Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Friday, March 31, 2006

More good news for David Roth

The Desert Sun:
Independent Action, a Political Action Committee that funds progressive Democrats, has endorsed David M. Roth, R-La Quinta, for the 45th Congressional District seat now held by Rep. Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs.

Roth is one of only 30 or 40 congressional candidates the PAC will endorse. Early endorsements during Democratic primaries are essential for new campaigns to deliver their message, according to the PAC.

This on top of his recent endorsement by 21st Century Democrats will help raise his profile on a national level and help bring him the recognition necessary to unseat Mary Bono.

If you'd like to help him raise his recognition, head over to David Roth for Congress now and pitch in however you can.

GOP warns Bush against approving Americans

In an odd move, Republicans from the House have warned Bush about his stance on immigration:
House conservatives yesterday issued a dire warning to President Bush and Republican leadership that they will pay a devastating political price if they proceed with a guest-worker program or anything resembling amnesty for illegal aliens before securing the borders and enforcing existing immigration laws.

"They will remember in November," Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, said of voters nationwide. "And many of those who have stood with our Republican majority in the last decade are not only angry, many of them plan to be absent from the polls" this year when the entire House and one-third of the Senate is up for re-election.

Mr. Hayworth and more than a dozen other House Republicans pointed to polls that show overwhelming support for their strict-enforcement stance and advised Mr. Bush and GOP leaders in both chambers to "listen to the common sense of the American people."

Why is it odd? Well, a majority of Americans actually favor the plans put forth by the President, and a strong majority supports the Kennedy/McCain bill that would offer a legalization process for those already here:
In the telephone survey of 1004 adults, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, 79% say they favor a guest worker program that would allow illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. for a fixed period of time - the main provision of the bill proposed by Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy that is now under fierce debate in Congress. Only 47% of those polled say they support the tougher measure backed by some House conservatives, deporting all illegal immigrants back to their home countries.

Although Americans want to give illegal immigrants the chance to work in the U.S. temporarily and even earn citizenship - 78% say illegal immigrants who learn English, have a job and pay taxes ought to have a chance at it - they also want better enforcement both at the border and inside the country.

If one needs further proof that this is the GOP trying to get red meat to the base, I'm not sure what it would be.

*UPDATE* How's this quote from the Mayor of Palm Desert, California, Jim Ferguson:
"If you go to a Republican pollster right now they'll tell you to kick the s--- out of illegal immigrants because it goes off the charts in terms of voter reaction. I'd rather do what's right and be out of office than what's wrong and be in office."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New poll: Arnold leads Westly, Angelides

That's strange. A Rasmussen poll released March 23rd shows Arnold and both Democratic contenders in a dead heat. But the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll shows Arnold with a large lead over Westly (39-31), and an even larger lead against Angelides (41-29).

I imagine that the Rasmussen poll pushes leaners, whereas the PPI poll features a large chunk of undecideds.

The biggest obstacle for both Westly and Angelides is their lack of name recognition. Close to 60% of those surveyed in the PPI poll could not tell if the Democratic candidates were liberal or conservative.

Illegal immigrants are like prisoners...

No, wait - prisoners deserve jobs:
House conservatives criticized President Bush, accused the Senate of fouling the air, said prisoners rather than illegal farm workers should pick America's crops and denounced the use of Mexican flags by protesters Thursday in a vehement attack on legislation to liberalize U.S. immigration laws.

"I say let the prisoners pick the fruits," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, one of more than a dozen Republicans who took turns condemning a Senate bill that offers an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants an opportunity for citizenship.

Which is interesting, since one of the House provisions makes illegal immigrants into felons. Which would mean they'd be laboring in the fields once again...

Other House Republicans expressed anger that Mexican Americans would wave a (gasp) Mexican flag and said that it is the elite class that wants to continue illegal immigration so they have someone to work on their lawns cheaply.

This is the kind of level-headed debate we hope for when we talk about members of Congress.

It's all about the demonization, people. Republicans are hoping a bill like this will stir the base and drive them to the polls in 2006. And either way it goes, it will probably work, but I doubt in the numbers that the GOP needs.

A point I've made in private debates but not on the blog here makes it's way around the internet - the idea that the best way to crack down on illegals is to remove the carrot of jobs, and that involves cracking down on business. It's a step that Republicans are unlikely to take, and I think it would improperly shift the burden of enforcement onto the backs of business as a whole.

I have said before that I think it will be too time consuming and expensive to enforce illegal immigration laws effectively. And I think the reward of a regular paying job will far out way any punishment we may be able to dole out - or at least anything I've heard.

At this point, as you can tell, I'm not very optimistic about the outcome of this debate. In fact, the only thing I'm certain of is that the GOP will mange to tuck a little bit of pork into this thing before all is said and done.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Immigration again

As I predicted, Frist has said he'll oppose the McCain/Kennedy solution to illegal immigration. But this argument I fail to understand:
Frist rejected the legalization process -- put forward by the Senate Judiciary Committee -- for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, a plan he said "most Americans would see as amnesty."

"I disagree with this approach, not just as a matter of principle, but because granting amnesty now will only encourage future and further disrespect for the law," the Tennessee Republican said on the Senate floor.

Actually, the bill punishes those who have entered the country illegally already. It levies heavy fines and forces them to pay back taxes as well.

But Frist's argument bothers me because he's partly in charge of making the laws that are meant to discourage illegal immigration. So if he passes a tough but fair law, even one with the Kennedy/McCain legalization process, he can prevent his nightmare scenario from going down. If the legalization aspect was the only part of the law being passed, then certainly you'd see more immigrants entering the country hoping for a break. But harsher penalties and even better enforcement would go a long way to discourage future in flow.

Now, I still think tougher, enforceable immigration laws that will actually work are a pipe dream anyway. And this is Republicans in the Senate now spinning their wheels on an issue they thought would be quick and easy and give their base a boost. In the end, if may just push Hispanic voters further away.

*UPDATE* This AP headline is just idiotic - "Senate GOP Debates if Bill Equals Amnesty". I guess they can debate all they want, but the answer is "no."


This seems like it's a bit of a reach. Penraker notes that countries in the Middle East are taking a more wait and see approach as the Presidency of George Bush comes to and end and an unknown will take office in 2008. With that unknown may come changes Middle East policies, and then, apparently, all hell breaks lose:
So, we can check out of the Middle East now, but we will have to return when things get massively screwed up. Iran will dominate the area. Wars will break out. The flow of oil will be cut off. We will have to send a force ten times the current one to sort it all out. Instead of losing 50 soldiers a month we will be losing 500 a month - or more.

