Friday, July 20, 2007

What Happens on September 15

And Who's Moving Goalposts?

The Senate got itself all in a tizzy yesterday over the attempt by the Bush administration to 'move the goalposts' on the Iraq benchmarks. Senator Kerry was among those decrying the Bush administration's supposed sleight of hand, and Senator Biden even told Ambassador Crocker that he needed to make clear to the Iraqis 'We're not staying... You don't have much time.'

Of course, the Senate and House both chose to pass a war funding bill that gave the President full latitude to determine how to prosecute the war -- so it's funny that Biden would now behave as if a departure plan is already set in stone. (After all, if it's clear that we're leaving Iraq soon, what are the Democrats complaining about?)

But anyway, with all the talk by the Democrats that the Bush administration is trying to 'weasel out' of a September 15 deadline, it's important to go back and see exactly what the Congress required.

And for that, you need to look at the text of HR 2206, signed into law by the President on May 25. The relevant section of the legislation (starting on page 21) says:

(A) The United States strategy in Iraq, hereafter, shall be conditioned on the Iraqi government meeting benchmarks, as told to members of Congress by the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and reflected in the Iraqi Government’s commitments to the United States, and to the international community, including:
  1. Forming a Constitutional Review Committee and then completing the constitutional review.
  2. Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Baathification.
  3. Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients, and enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizensin an equitable manner.
  4. Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.
  5. Enacting and implementing legislation establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission, provincial elections law, provincial council authorities, and a date for provincial elections.
  6. Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty.
  7. Enacting and implementing legislation establishing a strong militia disarmament program to ensure that such security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the Constitution of Iraq.
  8. Establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.
  9. Providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.
  10. Providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions, in consultation with U.S commanders, without political intervention, to include the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.
  11. Ensuring that the Iraqi Security Forces are providing even handed enforcement of the law.
  12. Ensuring that, according to President Bush, Prime Minister Maliki said ‘‘the Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation’’
  13. Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security.
  14. Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.
  15. Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.
  16. Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.
  17. Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.
  18. Ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces.
(B) The President shall submit reports to Congress on how the sovereign Government of Iraq is, or is not, achieving progress towards accomplishing the aforementioned benchmarks, and shall advise the Congress on how that assessment requires, or does not require, changes to the strategy announced on January 10, 2007.

(A) The President shall submit an initial report, in classified and unclassified format, to the Congress, not later than July 15, 2007, assessing the status of each of the specific benchmarks established above, and declaring, in his judgment, whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is, or is not, being achieved.
(B) The President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress.
(C) If the President’s assessment of any of the specific benchmarks established above is unsatisfactory, the President shall include in that report a description of such revisions to the political, economic, regional, and military components of the strategy, as announced by the President on January 10, 2007. In addition, the President shall include in the report, the advisability of implementing such aspects of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, as he deems appropriate.
(D) The President shall submit a second report to the Congress, not later than September 15, 2007, following the same procedures and criteria outlined above.

A simple reading of the statute enacted into law shows that the administration is NOT moving any goalposts. The legislation requires the administration to submit 'status reports' on the efforts of the government of Iraq to meet 18 benchmarks, and to recommend any changes in strategy that the President may deem appropriate. That's it.

The statute doesn't say that if all 18 are not achieved by September 18, the mission is over. It doesn't even force the President to recommend any changes in strategy by that date. Rather, it requires him to report on progress on that date.

So for Ambassador Crocker or General Odierno -- or David Petraeus, or anyone -- to suggest that we won't know about the success of the surge until after September 15 is completely consistent with and contemplated by the legislation that the Senate passed by a voice vote (meaning, with no objections).

For war opponents now to claim that September 15 is some kind of make or break date under the terms of the law is specious. The date is important politically, since it's clear that many in Congress regard it as a do-or-die test. But by the terms of the law, September 15 is no more than the date that a report is due to Congress. And there are thousands of those every year.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Murtha Again Misrepresents Earmarks

The other day I wrote about the 'phantom earmark' that John Murtha is advocating for an entity that seemingly does not exist. Today the plot thickens, as the Hill reports that contrary to Murtha's claim, the Department of Energy does not support the earmark he requested:

DoE spokeswoman Anne Kolton said yesterday the earmark is not a program that meets the department’s “mission critical” threshold, noting it was “inconsistent” with the department’s 2008 budget.

Anti-earmark crusader Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) challenged the earmark on the House floor Tuesday, asking if the “mysterious” Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure even existed because he and his staff couldn’t find a website for it. Flake’s challenge failed, 98-326.

