Thursday, September 29, 2005

When Did the Revolution End?

Robert George declares the Republican Revolution "dead" on its 11th anniversary.

Personally, I though the revolution ended when Clinton won the "government shut down" war, or at least when he trounced Dole.

Thess are anxious times for Republicans, they seem to be drifting and leaderless at the moment. Somebody has to step up, and I am pretty sure that Bush is not that guy, but I have no idea who is. This may be the perfect time for Giuliani to start making some TV appearances.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Reactions

The Corner seems to pretty much support DeLay, after all "a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich," which I am sure is the same standard with which they would have greeted a Clinton indictment.

Kevin Drum thinks that a Plamegate indictment would make a hat trick of trouble for Republicans.

Michelle Malkin has lost of Republican reactions, but warns that the "Everybody does it" defense probably won't work.

Josh Marshall at TPM is pretty happy.

Steve Clemons call this a good day for American democracy and notes that David Drier is a pretty good guy to have as majority leader.

The Carpetbagger Report sets the record straight about Ronnie Earle.

Steven Taylor wasn't surprised given the players involved, but notes that it is a bad day for Republicans.

OTB has been following blogger reactions as well.

McGhee wonders if DeLay will continue to control the GOP House caucus regardless.

Bull Moose predicts that DeLay will not return as Majority Leader.

American Street wishes that this is merely the beginning.

The posters at Lucianne add their collective wisdom.

Anderson is pretty excited about the appointment of David Drier.

Ankle Biting Pundits predicts that this is the beginning of a rough ride for the right.

Lifelike Pundits warns Republicans to remember, before going too hard in protecting DeLay, that they too can break the law.

Powerline calls Earle a "notorious Democratic Party hack."

Wizbang gives just the facts.

Instapundit thinks that this is a win for pork busters.

GOP Woes

This means that the top dog in the Senate and the 2nd in charge (but really top dog) have significant legal problems over there head. Add this to a lame duck President with falling poll numbers and expect a lot more freelancing on the part of both conservative and moderate Republicans in Congress. Could actually bring about some compromises and coalitions. This might be interesting.

INDICTED!

There is something so right about Tome DeLay's indictment. He is the worst type of power politician, who puts power and party first and has no regard for the entire country. This is a good day.

Picking A Fight?

Latest rumor is that the finalists for the next Supreme Court seat are Alice Batchelder, J. Michael Luttig, Edith Jones, J. Harvie Wilkinson, Priscilla Owen, Samuel Alito, Karen Williams, Michael McConnell, Maura Corrigan, Alberto Gonzales, Harriet Miers and Larry Thompson.

Owens would clearly be the pick that the Democrats would go to the mattresses over. Does Bush want to pick that fight? My guess is yes, but only if he knows he can win, and frankly, I am not certain he can.

Gonzales would be a problem with the right, and I doubt that Bush can afford to alienate them.

The most "John Roberts" are these possibilities would be Michael McConnell. I rest are too unknown to really guess what the immediate reaction would be. But a President with approvals in the low 40's can't assume anything, even when his party controls the Senate. My guess is that an extreme pick is probably off the table because a loss might cripple the last term.

I had earlier picked Gonzales as my guess, but I think the right has stopped that pick, so now I will guess McConnell. I imagine that we will know for certain by the end of the week.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Can't Catch a Break

New Orleans is apparently flooding again. Luckily there is hardly anyone left, but this will certainly complicate rebuilding and relief efforts, especially if Rita leaves a path of destruction.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Brooks on Kerry/Edwards

David Brooks observes the difference in approaches that the Democrats 2004 ticket have taken over the past few weeks. Kerry is all attack, Edwards is attack with an alternative. Brooks clearly thinks that Edwards approach is the winning way, but wonders if Democrats are listening?

But what Brooks, and several other conservative commentators, fail to realize is that Kerry can talk all he wants, but the man is never going to be a major political player again. Kerry would lose to every other major (and most minor) possible Democratic candidate in the '08 primary. He had his chance, and blew it big time.

