Wednesday, August 31, 2005

WOW

I didn't see it, but the gang over at The Corner hated Bush's speech. Podhoretz went so far as to declare Bush's Presidency on the line.

I have some thoughts on Bush's leadership abilities, but I will hold off on those until a more appropriate time.

Federal Intervention

It is time that the federal government step in and intervene in New Orleans. Looting has to be unacceptable, and it is pretty clear that the local authorities need to spend their time rescuing people. It is time for the President to send in the army before the chaos grows out of control.

Presidential Vacations

Byron York at The Corner gently chides the President for his vacation schedule.

Although the President can certainly do his job from practically anywhere, for the most part, the American public expects him to do it from the White House, especially during a crisis and while men and women are at war in another country. I hardly think it is a coincidence that his poll numbers have been falling while he is on vacation. One of his biggest problems is that people are wondering if this President is really in touch. A five week vacation is hardly reassuring. Furthermore, every story on Bush for the past month has mentioned that he is on vacation. It just looks bad.

York's comments are reflective of a growing unease among conservatives that Bush's numbers have not hit bottom yet, and also a growing frustration that the WH has not been taking steps to curb this fall.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina Updates

WWLTV, out of New Orleans, is currently running a blog that is updating with the headlines and observations from reporters on the ground.

Unfortunately most of the entries are sobering, including the failed pumps in the 17th Street canal, 60,000 plus people now at the Superdome, 2+ months before New Orleans schools may open and rescuers being told to bypass the dead.

Evacuation

It appears as though New Orleans is going to be completely evacuated. Simply amazing, especially after most of us had assumed that the city had avoided major problems. Thoughts and prayers go out to those in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Unsurprising

Although the news out of Virginia that Gov. Mark Warner will not challenge Sen. George Allen in '06 is not particularly a surprise, he has his eyes set on the Presidency, it is disappointing.

It would clearly have been the marquee race of '06, and it would have been interesting to see how both of these men who harbor Presidential ambitious reacted to difficult campaign. As it is, it is hardly unthinkable that they could be matched up in '08.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Romney for President

Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, and future candidate for President, was recently quoted saying "Well, I win by a landslide in Massachusetts if I run for reelection. And that's very possibly what I'm going to do."

Some are taking this as him continuing to send mixed messages about his future plans. I think otherwise. Nobody who plans on running for reelection, especially with his poor poll numbers, makes this type of statement. Romney is running for President, and will not be seeking reelection in Massachusetts. Put it in the bank.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Dr. Jay

The Washington Post has an article on Pat Robertson's marketing of a weight-loss drink mix. I don't have any problems with this, I have always thought that Pat was primarily about making a buck.

But this part did catch my eye:

In large type on the front of the can, the product is labeled "Pat's Diet Shake." In smaller type on the back, it is identified as "Dr. Pat Robertson's Diet Shake." Robertson is not a medical doctor, but he has a law degree, known formally as a juris doctor, from Yale Law School.

Henceforth, I will follow Dr. Robertson's lead and demand to be referred to as Dr. Jay.

Fenway Tonight

I will be taking my 5 year old to his first baseball game tonight. In order to continue the Red Sox indoctrination, we will go the extra hour and a half to Boston, instead of just going down to the dreaded Bronx. Hopefully he makes it past the 4th inning.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Listen to The Moose

This is how the Bull Moose sees the situation in Iraq.

It is very clear that the American people are losing faith in the President's conduct of the war. It is with good reason that Administration has suffered a loss of trust. They have mishandled the war and have not leveled with the American people. The Administration has exploited the war for its political purposes and demanded sacrifice only from our brave troops and their families.

Above all, America is losing confidence that the Administration has a strategy for victory. That sentiment is expressed in the words "Win or get out." Some on the left subscribe to the latter and have given up on the former. An American unilateral withdrawal at a date certain is their solution. That is just another way to concede defeat and raise the white flag.


This is exactly right. We should not be cutting and running. But that also does not mean that we should be "staying the course". Changes are necessary, especially to get the public back on board. It is too bad that this WH seems incapable of admitting that they were anything less than perfect. Without change the withdrawal option is only going to become more attractive.

Et Tu, Johnny?

I've bashed Bush and Frist for advocating teaching "Intelligent Design" alongside of evolution, so let me add John McCain to the list as well. McCain told a local newspaper "that, like Bush, he believes "all points of view" should be available to students studying the origins of mankind."

