Thursday, July 27, 2006
Political Hot Topics
MOST AMERICANS BELIEVE MIDEAST CONFLICT "WILL LEAD TO A WIDER WAR": Americans are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the state of affairs in the Middle East, with majorities doubtful there will ever be peace between Israel and its neighbors, or that American troops will be able to leave Iraq anytime soon, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. A majority said the war between Israel and Hezbollah will lead to a wider war. And while almost half of those polled approved of President Bush's handling of the crisis, a majority said they preferred the United States leave it to others to resolve. New York Times: Poll Shows Skepticism in U.S. Over Peace in Mideast

"THE FATE OF OUR COUNTRY AND YOURS IS TIED": Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urged Congress Wednesday to continue backing the war in Iraq and the emerging democracy there, calling it essential to defeating terrorists worldwide. "The fate of our country and yours is tied," al-Maliki told a joint meeting of the House and Senate. "Should democracy be allowed to fail in Iraq, and terror permitted to triumph, then the war on terror will never be won elsewhere." Al-Maliki, speaking through an interpreter, did not mention the renewed Middle East conflict between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. His refusal to condemn Hezbollah for attacks on Israel and his criticism of Israel's ongoing military response has drawn fire from lawmakers such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. USA Today: 'Our duty to defeat this terror,' Iraqi leader tells Congress

HOWARD DEAN CALLS AL-MALIKI "ANTI-SEMITE"...: Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an "anti-Semite" for failing to denounce Hezbollah for its attacks against Israel. Al-Maliki has condemned Israel's offensive, prompting several Democrats to boycott his address to a joint meeting of Congress and others to criticize him. Dean's comments were the strongest to date. "The Iraqi prime minister is an anti-Semite," the Democratic leader told a gathering of business leaders in Florida. "We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy to Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself and who refuse to condemn Hezbollah." AP via Yahoo! News: Dean calls Iraqi PM an 'anti-Semite'

...AND ATTACKS KATHERINE HARRIS - "SHE IS NOT STALIN": "Thank God for Bill Nelson, because we'd have another crook in the United States Senate if weren't for him," Dean said. "He's going to beat the pants off Katherine Harris, who didn't understand that it is ethically improper to be the chairman of the campaign and count the votes at the same time. This is not Russia. And she is not Stalin. And she will go back to wherever she came from and Bill Nelson will be reelected to the United States Senate so we can have an honest person as a senator from the great state of Florida." Harris' campaign spokeswoman, Jennifer Marks, condemned Dean's "scurrilous attacks" and said Harris was upholding the state's elections laws during the 2000 recount. Palm Beach Post: Dean rips into Harris as a 'crook'

DHS SPENDING "MARRED BY EXTENSIVE WASTE AND MISSPENT FUNDS": The multibillion-dollar surge in federal contracting to bolster the nation's domestic defenses in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been marred by extensive waste and misspent funds, according to a new bipartisan congressional report. Lawmakers say that since the Homeland Security Department's formation in 2003, an explosion of no-bid deals and a critical shortage of trained government contract managers have created a system prone to abuse. Based on a comprehensive survey of hundreds of government audits, 32 Homeland Security Department contracts worth a total of $34 billion have "experienced significant overcharges, wasteful spending, or mismanagement," according to the report, which is slated for release today and was obtained in advance by The Washington Post. Washington Post: Homeland Security Contracts Abused

"CLASH OVER EAVESDROPPING COMPROMISE": Senior Bush administration officials said Wednesday that it would be impractical for them to obtain individual warrants every time they needed to eavesdrop on a conversation suspected of involving Al Qaeda. They urged Congress to approve a proposal that critics said would give the president broad, unchecked powers. In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, called the proposal, developed by Senator Arlen Specter and the White House, "a great opportunity" to modernize intelligence-gathering procedures in a way that would "protect our liberty and security."... Under the proposal, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secrecy to rule on usual government requests for warrants in intelligence cases, would decide whether the administration's program of monitoring international communications of Americans without warrants is constitutional. But critics attacked the agreement Wednesday as abdication to the White House. New York Times: Administration and Critics, in Senate Testimony, Clash Over Eavesdropping Compromise

SPECTER INTROS "PRESIDENTIAL SIGNING STATEMENTS ACT OF 2006": Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter yesterday introduced legislation that would allow Congress to sue President Bush over his use of signing statements to claim the power to bypass laws, saying that lawmakers must push back against a White House power grab. "The president cannot use a signing statement to rewrite the words of a statute, nor can the president use a signing statement to selectively nullify those provisions he does not like," the Pennsylvania Republican said. "This much is clear from our Constitution." Boston Globe: Specter takes step to halt Bush signing statements

DEBATING BOLTON... AGAIN: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins hearings Thursday on whether to make [John] Bolton's temporary appointment, which will expire in January, permanent. His appearance in Washington, where Democratic leaders have vowed to oppose Bolton, is expected to be as polarizing as his presence at U.N. headquarters. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said, "Mr. Bolton's performance at the U.N. only confirms my conviction that he's the wrong person for this job." He suggested that Democrats may filibuster a Senate vote unless the Bush administration releases documents Biden believes detail Bolton's use of National Security Agency intercepts involving U.S. citizens. Washington Post: The Bolton Nomination, Act II