Edwards, on the other hand, has apparently recognized the flaws in the 04 campaign -- sometimes you actually need some ideas to win. Edwards remains a major player because people will listen to him and he has some ideas to communicate. At this point, we in the Democratic Party are listening to Kerry just to be polite, and even then all he does is rehash last year's race. That politeness may have to end soon.

Interesting

After hearing for a few weeks now that the federal government has only a limited amount that it can do before a hurricane hits, there certainly seems to be a whole lotta federal activity in preparation for Hurricane Rita. (Appropriately, I might add.)

But it certainly hurts the blame the city and state theme that has been a favorite of some conservatives.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

58%

That is the disapproval of Bush's job in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. Only 40% approve. I imagine that the WH is banging it's collective head against the wall trying to figure out what they can do to stop this plummet. (Oh, that's right, this WH never looks at polls, I guess everything is fine then.)

Monday, September 19, 2005

In Case You Were Wondering . . .

and of course I think you were since you bothered to stop by -- I would vote to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice.

I also think that the Democratic Senators should do so in good numbers, but fear that they will not. I have not seen anything that disqualifies Roberts from serving, except that he is conservative, and merely being conservative is not enough in my book to disqualify someone from serving on the Supreme Court.

And politically, voting against Roberts in large numbers will weaken the Democrats' position should Bush decide to send up a Janice Brown or Priscilla Owens for the next open seat.

Cronyism Alert

Kevin Drum worries that Bush appears to be continuing his trend of stocking the government with cronies, as opposed to, you know, actual qualified people.

You would think that Katrina might have taught him a lesson. But as I observed not long ago, Republicans don't really believe in government, so it is hard to find qualified Republicans who are willing to serve (or take the salary cut).

What A Hurricane Can Do?

For one thing, it apparently has Robert George wondering "Why Am I (Still) A Republican?"

Given the lukewarm response to Bush's reconstruction plans, I think he is not the only one.

The Big Speech

I didn't hear it (speaking with a client on the phone) and was amazed at how little reaction (good or bad) it got the next day or even this weekend. I think the CW at this point is that it was not really all that good, making lots of promises, but little detail on how to pay for them or who was going to make sure everything went ok.

In short I don't think it did all that much to help his standing.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Big Night

To get an idea of how big tonight's speech by President Bush will be among the political class read the following from The Note:

He has never seen his poll numbers take this kind of hit among Republicans before.

He has never seen his poll numbers on "strong leader" and "can handle a crisis" take such a hit before.

He has never seen his efforts to build the Republican Party among African-Americans be so thoroughly undermined before.

He has never been rolled by Nancy Pelosi before.

He has never been without Dr. Rice or Ambassador Hughes down the hall during a crisis before.

He has never had two open-ended spending commitments of tens of billions of dollars before.

He has never had to take "responsibility" for such death-infused tragedy before.

He has never had to rethink whether he has put fully qualified people in critical jobs before.

He has never had so many well-meaning Republican strategists and Administration aides whole-heartedly agreeing that the White House was too slow off the mark in dealing with a crisis before.

He has never had to dial back on his view that "it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life" - at least in public - before.

He has never had to be dependent on an inexperienced Democratic governor of a poor state for his own political health before.

He has never faced the possibility of long-term blame for something (the rebuilding of New Orleans and other devastated areas) that is to a large extent beyond his control - and which he will say tonight should be left largely to the choices of local people - before.

He has never had to be so deeply self-conscious about tossing off sarcastic remarks, half-baked cracks, and casual comments before.

He has never been so denied the cushion of his nonchalant confidence and relaxed superiority before.

He has never been perceived as such a potential liability by others in his party looking to hold their seats before.

He has never lacked The Other - an enemy to demonize and to contrast with himself and his policies in the eyes of the media and the public before.

Then read Peggy Noonan's assessment of the President's political standing.

And, finally, gaze at the latest WSJ/NBC (40% approval) and CBS/New York Times (41% approval) polls. Even a White House that "never looks at polls" has to pay attention to these. The conventional conservative thinking was that the approval numbers would slowly be climbing now that the clean up and rebuilding has started and the crisis has passed. These numbers have to shake that confidence a little bit. (Even though I am sure it is really just the liberal media's fault!)

