Saturday, October 14, 2006

 

Hotties Against Bush

The Democrats adopt the mantra of Fernando's Hideaway and decide that it is "better to look good than to feel good." Your Democratic Party -- a "mahvelous" home for hunks and hot chicks.

Democratic operatives do not publicly say that they went out of their way this year to recruit candidates with a high hotness quotient. Privately, however, they acknowledge that, as they focused on finding the most dynamic politicians to challenge vulnerable Republicans, it did not escape their notice that some of the most attractive prospects were indeed often quite attractive.

There is a certain logic to the trend. Back in 1994, when Republicans seized power in Congress from Democrats, the GOP had a number of fresh-faced challengers who knocked off incumbents who had grown worse for wear after years of committee hearings and fundraising receptions.

This year, it is the Democrats who have several ripe opportunities to unseat Republicans, some of whom have grown gray and portly during their years in power.

To gain the 15 seats needed to recapture House control, the party is targeting about 40 GOP-leaning districts, including New York's 24th, where veteran Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert (R) is retiring and where Arcuri is campaigning.

In most of the races, the Democratic challengers look a lot like standard-issue politicians -- not likely to impress the judges at Atlantic City. But there are others who, while they might not have movie-star looks, are certainly well above the C-SPAN median.

The list is decidedly unscientific, but it includes several whose names come up often on Capitol Hill for reasons other than their policy platforms. Among those on it, in addition to Arcuri, are Brad Ellsworth, a swaggering Indiana sheriff; businesswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who has chiseled features and rides a motorcycle; and Heath Shuler of North Carolina, a strapping former quarterback for the Washington Redskins. In Tennessee, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., a lean and stylish 36-year-old, has drawn admiring looks.

Republican Bob Corker, who is running against Ford, has acknowledged the disparity. "I know I'm not as good-looking," Corker said. He hopes his business experience will compensate.
Hey, it's something that Bill and Hillary Clinton once noticed: "In 1982 Bill Clinton won back the governorship and Hillary took his last name. She also made a new image for herself. She switched glasses for contacts, lightened her hair and dressed better."

Not surprisingly, this doesn't come out of the blue.
Some of the academic research on beauty and voting goes back decades, to the early 1970s. In 1990, political scientist Lee Sigelman, then at the University of Arizona, posited that Democrats were losing ground nationally, despite an advantage in voter registration, because their looks were a turnoff. He rated all governors and members of Congress on an ugliness scale and found that of the 26 least attractive, 25 were Democrats.

The playing field these days is more level. Research has shown that if candidates invest a little effort in their looks, the payoff can be huge. Campaign consultants hover around candidates, ordering them to change their hairstyles, get in shape and update their wardrobes. "The bar has been raised, without question," said Sigelman, now a George Washington University political science professor.

He singled out three Maryland statewide candidates, Republican Senate nominee Michael S. Steele and gubernatorial rivals Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and Martin O'Malley (D), "as playing the image game really well." Politicians today, said Sigelman, strive for "the personality and looks of talk show hosts." The goal is to be "well turned out."

One candidate who made a high-impact adjustment is Diane Farrell. The Connecticut Democrat used to wear her blond hair pulled back tight, but after a gentle nudge from a campaign aide, she allowed it to hang loose for a more natural, relaxed look.

The looks factor can be maddening for the opposition. One writer on an anti-Shuler blog expressed annoyance at the candidate's wife, "with all her quips about how cute Shuler is. What a way to decide how to vote!!"

Perhaps not surprisingly, research has shown that voters who are easily swayed by social trends tend to favor more attractive candidates. Conversely, people who resist social trends prefer unattractive candidates.

The latest wave of research examines a possible root of political attraction: how closely candidates and voters resemble each other. A Stanford University study this year suggested that little-known candidates can increase their electoral support by as much as 20 percentage points by tweaking visual features on their campaign materials so they look slightly more like a targeted group of voters, for instance Asians or Hispanics.

The less voters know about the candidates, as in races such as the Arcuri-Meier contest with no incumbent, the more looks seem to matter. An examination of a 2001 British local election by a team of Texas Tech University and University of Plymouth researchers found that, in the absence of facts, people who are considered attractive by survey respondents are more likely to win.

The findings were presented to the American Political Science Association's 2003 annual meeting, with the caveat that they "may offend notions of democracy that candidates should compete fairly and on the basis of issues not appearance."
Hmmm...creatively using attractiveness to make a broader political and cultural "connection"? What a fascinating concept!

Paging
Virginia Postrel!

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Not-Right, Said Fred

Fred "The Beetle" Barnes has always been the wide-eyed optimist and emotional "booster" to Republican political hopes (as opposed to colleague Bill Kristol's macho intellectualism. His worshipful book on President Bush had even some of the strongest Republicans reaching for their insulin tablets.

Well, the newest Weekly Standard demonstrates how dark the the times are for Republicans.

"How Bad Will It Be?" asks Barnes ("The GOP debacle to come" is the subtitle).


The Foley scandal did two things, both harmful to Republicans. It stopped Republican momentum in its tracks. (Also contributing to this were the negative spin on Iraq from Bob Woodward's book State of Denial and the faulty reporting on the National Intelligence Estimate.) And it changed the narrative of the campaign from one emphasizing national security, a Republican strength, to one emphasizing Republican malfeasance in Washington and dysfunction in Iraq.

Democrats were lucky, as they have been all year. They had fallen into a trap set by Republicans on the interrogation of high-level terrorist detainees. They voted against the compromise reached by the White House and Senator John McCain, choosing to protect civil liberties for terrorists over national security. That issue, a powerful one for Republicans, was pushed aside in the Foley frenzy.