It's worth noting that this is the second time this year that Murtha has claimed justification for one of his earmarks on the grounds that a federal agency supported the earmark. The first case was more egregious: he claimed that the Department of Justice planned to transfer jurisdiction over the 'No-Fly List' to an entity in his district that DoJ was in fact attempting to shut down:

To secure congressional funding for a pet project, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., made a surprising claim: The little-known National Drug Intelligence Center was about to take charge of the "vitally important" terrorist no-fly list.

Murtha's news, in a letter he sent to the House Intelligence Committee last month, came as a surprise to the nation's intelligence community. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence already had recommended that the NDIC, in Murtha's hometown of Johnstown, Pa., be closed for poor performance. It also puzzled the Justice Department, NDIC's parent agency, where spokesman Dean Boyd said there are no "current" plans for such a transition...

Murtha's letter said the center "also anticipates undertaking a new and vitally important mission…with the National Counterterrorism Center—assuming responsibility for the terror no-fly list, the terror incident training program and [as] the post-disaster recovery site for the National Counterterrorism Center."

The Justice Department's Boyd said there are no "current" plans to move the terror incident program to the NDIC. Boyd said he could not comment on any plans dealing with post-disaster relocation.

Mr. Murtha seems to have a problem with the truth.

Hat Tip: Glenn

House Turns Back to Iraq

I pointed out yesterday at the Standard that the House of Representatives is planning to return next week to debating Iraq. Today Congressional Quarterly offers a little more detail on what to expect in two weeks -- but still no information on what the House will consider next week:

In the House, a withdrawal proposal is not expected during the markup of the Defense spending bill, a Democratic aide said. Instead, one likely amendment would establish minimal standards for training and equipping units before deployment. Another would require military personnel spend as much time at home between tours as they do deployed. A third would ban permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.

Either John P. Murtha, D-Pa., the Defense subcommittee chairman, or James P. Moran, D-Va., a member of the panel, will propose an amendment in the committee that would reduce funding for the detention center at Guant?!namo Bay, Cuba, and require the closing of the facility within 180 days, both lawmakers have said.

The Defense appropriations bill won’t come to the House floor until the week before the August recess, meaning that next week’s Iraq vote on the House floor would have to be a stand-alone bill or an amendment to another measure...

Following a Republican member lunch Wednesday with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and hosted by Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., House Republicans seemed confident that they could hold solidarity until General David H. Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq, delivers his much anticipated September report on progress there.

“Everybody’s waiting for September 15th,” said Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., upon emerging from the Gates meeting.

On that note, go check out the interview Hugh Hewitt did with David Petraeus.

More broadly, the House continues to rehash well-worn ground on Iraq, rather than vote on energy, health care, and other issues that the American people view as priorities.

Republican Infighting Over Earmarks

Lots of Members of Congress have not adapted to the Internet. Case in point: Congressman Don Young thinks that people don't notice when he behaves like a child on the House floor:

The debate over appropriations spending is pitting Republican against Republican, as Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) yesterday declared, “Those who bite me will be bitten back,” issuing an unsubtle threat to Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) for attempting to cut programs in Alaska.

Young’s outburst came in response to an amendment offered by Garrett that would cut millions in approprations for “Strengthening Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions.” The Garrett amendment, which failed by a
large margin, only cut funds to Alaska...

Young called New Jersey “a state that doesn’t have the greatest reputation” and accused Garrett of trying to take funding from needy children, yet stopped short of referring to him by name.

“I have been able to represent my state better than New Jersey. I suggest New Jersey ought to elect themselves some new congressmen. I suggest [that constituents elect members] that can do the job,” Young said, as laughter echoed through the chamber. “I truly believe that if they can’t do the job, they should elect somebody new.”

There are plenty of Republican voters who want earmark reform, and thanks to political blogs, the ones in Alaska are bound to hear about this. In fact, it's likely that a lot of them already have, since polls show Mr. Young's poll numbers dropping at home:

Fifty percent of respondents said they were likely to support Stevens for re-election, while 43 said they were unlikely. For Young, 44 percent said they were likely to vote for the congressman and 54 percent said they were unlikely. The remainder — 6 percent in the case of the Senate contest, 4 percent in the House election — did not provide an answer.

There aren't many serious Democratic challengers in Alaska, so Mr. Young's only real challenge would be in a primary. But Frank Murkowski lost his bid for renomination as Governor, so there ought to at least be concern that a viable challenger could make life difficult for Young, regardless of his seniority.