This, of course, is the fault of the Democrats and the New York Times, who would like to uphold the Constitution and allow for both free speech in America and a Presidential election every four years.

I'm not a historian, but I was under the impression that countries often changed policies as the prospect of a new American President loomed. I don't want to sound flippant, but short of denying the 2008 election (which I guess, according to Bush and staff we could do. The President has the power! It's a time of war!), this wait and see approach would be occurring anyway.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bibles in the classroom

Georgia lawmakers have approved a measure to fund elective Bible courses in public schools, raising concern among civil liberties groups the classes could violate the U.S. constitutional separation of church and state.

Under the bill, which now goes to Gov. Sonny Perdue for his signature, the State Board of Education would have to adopt curricula for two classes on the history and literature of the Old and New Testaments. School districts would then have the option of offering the courses.

What kind of uproar would ensue in Georgia if the state decided to fund elective Koran classes for their students? Would parents and congressmen realize that Islam has a place in the world's history as well, one that should be taught? Or would it evoke an outcry that would last until the bill was repealed? I'm leaning toward the latter.

There's already a place to go to learn the history and literature of the Bible. It's a place called church. Parents and students can go to church when they want without interference from the state. It's in the Constitution.

As far as the Bible in the classroom, well, I'm not so sure. I'd like to see a class that encompasses all religions and their teachings. Then students would have a well rounded education and could make decisions on their own. There's nothing to fear there, right, parents? After all, Christianity is the best religion for everyone. Right?

McCain/Kennedy and Republican compromise

Blogs for Bush discusses both the McCain/Kennedy immigration bill and suggets later that Democrats aren't interested in moving the debate forward.

I must have been absent when Ted Kennedy joined the Republican party.


While I largely support the efforts of the Senate Judiciary Committee when it comes to immigration reform, I don't see the guest worker/hopes for citizenship planks surviving the Senate and the reconciliation with the House, which has already passed a bill without those reforms in place.

I can't help but think, however, that there may be more pressing issues for our lawmakers to be addressing:
Undercover Congressional investigators successfully smuggled into the United States enough radioactive material to make two dirty bombs, even after it set off alarms on radiation detectors installed at border checkpoints, a new report says.

It seems odd that Republicans, who drive the agenda in Washington, have again picked an issue that shows deep divisions within the party. It's a gift that Democrats will happily take, however:
Democrats have mostly stood back from the debate and allowed the warring Republican factions to simmer. Documents circulating among senior Democratic Senate staffers note that Republican voters view immigration as a much bigger problem than do Democrats.

And Democrats are so fed up with the GOP at this point, they aren't about to bolt on an issue like this one anyway.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hollowed vows

For a President who swears he "didn't want war" in Iraq, a British memo obtained by the New York Times suggests he was willing to go pretty far to get one started:
Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.

"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

It also described the president as saying, "The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam's W.M.D," referring to weapons of mass destruction.

A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.

Didn't you just say-

Funny that social-conservative groups feel slighted and as if they "don't exist except during election years," yet they feel comforted that the Republicans in the House and Senate will once again throw them an odd bone or two during this, an election year.

Things like a flag burning amendment and a gay marriage amendment aren't going to pass the Congress, and the GOP knows this. That's why they propose them. So they can look like they are doing something to the socio-conservatives without actually having to do anything. And two years later we'll see this same sentiment again, with the same proposals designed to appease for two more years.

Mary Bono claims false endorsements

The Desert Sun:
La Quinta Mayor Don Adolph has not endorsed Rep. Mary Bono this year in her re-election bid for the 45th Congressional District seat, though her Web site suggested otherwise - as recently as Friday when Adolph called and asked that his name be removed immediately. On her endorsement page, Bono listed Adolph and other officials, including Hemet Mayor Lyle Alberg, who also said he has not endorsed Bono for the 2006 race.

The Sun also notes that they have yet to endorse a candidate in the 2006 election, and they, too, are listed as endorsing Mary Bono on her site.

Bono's site has since removed Aldoph's name from the endorsement list, but still has Alberg and the Desert Sun listed. There is no reason given for either the phantom endorsement or it's removal.

*UPDATE* When I posted this morning, only about half of the article that is now posted online was there. The explination is what I figured:
Anyone who has ever endorsed Bono appears on the Web site list - unless someone has specifically requested his or her name be removed, said Sabrina L. Garcia, Bono's political director.

"We don't do, like, a clean slate and take everybody off and put new people on," Garcia said. "We add people to it as we get more people but unless somebody says, 'Please remove my name,' we don't remove them. Typically when people endorse her they kind of always endorse her."

Which should leave everyone wondering who's actually endorsing Bono for 2006 and who's left over from the last election cycle.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bono vs. Roth

The Desert Sun has a lengthy article providing some background on the upcoming battle between incumbent Mary Bono and challenger David Roth, which should further raise Roth's voter recognition numbers. And speaking of numbers, here's a set to get excited over:
Bono and Roth went head-to-head in fourth-quarter donations from individuals, according to the Federal Election Commission. Bono raised $59,350; Roth raised $59,081, an extraordinary showing for a political newcomer going up against a four-term incumbent.

This should be cause for worry on Bono's side as well:
For the first time in eight years, a national Democratic organization - 21st Century Democrats - has endorsed Bono's challenger. In the 2004 election cycle, according to the Political Money Line, it was the 13th largest political action committee in the United States, raising nearly $7 million. The significance about the organization's endorsement is not the $10,000 that comes with it - but its national base of support. Its support has the potential to leverage thousands of dollars in additional support from members of the progressive community throughout the nation who look to it for guidance as to where to send their hard-earned money.

The DSCC continues to insist that this is a targeted race for them, and if Roth continues to pose a strong challenge to Bono, they'd be foolhardy to ignore it.

If you want to help, go to the Roth for Congress site. Even yard signs and bumper stickers will help raise early awareness and help David take back Congress for the Democrats.

How to tell legal from illegal immigrants

Apparently, one of the Powerline guys can do it just by sight, referring to the massive marches against what Republicans call immigration reform as the "March of the illegals," a statement revolting in it's assumption and smacking of xenophobia.

The post at Powerline suggests that these marches will "increase support for enforcing existing immigration law." While I think it would be hard to find someone staunchly against enforcing laws, the post is a bit of a diversion from what's really the issue.

These protests aren't intended to change people's minds about enforcing current law, but rather an expression of anger against the harsher immigration reform that the Republican led House has already passed and reforms that await debate in the Senate that has raised their anger and turned them out into the streets.

Don't know much about history

So students learn reading and math, but at what cost?

