Saturday, April 28, 2007

Rangel: Cheney Has a Personality Disorder

The normal assortment of interesting stuff from Novak today, including speculation on Chuch Hagel's plans, and pessimism from the GOP about 2008 prospects. There's also this pleasant item:


Rep. Charles Rangel, the normally courtly House Ways and Means Committee chairman, in an interview in the current edition of Vibe magazine said, "I think" that Vice President Dick Cheney "has a personality disorder."

As quoted by the black entertainment magazine, Rangel continued: "There's no question about it. There are some people that have an unpleasant demeanor, and they always have a scowl. I don't know this guy that well. But I can't see him telling a joke unless it's a dirty joke."

In the same interview, Rangel said of George W. Bush: "The president is one of the most pleasant slap-on-the-back, fun people you want to talk with . . . but you always leave not knowing whether he knows what's going on."

Nice how the Democrats have changed the tone in Washington.

Democrats' Next Step on Iraq

Democrats are sounding silly on funding for Iraq - what else is new.

Roll Call
($) reports that Democrats are optimistic that the President will sign the Iraq supplemental that he has made clear he will veto. If you look at why they're optimistic though, they sound like they're out of touch with reality:

Although the White House maintained that Bush has for weeks been comfortable with his decision to veto the bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that recent statements by White House spokeswoman Dana Perino that Bush looked forward to working with lawmakers on a compromise following the veto indicate a softening of opposition to Democrats’ position.

“I think if you look at the president’s statements, the last four days have been very promising,” Reid said, adding that “these are buzzwords for saying, at least as far as I’m concerned, that the president has changed his tune.”

So which is more likely: that the President is going to sign the supplemental, or that Harry Reid is grasping at straws?

Meanwhile, CQ says that Democrats are trying to figure out what the next step is:

Republicans have said they support benchmarks for the Iraqi government. But without a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops or a threat of withdrawing funding, it is unclear what — if any — consequences there might be for failure to meet benchmarks.

Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to figure out how to write a fresh bill that retains the support of their liberal, antiwar contingent while standing a chance of getting signed by President Bush.

The Hill reported recently on John Murtha's plan to move quickly on the next funding bill:

Looking ahead to a post-veto Iraq spending bill, appropriators are looking at either a two-month or five-month bill, and House Defense Appropriations Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) said Thursday he thinks one can be passed in two weeks...

“We want to assess it again in two months,” Murtha said. “Two months sounds good, but it’s complicated. There was a time when I had confidence in the military, but these guys have lied to us so much. They’re so intimidated by the White House.”

Murtha said he expects the bill to have benchmarks, a ban on permanent bases in Iraq and a requirement that the Walter Reed Army Medical Center stay open.

Going forward, Congressional Republicans will effectively have a 'veto' over any final funding measure, since their votes will be necessary to pass a bill. And they're talking about benchmarks:

Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, the No. 3 Republican, said he is open to the idea of blocking further reconstruction or other aid funding to Iraq -- though not military spending -- if the government does not meet such requirements.

Democrats are "going to have to pull out the surrender dates -- clearly those are the most unacceptable items -- as well as the strings on our troops," Putnam said in an interview. "Democrats and Republicans alike would like to see accountability, particularly on the Iraq government, and that can come in the form of benchmarks."

"There could be some kind of bipartisan agreement" on benchmarks, McConnell said, but he declined to say what the consequences would be, if any, for failing to meet them.

"Consequences are a little more divisive," he said.

It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out. It could be that the House and Senate produce bills with significant differences - again. The House could proceed with the 'micro-funding' approach - giving funds for only a few months - and then go to conference with a longer Senate bill. The big question will be whether Democrats try to enact a funding bill, or want to appear that they're trying.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dr. Seuss Addresses Iraq

As told by Mary Katharine Ham. Her mom (?) has a great narration voice. Not quite Karloff, but more than up to the task:

Lula da Silva: Our Man in South America?

Read it over at the Standard.

Is Iraq Just Like Haiti?

Democrats seem to think that. Read it over at the Standard.

On Last Night's Debate: Dems Attack Bush

It looks like they've just about wrecked Bush's chances of winning a third term:

Democrats attack Bush on Iraq in debate

All eight Democratic presidential hopefuls competed to strike the strongest opposition to the war in Iraq on Thursday evening as they held the first debate of what promises to be the longest presidential election campaign in US history.