Given all this, tonight's speech is huge, at least among the political class.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tom DeLay Has Apparently Lost His Mind

I have been none too kind to Mr. DeLay in the past, primarily because I think he is the wrost type of politician, one who cares primarily about personal power and little about the country as a whole. But this story from today's Washington Times has made me reassess my opinion of him.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.
Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible.
"My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing.
Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."

Apparently I was wrong, he's not power hungry, he's delusional. This is, of course, a serious mental health condition that should not be joked about.

More Katrina Fallout

ABC News is reporting that New Orleans Congressman Bill Jefferson used National Guard troops to get to his house while the city was still in crisis. This is the same Bill Jefferson who is under investigation by the FBI. (Full Disclosure - I once did some political consulting for the Congressman.) Of course, however his trip home does make sense, since the loss of electricity certainly resulted in money becoming unfrozen.

The story that police in a parish immediately south of New Orleans blocked the Ccrescent City bridge, a potential avenue of escape for people at the Morial Convention Center, has been around for a while, but probably not gotten the play it should have. It is beyond a disgrace, and a perfect example of how race was a factor (although certainly not the factor) in how this tragedy was responded to.

Although I did praise the President yesterday for admitting mistakes were made, lets not go too far in admiring his admitting what is obvious to almost every person in the Country. Although it is nice to see an action that is extremely uncharacteristic of the Administration, an admission of infallibility.

Rumors are floating that the President will name someone to oversee the rebuilding of NO during his speech tomorrow night. Although there are many names floating around the two that should get the most consideration are Colin Powell and John Breaux.

Finally, Maureen Dowd has a killer last sentance in her column today, "[t]he president should stop haunting New Orleans, looking for that bullhorn moment. It's too late."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Credit Where Credit is Due

This is exactly right:
Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. I want to know what went right and what went wrong. I want to know how to better cooperate with state and local government, to be able to answer that very question that you asked: Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm. And that's a very important question. And it's in our national interest that we find out exactly what went on and -- so that we can better respond.

The speaker, President Bush.

(Wow, that hardly hurt at all.)

Bush's Image

This is from today's Washington Post:
Judging from the blistering analyses in Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere these past few days, it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants.

It amazes me how quickly things can turn in Washington. Even at the beginning of the summer, with his approval falling, you would never have found aides dishing like this. But now that blood is clearly in the water, those close to the President are starting to leak unflattering views about the boss.

It remains to be seen if this impression begins to sink in among the public, but among the politicos, the picture that will probably last for the next three years is that of someone surrounded by yes-men and shaded from reality.

Monday, September 12, 2005

WWAT?

(What Would Albuquerque Think?)

Apparently some editor at the Los Angeles Times asked that question about the Katrina response.

This is the answer.

Glad we got that cleared up.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Katrina Recriminations (or the Emperor's New Clothes)

I have started this a couple of times and have never been happy with what has resulted. It started sounding too much like a rant about specific events than a rationalized assessment of what has occurred in the Gulf Coast. However, with two weeks having passed since Katrina hit, it is fair to say that all levels of government failed the people of the Gulf Coast, and especially New Orleans. But ultimately, I think the federal government has an especially shameful place in what happened.

Great stories on what happened are available from many sources, but the best piece I have found so far was in today's New York Times, which set forth a timeline of all government actions in the aftermath of Katrina. Time magazine also has an interesting piece that I think is an informative (but less than flattering) about what Bush and his advisors were doing, and what they plan to do to regain some of the public's confidence.

What these story, and the many others that have been published, leads me to conclude is that the federal government, especially, but not limited to FEMA, was simply not prepared for what happened. This is unacceptable.

Many conservatives have been pushing the idea that either the federal government couldn't act until the state of Louisiana requested their help (mostly Bush apologists) or appear to believe that the federal government acted pretty much as quickly as they could. I would place some, like Bryan from Arguing with Signposts, in this latter camp, but I believe that these thoughts springs from conservative mantra that government can never really be efficient.

