth, the Congressional Budget Office reports that 43% of the petroleum consumed in the US is in the form of gasoline. So a reduction of 20 percent from current levels would mean a significant drop in oil use - all other things being equal.

On Iraq, I doubt last night's speech made any difference at all. The domestic political questions are settled, and the speech probably won't influence the only remaining question - whether we win or lose.

When I say that the domestic political questions are settled, I mean first that the President will get his surge. Whether due to respect for the constitutional authority of the Commander in Chief, or political calculation, the Democrats will not block it. Second, the war has failed - at least as far as domestic politics goes. The media and the Democratic party have too much invested in that failure to let it slip from their grasp now. If Baghdad is ultimately secure, and oil revenue is shared, and the Maliki government can stabilize the nation, then the goalposts will be moved here in the US, so Bush can be blamed.

The history books have not been written of course, and if the surge does succeed, objectively, then Bush may someday be regarded as the man who remade the Middle East and set us on the course for winning the War on Terror. He can still hope for that.

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Is Obama Black, and Does His Whiteness Hurt Him

Mickey puts together a great series of polls and articles addressing the question of why Obama is doing better among white voters than black voters. One apparent reason: some argue that he isn't 'black.'

Another reminder of how the debate over race is turned on its head in America. Folks who support preferences based on nothing more than skin color turn around and argue that race is about more than just the color of the skin. So Bill Clinton is black and Barack Obama is white. And if Obama isn't careful, he'll be called an 'Uncle Tom' before this whole thing is over.

Read Mickey's material for this great observation:

Dickerson has great fun mocking the civil-rights establishment's forthcoming attempt to put Obama in their debt. ("Never having been 'black for a living' with protest politics or any form of racial oppositionality, he'll need to assure the black powers that be that he won't dis the politics of blackness (and, hence, them) ... "). She only veers off the rails when, after explaining how Obama's lack of slave ancestry hurts him among blacks, she tries to flip the blame and "point out the continuing significance of the slave experience to the white American psyche; it's not we who can't get over it. It's you." How's that?

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House Passes Member Pension Reform Bill

The Hill covers it here, including the Democrats' backing off on pushing the effective date back two years:

The House yesterday unanimously passed reform legislation after Democratic leaders pulled a provision that would have let lawmakers convicted in the 110th Congress keep their pensions.

Republicans led bipartisan opposition to the provision, which was inserted to parallel the Senate bill but would have delayed the pension-rights reform until Jan. 1, 2009.

Several Republicans who sponsored similar reform legislation in the 109th Congress lined up to protest when they heard that the provision had been added.

Rumor on the floor had it that withdrawal of the controversial provision had been so hasty that it was handed to the clerk written on a napkin.

I believe this report is inaccurate in one critical aspect, however. The reporter (suspiciously named 'Kucinich') implies that the amendment which may have been written on a napkin would have moved up the effective date to the date of enactment. But if you look at the text of the bill as introduced here, you see that was the effective date all along. So the amendment on the napkin would have pushed it back to 2009.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ending the Culture of Corruption - NOT

Democrats trying to make sure that Members convicted of corruption can still collect their pensions.

Call your Congressman.

And also, check out the House floor debate on the legislation:


Mr. SHADEGG. Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Speaker.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman may state his parliamentary inquiry.

Mr. SHADEGG. Can the Chair tell me if this bill was reported out of committee?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The bill before us has not been reported by the committees to which it was referred.

Mr. SHADEGG. So it has not been reported out of committee?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. That is correct...

Mr. SHADEGG. Can the gentleman tell me where and when this bill was amended?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. It is amended in the motion that is placed at the desk.

Mr. SHADEGG. Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Speaker. Has the majority been provided the text of the bill at this time, or can you tell me when it was amended?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. It is the Chair's understanding that the bill is available to Members in the Chamber and copies have been provided.

Mr. SHADEGG. Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Speaker. We just asked for a copy of the bill, a Member just did, and was not able to get it. Do we have more than one copy?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The official copy is at the desk and the Chair understands that there are other copies that have been distributed throughout the Chamber.

Mr. SHADEGG. One further parliamentary inquiry.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman will state his further parliamentary inquiry.

Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Speaker, it has been widely reported today that this bill has a delayed effective clause which would not make it effective until January of 2009. That is different than the introduced bill, which had an immediate effective date.

Ms. MILLENDER-McDONALD. Is that a parliamentary inquiry that he is just suggesting here?

Mr. SHADEGG. Can the Chair clarify whether or not it has been amended in that respect?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The content of the bill is a subject for Members to discuss during the debate. It is not for the Chair to state...