History, biology, social studies, art, music...

Coming 'round

Democrats who oppose the war have said this for a while now, and every time they do so they get accused of not supporting the troops:
As Liz Larrison cooks up breakfast for customers at her family's diner in a farm town long friendly to the Republican Party, she listens as the regulars sling political opinions as easily as she slings ham steaks.

Increasingly, the talk these days revolves around Iraq, and it is the kind of talk that could spell trouble for the GOP.

"Nobody is against the people fighting the war. I think you'll hear that everywhere," she said. "We're just against it going on and on."

Larrison is a self described independent who votes Republican has decided this year not to back a Republican for Congress.

While this shift isn't the same as a life long Republican changing sides, it still will provide a substantial hurdle for Republicans to overcome in 2006. And the more they lash out at this viewpoint as unpatriotic and against the troops, the more voters they will end up alienating.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Dick Cheney loads up

When I saw that Dick Cheney was out campaigning again, I had to wonder what the point was of sending a guy with an approval rating of around 30% to try and convince a majority of America that his view was right. It seems like a losing strategy to me, but I guess you have to work with what you have.

Cheney was not afraid to shoot truth in the face, either:
"Some Democrats in Congress have decided the president is the enemy and the terrorist surveillance program is grounds for censuring the president," Cheney said, adding, "The American people have already made their decision. They agree with the president."

Uh, Dick?

1) No Democrat in Congress thinks the President is "the enemy." Unless disagreeing with the President means that he's the enemy. In which case, more than half the country feels that way.

2) The grounds for censuring the President rest on his authorization of a program that violates current law. Regardless of it's goals, it appears that what the President has done is illegal. Censuring the President is not about spying on terrorists - it's about violating the law.

3) The American people appear not to have made their decision on the idea of censure or the domestic spying program. And if you are going to start ruling on public opinion, well, you guys in the White House have a lot of work to do.

Sadly for the truth, the article quoted above does not address these falsehoods, and let Cheney's words stand. So one must wonder if truth will be as lucky as Harry Whittington was.

*UPDATE* Holy crap. The same quote appears again without refutation in this article as well. Has Reuters fallen into the hands of the RNC?

Arnold's crumbling infrastructure

Arnold Schwarzenegger, once a popular Governor, is gearing up for a heated political battle. Polls show the well known former action star to be running neck and neck with both Democrats vying for his job.

Part of Arnold's strategy after his devastating loses in last year's special election was to run toward the middle, settling on an issue he felt would appeal to all voters: rebuilding the state's infrastructure. And for a while, the voters bought it.

But now, the tide is turning, and a majority of the state now opposes Arnold's signature legislation for 2006:
California voters would reject a ballot measure for a $32 billion public works bond if an election were held today, a troubling sign for supporters of such a measure, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to survey findings released on Friday.

"Overall, 'infrastructure' as an issue ranks low as a priority for voters," according to the survey report by the California Business Properties Association and the California Tribal Business Alliance.

The two groups surveyed California voters on a hypothetical infrastructure bond measure and found 52 percent opposed, 43 percent in favor and 5 percent undecided.

I haven't seen a lot of anti-infrastructure articles, so this may simply be public weariness with ballot issues or just a fear of politicians in general. But that general public sentiment is against Arnold's big sop to the middle doesn't bode well for his chances to overcome his Democratic challenger either.

Lacking intentions
When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.


In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would "impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

I, too, wish that I could selectively follow the laws that Congress passes. It's another reason to push my kids to become President some day.

(link via Josh Marshall)

A reason to hate the home team

I know that MLB owners are starkly Republican, but that's no reason for the Cincinnati Reds to rub it in my face.

Maybe I'll pray for rain.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blame the media State Department

Sad, really.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

How low were her expectations?

Representative Mary Bono, speaking on Medicare Part D:
"The program has actually exceeded my expectations," said Bono, who was on the committee that helped develop the plan.

It failed to cover drugs for the very seniors it was supposed to provide for. It's complexity and design may end up costing seniors more money in the long run. It has forced states to spend money to overcome the federal government's shortfalls. It has provided massive profits to the drug and insurance industry while losing money for pharmacies (which may cause some to opt out of the Medicare program all together). To top it off, there may be more disruptions to come.

Now does that sound like a program that's "exceeding expectations?"

That answers that

One thing that came out of the President's presser this morning is an answer to when President Bush will pull our troops out of Iraq. The answer is he won't:
President Bush said Tuesday the decision about when to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq will fall to future presidents and Iraqi leaders, suggesting that U.S. involvement will continue at least through 2008.

At least we can stop that debate - we're in until at least 2008. And Bush also places our national security interests in the hands of foreign leaders, something John Kerry was lambasted for saying even though he never actually did. So some Republicans worst fears have come true - a President relying on foreign powers to make decisions. Nice work, fellas.

If the President isn't lying, and we are in Iraq until 2008, I can't imagine that remaining behind the war will be a politically viable option without a serious change in direction. And the question will change from how long do we remain in Iraq to one of how we leave. I imagine that the Republican candidate will be allowed to skip out on his party's responsibility for getting us there in the first place.

However, if things have really changed, he will get all the reward for being a Republican.

It's potentially a lose-lose situation for Democrats in 2008.

Makes you wonder

You may remember before the 2004 election that Field and Stream magazine published interviews with both incumbent George W. Bush and challenger John F. Kerry. The interview featured questions including their biggest hunting and fishing prize, favorite guns, what they would do for the hunters and fishermen of America, and their attitudes toward gun control

I wish I had seen it about a month ago:
Evans: Who's the better shot, you or Vice President Cheney?

President Bush: No contest - —Vice President Cheney. He is an avid outdoorsman. I had him down here for some meetings, and we got up first thing in the morning and went fishing. He flyfished, and I bubba-baited. But he loved it.

Which makes me wonder what might have happened if the President had chosen to go hunting on that fateful Saturday afternoon.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Another stupid study

Matthew A. Roberts:
With the aid of many research assistants, Milyo and Groseclose conducted a ten-year study, in which they collected from news sources the citations of think tanks and policy groups. They then compared these media citations to how often they were cited by members of Congress, and accordingly assigned scores.

The results? The researchers expected to find a left-leaning bias, but were astonished at just how behemoth this left-wing bias is.

10 years ago would be around 1994. Anything special happen that year?

Oh yeah, Republicans took control of Congress, and began proposing their legislation. And if you are looking for support for your legislation, you'll want to quote research that backs up your proposal. And where best to get that information than from a right-wing think take completely predisposed to your position? No wonder the number of citations would be so high.