This mantra is a major part in understanding why the federal government was slow to react. FEMA became a dumping ground for political hacks. They could master bureaucracy, but didn't know how to get things done. Why is this? Three reasons: 1) In the Bush administration loyalty has always been placed over competence; and 2) truly competent Republicans don't serve in government, they go into business because you can't make much money in government unless you are Joe Allbaugh; and 3) Republicans don't really believe in government, especially the federal government. The last reason is why FEMA and the administration kept waiting for requests for help, rather than springing into action and taking control of a situation that had overwhelmed the mechanisms available to the Governor of Louisiana or the Mayor of New Orleans.

In some ways the Bush Administration learned the lessons of 9/11 too well. On 9/11 and the few days afterwards, it was the local officials that made the country feel like things might be ok. The President's performance the day of the attack was hardly soothing, and until he took the bullhorn at the WTC, I think many of us were wondering if he was really up to the job.

But Katrina was a different animal. It was more massive; it overwhelmed the local and state governments in ways that 9/11 never did; New Orleans didn't have the competent government that NYC did; and finally there was no other direction to focus the anger that the public felt. 9/11 may have "change everything," but maybe it shouldn't have. I have little doubt that FEMA of the Clinton Administration would not have been sitting around waiting for a list of what each state need. It would have provided the states the list, and given them whatever they could find. They wouldn't have worried about red tape -- they would have thrust the firefighters from around the country that volunteered, even if they had passed their sexual harassment seminar yet. This is what happens when you put competent people who believe that there are somethings that only the federal government can do right.

But what will the results of this be? This is always the big question for political types, and it is probably still too early to know many of them, but I certainly think that we are facing a diminished President. The polling results are relatively clear, while he public doesn't blame him completely, they also seem to have lower confidence in his ability to do the job. The last election was about who could keep you safe -- I think there are many people who are reevaluating their answer to that question, and asking why 4 years after 9/11 our federal government could be caught so flat footed and allow a city to devolve, even briefly, like New Orleans did. The American public doesn't vote for the Mayor of New Orleans or the Governor of Louisiana, but we do vote for Presidency, so when there are failures, that is where we look for answers. And when those answers aren't satisfying, that is where we focus our blame.

Without a bogeyman for his supporters to vilify, many in the public are now wondering about those new clothes the President has strutting around in.

-- OK, so this was a little bit of a rant too, but more of a big picture one. And lest you think I am only on a partisan rant, I would point to these people from across the aisle who have also been critical of how this situation has been handled by Bush: Professor Bainbridge, Rod Dreher (and here and here), John Podhoretz, David Brooks, Dr. Steven Taylor, Robert George, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, Bob Novak, Thoughts Online. If you read closely enough you can even make out some criticisms of Bush from Michele Malkin and Peggy Noonan. (Luckily Fred Barnes is always there to toe the line!)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Donations for Katrina Victims

If you are looking for a place to make donations for the hurricane victims in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, two worthy organizations accepting donations are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Domestic Disaster Response and Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod's World Relief.
A comprehensive list of organizations is being complied by Glen Reynolds at Instapundit.
(UPDATE - I will keep this post on the top for the near future.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

At Any Other Time . . .

this CNN story about FEMA not knowing the difference between Charleston SC and Charleston WV, would be funny. In light of how the organization has performed in the past 10 days, it is sad.

FEMA is a Disgrace

This article from the Salt Lake Tribune pretty much sums up the problems with FEMA. Volunteer firefighters from around the country got to Atlanta on Sunday to join in the relief effort. When they got there "they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number."

Instead of using trained firefighters for rescuing people, they were more concerned with PR. Luckily some of the men were put into action "as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas."

Disgraceful.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Who is Michael Brown?

Extrapolating from this LA Times story, I would say he is a second rate political hack.

(They couldn't even find a first rate hack for the job.)