I'm disappointed, I expected better from him.

For a devastating critique of "Intelligent Design" read this New Republic article. (It's long, but destroys the most popular ID "textbook.")

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Latest Harris Poll

Has Junior's approval rating at 40%, with disapproval at 58%. This is the lowest he has ever polled at.

Maybe those ARG numbers that had Junior at 36% weren't so off after all.

(BTW - His Rasmussen numbers are down too.)

Yeah Connecticut!

The BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Commission) has voted to remove Groton Submarine Base from the list of military bases to be closed. This is great news for the state of Connecticut and, probably, the right thing to do. It never made a lot of sense to include Groton on the list anyway, since the submarine school and Electric Boat are located in the near vicinity.

Additional reactions from: OTB, Pray Connecticut, Chickbean.

I am sure that the saving of a blue state's base will do nothing to help soothe the rough feelings of Republicans in South Dakota.

New Jersey Senate

Another former employer of mine is in the news. Rep. Rob Andrews is telling his constituents that he will be a candidate for Senate in 2006, if Jon Corzine is elected Governor.

Should Corzine win, he gets to appoint his successor. The top three candidates are Andrews and Reps. Pallone and Menendez. Should Rob not be appointed, he will face a great deal of pressure not to run in what would be a divisive and brutal Democratic primary.

Rob is the type of thoughtful, intelligent politician who would make an excellent Senator, but his campaigning skills do have something to be desired. (His campaign for Governor of New Jersey in 1997 was pretty much a disaster.) In the best of all worlds, Corzine would appoint Andrews and still be able to keep the party in line, but this is New Jersey, so don't count on it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Dregs of Summer. (Politically Speaking)

Congress is in recess, the President is on vacation (again), much of Washington is on the Delaware Shore, heck even The Note is away. So there is little, or nothing going on in Washington. Cindy Sheehan and how hard the Democrats will blast away at John Roberts are the only stories that seem to make any waves.

So I can't decide if the bad news that Bush has been getting is the result of too much navel-gazing, when there is little else to look at, or if it is the tip of a much larger wave that could be brewing just out-a-sight.

Here is some of the bad news which you may have missed while enjoying the summer. (But I guarantee these items haven't been missed by Karl Rove):

- Bush's latest national approval rating is 36% (from American Research Group). 36% is about a low as you can go, 36% is Nixon right before he resigned numbers, Jimmy Carter right after he got attacked by the Killer Rabbit. And remember this is a guy who got 51% of the vote less than 10 months ago. He is only getting 77% of Republicans, and without that bedrock support, he would be in the 20's.

- Bush has a 50%+ approval rating in 7 states, and a net positive rating in only 10 (Survey USA). Net negative states include: Kansas (46% approve/50% disapprove); Florida (44/53); Missouri (38/58); Ohio (37/60) and even South Carolina (45/51). When a Republican President can't get net positive ratings in South Carolina, there is a problem. 2006 elections are not that far off, and a state like Ohio looks like a potential disaster for Republicans.

- Bob Novak is taking on the White House for not being political enough! (Or at least not protecting its supporters.)

- Iraq seems as much as a mess as ever, and an Iraqi Constitution that sets the framework for an Islamic Republic will be the last straw for many. (And the apparent proposed Constitution is a potential disaster according to Steven Taylor.) The situation is bad enough for Sen. Hagel to compare it to Vietnam and conservative supporters like Andy McCarthy to abandon ship altogether.

- Some Conservative supporters (blog wise) are beginning to wonder if their support of Bush has actually meant anything in the big picture. Professor Bainbridge is frustrated about "What Might Have Been." His thoughts were seconded by LaShawn Barber. Even those thoughtful conservative bloggers who have disagreed with Bainbridge acknowledge some frustration with the Administration: OTB; Steven Taylor ; Decision 08; and even Right Wing Nuthouse (a little bit).

- Gas prices continue to rise, and bring with it the specter of inflation.

- And the White House apparently thinks that Social Security reform is still on the table, deciding they should simply ignore all the polling data they got this spring during the President's disastrous attempts to drum up national support.

There may be a bright spot or two on the horizon for the White House (Robert's probable confirmation, another estate tax fight, Democrats continued inability to make gains), plus it is the summer and navel-gazing is at a high. But Bush has been in a freefall since this spring, and nothing he does seems to change the dynamics. (Aren't we due for a terror alert increase?)