Mr. KIRK. Mr. Speaker, with regard to the amendment in the final form of this bill, my understanding is we are now dealing with a handwritten piece of paper on a napkin?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The bill, as amended, is at the desk.

Mr. KIRK. Is anything typed and shared with the minority?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The engrossing Clerk has the official paper at the desk.

Mr. KIRK. Which is handwritten.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman may examine the copy at the desk for himself.

Mr. KIRK. I will take that as a ``yes...''

Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, of course this subject matter is very important, the Congressional Pension Accountability Act; and I just went up to the desk and asked for a copy of the bill that we will be debating. And I was told that they did not have a copy. The Speaker has said that there are copies available for Members, and I would like to know where the copies are and how many copies are available for the Members.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. There is an engrossing copy at the desk and further copies will be made available to Members throughout the Chamber.

Mr. WHITFIELD. When will copies be made available for us?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Currently. The Chair observes their being passed out as we speak...

Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, although the rules package contained a provision that said the majority would provide legislative text to the minority 48 hours before a vote, that is not, in fact, a rule; is that correct?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. A motion to suspend the rules, as the gentleman knows, obviates any point of order to that effect.

Mr. SHADEGG. Further parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Speaker.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman will state his parliamentary inquiry.

Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Speaker, is there a means by which I can appeal the ruling of the Chair in order to allow the Members of the minority the time in the civility clause that is 48 hours to see the language of this bill which was apparently amended within the last 45 minutes?

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Will the gentleman suspend for one moment.

Mr. SHADEGG. I would very much appreciate an answer to my question, Mr. Speaker. I don't think that is asking too much.

But don't worry; House Democrats only 'suspended' their promises to maintain open and honest debate during the first 100 hours, while they were delivering on their 6-point campaign agenda.

So I guess this must represent the way they intend to do business going forward.

Update: The House passed the bill by a vote of 431-0. Apparently it was amended, but according to the AP, it would take effect upon becoming law - implying that the amendment above was rejected. I will pass along greater detail once I have it.

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Senate Vote on Line-Item Veto Today (Update: Maybe)

So reports the Hill:

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) yesterday filed for cloture on an amendment giving the president line-item veto authority, setting up a likely vote today on whether to add the line-item bill to the Senate's minimum wage legislation.

Gregg and Republican leaders struck an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to hold a roll-call vote on the line-item plan late last week after a partisan standoff over the amendment nearly derailed the Senate's ethics reform bill. While the line-item agreement paved the way for overwhelming passage of the ethics bill, it faces long odds in the Senate as well as future conference negotiations with the House.

Of course, the legislation is not actually a 'line-item veto.' Rather, it's a 'legislative line item veto' or 'enhanced rescission.' It's the bill that Gregg and Jim DeMint have fought hard for.

Proving that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, the Associated Press offers a great piece noting that many Senate Democrats who backed this proposal when it was offered by Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, now oppose it when it is offered by Republicans:

Most adamant in opposition is Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., who assaulted the idea last week and again Monday as an attack on Congress' control over the federal purse strings.

"Make no mistake, this line-item veto authority would grant tremendous — and dangerous — new power to the president," Byrd said. "He would have unchecked authority to imperil congressional power over the purse, a power that the constitutional framers felt was absolutely vital to reining in an overzealous president."

But in seeking to derail Gregg's bill, Byrd is effectively filibustering a version of the line-item veto that is similar to one he backed 12 years ago.

That measure, written by then-Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., was offered as an alternative to a GOP version requiring a two-thirds vote to override presidential line-item vetoes. Thirty-seven Senate Democrats voted for the proposition, including 20 Democrats still serving. Among them: Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

Nineteen Democrats, including liberal stalwarts like Edward Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts, voted for the stronger GOP version; 11 are still in the Senate.

Daschle's plan, Byrd said at the time, "does not result in any shift of power from the legislative branch to the executive. It is clear cut. It gives the president the opportunity to get a vote."

Update: Key Senate staff indicates that the vote definitely could come today, but is more likely tomorrow. So play it safe and contact your Senators today.

And note that technically, the vote won't be on the amendment, but on 'cloture' - so Senators may claim that they're not voting against the amendment, but only on when and how to debate it. Don't fall for it. This vote may be the only one on this measure, so make it count.

Update: Andrew Roth covers this as well.

