Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tea Leaves

There is a great danger in trying to read trends from a single day of polling -- but here I go anyway. In the Saturday Rasmussen Bush Job Approval rating, Bush's numbers fell below 40% for the first time in over a month. Two things strike me - 1) Bush usually sees his numbers go up on Saturday and Sunday in this poll (don't ask me why, but it is a trend I have noticed); and 2) the Foley scandal and apparent coverup, coupled with the Abramoff report and Woodward's book could really poison the atmosphere for republicans by reminding the public just how bad things have gotten in Washington under GOP control.

Tea Leaves

There is a great danger in trying to read trends from a single day of polling -- but here I go anyway. In the Saturday Rasmussen Bush Job Approval rating, Bush's numbers fell below 40% for the first time in over a month. Two things strike me - 1) Bush usually sees his numbers go up on Staurday and Sunday in this poll (don't ask me why, but it is a trend I have noticed); and 2) the Foley scandal and apparent coverup, coupled with the Abramoff report and Woodward's book could really poison the atmosphere for republicans by reminding the public just how bad things have gotten in Washington under GOP control.

Friday, September 29, 2006

GOP Intern Scandal

Mark Foley has resigned from Congress over improper emails with a 16 year old male page. The emails came to light yesterday, and although questionable were not on their face improper. My guess is that there was much more behind this than has been made public so far.

I don't know the rules on whether he can be replaced on the ballot, but it certainly hurt the GOP chances of keeping this seat. On a more macro level, this once again brings into focus Congressional ethics, and perhaps will serve to demoralize the base a bit.

It will be interesting to see if more details come to light, or whether the resignation will be enough to keep the dogs at bay.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Free Political Advice, Chapter 3

If you are running for President as a Republican, it is not the best strategy to be defending Bill Clinton.

Apparently Rudy hasn't gotten to that chapter yet.

What About The Issues!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My First Electoral Prediction of the Cycle

Jim Webb will be the next Senator from Virginia.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And Some Not So Good News for Junior

Rasmussen, which does a daily Prez approval survey, has Bush gliding down following a post-9/11 bump. On the 14th, Bush was up to 47%, but today is back down at 40%.

How much of the 9/11 bump is reflected in the Gallup poll? Can the President sustain a terrorism campaign until the election? The Rasmussen numbers suggest maybe not.

Good News for Junior

The latest Gallup/USA Today poll has his approval ratings increased from 39% to 44%.

Is this the beginning of a trend? Is it a response to the 9/11 commemorations? Is it Republicans coming home?

Only time will tell, and while 44% is hardly anything to crow about, its better than 39%.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Time for Debate

Plenty on the Right are complaining about John McCain and his "whining" when it comes to the torture debate. There is a legitimate debate that can be had about to what extent we as a country should allow "extreme interrogation" (a.k.a torture). And indeed there may be times when it is necessary.

However, by simply claiming the Dems (and McCain, Warner & Graham) are "whining" or trying to institute an "Al-Queda Bill of Rights" (Rush this afternoon), the President and most of the GOP are trying to short change what should be a serious debate. Instead the President seeks short term political advantage, while sacrificing long term American standing.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

At Some Point It Isn't Even Shocking Anymore

If you have any questions about why the rebuilding of Iraq went so badly, then you must reading this story on the front page of today's Washington Post. After the Katrina disaster, it shouldn't surprise anyone that party loyalty is more important in the Bush government than competency. But considering that this has contributed to the loss of over 2,500 American soldiers, there should be outrage.

Some examples:

- The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

- Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

- The pentagon discarded applications from those deemed ideologically suspect, even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding experience.

- "I'm not here for the Iraqis," one staffer noted to a reporter over lunch. "I'm here for George Bush."

If you can read this story and not be outraged and ashamed, then you probably would have been considered qualified to work on the rebuilding of Iraq. Shameful.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Values Above Politics

Wolf Blitzer: "How concerned are you that three powerful Republican senators, you, being John McCain, Lindsey Graham, John Warner, that some Republicans might say you're giving aid and comfort to Democrats during this very, very bitter political season less than eight weeks before an election?"

John McCain: "Well, first of all, there are other Republicans that agree with us, and there's many other people around the country like General Colin Powell who agrees with us. This should have nothing to do with politics, nothing. This is about the lives of American men and women who are serving our country. I believe that we can work out our differences, and I will bend every effort to do so. It's very important. Not because we have an election coming up, but because we have men and women who are serving in the military who need every protection we can provide them with" (CNN, 9/14)(emphasis added).