I do not underestimate the WH's abilities, or the Democrats ability to fail to take advantages when they appear, but at some point, the numbers reach a point where even Republicans will have to put some distance between themselves and the White House -- for their own political survival. And that point may be coming sooner rather than later.

36% approval? It is possible for anyone to effectively govern with numbers so low? It will certainly make the fall very interesting!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Political Tin Ear

It is hard to tell sometimes if Sen. Bill Frist is a pandering politicians, or just one without any real political sense. Either way his recent pronouncement that schools should teach "intelligent design" in science class, in conjunction with the theory of evolution, is simply the latest example.

He told Rotatrians that "I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith." Ummm, people, there is science and there is faith. One can be more or less proven through observation and experimentation (which can be taught in a classroom), the other, well, is taken on faith (and should be taught at a church, at home, or at least, a different classroom.) Also, a quick questions for Senator/Doctor Frist -- what facts point toward the ID theory? Anything? Anyone?

The same people who decry multiculturalism in the social science fields are now apparently advocating the same for the hard science fields? Do we teach that the world is flat? That the sun revolves around the earth? No, but maybe we should under this new "pluralistic society" standard. If the Catholic Church came out and said that 2 + 2 = 5, would he advocate offering this as an alternative to our grade schoolers?

Sen. Frist's comments are clearly aimed at getting back in the good graces of the social conservatives, following his support of stem cell research, in order to run for President. But his zigging and zagging is merely making him look like a fool.

A man of science, such as a doctor, should hardly be advocating such silliness. A man of politics should know that pandering of such an obvious sort never works.

(Hat Tip - OTB)

Kudos Bob!

Bob Costas' refusal to guest host the Larry King Show, when it was going to focus primarily on the Natalee Halloway situation, is just one more reason that he is just a good guy. There might be two other people in all of television-land who would sacrifice ratings for principle, maybe. Good job Bob, hopefully others will follow your lead.

[UPDATE - Arguing with Signposts had exactly the same reaction, right down to the Kudos. PoliBlog agrees as well, but offers no kudos.]

Friday, August 19, 2005

RINO Alert

Bill Weld has apparently decided that he will run for Governor, but this time in New York. His reason for running is his "belief that New Yorkers had come to like moderate, tax-cutting Republican leaders."

Ummm, how then would you explain the current moderate, tax-cutting Republican leader's miserable poll ratings? George Pataki isn't not running because he really wants to devote his time toward becoming President, he is not running because he would lose and thus assure himself of not becoming President. (Although it is a good question about which RINO is deluding themselves more, Pataki or Weld.)

Weld is a vary talented guy, but he is a flake. And after 12 years of a Republican Governor, I think New Yorkers are ready to give the Democrats (Elliot Spitzer, to be specific) their chance. But it certainly will make for a more interesting race, with two blue blood, Ivy leaguer, former prosecutors facing off against each other.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Santorum gets a GOP challenger

The Senate's most endangered incumbent just got even more endangered. John Featherman, who ran for Senate as a Libertarian in 2000, has announced that he will run for the GOP Senate nomination in Pennsylvania against Rick Santorum.

While I have no doubt that Santorum will win the nomination, this challenge will cost him money and effort, and could result in very real embarrassment if Featherman was able to pick up 30% or so of the vote.

(I wonder if Fox has started to figure out where in their lineup they will try to place Santorum's 2007 talk show.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Reason #76 That I Don't Live in Texas

Apparently one of Junior's neighbors is upset with the anti-war protestors and decided to show his feeling with a shotgun -- no one was hurt. (The story is here.)

But here is the key quote:

"This is Texas," said Bill Phillips, 48, a New Orleans social worker who spent the night at the site. "I kind of expect people to fire a gun off now and then."

Most Important Stories of the Day

It might be the proposed Iraqi Constitution, if it gets done.

Stories for the New York Timesand the Washington Post on Iraq are mandatory reading. Neither give great cause for optimism.

Or it could be the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, which appears to be a given.

Stories on the situation Gaza appear to be brighter, but certainly not without concerns. (NYT & WP).

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Two Articles of Interest

In Finland's Footsteps: If We're So Rich and Smart, Why Aren't We More Like Them? from the Washington Post

&

Jefferson raid said to have netted cold cash from the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Both of these stories interest me because of personal connections - Long ago, I spent a summer in Finland (and agree with most of the author's observations) &, not as long ago, I did some political consulting for Jefferson (and am generally surprised, but not shocked).