Irony Watch

Rob found a piece in the Post on the greatest fans in the world. Curious that he chose irony to frame it; it's almost as if he agrees with the article:

If it were any other squad, the rest of baseball would simply snicker. But this is the Yankees, whose historical success and strutting have made them arguably the most reviled team in American sports, and these are Yankees fans, undoubtedly the most loathed in the country. A snicker won't do. This calls for belly laughs. This calls for tankards and fiddles and torch-lit dancing. This calls for bunting and floats. We must savor this experience. We must pile on now, while the piling is good, because if history is any guide, the Yankees will rise again -- and when they do, their fans will be insufferable.

Yankees are seven games out of first, and six out of the Wild Card. To those who hate the Yankees -- come on, you know you're nervous.

Save a Cow; Save the World

The drumbeat grows:

Taking into account all the processes involved, they said, four average sized steaks generated greenhouse gases with a warming potential equivalent to 80.25lb of carbon dioxide.

This also consumed 169 megajoules of energy.

That means that 2.2lb of beef is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions which have the same effect as the carbon dioxide released by an ordinary car travelling at 50 miles per hour for 155 miles, a journey lasting three hours. The amount of energy consumed would light a 100-watt bulb for 20 days.
You'll get my steak when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Eco-Friendly Hummer Attacked; Earth-Raping Priuses Untouched

The Washington Post carries this story about a man in a nice liberal DC neighborhood who bought a Hummer and was 'shocked' that someone would vandalize it:

On a narrow, leafy street in Northwest Washington, where Prius hybrid cars and Volvos are the norm, one man bought a flashy gray Hummer that was too massive to fit in his garage.

So he parked the seven-foot-tall behemoth on the street in front of his house and smiled politely when his eco-friendly neighbors looked on in disapproval at his "dream car."

It lasted five days on the street before two masked men took a bat to every window, a knife to each 38-inch tire and scratched into the body: "FOR THE ENVIRON."
The owner sounds like a perfectly nice guy, but he can't be very bright if it never occurred to him that 'environmentalists' might vandalize his car. If he doesn't understand that many on the Left are hypocrites who have no respect for private property and societal norms, then he hasn't been paying attention.

The irony of course, is that the Hummer owner is more ecologically-responsible than the Prius owners he lives near. That's both because the Prius battery is an environmentalist's nightmare, and because the Prius lasts only about one-third as long as a Hummer:
The feature that makes the Prius such a draw for the environmentally conscious is really its weak spot: the battery. Like all hybrid batteries, it's of the nickel metal hydride variety. The nickel for the Prius is mined in Sudbury, Ontario, and smelted at a plant nearby. Toyota buys 1,000 tons of nickel from the plant each year.

So far, so green? Maybe not. The landscape around the plant at the city's edge alarms environmentalists. Some eco-activists blame the bleak, lifeless countryside near the facility in part on its 1,250-foot smokestack that belches acid-rain-causing sulphur dioxide...

But there's more. From the Sudbury plant, the smelted nickel is shipped to Europe, where it's refined in Wales. Next, it's sent to China, where it's manufactured in nickel foam. The nickel is then moved to Japan, where Prius batteries are made.

But the long, fossil-fuel-burning journey doesn't end there. After the batteries are placed in the Prius, some of the nickel is round-tripped back to North America while some is shipped to Europe in cars sold outside Japan...

While the Prius digs a deep environmental rut, the Hummer H3 plods on with a much lighter touch. An H3 costs $2.07 per lifetime mile to operate in environmental terms, while the Prius costs $2.87. Figures are courtesy of CNW Marketing, which rates cars on the combined energy needed 'to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from initial concept to scrappage.'

Then there's the expected life span of the Prius: 100,000 miles, or a third of the Hummer's, says CNW. Toyota would have to go through the same 'build, sell, drive and dispose' process three times for three Priuses to provide the same amount of service provided by one H3.

Investor's Business Daily points out the the most environmentally-responsible cars might be the Toyota Yaris or Corolla. But of course, they're not trendy like the Prius.

But that really is what much of modern environmentalism is about: image. It's not really about protecting the Earth. If it were, everyone would be aware of the environmental problems caused by the Prius. It would be a car environmentalists would want to avoid -- rather than embrace. In a world where protecting the environment was the priority, Al Gore would be warning us not to fall for the slick Prius marketing and Henry Waxman would be subpoenaing Toyota execs to question them about false advertising. And of course, there would more than one lonely story in Investor's Business Daily about this.