WA COURT UPHOLDS MARRIAGE BAN... "A BLOW TO GAY-RIGHTS ADVOCATES": The state Supreme Court's decision Wednesday to uphold Washington's gay-marriage ban leaves advocates of same-sex marriage looking to a Legislature that's not likely to help them out - at least not anytime soon. State Rep. Ed Murray, a gay state lawmaker from Seattle, promised disappointed plaintiffs that he would introduce legislation in January to bring marriage equality to the state. But he acknowledged that the votes don't exist for marriage or civil unions and that it could be years before such a measure is approved... The court's splintered 5-4 ruling in Andersen v. King County, which included six separate opinions over nearly 200 pages, delivered a blow to gay-rights advocates here and across the country who had counted on a win in Washington to help bolster the gay-rights movement. Seattle Times: Supreme Court upholds state gay-marriage ban

AFTER OPPOSING LAW AS TX GOV, BUSH TO SIGN VRA: With his signature today, President Bush will renew a key part of the Voting Rights Act that singles out 16 states as still practicing voting discrimination, including his state of Texas, where he was governor for six years, and part of Florida, where his brother is governor. Less than a decade ago, Mr. Bush fought that exact part of the Voting Rights Act, with his appointed secretary of state, Antonio O. Garza Jr., calling the provisions a burdensome and unnecessary federal intrusion into Texas' affairs. "The Bush administration has really done a flip-flop on this," said Edward Blum, a senior fellow at the Center for Equal Opportunity who has studied Texas voting and the Voting Rights Act. "This is not where he was, and this is not the kind of philosophy that then-Governor Bush had when it comes to getting Texas out from under the thumb of the federal government." Washington Times: Bush to sign voting act that he once opposed

70% IN CALI WANT NEW IMMIGRATION LAWS: A majority of California voters considers illegal immigration a very serious issue, and 70 percent want Congress to pass an immigration overhaul bill this year, according to a Field Poll released today. The statewide survey of 494 registered voters reached findings very similar to those in a national poll released Tuesday by the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners. That poll found that 71 percent of likely U.S. voters favor a comprehensive plan similar to a bill passed by the Senate in May. "This is a very hot issue, a very emotional issue," said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo. "What has emerged is a consensus that this should be dealt with in a comprehensive way. Congress should attempt to not only address border security but guest workers and a path to citizenship... I was expecting more division, especially among Republicans and conservatives." San Francisco Chronicle: Poll says 70% of Californians want immigration reform

STONE GETS HELP FROM THE SWIFT BOAT GUYS: Oliver Stone, that symbol of everything about Hollywood that conservatives love to hate, is getting help in marketing his newest movie from an unlikely ally: the publicity firm that helped devise the Swift boat campaign attacking John Kerry's Vietnam record in the 2004 presidential race... Mr. Stone said that he knew nothing of the firm's political work until he was contacted by a reporter on Wednesday. The director's "World Trade Center," a largely factual drama about the rescue of two police officers from ground zero after the 9/11 attacks, is to be released on Aug. 9 by Paramount Pictures. But it is already drawing rave reviews in some unlikely quarters. New York Times: Odd Bedfellows Align to Market Film About 9/11

"PRESIDENT IS MY HOMEBOY," SAYS STEELE: Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele on Wednesday called President Bush his "homeboy," reversed course on having the president campaign for him and said he was joking when he described his Republican affiliation as a scarlet letter. The Maryland lieutenant governor, under fire for his comments, told WBAL radio that his remarks were supposed to be off the record with a handful of reporters. Instead, Steele's campaign confirmed Tuesday that he was the unnamed Senate candidate who had assailed the Bush administration and Republican-controlled Congress in a story in The Washington Post. "I've been quoted as calling the president my homeboy, you know. And that's how I feel... It's a term of affection and respect for his leadership of our country in a difficult time," Steele, who is black, said in the radio interview. AP via Yahoo! News: GOP candidate says criticism was a joke

RUDY SHOULD RUN, SAY NEW YORKERS: New York Republicans overwhelmingly agree on two things: Rudy Giuliani should run for president and Gov. Pataki should not, according to a poll released yesterday. Lame-duck Pataki, according to the Siena College survey, has emerged as the Rodney Dangerfield of state GOP politics: He gets no respect. Just 9 percent of New York Republicans said they would vote for Pataki, who is exploring a race for president in 2008. Giuliani was an entirely different story. The poll of 407 likely Republican primary voters found 55 percent favoring the former mayor as their party's candidate for president, followed by 29 percent for Arizona Sen. John McCain. New York Post: Rudy Prez Timber, Gov Dead Wood: Poll

SCULPTOR CREATES "STARTLING" HILLARY BUST: [Sculptor Daniel] Edwards, who courted controversy in April with his life-size nude of Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug, has now come forth with his "Presidential Bust of Hillary Rodham Clinton." The startling sculpture shows an armless-but-bountifully-bosomed Hillary atop a pedestal declaring her "The First Woman President of the United States of America." The piece is due to be unveiled Aug. 9 at Fifth Ave.'s Museum of Sex, where director Daniel Gluck believes it will stir debate on whether a woman need "squelch her sexuality in order to succeed as leader of the free world." Edwards believes his work, which portrays HRC in a plunging evening gown, is anatomically correct. New York Daily News: Sculptor makes bust case for Prez Hillary

BAYH "CLARIFIES" HIS POSITION ON NH PRIMARY: Granted, this whole DNC mess puts candidates in a tough spot. Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, for instance, got a headline in the Des Moines Register this week saying that he backed the Nevada move. The story didn't exactly say that. It said that while he opposed any calendar change, "whatever ends up being decided is what we'll need to do. If I do decide to run, I think you have to compete according to the rules as they are written and in the places and the order they come." Bayh spokesman Dan Pfeiffer further clarified yesterday, telling us Bayh would only "explore" campaigning in Nevada if it receives final approval from the full DNC (as expected), "but it would have no impact on his position on New Hampshire." Manchester Union-Leader: Bayh Clarify
Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 7/27/2006 09:23:00 AM ET | Permalink
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