The 90-minute event at South Carolina State University came more than eight months before the first primary elections and 18 months before the general election in November 2008.

Campaigning has started unusually early because the election is considered the most open in decades, with President George W. Bush required to step down after two terms in office and Vice-President Dick Cheney having ruled himself out.

They're also guaranteeing that any other Republican will be a welcome breath of fresh air.

Good strategy.


Paul Begala, Gasbag. Begala took advantage of Don Imus's ratings for years - despite Imus's offensive comments - but apparently he won't stand for Broder's critiques of Harry Reid.

Americans say Democratic control of Congress hasn't changed much.

Democrats took private planes to last night's debate.

Scientist working on Spider Man suit.

The (other) Hammer has videos of Newt and Ken Blackwell speaking at the Resource Bank in Philadelphia.

Durbin says he knew he was being led falsely to go to war in Iraq, but he had to play along. Do Democrats really think this makes them look better? I tend to shy away from candidates who brag about having been duped.

The Trans-Siberian railway has gotten a lot nicer...

Giuliani on Civil Unions: No Flip Flop... So Far

The New York Sun reports that Mayor Giuliani has come out in opposition to New Hampshire's new civil union law:

"Mayor Giuliani believes marriage is between one man and one woman. Domestic partnerships are the appropriate way to ensure that people are treated fairly," the Giuliani campaign said in a written response to a question from the Sun. "In this specific case the law states same sex civil unions are the equivalent of marriage and recognizes same sex unions from outside states. This goes too far and Mayor Giuliani does not support it."

The Democratic governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, has said publicly that he will sign the civil union law.

On a February 2004 edition of Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor," Mr. Giuliani told Bill O'Reilly, when asked if he supported gay marriage, "I'm in favor of … civil unions."

He also said, "Marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman." Asked by Mr. O'Reilly in the interview how he would respond to gay Americans who said being denied access to the institution of marriage violated their rights, Mr. Giuliani said: "That's why you have civil partnerships. So now you have a civil partnership, domestic partnership, civil union, whatever you want to call it, and that takes care of the imbalance, the discrimination, which we shouldn't have." In 1998, as mayor of New York City, Mr. Giuliani signed into law a domestic partnership bill that a gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda, hailed as setting "a new national benchmark for domestic partner recognition."

I don't think this represents a change in position - at least as far as I can see, based on what he said on the O'Reilly Factor. The key lies in the reason the Mayor gives for opposing the new statute - which I've italicized. Note the very significant and deliberate use of the phrase 'in this specific case.'

First, the New Hampshire legislation (text here) seeks to establish civil unions as the 'equivalent of marriage' - whatever that means. Giuliani has said that he favors civil unions as an alternative to marriage. That's a semantic difference, but words mean things. Giuliani may be clarifying his position here, against laws that claim to give civil unions the same status as marriages.

Perhaps more importantly, the New Hampshire legislation might be considered to encourage gay marriages elsewhere, by recognizing gay marriages performed in other states. This could easily justify Giuliani's statement that 'this goes too far.'

Like many other issues currently before the Presidential candidates, we'll have to look for more clarification as to exactly what this means.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Allah notes that today's vote in the Senate on the Democrats' bill to surrender in Iraq could be the impetus for Joe Lieberman to switch to the Republican party. He says however:

He won’t flip. Coming from a state as blue as Connecticut, it’d make his prospects for reelection in 2012 exceedingly dim. Only if he’s approaching this issue the way McCain is, as something worth gambling his political future on, would he make a move like that. Also, what would switching parties achieve vis-a-vis Iraq? He already votes with the GOP on war measures so they’re not picking up any votes that way. It’s also my understanding that the committee chairmanships wouldn’t change. It’d be a purely symbolic gesture with far greater costs than benefits. Finally, if he bolts, the Dems might well be able to engineer a counterbolt among some anti-war GOP senator. Hagel and Gordon Smith from Oregon would be the obvious candidates.

I agree with part of this.

What I disagree with is the idea that caucusing with the Republicans would kill his re-election chances in Connecticut.