And without the corresponding numbers for left wing think tanks, there's no way to tell whether there's a bias at all. If the news media was quoting left wing think tanks (even though they exist in far fewer numbers) more so then the right wing ones, then maybe you can try and make this claim stick.

Besides, who claims that bias is the fact that a supposedly non-partisan media won't freely quote from right wing partisan think tanks?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Republican accountability

Today those fiscally responsible Republicans passed a bill that would raise the country's debt limit to accommodate massive spending and the Bush tax cuts.
Only a handful of Republicans spoke in favor of the measure as a mostly empty Senate chamber conducted a brief debate Wednesday evening.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Bush's tax cuts account for just 30 percent of the debt limit increases required during his presidency. Revenue losses from a recession and new spending to combat terrorism and for the war in Iraq are also responsible, he said.

But the war in Iraq is also the President's responsibility. After all, it's his administration who severely miscalculated the cost of this thing. And he's the one that led us in there in the first place.

And of course, without the Bush tax cuts, we might actually have the money to spend on some of these things. Since we don't the GOP has piled high the debt and the interest future generations must help pay off.

But it's not their fault. They're only in charge of everything.

Today's GOP: The rule of law can't stand

Nothing like leaglizing a program to end the furor over whether the President did something illegal in the past, is there? But that's exactly what the latest GOP proposal would do. And if it passes, the President could then legally tap you phone for 45 days without a warrant or anyone knowing. If he changed his mind after 35 days, no onw would ever know, either.

It's like legalizing cocaine, and then having the President announce in triumph that he had broken that law, too.

I always thought the laws in place had to be followed up until the time they were changed. Republicans seem to think that we should change the world so that Bush's feet don't get dirty.

It's quite a platform to run on.

Let the Iraq war begin continue!

(I attempted to post this last night, but Blogger didn't want to play along.)
New York Times:
In a well-publicized show of force, U.S. and Iraqi forces swept into the countryside north of the capital in 50 helicopters Thursday looking for insurgents in what the American military called its "largest air assault" in nearly three years.

There was no bombing or firing from the air in the offensive northeast of Samarra, a town 60 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. All 50 aircraft were helicopters -- Black Hawks, Apaches and Chinooks -- used to ferry in and provide cover for the 1,450 Iraqi and U.S. troops.

The military said the assault -- Operation Swarmer -- aimed to clear "a suspected insurgent operating area" and would continue over several days.

You know my first thought when I saw this hit the news today?

In a few months, George is going to done a flight suit and land on another carrier to announce "Mission Accomplished" once again.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

JAG: Guantanamo tactics violate rules

The top lawyers for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps have told Congress that a number of aggressive techniques used by military interrogators on a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay prison were not consistent with the guidelines in the Army field manual on interrogations.

Their conclusions are in sharp contrast to the findings of a previous military investigation into allegations of abuse at the U.S. military prison.

The judge advocates general, responding in writing to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee about the treatment of suspected terrorist Mohamed al-Qahtani, found that several techniques used at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be considered violations of interrogation policy because individually they are humiliating or degrading.

In separate statements obtained by The Washington Post, the lawyers wrote that forcing a detainee to wear a woman's bra and thong underwear on his head, insulting a detainee's mother and sister, calling a detainee a homosexual and implying that others know he is a homosexual, forcing a detainee to perform dog tricks, and forcing a detainee to stand naked in the presence of female soldiers would not be consistent with the Army's policy.

It's over

In essence, that's what the general public thinks of the Presidency of George W. Bush:
A strong majority believes Bush is experiencing a long-term setback from which he’s unlikely to recover. "He’s losing his grip on governance," says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican Bill McInturff. "It’s now a sense that we’ve seen the best that he’s going to produce as president of the United States."


What’s more, 58 percent believe Bush is facing a long-term setback from which he’s unlikely to improve. Twenty-six percent think he’s experiencing only a short-term setback, and 11 percent say he’s dealing with no setback at all.

Which begs the question: What's wrong with 11 percent of America?

Bilding up to another invasion

Oh boy:
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, Wednesday compared the threat from Iran’s nuclear programs to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

"Just like Sept. 11, only with nuclear weapons this time, that’s the threat. I think that is the threat," Bolton told ABC News’ Nightline. "I think it’s just facing reality. It’s not a happy reality, but it’s reality and if you don’t deal with it, it will become even more unpleasant."

And, in case there's any doubt:
President Bush plans to issue a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled experience in Iraq.

The long-overdue document, an articulation of U.S. strategic priorities that is required by law, lays out a robust view of America's power and an assertive view of its responsibility to bring change around the world.

Same paper, different headlines

Both of these articles now appear at the New York Times website and (presumably) in tomorrow's paper:

Call for Censure Is Rallying Cry to Bush's Base


Move to Curb Gifts of Travel Creates Rift in House G.O.P.

Which I guess means that the House G.O.P is not considered part of Bush's base? And where's the article that mentions that the Democratic base, despite the reluctance on the part of their representatives, is rallying behind Feingold's move? Will that be in Friday's edition of the paper?

The whole article about Bush's base rallying against the censure motion, however, has nothing to do with the "Bush base" rallying against the censure motion. It is, instead, about how Republicans are raising the specter of impeachment to try and raise money and drive out their base.

Leave it to the party of fear to employ it on their own people.

Republican gifts to Democrats, March 15

1) Rejected an amendment that would make it harder to raise spending and increase the national debt - an amendment sponsored by Democrats. The amendment lost on a 50-50 vote, and so you can really tell Republicans are serious about fiscal responsibility, they didn't ask for Dick Cheney to come and alter the outcome. So both the White House and Republicans in the Senate can appear fiscally irresponsible.

Republicans argue they would rather cut taxes freely rather than find money to justify those tax cuts. You brave, brave men.

2) Republicans in the House opposed a Democratic proposed plan that would call for more stringent reviews of "all transactions that could result in foreign control of any person engaged in interstate commerce." House Republicans also rejected more spending to secure our nation's ports, just to show how serious they were on the issue.

3) From Raw Story:
Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) has alleged in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that President Bush signed a version of the Budget Reconciliation Act that, in effect, did not pass the House of Representatives.

Further, Waxman says there is reason to believe that the Speaker of the House called President Bush before he signed the law, and alerted him that the version he was about to sign differed from the one that actually passed the House. If true, this would put the President in willful violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Just what you want when there are already stories swirling about White House incompetence - another story that highlights said incompetence.