But then, in a world where protecting the environment was important, environmentalists would be ashamed of massive carbon footprints, rather than buying 'carbon offsets' that probably do more harm than good. And they would be trying to spread the word about the environmental dangers of eating meat, rather than of using fossil fuels.

I guess I might as well wish for a world where 'environmentalists' didn't think vandalism was an appropriate response to... whatever.

No, most of the modern environmental movement is about controlling the lives of others, and portraying man as the raper of the natural world. Like so much liberal claptrap, it's based on group think and avoiding difficult questions. So the same folks that eagerly establish their 'green cred' by buying Priuses tell us how to live our lives, but don't want to tell us how much it will cost to 'stop global warming.' Or even really tell us why we should try. And if you ask questions -- or think it's OK to own a Hummer -- then you'll get insulted for your ignorance and apathy -- or worse.

WalMart is Greener than Al Gore

While Al Gore dines on endangered species, WalMart is making great strides to protect the environment:

Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott laid out ambitious environmental goals in late 2005 as the world's largest retailer sought to burnish its reputation against mounting criticism.

Nearing the two-year mark, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is still compiling a major report on how far it has come with the program overall, including reducing waste, using more renewable energy and stocking more green products.

But one division says it is already well under way to meet its goals. Wal-Mart's fleet of about 7,200 semitrailer trucks is already about 15 percent more fuel efficient and the company knows what changes it needs to make to meet a target of 25 percent by late next year.

The annual savings in carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, would be equal to taking 67,744 cars off the road.

Some talk about protecting the environment, others do it.

Morris: Partisan Differences Narrowing on Iraq

Read it at the Standard.

Trashing Gilmore's Senate Chances

I commented the other day that Jim Gilmore's withdrawal from the presidential race should be seen as a sign that he intends to refocus on John Warner's Senate seat -- a race that will likely pit him against Representative Tom Davis (assuming Warner retires). The Hotline team doesn't see Gilmore as a strong candidate for Senate:

Democrat Ethics Chief: Ethics Reform Not a Priority

The Majority Accountability Project:

Now, little more than six months into a Democrat Majority, the man charged with toughening House ethics’ rules says there’s "no political need" for reform, the Majority Accountability Project ( has learned.

U.S. Representative Mike Capuano, D-MA, tapped to chair a special House task force on ethics reform in January, made that startling admission during an interview with the Buffalo News published Monday. The article critiqued the Democrats’ slow pace in enacting promised reforms to end perceived abuses in Congress.

Noting that Capuano missed a May 1, 2007, deadline to propose an ethics overhaul, good government groups expressed concern that "the momentum for reform appears to be fading day by day." Capuano, the paper reported, "isn’t surprised" House Democrats have been unable to fulfill their pledge to make their first Majority in 12 years "the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history."
In one way, Mike Capuano is probably right about ethics reform. No matter what Congressional Democrats do, cynical voters will likely think that nothing has changed. But while Democrats have little to gain from passing ethics reform, they can lose a lot by doing nothing. It's becoming clear that this Congress will have little substantively to run on next year. A failure to do something on ethics will be one more thing that Republicans will use against Democrats.

In fact, voters are very likely to remember Duke Cunningham, Bill Jefferson, and Mark Foley in 2008. When Republican challengers remind voters of the unfulfilled promise to clean up Congress, Democrats will wish they had done something.

Approval Ratings Hit Another All-Time Low

You know, I thought it was tedious last year to read the incessant drumbeat of stories about polls showing all-time low approval ratings for President Bush. Well, now I know how liberals felt:

But the marks for Congress, mired in gridlock over a series of partisan political battles after Democrats took power in the 2006 elections, continued to drop.

While 83 percent said Congress was doing a fair or poor job, just 14 percent rated it excellent or good. Last October, in its final days, the Republican-led Congress earned ratings of excellent or good from 23 percent of voters.

"There is a growing sense that people voted for change in 2006 and they aren't getting it," Zogby said.

Could it be because Democrats strove last year not to articulate an agenda, but instead tried to give voters the chance to vote for 'change,' with no clarity on what that meant?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

House Democrats Earmarking Millions for Nonexistent Organizations

The Politico carries the story of an earmark requested by John Murtha for an entity that apparently does not exist -- at least, not yet:

Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the fiscal crusader who's never met an earmark he likes, questioned Democratic Rep. Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana on the House floor Tuesday about whether the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure actually exists - since, hey, it's getting like a million bucks or something.

Visclosky, who chairs the spending subcommittee responsible for the project, had to admit that, well, he didn't have a clue.