Consider Lieberman's choices:
  1. Remain a Democrat and run for re-election in 2012: Is it even conceivable that he'll be able to win the Democratic nomination in 2012, after running as an Independent in 2006, and then backing Bush on the war? It's more likely that the netroots support a more credible challenger in the primary - one who would win the nomination and be a strong contender in the general.
  2. Stay an Independent: Not a terrible option. The only problem would be if the Democrats or Republicans ran a 'real' candidate in 2012. Lieberman faced only second-tier opposition in 2006. If either party fielded a credible challenger - or if both did - Lieberman would have a harder time.
  3. Become a Republican: Lieberman would lock up Connecticut's small Republican vote and continue to do well among independent voters, at the cost of a relatively small swath of Democrats. After all, how many Democrats would he lose simply by changing party registration? Probably not many; most strong partisans are probably against him already anyway.
I've said before that I think Lieberman's re-election prospects are best if he runs as GOPer. I think it's still true today.


Late start today, because I learned I'm having a daughter.

Anyway, the roundup:

The five myths of Harry Reid. The Senate Majority Leader is disingenuous - at best - in talking about Iraq.

Fraud in the carbon offset market.

Do you take advantage of free wi-fi? Beware of the evil twin.

Was Mitt Romney to the left of McCain-Feingold on campaign finance reform?

The Gonzales imbroglio gets worse for the Bush administration.

Dick Cheney is more popular than Harry Reid.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Democrats Jump the Shark on Iraq

The House passed the 'suggested surrender' bill today by a vote of 218-208. Voting no were 13 Democrats; voting yes were 2 Republicans.

I'm told that the bill included these national security/war on terror emergency items:

  • $1.85 billion for crop production losses
  • $1.4 billion for livestock production losses
  • $20 million for Dairy Production Losses
  • $33 million for Livestock Indemnity Program
  • $21 million for emergency grants to low-income migrant and seasonal farm workers
  • $20 million for emergency conservation program
  • $115 million for the conservation security program
  • $18 million for drought assistance in upper Great Plains/South West
  • $31 million for one month extension of Milk Income Loss Contract program (MILC) – (this will have the effect of increasing farm spending by $2.4 billion over the next ten years by building it into the CBO baseline budget for the farm bill)
  • $60.4 million for salmon fisheries in the Klamath Basin region
  • $12 million for forest service money
  • $67.5 million for Salaries and Expenses for Farm Service Agency
  • $425 million for education grants for rural areas
  • $400 million for LIHEAP
  • $50 million for asbestos abatement at the Capitol Power Plant
  • $682.9 million for funding for backlog of old Department of Transportation projects (higher than the $389 million provided in the Senate; House provided no funding)
  • $500 million for wildland fire management
  • $13 million for mine safety technology research
  • $10 million for historic preservation fund
  • $35 million for NASA risk mitigation projects in Gulf Coast

We've talked at length about the kabuki aspect of this. We know it will be vetoed. The next question is what the House does now.

It's important to recognize the tough straits that Pelosi, Hoyer, Obey, Murtha et al find themselves in. With two vacant seats in the House, 218 votes represents just more than a bare majority. The Democrat leadership probably can't afford to lose more than 1 vote for the next funding bill. But with the Out of Iraq caucus having held its collective tongue and voted for a bill they thought did not go far enough, what will they do on the next one - which won't be as 'tough' as this?

Unless the House Democratic leadership turns to a clean funding bill with massive GOP support, it's hard to conceive of a measure that will get 217 votes.

So for the near term, this is as good as it gets for Congressional Democrats. This measure will pass the Senate and get vetoed. And as it starts to become undeniable that the troops are being hurt by a failure to pass a funding bill, the Congressional leadership will resort to parliamentary tricks and sleight of hand to deliver funding for the war. Or, they'll need to cut it off.

Update: Read Hot Air as well.

What Comes Next in Iraq

Read it over at the Standard.

Pelosi & Reid: A Pair of Amateurs

Read it over at the Standard.

Congress Steals Your Interest to Give DC a Vote

Wow. Congressman John Campbell catches a great example of how committed the new leadership in Congress is to paying for new spending through gimmicks. In this case, they're covering the $2.5 million it costs to add a new Member of Congress (because we desperately need a bigger Congress) by changing withholding rules so Washington keeps tax money for a longer period of time and - at least theoretically - gains greater interest from it. As Congressman Campbell said on the House floor:

The reason we have this bill and the reason we are having this debate is because the D.C. voting bill, which just passed this House, costs $2.5 million. So in order to have it be neutral, there needs to be $2.5 million found.

Now, what this bill proposes to do is what I would argue is basically a tax gimmick because no one's final tax, no one's ultimate tax pay, will be changed as a result of this bill. What it, in fact, does is change how quickly some people must pay their tax. So they will have to pay it a little earlier. They won't pay any different amount over a year. They will simply pay it a little earlier. But that is what this bill does.