Defend yourself

Not the kind of story you want to see when you're stuck near 40% approval:
President Bush's spokesman defended the White House staff Wednesday as "a smart, capable and experienced team" despite rising complaints from Republicans about administration mistakes and GOP calls for a shakeup.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said he was "tired of some of the questions" about whether Bush is going to replace some of his senior advisers. "The president has a great team and he appreciates the job that they're doing," McClellan said.

Actions speak louder than words, and if the administration had shown any sort of competence on Iraq, Katrina, the Dubai ports affair, illegal eavesdropping, Harriet Miers, or Social Security privatization, we would not be having these discussions now.

State by state with Howard Dean

While those on a national level may be a bit upset with Democratic chairman Howard Dean's 50 state strategy, those on the state level seem to like it quite a bit:
"I've never really been a Dean guy," said John Wertheim, chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party. "But I've really bought into his program. Is it risky? Sure. But I think it's a darn good investment."

In Albuquerque, four energetic young staff members -- trained by and drawing paychecks from the DNC -- have divvied up the map of New Mexico, a state that was more closely divided than Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.

From a cluttered warren of offices tucked into a strip mall, the DNC's new employees are building voter lists, organizing county-level Democratic caucuses, and installing precinct chairmen in rural portions of the state that have voted overwhelmingly Republican in national campaigns.

State officials in West Virginia, Ohio, and Mississippi also sing Dean's praises, with Mississippi already seeing results:
Mississippi's Democratic Party has established an infrastructure in 10 counties where the organization had atrophied. The DNC has sent resources to hire five full-time workers -- up from just a single part-timer previously -- helping Democrats secure victories in five special legislative elections over the past year, party chairman Wayne Dowdy said.

You never know when the next Montana will arise - a Republican rich state where the GOP senator is facing ethical challenges due to his Abramhoff connections. This is an instance where a well funded Democratic campaign could be doing a whole lot of good. Luckily, the blogs have taken up this cause, but can they realistically be expected to contribute to 435 House races and 33 Senate races every two years? And that doesn't include local and state level races or Presidental campaigns.

While Democrats see a huge opportunity to win in 2006, the long term health of the part cannot be sacrificed for short term gains. While I understand concerns with Dean's strategy, there will not be a shortage of funds when it comes to election battlegrounds in 2006. The netroots have shown their financial power time and time again.

Now imagine an election where the DNC and the netroots are on the same page. The results could be astounding.

(link from The Carpetbagger Report)

Feingold censure

So it's the big story in the last few days, and I must say that while I think it was a good idea, I really wish that Russ Feingold had built up support for his idea before he suggested it. I'm not sure if he tried to and failed or if he thought that Democrats would be quick to jump on board in condemning illegal activity, but this was a bug misstep on an issue that could have done the party and the country a lot of good.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Two things I love

Together at last:
A minor league hockey team plans to spoof Vice President Dick Cheney's recent hunting mishap by handing out orange hunting vests with the words, "Don't Shoot, I'm Human."

Cheney accidentally shot a friend while quail hunting on a Texas ranch last month.

The Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL expect to distribute 1,000 vests at Friday's game, dubbed "Dick Cheney Hunting Vest Night." The Wranglers will play the Alaska Aces in the 7,000-seat Orleans Arena.

I can't wait to buy one on eBay.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


ABC News:
In an exclusive interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold called on the Senate to publicly admonish President Bush for approving domestic wiretaps on American citizens without first seeking a legally required court order.

"This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors," said Feingold, D-Wis., a three-term senator and potential presidential contender.

He said President Bush had, "openly and almost thumbing his nose at the American people," continued the NSA domestic wiretap program.

It sounds like Feingold is upset that the President lied to the American people when he stated that all wiretaps still need to go through the courts. And the American people should be upset as well, but I don't think they are mad enough to vote against Republicans who stand in the way of this.

Bill Frist has already stated this will never come to a vote, either. But it will show up if the Democrats can take control later this year.

It's a good move by Russ. First, it keeps the story in the news for a few days, and may even generate a poll. Second, it will help Feingold's standing with the netroots as he looks toward 2008.

*UPDATE* From a Feingold press release:
The President’s illegal wiretapping program is in direct violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The FISA law makes it a crime to wiretap Americans in the United States without a warrant or a court order. The Bush Administration has obtained thousands of FISA warrants since September 11th and has almost never been rejected by the FISA court. FISA even allows wiretaps to be executed immediately in an emergency as long as the government obtains a warrant within 72 hours.

“This issue is not about whether the government should be wiretapping terrorists – of course it should, and it can under current law” Feingold said. “But this President and this Administration decided to break the law and they have yet to give a convincing explanation of why their actions were necessary, appropriate, or legal. Passing more laws will not change the fact that the President broke the ones already in place and for that, Congress must hold him accountable.”

Friday, March 10, 2006

It's about time

I've been saying since the last election that all Bush needs to do is give a series of speeches about Iraq to change public opinion and get them back behinf the war. I'm glad he's finally heeding my advice.

I cannot imagine what he's going to to say

Sources, please?

New York Times (my emphasis):
The drive for a tighter lobbying law, just two months ago a major priority on Capitol Hill, is losing momentum, a victim of shifting political interests, infighting among House Republicans and a growing sense among lawmakers of both parties that wholesale change may not be needed after all.

Don't get me wrong - this may be true - but Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who pens the article, then fails to quote one single Democratic member of Congress that feels the changes aren't needed.

Because it seems like one party is way more interested in squashing lobbying reform than the other:
Already the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee last week voted against one of the few good proposals--introduced by Senator Barack Obama--to create an independent ethics enforcement agency that would compliment and bolster the pathetically inactive ethics committee. The proposal went down 11-5, a telling precursor of things to come.


When the Senate Democrats offered their surprisingly strong "Honest Leadership Act" on the floor this week it too saw defeat, on a 55-44 party line vote. Instead the Senate unanimously passed a law forbidding lobbyists from buying lawmakers meals and drinks.

Admitting the need for change by Republicans would be admitting there is a problem in Washington, something they are not prone to do in an election year. Instead, the GOP hopes this blows over quickly and voters won't remember the culture of corruption that Republicans have brought to Washington D.C.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Rumsfeld to Iraq: You're on your own

If Iraq were to plunge into all-out civil war the U.S. military would depend on Iraq's own security forces to deal with it "to the extent they are able to," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday.

Testifying with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in support of the administration's request for $91 billion mainly to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rumsfeld was pressed to explain the U.S. military's plan to respond in the event that Iraq's sectarian violence grows into a full-fledged civil war.

"The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the -- from a security standpoint -- have the Iraqi security forces deal with it, to the extent they are able to," Rumsfeld said.