After a lengthy back-and-forth, Flake, complaining that his staff couldn't find a website for the center, asked Visclosky, "Does the center currently exist?"

"At this time, I do not know," the Indiana Democrat replied. "But if it does not exist, the monies could not go to it."

And who could possibly be the sponsor of such an earmark? Yes, you guessed it, the man Republicans love to hate, Pennsylvania Democrat John P. Murtha.
It has been pointed out -- in the tacit defense of those I criticize on this site -- that I am a partisan. Guilty as charged.

But getting beyond that, John Murtha has achieved critical mass, and is now an official target for lampooning, like a junior level Ted Kennedy or Newt Gingrich. By the time the 2008 elections roll around, Murtha will be one of the millstones that challengers try to tie around the neck of Democratic incumbents. That by itself, ought to motivate House Democrats to keep him on a short leash.

Jet Blue's Embarrassment: Shh... Don't Tell Limbaugh

Go read Michelle, HotAir and Ace of Spades. The quick and dirty is this: JetBlue is a corporate sponsor of the Yearly Kos convention. Bill O'Reilly's show cornered CEO David Barger to confront him with some of the vile and hateful things that have come out of that website over the years:

Here's a short quote that typifies the exchange:

BARGER: It’s, I’m really not going to mix politics from the standpoint of running our business.

WATTERS: But aren’t you guys kind of mixing politics by, you know, sponsoring this convention.

BARGER: It’s… I can see where you’re trying to go with it, but I’m just not going to, you know, to respond to that here at this point in time.
Leave aside Barger's backward defense that the company won't talk about Kos because it's trying not to get mixed up in politics. It seems to me that O'Reilly's crew were asking the wrong questions. Or perhaps they merely put the cart before the horse.

It's fine and appropriate to ask whether JetBlue was collectively aware of some of the vile things that have been said on the site. At some level, they must have been. I don't believe any company of the level of JetBlue makes such an endorsement without someone in the chain of command being familiar with the product. I have no doubt that there's someone at JetBlue who's a big fan of Kos, and was thrilled to see the company 'make a statement.'

But there's the thing. I'd first like to know why JetBlue chose to make this statement. Was this purely some low-level staffer authorizing a $1,000 check, or was it the Board approving $100K? I want to know, because I'd prefer to continue flying JetBlue. But as things stand now, I don't think I can. If JetBlue endorses Kos... well, they don't need my money.

Dean Barnett has a good piece on this:
That makes the decision to sponsor the YearlyKos officially a spectacularly stupid one. The Daily Kos is not only political, but a political lightning rod. It doesn’t get more political than the Daily Kos. The fact that someone at JetBlue thought it was a good idea to hitch their wagon to Markos’ star is truly stupefying...

The amazing thing about the JetBlue/YearlyKos thing is that people doing the advertising for JetBlue could be so ignorant regarding either the blogosphere or the nature of business. As far as business is concerned, you don’t attach yourself to an entity that not just alienates but also offends and angers half of your potential customer base.
Dean's right. And I suspect that the problem isn't so much the blogosphere, but talk radio. If O'Reilly is talking about this, can Limbaugh and Hannity be far behind? And while the number of conservative blog readers is merely in the hundreds of thousands, it's in the millions for those guys. Once this story makes that leap, it'll start showing up in ticket sales.

For what it's worth, Barger's political donations don't suggest that he's a Kos fan. A quick review of Political MoneyLine shows that he's given to plenty of Republicans, including a donation of $2,100 to Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign. I don't know how that would go over if he shows up at the Kos-fest.

Update: Over on the Left, ThinkProgress reports that 'voices across the blogosphere' (translation: the most extreme left 5% of the blogosphere) have criticized the O'Reilly report. Whatever.

The post also promises that readers can fly Jet Blue safe in the knowledge that O'Reilly won't be on the plane with them.

Didn't take long for Jet Blue to become a 'Blue' Airline, did it? I don't have an MBA, but I don't think that's a profit-maximizing strategy.

Update II: Noel Sheppard says that the support we're talking about is only a few airline tickets. That clearly puts them closer to the 'low-level staffer approving $1,000' scenario above.

Mac Collins Preparing for House Comeback

Roll Call reports that one of the few Democrats who almost lost last year may face another chellenge from former Representative Mac Collins. For Republicans, that may not be good news:

Collins, who lost to Marshall last year by fewer than 2,000 votes, has made clear he is considering running again. However, many observers have believed — or better yet hoped — that ultimately Collins would pass after seeing much of the state and national Republican establishment coalesce behind retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard (R), who already is in the race.