But what was the alternative? Well, normally you would think that if you were interested in fiscal responsibility, if you were interested in keeping budgets balanced over time, that if you are going to spend $2.5 million extra, you would save $2.5 million somewhere else. That is what people at home do. That is what everyday, average American citizens do. If they are going to spend a little more money on something, they spend a little less money on something else.

Let's talk about what you would need to have done. If the Democratic majority had wished to reduce spending, and reduce the growth in spending is all you would actually have to do, but if they had wished to reduce the growth in spending in order to offset this $2.5 million, we are talking about 0.0002 percent. That is the reduction in growth, not even a cut, but the reduction in growth of spending. That is all you would have to do to offset the $2.5 million in this bill. And then we wouldn't even be talking about taxes and tax gimmicks and all that. Point zero zero zero 2 percent.

I ask you, if you can't find 0.0002 percent to reduce growth, not even to reduce entitlement spending, but to reduce growth of entitlement spending, where and when will you ever deal with the entitlement tidal wave that we have coming? By 2037 the entitlements will eat up 100 percent of the Federal budget as we currently know it.

The Democratic Congress has voted to increase taxes by almost $400 billion, and yet they still could not find an honest way to pay for the $2.5 million needed to add another Member of Congress.

Have they really changed the way Washington does business?


An NFL draft prospect who seems a freakish specimen:

Big Walt, as he is known, is a 6-foot-5 defensive tackle who wears a size XXXXXXL jersey. He bench presses 475 pounds and squats 800 pounds. Weight lifters at the Galveston Health and Racquet Club stop their workouts to watch him.

Football teams everywhere are filled with big men, but many of them can barely move. Thomas has run the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, faster than some N.F.L. tight ends. He is the rare tackle who can catch a running back from behind...

Thomas’s flexibility has become part of his lore. He does handstands and handsprings, broad jumps and cartwheels. When he gets excited, he will do a back flip.

He sounds like Hayden ('Sidd') Finch - the former Mets great.

Wear red on Friday in support of our troops.

Lorie asks what it would take for Joe Lieberman to 'fire Harry Reid.' It's worth remembering that there's no guarantee that the Senate majority would change hands even if Joe Lieberman switched parties.

Russell Simmons of DefJam records calls for an end to the use of three words in music.

The GOP seems likely to run a noteworthy nominee for soon-to-be former Representative Marty Meehan's seat in Massachusetts. There's also talk that longtime Bills defensive lineman Fred Smerlas might make a bid. It's my understanding that the district has a partisan vote index of Democrat +12, meaning that the average Democratic candidate runs 12 perecentage points better than the Republican. Thus, you'd probably need a 'special' Republican to win here.

Bob Newhart as a psychologist with a simple approach to your problems.

Fred Thompson's Pro-Choice Views

We're reminded every day that 2008 will be the YouTube election. Candidates will have to worry about old clips resurfacing to haunt them, and being seen by hundreds of thousands of potential primary voters.

But if this is the worst that surfaces about Fred Thompson, he ought to be thinking about running mates:

Hat Tip to Philip Klein, who provides the transcript:

QUESTION: Mr. Thompson, do you support or oppose laws that prohibit abortions for convenience?

THOMPSON: I do not believe that the federal government ought to be involved in that process. I think that we should not have federal funding for abortion. I think that states ought to be able to have reasonable controls over that in terms of parental notification, which I believe my opponent has opposed in times past. As far as notice requirements and things like that are concerned, I believe those are reasonable. I think that when you get right down to the question you posed: should a government come in and criminalize let's say a young girl and her parents and her doctor, which as aiders and abeters that would be involved? I think not. I think that problem is going to be ultimately resolved, and I think favorably, in the hearts and minds and communities and families across America. We're learning more about it, and what it does to women and so forth. And I think that battle will be won, but it shouldn't be a political football, and it shouldn't be won in the courts.

Klein's right in pointing out that this is far tamer than the abortion advocacy clips that have already emerged from Giuliani and Romney. Further, this is from 13 years ago - and Thompson's Senate record seems to be more than making up for any qualms that pro-lifers have had about him.

And lastly, when Thompson talks about the significance of the ultrasounds of his children as a conversion point, it seems sincere. It is also rather consistent with his support for federalism.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Majority Accountability Project

Read it over at the Standard.