I'm actually sympathetic to this position, as getting our troops involved will send the message that we are taking sides, a message that would further drive the country from unity and worsen the situation as a whole.

That said, it's important to remember that the number of Iraqi battalions that can battle without U.S. help stands at zero. Which would mean we are abandoning a people we meant to liberate as we leave the country unable to battle on it's own. Not exactly a public relations coup in a region we are trying to win over.

If you can't show me yours

The National Secuirty Archive:
The Justice Department official who oversaw national security matters from 2000 to 2003 e-mailed his former colleagues after revelation of the controversial warrantless wiretapping program in December 2005 that the Department's justifications for the program were "weak" and had a "slightly after-the-fact quality" to them, and surmised that this reflected "the VP's philosophy that the best defense is a good offense," according to documents released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and joined by the ACLU and the National Security Archive.

David Kris, the former associate deputy attorney general who now serves as chief ethics and compliance officer at Time Warner, e-mailed Justice Department official Courtney Elwood on 20 December 2005 his own analysis of the controversy, writing that "claims that FISA [the wiretapping statute] simply requires too much paperwork or the bothersome marshaling of arguments seem relatively weak justifications for resorting to Article II power in violation of the statute." The subject line of the e-mail was "If you can't show me yours."

More from the Post:
A former senior national security lawyer at the Justice Department is highly critical of some of the Bush administration's key legal justifications for warrantless spying, saying that many of the government's arguments are weak and unlikely to be endorsed by the courts, according to documents released yesterday.

David S. Kris, a former associate deputy attorney general who now works at Time Warner Inc., concludes that a National Security Agency domestic spying program is clearly covered by a 1978 law governing clandestine surveillance, according to a legal analysis and e-mails sent to current Justice officials.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Local news: Ron Oden to run for state assembly

The Desert Sun:
[Palm Springs] Mayor Ron Oden will run for the 80th State Assembly District seat now held by Republican Bonnie Garcia but will not step down as mayor unless he wins the election.

Oden, a Democrat, paid a filing fee and received nomination papers from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters office on Tuesday.

He needs to collect 40 signatures by Friday.

Expect an official announcement on Thursday. Oden is set to face Democrat Steve Clute in the June primary.

By political leanings, this should be a Democratic seat. Garcia benefits from the large Latino community here.

Oden has a couple pluses. He has big name recognition, and he is an excellent fund raiser. His current opponent in the primary had about $1,250 in cash on hand at the end of last year, less than a tenth of Garica's total.

Garcia will be relying once again on the fundraising draw that is Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, he may not be as quick to support Bonnie as she snubbed his requests for her to campaign for his failed propositions last November, including Prop 74 which was Garica's idea in the first place.

Oden has no web page at this time.

Don't get your hopes up

A group of U.S. House Republicans will unveil a plan Wednesday that they say will balance the federal budget in the next five years. One conservative leader calls it "a huge step forward."

"This Republican Congress should return to our roots of fiscal discipline and reform," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Study Committee (RSC), while giving a preview of the group's new plan on Tuesday.


In order to balance the budget while maintaining Social Security and increasing defense spending, the plan includes savings of about $350 billion in projected spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs. The RSC budget would also save $300 billion through a reorganization of the U.S. Departments of Education, Commerce and Energy.

Later, on ABC News:
With many Republicans nervous about cutting popular programs in an election year, a key Senate panel is prepared to drop President Bush's proposals for politically painful cuts to Medicare, farm subsidies and food stamps.

And without spending cuts, a new round of tax cuts is also a nonstarter, stripping Bush's budget of two of its signature initiatives.

On the plus side, the lack of tax cuts will mean that the budget deficit won't grow as much as it could have. And it should be remembered that this was done more out of political fear than conviction that the budget needs to fall in line.

Don't get me wrong, spending cuts and a balanced budget are important. But doing said work on the backs of the poor and infirm seems to me the wrong way to do it.

Wondering aloud about NSA and the ports

As expected, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to quash an investigation into the President's warrentless eavesdropping program. Senator Rockefeller summed up the thoughts of most Democrats on the issue:
Emerging from a closed-door session in which Democrats lost two party-line votes, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the vice chairman of the committee, said the outcome pushed the panel "further into irrelevancy" and reflected the influence of the Bush administration.

"The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House," said Rockefeller, who had campaigned for a committee investigation and argued that all members of the panel ought to have full access to information on the program.

Now as I said, this was to be expected - the Republican led Congress has long seemed a rubber stamp for the President. That is until now, with most Republicans attacking President Bush's plan to let a Dubai owned firm take control of a number of the nation's ports.

So my thought was, what if this issue is brought up to give the GOP led Congress an issue to get away from the President on? Will we hear in the upcoming campaigns Republican candidates stating proudly they blocked the President's attempts to sell the ports? Is this there one attempt to stand on their own?

Seriously, can the White House really be that insistent that an issue that most of the country disagrees with is really that important?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Be with the ones you love

Most people would think a guy campaigning for office would want to be in the district he's running in, having, perhaps a party to celebrate the inevitable victory and to thank his supporters.

Well, I guess Tom DeLay got that last part right. In honor of Texas' Republican primary, DeLay will spend the evening in Washington with lobbyists.

Help Nick Lampson get DeLay out of Washington for good. Contribute or volunteer at the links.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Finding the positives in South Dakota

First off, this bill will no doubt be challenged and it's effects minimal unless the Supreme Court rules in South Dakota's favor. General consensus for now is that it's overturned.

But is there actually a positive in all of this? At the risk of upsetting women, it seems that this will serve to be a polarizing issue everywhere that should greatly favor the Democrats:
Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand predicts the law will be "a huge benefit" for his party as it winds its way through the courts. He gives a preview of the case abortion rights supporters could make: If a murderer gets out of prison and rapes a woman, she's forced to have his child. If a father brutally rapes his daughter, she is forced to have his child. "You present those arguments to women voters, they are going to be outraged," he says.

If you don't believe him, try it. Talk to the next woman you see about the conditions that the South Dakotan legislature has imposed on all the women in the state. Ask her how she would feel if your state imposed those same rules. See how she reacts. My guess is she won't be too happy, and she'll probably realize that her rights may end up taken away.

And of course, there's this:
Deirdre McQuade of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls the law a chance to end Roe's "stranglehold" on legislatures and "open up the possibility of people's values being reflected in their own state laws."

Why do people always feel their view is the "will of the people," even when it isn't?

As I pointed out before, this bill represents the values of about half the people in South Dakota. The other half should be more than a little upset about what's happened in their state. This isn't the people's will that's been imposed, but rather the will of the legislature and the anti-abortionists that control them.