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Democratic Infighting on Global Warming

I've commented before on the difficult challenge Nancy Pelosi faces, of trying to rein in her committee chairmen. Too many of them waited 12 years to regain their positions of power, and aren't about to cave to Ms. Pelosi just because she happens to be America's Greatest Woman Leader - or whatever the appropriate title is. The Washington Post gives an interesting look at the budding civil war over global warming:

Democrats, [Pelosi] explained, had to show a sense of urgency about the carbon emissions that threaten the planet, and so she was creating a select committee on energy independence and climate change to communicate that urgency. The new committee, she said, would help the caucus speak with one voice -- even if it trampled the turf of existing committees...

Pelosi's power play demonstrated her seriousness about climate, a complex issue that may be as legislatively difficult and politically treacherous as health care was in the 1990s. But it also reflected her seriousness about imposing discipline on her caucus and preventing a return to the days when long-serving Democratic chairmen ran their committees as independent fiefdoms.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (Mich.) -- the longest-serving House member and a legendary defender of his committee's prerogatives as well as the carbon-emitting auto industry of his home state -- had made it clear that he expected to lead the party's global-warming debate in a rather leisurely fashion. Pelosi was end-running him.

Read the whole thing. It's rather interesting.

I really liked this line, by the way:

The strict emissions cuts that Pelosi supports had no chance in the GOP Congress, but they still face an uphill climb. Carbon-reliant industries including coal, oil, agriculture and manufacturing will resist any strong legislation, a position that will pose serious dilemmas for Democrats in districts where those industries and their unions hold sway. Some representatives of low-income minority districts are also concerned that a climate bill would slap heavy energy costs on their constituents.

Implicit and unspoken in this statement is the fact that these industries would have no influence whatsoever if they did not act as proxies for the interest of millions of voting Americans. These industries are not inherently powerful in this debate; the fact that this legislation will raise prices to millions of their consumers is what gives them the power.

Update: The Hill shows how ugly the infighting is getting:

“Let’s get in his grille,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), referring colloquially and aggressively to Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.).

Weiner was talking to fellow Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee panel last Thursday; they were disgruntled about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) plan to take away some of their turf by creating a Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming with Markey at its head.

“Guys from Boston are soft,” Weiner added, according to sources at the private meeting last Thursday, and said they should constantly preempt Markey by holding Energy and Commerce panel hearings a day before any scheduled hearing by the new select panel. If Markey traveled to Stockholm, Energy and Commerce members would travel to Stockholm, he said. Lawmakers and aides present chuckled.

Oh yeah. This is going to work GREAT.

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Hastert to Endorse Romney

That's what I hear, as well. Of course, it's not worth as much as it would have been before American knew the name 'Mark Foley.'

Meanwhile, Giuliani is working the Hill with the backing of Peter King, Vito Fossella, and Pete Sessions. Sessions is interesting, in that he is a traditional Reagan conservative on social and economic policy. He is a rising star, who sought the chairmanship of the NRCC.

Update: Matt Lewis recalls that Dennis Hastert has never been a fan of Senator McCain.

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The Richardson Rumors

Now that Governor Richardson has announced his candidacy, bloggers and newscasters are discussing the rumors that follow him around. Jim Geraghty notes that Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation wants Governor Richardson to talk about his views on women. He also wonders if Mickey might be sending a cryptic message when he questions whether the Governor is trying to 'skirt' an issue.

I've heard such concerns from a close former colleague of the Governor, who also leveled a more serious criticism. He's concerned because he doesn't believe Richardson has taken his jobs seriously. I'll note specifically and clearly that on this latter point, he differs with just about everyone who talks about Mr. Richardson.

And with regard to 'skirt chasing,' and the like, I think Clemons is right in saying it's unlikely to be a 'deal killer.' If Richardson has done no more than Clinton or Schwarzenegger, then he ought to be able to overcome it.

They pay me for fresh insight, so I'll offer this comment: if Richardson and Hillary somehow wind up among the top three Democratic contenders, can the third contender benefit from the perception that he's the 'clean one,' as far as personal backstory goes?

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Giuliani's New Hires

Chris Cillizza notes that Rudy Giuliani's team has brought on some highly-talented people. Patrick Ruffini has come on board as E-campaign strategist, and Brent Seaborn will assemble the consulting team. These moves are even leading some to accept that Giuliani might actually run for President.

Patrick's bio notes that he and his wife are expecting twins this spring. I expect you will see posts at ungodly hours.

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Liberals Who Support Our Troops

A GI in Iraq tried to order sleeping mats from a Wisconsin company on the Web. The answer to his E-mail:

We do not ship to APO addresses, and even if we did, we would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq.

I don't know whether the company rep is trying to be extra insulting, or is a moron. Could someone really be dumb enough to think that soldiers and sailors have the option to just leave if they don't like the mission?

Surprisingly, '' is experiencing technical difficulties.