I am unable to think of any other way in which these stories might in any way be connected.

Correction

Robert George has corrected a minor point in my previous post on the NY Senate race. Hillary in fact lost upstate New York to Rick Lazio by about 95,000 votes (about 3 percentage points.) This is still a extremely strong showing for any Democrat, but not in fact a victory.

Shifting Sands

First, no chemical weapons, now, no shining beacon of western style democracy. According to the Washington Post, the administration is now resigned to the fact that Iraq will not be "a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges."

There also continue to be serious problems with water and electricity. I guess that the US really isn't into nation building.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thanks NY GOP!

Although no one in her camp would ever admit it, there is no candidate in New York that Hillary Clinton wanted to face more than Jeanine Pirro.

(I should preface these comments by saying that I have been wrong in predicting Hillary almost as much as Dick Morris has been, almost.)

Although the NY GOP was pressing hard to get the Westchester County District Attorney to run against Hillary because they though she might have a shot at keeping the margin of loss low, they have in fact done Hillary a great favor.

Jeanine Pirro is a highly unlikable politician, who also lacks a politician’s deft touch. Pirro is a camera chaser in the mold of Chuck Schumer, but without his intelligence. As an example, she involved herself in the Catholic priest cases, getting a great deal of TV coverage, but once the headlines died away, so did her interest. And there are several examples of Pirro jumping for the news coverage at the expense of actual justice. (And just try dealing with her office when a high publicity issue is at stake.)

As her announcement debacle should have demonstrated, she has no natural political talents. A good politician would have turned that moment around to make them seem human -- you know Hillary would have and Bill Clinton would have made it an absolute moment to remember, heck even Junior would have cracked a smile and a joke. (And then it private all would have absolutely destroyed the staffer responsible.) Pirro just stood there blankly in front of the cameras for 30 SECONDS! No smile, no self-deprecating joke, just 30 seconds of confusion and blank stares. And the speech itself was poor and her delivery even worse.

Few people in Westchester have ever seen her smile (and those who have are envious of the others.) She makes Katherine Harris seem downright natural and personable. No one will be calling Hillary the Ice Queen in this race.

It is also worth noting that Pirro almost lost her reelection bid in 2001 to Tony Castro, an underfunded nobody. (She won by six points.) And my guess is that less than 50% of the people who voted for him had ever even heard her name. (Although New York & Westchester are Democratic in national politics, they are much more open in state and local races.)

Furthermore, neither her politics nor her personality will endear her to upstate New Yorkers who Republicans dearly need for any hope of a victory. (Hillary was actually able to win upstate New York in 2000, and will again this time.)

So you have a politician who has no great skills, no real natural bases and who comes across as cold. (Oh yeah, she has a husband problem too, except her husband went to jail, and doesn’t have a popularity rating around 70% with NY state voters.)

When Hillary absolutely destroys Pirro in the general election, and she will, probably by 15 or more points, the national press will have no other option but to cover the story as a coronation. If she had crushed a nobody, it would be a story, when she crushes the best candidate that the NY GOP could have hoped for (absent a Rudy run) it will be a giant story.

In short, the NY GOP has helped Hillary’s 2008 plans, and made it even more difficult for those in both parties who would prefer that she sit this one out.

Other comments on the race are available from Robert George.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"We will not tolerate fraud"

So says Ken Mehlman of the RNC, but that apparently does not extend to paying almost 3/4 of a million dollars for defense costs for a former Republican official accused of just that. As the Washington Post outlines, the party is paying the defense (or part of the defense) of James Tobin, who is accused of tying up Democratic phone lines in New Hampshire on Election Day in 2002. Tobin was the New England regional director of the RNC, then moved to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, where he was forced to resign after the allegations came to light (or at least got publicized.)

Frankly this is much like the Karl Rove situation. Make a principled statement, but throw it aside if it get inconvenient. Personally, I think that the RNC is paying his bills because he could probably implicate a number of other people.

(Josh Marshall has been all over this for a while.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I'm Back

But too busy with work to provide any insight into the world right now. I haven't even caught up on what I missed this week, other than the space shuttle and Peter Jennings.

The Midwest was very nice, as usual, but very hot.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Off for a Week

I'll be touring some of the Great Lakes states this week. See you next Weds.
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