A Funny Thing Happen Along The Way

A week ago, the President's supporters were giddy with the political trap that they had set for Democrats in regard to Al-Queda prisoners, Guantanamo, and the rules of how these prisoners would be tried. The President's plan would essentially put the system the Supreme Court rejected for military tribunals into place, along with some extremely narrow readings of the Geneva Convention, which would basically allow torture in certain circumstances. It would also keep defendants from seeing documents deemed classified, but still allow that evidence to be introduced against them at trial. The entire plan is much more complicated, as are the issues involved. But the politics was pretty simple. Dare the Democrats to stop the plan and then use it to pillory them as "soft on terror" until November. (This caused Democrats to have flashbacks to 2002 and the Department of Homeland Security.)

Democrats are justifiably wary. The plan proposed by the President is offensive to traditional American jurisprudence in several ways, but the politics of opposition would be toxic. But (as the title of this post suggests) something has put a stop to the giddiness. That something is in the persons of John McCain, John Warner and Lindsey Graham, as well as the JAG corp of the US military. They worry that torture and the inability of a defendant to see the evidence against him, as it is set forth in the President's plan, are wrong. (Indeed as the only member of the Senate to have endured torture as a prisoner of war, John McCain can speak with unmatched authority on the subject.) But most of all, instead of looking at the President's proposal as a political maneuver, McCain and company are looking at the substance of the proposed law, and don't like what they see.

There is no way to know how this will turn out, politically or substantively. But time is running out in this Congressional session, and if no law is passed the GOP will have a hard time making it an issue against Democrats, although they will still try.

The supporters of the President's proposal frequently argue that we should not have to follow the Geneva Convention because these are terrorists. But as a country we cannot allow "war fever" to swamp basic American values -- such as "we don't torture people" and "we have fair trials." We follow these principals even when others don't, even if our enemies don't and these are the reasons this country is great. Indeed, to turn a phrase on it head, if we torture and have show trials, then the terrorists have won.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Football Picks - Week 1

Philly over Houston
New Engalnd over Buffalo
Denver over St. Louis
Tampa Bay over Baltimore
J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets over Tennessee
Seattle over Detroit
Cincy over KC
Carolina over Atlanta
Jacksonville over Dallas
Chicago over Green Bay
Arizona over San Fran
Indy over Giants
Washington over Minnesota
&
The Lock of the Week -- San Diego over Oakland

(Of course, I did pick Miami over Pitt, so what do I know.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

They Didn't Listen

Apparently I have no pull with the GOP voters in Florida, who voted for Katherine Harris as their Senate nominee, despite my pleas to follow the lead of their brethren to the North.

I still prefer that voters choose non-insane candidates, but my anguish is lessened after reading this Jon Chait column, in which he says that the Harris nomination is only proper in a "chickens come home to roost" sorta way. Oh yeah, he also points out that Harris' insanity should properly cause some soul searching among those who held her up as a paragon of virtue during the 2000 Florida fiasco. (I am not, however, holding my breath on this point.)

So maybe another two month of Harris' babbling is worth cosmic justice. Indeed, if the GOP loses the Senate by 1 Senator, Jebby might be in for some questioning about his inability to shoo the crazy woman off the stage. Of course, quid pro quo can be a bitch.

It Strikes Me As Odd

One of the better Democratic arguments about the Bush Administration's handling of the "War on Terror"(or whatever we are calling it now) was that too much of their maneuvering has been done for domestic political purposes. And I think that the argument has been gaining some traction in the press and among the public.

On the heels of this growing feeling, we have what is being called "brilliant politics" and a move that places the Democrats in a box, with the President's "Rovian" announcement that he will be transferring some Al-Queda prisoners to Guantanamo and insisting that Congress approve his tribunal plan. (In other words, "Please don't pay attention to Iraq, instead look at how soft the Democrats are on terrorists.")

My guess is that the public will end up seeing that for what it is -- a diversion for domestic political purposes. Besides the substance of this is too convoluted for most of the public to get into too much of a frenzy over. I think it will take more than this tactic to convince the public to overlook our misadventures in Iraq. However, if this is enough, then the Democrats never had a chance in November anyway.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Santorum v. Casey

Just finished listening to their debate on Meet the Press via the MTP podcast. Pretty sure that this supporters of both candidates will come out pretty happy, which probably helps Casey a little bit more.

Santorum was on a relentless attack, which is not surprising for a candidate that is down by double digits. Casey appeared to have fairly specific answers to the questions, even if Santorum spent most of his time arguing that he didn't. Santorum also spent some time trying to distance himself, but pretty much by arguing that the administration wasn't conservative or aggressive enough. But, in the end, I think that this race (and that in Missouri) will end up being more a referendum on the Bush Administration than about the two candidates. That being the case, I think I'd rather have a D after my name than an R.
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