What's a Democrat to do?

If you live in Pennsylvania and you are pro-choice, you may finally have a candidate to choose:
Abortion rights leader Kate Michelman is thinking of jumping into the Senate race in Pennsylvania as an independent.

Michelman is appalled by Democratic Party leaders'’ selection of anti-abortion candidate Bob Casey Jr. as their choice to try to unseat two-term Republican Sen. Rick Santorum.

This would turn the race from lean Democrat to lean Republican in a heartbeat, putting the Democratic Party endorsement of a pro-life Bob Casey Jr. as one of the biggest mistakes of this young election year.

One last thing:
Casey is Pennsylvania's state Treasurer and the son of former Gov. Robert Casey, who clashed with Michelman over the abortion issue 14 years ago at the Democratic convention in New York. Bill Clinton and party leaders barred the elder Casey from addressing the convention.

The reason Casey wasn't allowed to speak is because he failed to endorse Bill Clinton for President. It had nothing to do with his view on abortion.

Just thought I'd make that clear.

More veto power

A guy who has yet to veto a bill and has had almost everything he wants rubber stamped by a Republican led Congress now wants a line item veto? A guy who has used the justice department to argue that he can do whatever he wants in the country without congressional oversight? Take a refresher on what kind of things Bush would target for veto here.

I'm not sure what the point is of this. The Supreme Court has ruled that a line item veto in essence allows for legislating from the executive bench. While this newer incarnation allows the Congress to override a vetoed item, I still don't think this will stand.

It will be fun to watch Bush line item veto things like Medicare reimbursements for handicapped children and Republicans in Congress having to follow party lines or vote it down. Either way the party won't look to proud.

But perhaps this is a sign that Republicans feel they are doomed to fail in 2008 while hoping they maintain a majority in Congress. That would still leave them an out.

If you make abortions illegal...

Only outlaws will get abortions:
Gov. Mike Rounds signed legislation Monday banning nearly all abortions in South Dakota, setting up a court fight aimed at challenging the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

The bill would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless the procedure was necessary to save the woman’s life. It would make no exception for cases of rape or incest.

Recent polls show that about half the state considers themselves pro-choice. It will be interesting to see what kind of backlash, if any, this bill will bring.

Dean on the money... still

Recent reports suggest that Democrats are a bit unhappy with Howard Dean's fifty state strategy, a strategy I approve of here.

Here's another reason Democrats need to be on the ground and active in all fifty states - you never know when the stars will align:
All five of the states polled - Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida - went to Bush in the 2004 presidential election by margins ranging from 58 percent in South Carolina and Georgia to 52 percent in Florida.

Less than 18 months later, Bush isn't even close to majority approval in any of those states.

"For him not to even break (50 percent), not to even approach it, says all you need to say," said Hunter Bacot, an Elon political science professor and director of the poll. "In five 'red' states that have been ardent supporters of Bush, he can't even approach 50 percent."

Any Republican incumbents in these states running at any level will feel some of the Bush backlash, and getting folks active in the south is certainly going to help Democrats take some of these seats. And that, as I've said, will lead to bigger wins in the future.

Little impact

The obvious tactic that most anti-abortionists use when lobbying for a parental notification for abortion bill is that there are too many minors out there having lots of sex and therefore lots of abortions, all without the parent knowing any better. Parental notification, they argue, will change that cycle. I've suggested that it only stalls the second part, and that will lead to an increase in teen motherhood as well as a hike in teens thrown out of their house and forced to raise children on the own.

While the latest New York Times study doesn't agree with my presumptions, it also fails to back up the anti-abortion crowds logic as well. In the six states that the Times examined with parental notification laws, they found the laws had little impact on the teen pregnancy rate or the teen abortions.

In fact, abortion providers in most states claim to actually see an increase in one thing: parents trying to force their children to have an abortion:
... [P]roviders interviewed in 10 states with parental involvement laws all said that of the minors who came into their clinics, parents were more often the ones pushing for an abortion, even against the wishes of their daughters.

"I see far more parents trying to pressure their daughters to have one," said Jane Bovard, owner of the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, N.D., a state where a minor needs consent from both parents. "As a parent myself, I can understand. But I say to parents, 'You force her to have this abortion, and I can tell you that within the next six months she's going to be pregnant again.' "

Renee Chelian, director of Northland Family Planning Centers in the Detroit area, said she had had to call the police on parents who wanted their daughters to have abortions, "because they threaten physical violence on the kids."

This is the sad outcome of a law that backers claim protects children. And those same providers suggested than teens were looking instead to online herbal remedies or drugs that would induce an abortion naturally instead of visiting a clinic.

Good parenting is the best deterrent against both teen pregnancy and teen abortions. Sadly, there is no legislation that can make this happen on it's own.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Can't sit on the edge if you're already in

Maybe, when U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace said that Iraq isn't on the verge of a civil war, he meant it couldn't be about to happen because Iraq already is in a state of civil war:
As Pentagon generals offered optimistic assessments that the sectarian violence in Iraq had dissipated this weekend, other military experts told ABC News that Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq already are engaged in a civil war, and that the Iraqi government and U.S. military had better accept that fact and adapt accordingly.

"We're in a civil war now; it's just that not everybody's joined in," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.

"It's our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq," added Nash, who is an ABC News consultant.

Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told ABC News, "If you talk to U.S. intelligence officers and military people privately, they'd say we've been involved in low level civil war with very slowly increasing intensity since the transfer of power in June 2004."

Unless the country involves in an all out battle, it will be tough to judge whether Iraq is truly in a civil war. Even generals can't agree. But it still looks like our only solution to the insurgency attacks is to get someone else to be a part of the casualties so we can get the heck out of the way.

Dean on the money

I think that if the Democrats are going to be a successful national party, they must run a national campaign and build bases everywhere. This also means being visible in red states and building state level parties there, too.

So the fact the Dean is focusing on his national strategy and sticking with it even as 2006 looms should be applauded. The goal is nationality for the party, and this will help elect state level candidates as well, which become future national leaders. So the Democrat who wins the Mississippi state house seat today could help maintain a Democratic majority 10-20 years down the line.

I don't think, in light of the perfect storm that has Democrats poised for victory in 2006, that they will be hurting for money on any level. And Republicans have been steadily screwing things up since 2002. Just think what will happen by 2008.

McCain to break own law?

I'm not sure how far this will go, or when it will be settled, but California Democrats are asking regulators to investigate both Arnold and John McCain for violating fundraising laws:
The allegations center on a scheduled March 20 fund-raiser in Beverly Hills in which donors have been asked to contribute up to $100,000 for Schwarzenegger and the state Republican Party.