Reid Becoming an Embarrassment

Allah covers it.

Reid insists that when David Petraeus says 'the war cannot be won militarily,' he means it has been lost. And if Petraeus tells him that the surge is working, he won't believe it - because he can judge the facts himself:

You couldn't make up a position this stupid.

I understand when politicians play politics. It's - you know - what they do. But this is just stupid.

It's obvious that Petraeus hasn't said the war is lost, and he isn't saying it now. So as long as Reid is going to go to the trouble of saying that he doesn't believe Petraeus because he can judge the facts himself, why would he attempt to create a fictional position for Petraeus to use as justification?

Really. Stupid.

Harry Reid's 'Armey Moment'

Read it over at the Standard.

Let Pamela Anderson Do It

This is good enough to escape from the roundup and make its own morning post. Can you imagine this in Hollywood:

Scandal hit MTV Russia's movie awards ceremony Thursday when a presenter refused to announce the viewer-voted award for best movie after realizing which film had won.

Vladimir Menshov, one of Russia's leading directors, was onstage at Moscow's Pushkin Theater when he opened the envelope with details of the winning film -- the World War II drama "Svolochi," in which a group of teenage criminals is sent on a suicide mission behind German lines.

Menshov gasped as he read the contents of the envelope, looked up and said: "I'm not going to hand over an award to a film that discredits my country, let Pamela Anderson (another of the evening's presenters) do it instead."

He then turned, dropped the envelope and stalked offstage, refusing to comment further.

J.E. sums it up perfectly:

It's something absolutely unthinkable in this country. Can you possibly imagine someone at the MTV Awards here refusing to give the best pic award to a film that portrayed the U.S. as criminally unethical on grounds that it made our country look bad? Impossible. And yet, it happens in Russia, a country with far fewer reasons to be proud.

In Hollywood, making the US look bad is a positive for a film.


Is John Kerry a 9/11 conspiracy believer?

Ramesh Ponnuru and 2008 GOP Presidential nominee Fred Thompson are arguing over federalism and (it seems) demagoguery. Go to Ramesh's latest salvo here, and use his links to get to his original piece and Thompson's response. I think Ramesh gets the better of the argument here, but Thompson's devotion to federalism does him credit and as always, is good politics.

Speculation on a Thompson/Thompson ticket (Hat Tip: Patterico). Getting past the punchline quality of it, I've thought for a while it makes a lot of sense. Tommy Thompson would be a significant asset to someone like Fred Thompson: tons of executive experience, can carry a major swing state (Wisconsin) and bring help in the rest of the midwest, has run a federal agency, is sufficiently conservative, and has credibility on reform issues. If his name were Jones, he'd be a great pick.

Will Democrats disavow Harry? (I'll have more thoughts over at the Standard later this morning).

Is Gingrich staffing up? Might as well, but his campaign is over the day Fred Thompson announces.

Are Republicans shrewdly fighting affirmative action by... ignoring it?

The bees are missing? Time to watch this again. The truth is out there.

Mike Giuliani and Mike Brady have started the Majority Accountability Project to monitor the Congressional majority, and let you know how they're doing on fulfilling their campaign promises. The site is here, and below is an explanation of the project:

Is Hank Aaron a coward?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Dems Will Lose Game of Brinkmanship

I've shared my thoughts extensively about the risk the Democrats face on Iraq funding, most recently over here. President Clinton's former pollster Doug Schoen has warned Democrats that regardless of what the polls say, they are treading on dangerous ground if they think that they will not be blamed for cutting off funds for the troops. He takes another crack at it today:

Today, history is repeating itself -- with the parties reversed. This time a Republican president is offering talks to recalcitrant Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can justify going to Syria to talk with President Bashar Assad; however, she cannot justify rebuffing an overture to talk to President Bush, as she and Senate majority leader Harry Reid appeared to do last week before hurriedly (and wisely) changing course.

Democrats should not be misled by polls showing that most Americans support the idea of cutting off funding for the war unless benchmarks of success are reached. Of course they do, in the abstract. But Bush's counterargument -- that Democrats are prepared to undermine troops in the field -- will be a powerful one, in part because it is far more concrete than Democrats' complex, poll-tested plan.

In short, Democrats would do well to compromise. If that means accepting a "clean" supplemental funding bill, so be it. While Democrats must continue to criticize the prosecution of the war and the Bush administration's failure to promote political reconciliation, they should also recognize that the public has not yet elected a new commander in chief.