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Progress on Nuke Programs in N Korea, Iran?

Hot Air covers it.

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The Hard-Working Congress

Lots of attention has been focussed on what the Democrats have done in their 'first 100 hours,' and I've levelled criticism over silly promises and clock management, and days off for college football games and the like. But if you think I'm being too harsh, take at what's been going on in committees while attention has been focussed on the floor of the House. After all, the committees are where most of the action happens - where bills have their hearings, get their initial debates, and are prepared for floor action.

Total bills reported out of committee (at the time of this writing): 3. (To see for yourself, go here, and under 'Stage in the Legislative Process,' select 'Reported to House/Committee Discharged.')

So if you think that lots of work is going on 'behind the scenes,' and important bills are being prepared for floor consideration... guess again.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

My Deadly Sin...

I really want to go and take the test over again; I think wrath would be a much better Deadly Sin overall:

Your Deadly Sins
Envy: 60%
Wrath: 40%
Gluttony: 0%
Greed: 0%
Lust: 0%
Pride: 0%
Sloth: 0%
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 14%
You will die at the hands of a jealous lover. How ironic.

I guess the silver lining is the low probability of going to hell.

So I got that going for me...

Hat Tip: ALa

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Candidate Crib Sheet

Frank Luntz prescribes what each candidate for President should be saying:

Hillary Clinton: "She needs to show more empathy for the people she wants to represent. Voters think she's too cold and calculating."

Barack Obama: "Out with the sound-bites and in with the stories. He's a natural, but if he starts sounding like a politician, he'll sink like a stone."

John Edwards: "Edwards is the best on his feet of any candidate because of his courtroom training, but it's rehearsed spontaneity. The American people are not a jury."

Joe Biden: "Showcase his intellect, not his rhetoric. Short bursts of solutions are more effective than the longer soliloquies."

John McCain: "He needs to articulate 'The McCain Doctrine' now that people think he has one. 'Reform' applies to national security, not just federal spending."

Rudy Giuliani: "Times Square and 42nd Street is just as important as 9/11. Everyone knows why he became America's Mayor. They need to be reminded that he was also America's Top Cop."

Mitt Romney: "His career outside politics should be the source of his anecdotes. Competence didn't sell in 1988, but there's a market for it in 2008."

Newt Gingrich: "Participate in every possible candidate debate and forum. The most intellectual and visionary of all the candidates, when he talks about the future, you can almost taste it."

Do you ever get the sense that maybe - just maybe - the horse race is elevated above actual leadership qualities?

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Q - Can I Trust Newsweek's 2008 Polling?

A - Not on your life.

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Movie Recommendation

Just had the good fortune to rent 'The World's Fastest Indian,' a great little Anthony Hopkins movie about New Zealander Burt Munro. Munro was a fanatical worshiper of the 'gods of speed,' and spent his entire life tinkering with his motorcycle to try to make if go faster. Finally, at age 63, he traveled the 8,000 miles to Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats to see how fast he could get it to go.

It's a great movie about following your dreams, no matter what other people tell you. Munro was crazy - at least by most people's standards. But he pursued his dreams until he made them come true.

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Regarding Hillary

To no one's surprise, Hillary is in. The text of her statement is here. In reading it over, there's one thing I find interesting: how similar she sounds to her husband.

Look at some of the ideas and phrases. She wants to have a conversation with the American people, and be the President who will 'restore our hope.' She says that a new President can 'renew the promise of America.' And she's out to ensure that those who 'work hard' or are 'working hard to raise a family' can count on health care, educational opportunity, and retirement security. I could almost hear Bill's voice talking about the 'new compact' - as if it was 1992 again.

But does she care about children, you ask? Well, guess what! She's 'fought for children for more than 30 years,' pushing for education reform, health care coverage for millions of children and legislation to dramatically increased adoptions.

In her last thematic passage, she says:

The promise of America is that all of us will have access to opportunity, and I want to run a 2008 campaign that renews that promise, a campaign built on a lifetime record of results.

To me this all sounds very, er... 'Clintonesque.' And it raises a potential problem: she can't afford to be just a replay of Bill. The polls may say clearly that the American people preferred Bill to 'W,' but they don't say that they want Bill back. In 2008, there will be lots of other choices. If Hillary wants to help her chances, she'll find clear ways to differentiate herself from her husband.

I guess that one will be on abortion. So much of her announcement stresses what she's done for children (and adoption, specifically), I suspect we won't hear much of the phrase 'safe, legal and rare.'

But I think she'll need to find more dramatic distinctions to draw between herself and her husband.

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