Babs

When Barbara Bush was First Lady, she let it be known that she held her tongue about certain things publicly. This is what she had to say after visiting refugees at the Astrodome:

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," she said during a radio interview with the American Public Media program Marketplace. "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Kinda makes me long for the old days.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Chief Justice

The President has nominated John Roberts as Chief Justice. OTB considers this to be a "solid, if uninspiring, choice". This will ease the political pressure of having three confirmations this fall, but don't expect the opposition to let up if the President nominates an arch-conservative. (I actually believe that Scalia would have had an easy time being confirmed as Chief Justice.)

For now I stick by my prediction of Gonzales, but this move does open the door to a more conservative pick. As Mickey Kaus observed on the radio yesterday, when Bush gets in trouble he has always moved to his please base in the past.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rehnquist Passes

Chief Justice William Rehnquist died this evening. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of a man who has served his country for more that 30 years.

On a more crass level, this will certainly add fuel to an already combustible situation in Washington. Bush has three options -- nominate someone that people can rally behind; someone who will be unstinting but very competent (the John Roberts route); or a flash point conservative, and bait the Democrats to filibuster.

Given the weakened position the White House finds itself in right now, I think the third option is probably out. The first option would be ideal, but that person may not exist. So I would expect another competent, but largely uncontroversal nominee.

I imagine that the short list is the same as it was in July: Third Circuit Appeals Court Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Fifth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Edith Brown Clement, U.S. Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, Fifth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Emilio M. Garza, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Fifth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Edith Hollan Jones, D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig, Tenth Circuit Appeals Judge Michael W. McConnell, White House Counsel Harriet Miers, former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, Seventh Circuit Court Appeals Judge Diane S. Sykes, former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, Fourth Circuit Appeals Court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, and Fourth Circuit Appeal Court Judge Karen J. Williams.

Quick thoughts: he will stay away from Olsen and Janice Brown - too inflammatory; he will probably not nominate either of the New Orleans based Ediths (Jones and Clement) - the symbolism would be too dangerous. My best guess is Alberto Gonzales or Larry Thompson. (In July I guessed Edith Jones, apparently the runner-up, or at least the decoy.)

Of course, he will also be nominating a Chief Justice, probably Scalia, which would allow him to mollify some of Gonzales' critics on the far right wing of the GOP.

September and October are shaping up to be very interesting months, probably too interesting for the denizens of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Over the Top Criticism

I think that there are many, many legitimate criticisms that can be about the government's response top Katrina (I strongly disagree with Bryan at Arguing With Signposts about that), but that legitimate criticism risks being drowned out by some on the far left who argue that the delays have a racial element to them.

This is not about race, it is about incompetence, political cronyism and misplaced priorities (about which I will post more later). To make it about race is not only wrong, but will be harmful to addressing the problems that Katrina has exposed in our ability to deal with natural and man made disasters.

(UPDATE - Robert George has a more nuanced view about race and relief that is more correct than what I said above. I also wonder sometimes if Jesse Jackson isn't on the RNC payroll.)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Recriminations

I agree with Arguing with Signposts that this is not the time for finger pointing. But it is hard not to feel the growing frustration of most Americans (on all sides of the political spectrum) about what is occurring in New Orleans right now, and the inability of the federal government to stop it.

There will be serious political consequences, one only hopes that they deal only with these 4 days and not an even longer period.

Superdome Evacuation Halted

AP- The evacuation of the Superdome was suspended Thursday after shots were fired at a military helicopter, an ambulance official overseeing the operation said. No immediate injuries were reported.

"We have suspended operations until they gain control of the Superdome," said Richard Zeuschlag, head of Acadian Ambulance, which was handling the evacuation of sick and injured people from the Superdome.

He said that military would not fly out of the Superdome either because of the gunfire and that the National Guard told him that it was sending 100 military police officers to gain control.

"That's not enough," Zeuschlag. "We need a thousand."


Ummmm, where exactly is the military, not just the National Guard, but the Army and Marines? This is as close to lawlessness as I can remember since the Rodney King riots.

Gas Prices

I just paid $3.19 a gallon, and the station I normally go to was charging $3.49. I really don't recall anything like this in almost 20 years of filling up cars.
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