McCain, R-Ariz., is the featured speaker.

Katie Levinson, a spokeswoman for the governor's campaign, called the complaint "nothing more than frivolous nonsense." Trevor Potter, a former Federal Election Commission chairman who advises McCain, said the senator "is in full compliance with federal law."

At issue is whether McCain's appearance runs afoul of restrictions on federal officeholders taking part in events that solicit political funds. McCain is being accused of violating a law he helped write.

The complaint, to be filed Monday with the commission in Washington, charges that McCain and Schwarzenegger "are soliciting soft money from prohibited sources and in excess of the federal contribution limits."

This, I think, is a summary of the portion Democrats think will be violated:
Federal candidates and officeholders may only solicit contributions that are consistent with federal law, even if the money goes to a state party's non-federal account. Thus, a U.S. senator cannot solicit money from corporations or unions for a state party's non-federal account even if permitted by state law. Nor can he or she solicit contributions from individuals for a state party's non-federal account that exceed the federal $ 10,000 limit.

As I said, whether anything comes of it remains to be seen.

Partisanship is in the eye...

ABC News:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., wrote to Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that repeated calls for investigations are hampering the [Senate Intelligence Committee]'s ability to focus on issues including Iran, North Korea, Muslim extremism and the military modernization of China.

"If attempts to use the committee's charter for political purposes persist, we may have to simply acknowledge that nonpartisan oversight, while a worthy aspiration, is not possible," Frist said.

It's clearly hypocritical, but it has me wondering. A panel which maintains a 8-7 Republican edge which votes to investigate the President for possible illegal surveillance would be done for "political purposes?" I can certainly see the benefit for Democrats if an investigation occurs, but how is it going to help the eight Republicans on the panel? Unless, I guess, it helps to separate them from the President's possible illegal spying program.

I'll say it again. If Republicans really thought Bush's spying program was completely legit, they would welcome the investigation. It would vindicate the program, and make Democrats look weaker on terror and willing to waste taxpayer time and money on a witch hunt.

Their reluctance only tells me that they are most certainly doomed if any oversight actually occurs.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Poll whacked

Bad news all around for Bush here, including:
Perhaps most striking, 44% said they approved of Bush's handling of terrorism, while 54% disapproved -— the first time a majority has expressed a negative opinion about his handling of that issue in a Times survey.

Read the whole thing if you want to see how much people don't approve of the President right now. Those terrorism numbers are bad for a guy who relies on terror issues to push legislation and his agenda, and if they don't improve could prove worse for the GOP overall in the 2006 elections.

Closer to home, things don't look good for Arnold, either:
Just 37 percent of California's likely voters are inclined to re-elect Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in November, a huge drop from a year ago, according to a poll released Thursday.

Good news for Democrats is that both State Treasurer Phil Angelides and state Controller Steve Westly run competitive with Arnold despite being relative unknowns. The bad news is that, nine months before the election, voters still don't know the Democratic candidates for governor very well.

You can do your part to help chage that here. It's important for both candidates to define themselves before anyone else gets a chance, and you can help with some couch cushion change or your rainy day fund. Every little bit helps.

Where the law does not apply

Guantanamo Bay:
Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison.

In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as "systematic torture."

Government lawyers have argued that another portion of that same law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, removes general access to U.S. courts for all Guantanamo Bay captives. Therefore, they said, Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni national held since May 2002, cannot claim protection under the anti-torture provisions.

In essence, there's no way to enforce the torture ban because those detainees have no right to sue in U.S. courts. So anything goes in Guantanamo.

I'm kind of interested to see how McCain reacts to this. Does he let it go, knowing that it would rankle conservatives if he fought and damage his suspected presidential run in 2008, or does he let it go and try to triumph the fact that he passed legislation at all?

At this point, he has yet to comment.

Bigger debt, worse timing

Republicans in the Senate face a difficult but necessary vote in coming weeks to allow the Treasury borrow to pad the $8.2 trillion national debt by another $781 billion.

The need to increase the legal limit on the debt has Democrats eager to use the debate to blast President Bush and his GOP allies in Congress for their fiscal stewardship.

"During this administration, America's debt, that is, the total of the deficits has increased by $3 trillion," said Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, top Democrat on the Finance Committee. "That's a 40 percent increase in the entire federal debt accrued by our country in its entire history."

Treasury officials briefed Senate staff aides Thursday and told them that without an increase in the government's ability to borrow, it would default on obligations for the first time in history sometime during the week of March 20.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Port review did not investigate terrorism ties

So says Rep Peter King (R-NY):
Rep. Peter King of New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said officials from the Homeland Security and Treasury departments told him weeks ago that their 30-day review of the deal did not look into the question of links between DP World and al Qaeda.

King said the officials told him after he asked about investigation into possible terrorist ties: "Congressman, you don't understand, we don't conduct a thorough investigation. We just ask the intel director if there is anything on file, and he said no."

"There was no real investigation conducted during the 30-day period," King, who has been a vocal critic of the deal, told CNN. "I can't emphasize this enough..."

And I would hope this quote gets played all over the news everywhere:
"When I hear the administration saying they want to educate the Congress and the American public, they should be educating themselves," King said. "They should do the investigation they should have done after the 30 days."

The American people don't want to be educated, they want to feel safe if this deal goes through. All they want is a true investigation, and the administration isn't winning anyone over by appearing unwilling to give it to them.

Checking in on California

A new poll shows that voters support the Governor's infrastructure bond proposal by a 56/27 split, with the rest of voters undecided. And the governor's approval rating has shot up to 40%. More importantly for him, his disapproval rating has dropped back under 50%, a small milestone as he struggles for re-election.

While this is good news for him now, voters will have to face a campaign that points out the downfall of his plan, the longterm costs, and the specter of raised taxes in the future. And it will happen. And while saying you support something is one thing, actually voting that way is another issue. Keep an eye on polls that ask both for bond approval and Arnold in head to head matchups. The numbers should be fairly even.

Also of note, Dan Walters points out the Governor's claims that he has spearheaded the cuts in the state deficit are largely wrong:
Lower-than-expected deficits have almost nothing to do with Schwarzenegger's holding down spending. They have almost everything to do with the surprising vigor of the economy, which has pumped many extra billions of dollars into state coffers. The nonpartisan legislative budget office pegs the windfall of unanticipated revenues at $11.5 billion in three years.

Had Arnold actually made budget cuts, the state's financial picture would be even rosier. Look for Democratic candidates to point this out a number of times before this fall.

And, as always, help Phil Angelides out with some scratch or some volunteer work.