Goddard, on paper at least, appears to be the GOP’s dream candidate in a district that tilts heavily toward Republicans in national elections. Goddard has been recruited to run before, and party leaders were ecstatic when he decided to get in the race this time.

But if Collins were to enter the race, there is little doubt the move would cause a debilitating primary — one that would produce a battered and cash-strapped nominee.

An embarrassment of riches is not always a good thing.

Staffing Thompson's Campaign

Rob points out that Fred Thompson has a strong staff assembled so far, and should not look to 'McCain castoffs' to fill it out. I could not agree more.

Besides, McCain's problem in this race is that the conservative base does not like him. To take on his staff -- and be perceived as having done so -- would associate Thompson and McCain more closely. Given that Thompson and McCain are friends, and the biggest blemish on Thompson's legislative record is support for McCain-Feingold, such a move would be foolish. I would bet against it.

CNN Screws Up a Good Idea

Mickey points out that they're successfully mixing the spontaneity of a scripted presidential debate with the high production values of home-made internet videos. Sounds like a recipe for ratings gold!

Kind of misses the point, doesn't it? Instead of being spontaneously and uncontrollably selected by Web democracy, the YouTube questions will be safely filtered through the predictable, respectable sensibilities of CNN editors. They'll be not much different from the queries traditionally sent to the front of the room on index cards--just in video form. Sure, the questions will be asked by "voters from around the country," but debates have been accepting (filtered) email questions for years, no?

Read the whole thing.

Marginal House Democrats Failing to Meet Fundraising Targets

The Hill:

Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who raised $560,000 over the last six months in his rural Indiana district, was confident that his fundraising levels, though below the DCCC goals, were on track to defend his seat.

“I’m spending my time focusing on representing the 8th district,” Ellsworth said. “But I’m right where I need to be to communicate with voters when the campaign begins.”

Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) raised about the same amount.

“Anytime somebody sets out a goal for you, you want to do everything you can to attain it,” Walz campaign spokesman Richard Carlbom said. “We got to $565,000; we’re incredibly proud of that number.”

Freshman Frontline Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Ron Klein (Fla.) led the pack, each exceeding the goal with more than $1 million. Rep. Steve Kagen (Wis.) had the lowest fundraising total, at $420,000, and Reps. Michael Arcuri (N.Y.) and Ciro Rodriguez (Texas) also raised less than $500,000.

Most Democrats fell just short of the fundraising goals. In addition to Ellsworth and Walz, Reps. Heath Shuler (N.C.), Zack Space (Ohio), Nick Lampson (Texas), Paul Hodes (N.H.) and Chris Carney (Pa.) raised more than $500,000.
Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.) raised $600,000.

They may have failed to meet the goals, but many of these Representatives should probably feel the same way Ellsworth does. Their total may not meet the $600K target, but it suggests that by next year they will have enough to defend their seats -- particularly since targeted Democrats are likely to have more help from the national parties than do their Republican challengers.

It points up the importance of efforts like this.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Congress Ignores Major 9/11 Commission Recommendation

Read it at the Standard.

No Way!

Americans see liberal bias in the media...

What would explain that?

Expanding US-Indian Nuclear Cooperation

Read it at the Standard.

How Soon Can we Leave Iraq?

The Baltimore Sun has a good piece on the complexity of leaving Iraq. Money quote:

"It's going to be mind-boggling - like picking up the city of Los Angeles and putting all the pieces somewhere else," said an official of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command, which will oversee much of the work.

The question is primarily one of national security and politics, but it's worthwhile to remember the simple logistical reality, as well.

Want to Stop Global Warming? Go Vegeterian

Saving the world is easy, and only takes 60 seconds -- according to Cameron Diaz:

Well, I'm not sure how easy it is to save the world when -- according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization -- the single largest cause the 'greenhouse effect' is the cultivation of livestock:

It's not just the well-known and frequently joked-about flatulence and manure of grass-chewing cattle that's the problem, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. So is the use of energy to produce fertilizers, to run the slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants, and to pump water.

"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report, said when the FAO findings were released in November.

Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that's more than the emissions caused by transportation.

The latter two gases are particularly troubling – even though they represent far smaller concentrations in atmosphere than CO2, which remains the main global warming culprit. But methane has 23 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2 and nitrous oxide has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

So there's your answer for Cameron: stop eating meat. Simple, right?

Was I the last person to run across this? I know I was behind Glenn Beck.