Thursday, July 27, 2006


In a post below, I contrasted my view about the prospects for Democrats winning the House with the "smart guys" in Washington who do district by district analysis and can't come up with the sufficient number of seats to take the Dems to a majority. It annoys me how smug there are when they declare their obviously better informed opinion when talking to naive waifs like me who are motivated by wishful thinking, rather than hard core analysis.

Well, thank you NPR. While not precisely district by district, they have done a poll which only samples 50 competitive districts in the aggregate and find a substantial majority in favor Democrats even when the names of the local incumbent are specified. The poll found Democrats ahead by 10 points in competitive seats and 3 points in supposedly safer Republican seats. And the universe of districts was 40 Republican seats and 10 Democratic seats. So, this is Republican territory.

There is a wave building and I can't think of what it might take to reverse or even diminish it. No time for over-confidence. But it's also no time for defensiveness or "under-confidence."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Democrats Will Win the House

I am sick and tired of having the smart guys here in Washington chuckle indulgently when I say that Democrats have a very good shot at winning the House of Representatives in November. They smile and shake their heads at my naivete, explaining that they have examined all 435 House seats and there is no way you can add up the number flips from Rep. to Dem. to get to a majority. Well, I say Bullshit!

Yes, I understand the Republicans think they have a built a firewall through redisctricting that will protect them from a counter-tsunami and yes, I understand that the Democrats "have no message." What they miss is the broad-based anger at the mess we're in as a result of all Republican government. I do not examine things distrcit by district. I look at the big picture and the big picture sucks for Republicans. Not a week goes by that there is not a new blurb about some other Republican incumbents who is in surprising trouble. Here's todays from CQ:

Political Clippings CQ
reports that Democrat Joe Sestak, a retired Navy vice admiral, is showing unusual strength for a first-time candidate in his challenge to 10-term Republican Rep. Curt Weldon in Pennsylvania’s 7th District. Sestak registered strong fundraising numbers in his latest report to the Federal Election Commission , and other factors also show an increasingly competitive race. has hanged its rating on the contest to Leans Republican from Republican Favored. Weldon still has an edge, but an upset by Sestak is a plausible possibility. presently ranks 37 districts — 26 held by Republicans and 11 by Democrats — as No Clear Favorite or Leans Democratic or Republican.

Do you get that? 26 Republican seats at risk and only 11 Democrats, which nets out to the exact number of seats needed to win the majority. And that number is inexorably trending to the Republicans disadvantage every week. Wait'll those moderate Republican votes learn about the consequences of Bush's veto of the stem cell bill. Also, the current statistics do not include voter reaction to the fact that, contrary to the view Bush proposed that the Iraq war was going to bring stability to the Middle East, the region is in flames and getting worse. In my campaign experience, if there is a trend, the results on election day always go beyond the trend.

Oh yes, and do they think that the various prosecutors investigating corruption in Washington are going to close up shop and exonerate all their Republican targets? I don't think so.

This past Sunday, long time non-partisan congress watcher Tom Mann, described my view. And I have it on good authority that at least one Republican instrumental in the 1994 tsunami agrees, as well. Check it out.

So, I've said it and date stampted it. I want to be able to say "I told you so" in November.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Abuse of Power

According to today's Washington Post, President Bush personally denied the security clearance requested by lawyers in the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility for purposes of investigation the Administrations warrantless search program by the National Security Agency. Many respected legal scholars have concluded that the President violated the law and the U.S. Constitution in creating this program. Now he is using his presidential power to block an investigation.

Eight years ago, the House of Representatives impeached a president for lying about a private sexual affairs. Thirty years ago, an attorney general resigned rather than facilitate a president's order to block a Justice Department investigation. Today, a much more egregious presidential act merits only page four coverage.

Where is the outrage?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An American in Haifa

I have a very good friend who works for an Israeli public affairs firm. He's an American Jew from Chicago and was President Clinton's liaison to the Jewish community. I called him yesterday with a new business prospect and found him sitting in a restaurant by the beach in Tel Aviv. He had just relocated to Tel Aviv after an aborted vacation with his in-laws in Haifa. They scrambled out of there after the first missiles fell last Thursday. He spent the weekend cleaning out the in-laws' bomb shelter, which has been used for storage since the Gulf War. It was odd to be chatting with him on the phone with my TV broadcasting scenes of destruction from the region.

He confirms by word and attitude the conclusions drawn by my colleague Jeff Weintraub that this crisis has unified not only Israelis, but all Jews, as no other. For me, I am deeply troubled by their moral clarity. I am not a Jew, but feel a connection to the region through a peace program in which I participated and where I met my friend. I am currently reading a book entitled War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges. He's a former war correspondent for the New York Times. He makes the point that it is this moral clarity that draws human beings to war, with the attendant mayhem and destruction. My view of this situation in Israel right now was captured by Fareed Zacharia on Sunday when he said that it is entirely justified for Israel to hit back hard, but is it smart? There is no way I am competent to second-guess the military decisions that the Israelis are making. But bombing civilian targets does seem to me to make things worse. Maybe it is impossible to distinquish between military and civilian targets and they can't just sit back and take it.

So, I really do not know what to think. I was frankly saddened to stumble across an interview with Chris Hedges on a left-wing radio show yesterday. He was pretty harsh on Israel, blaming them for a disproportionate response and for its oppression of the Palestinians over the years. And he was the moderate on the show. Knowing people like Jeff Weintraub and my friend, who are deeply moral people who have come to the conclusion that Israel must fight makes me very sympathetic to this view. But Hedges has written the most powerful critique of war I have ever read and I wish he had expressed a little more ambiguity about the situation going on right now.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Another Conservative Sees the Light

Andrew Sullivan long ago ceased supporting Bush's catastrophic war in Iraq. As a conservative, he was supportive at the beginning, but concluded that Bush and his crew were incompetent in conducting the war. He has now come to a more sinister conclusion and joins the rest of us who have only disgust for the man and his destructive and corrupt administration. Here's what he says:

"In the last few years, I have gone from lionizing this president's courage and fortitude to being dismayed at his incompetence and now to being resigned to mistrusting every word he speaks. I have never hated him. But now I can see, at least, that he is a liar on some of the gravest issues before the country. He doesn't trust us with the truth. Some lies, to be sure, are inevitable - even necessary - in wartime. But when you're lying not to keep the enemy off-balance, but to maximize your own political fortunes at home, you forfeit the respect of people who would otherwise support you - and the important battle you have been tasked to wage."

Be sure to read the full post. It's devastating.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

O Cananda

I spent Canada Day at the Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, at which one of the cultures highlighted is Alberta, Canada. Please excuse the silly outfit. I biked down to the Mall. Many great exhibits, arts and crafts and, most particularly, music.

The Folklife Festival is my favorite annual event in Washington. I've been to every one for the last 15 or so years. Some are better than others, but each has given me at least one moment of grace. I particularly like the music. Watching Washington tourists stumble upon some musical culture and just start dancing literally brings a tear to my eye.

It is the most genuine thing that happens in Washington, year after year.