Earlier in 2006, events had intervened to snuff out a recovery by Bush and Republicans in its embryonic stage. After a bumpy 2005 (Katrina, rising Iraq violence, failure of Social Security reform, Harriet Miers), Bush's approval was inching upward, pointing to an end to his second-term slump. Instead, Vice President Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting pal, the Dubai ports fiasco, and the bombing of the Golden Dome mosque in Iraq combined to prolong the slump--until the short-lived September surge.

If politics were fair, Democrats would be in as much trouble as Republicans. And they'd be just as vulnerable. They've been obstructionist, anti-tax-cut, soft on terrorism, and generally obnoxious. On top of that, Pelosi is the most unpopular national politician in America. But in the sixth year of the Bush presidency, with a GOP-run Congress, Democrats aren't the issue. Republicans are.

On another point that has come up in commentary threads here at RT, Barnes also notes that big problem facing Republicans is that the "base" is no longer listening to that old-time religion:

The most overlooked election indicator is the level of voter enthusiasm. In every election from 1994 through 2004, Republicans were more enthusiastic than Democrats. That was a decade of Republican growth. This year Democrats are more excited. And it's measurable. In 2002, 42 percent of Republicans said they were more enthusiastic than usual about the election. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats said the same. In 2006, the numbers have flipped. Republican enthusiasm has dipped to 39 percent and Democratic enthusiasm has jumped to 48 percent. Enthusiasm affects turnout. Gloomy voters are less inclined to vote.

The only quibble I have is the "every election from 1994 through 2004, Republicans were more enthusiastic..." line. If that were true, why did Republicans lose five seats in 1998? The drive to impeach Bill Clinton ironically aroused the Democrats base -- and helped cost Newt Gingrich the speakership.


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Why the Chargers over the 49ers is a no-brainer

Based on my NFL predictions this week, Robert George asked:
"San Diego at San Francisco. Ed, how can YOU ask that? SF is much improved while the Chargers (or Philip Rivers) have forgotten that they have a Pro-Bowl tight end. Marty Schottenheimer is bringing his bad mojo to yet another team. And LT ain't LT no more."

Robert, while San Francisco has improved, they still have a LONG way to go. Even though I won't say it is impossible to the 49ers to beat the Chargers ("any given Sunday"), it would be a monster upset if they did.

Consider the following stats (Chargers shown first):

RECORD: 3-1 vs. 2-3
TURNOVER MARGIN: +6 vs. -2
RUSHING YARDS/GAME: 176.0 vs. 122.2
PASSING YARDS/GAME: 174.8 vs. 205.8
RUSHING YARDS ALLOWED/GAME: 66.5 vs. 126.2
PASSING YARDS ALLOWED/GAME: 138.0 vs. 224.0

Let's look at who the teams have won and lost against.

The Chargers only loss came to a very solid Baltimore Ravens team in a close game (16-13), while they beat Oakland, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh.

The 49ers beat St. Louis and Oakland and lost to Arizona, Philadelphia, and Kansas City. At first glance, you might say St. Louis is not a bad team to have a victory against. They are 4-1. But when you consider that two of the 49ers four wins last year came against the Rams, that victory is a little less impressive.

But back to Robert's points. It is quite true the Chargers have not been utilizing Antonio Gates as much as they have in the past. But according to Phil Rivers, a lot of that is due to Gates being double-teamed much of the time.

As for LT not being LT, he is now LT and Michael Turner. The Chargers are second in the NFL (behind only Atlanta) with 176 rushing yards per game. I would call that an effective running game, wouldn't you?

The only prayer the 49ers have against the Chargers will be the "Hail Mary"!

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Friday, October 13, 2006

 

Open Thread

Expound away on topics of your choosing...like you usually do, even when I give topic!

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Bad News Comes In Threes...

Talk about your Friday the 13th horror show:

1)
Bob Ney pleads guilty in Abramoff scandal. Like the "guest who would not leave," he ain't resigning yet!

2) Conservative interest groups
"appeared to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by engaging in political activity -- according to a Senate committee.

3) Republicans pull out of several races -- trying just
to hold onto more promising ones. However, the tea leaves suggest many GOP incumbents (including the fourth-ranking House leader, Deborah Pryce) are going down to defeat.

Hope that Medicare prescription drug benefit is working OK. Stocking up on that Zoloft might be a good thing right about now!

UPDATE: Okay, well, let's say that bad news comes in "fours." Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Penn. or R-State Pen?) is apparently under investigation by the FBI. (Thanks, Patrick, for the reminder in the comments.)

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Pick the NFL winners!

Let's see who can pick the winners in this weeks NFL games. Just for fun. No money. Plenty of bragging rights.

This will be cross-posted on three blogs (Politics and Pigskins, Ragged Thots, and American Legends), so I will report the results from all three.

The only requirement is your post must be time-stamped before 1 pm EST on Sunday.

Here are my picks (in red):

Buffalo at Detroit: Buffalo is bad, but Detroit is worse. I'll take Buffalo to squeak by in this one.

Carolina at Baltimore: Pity the Panthers. Having to face the Baltimore defense coming off their Monday night loss to Denver.

Cincinnati at Tampa Bay: Cincy has had two weeks to prepare. This could be ugly too.

Houston at Dallas: Dallas should be sufficiently "T.O.'d" after their loss to the Eagles.

N.Y. Giants at Atlanta: This is the game of the week. Can the Giants run defense stop Atlanta's league best running game? Hard to say, but I'm taking the Falcons.

Philadelphia at New Orleans: Are the Saints for real? If they pull off this win, then I'm a believer. Until then, take the Eagles.

Seattle at St. Louis: I'm leaning towards St. Louis in a game which will go a long way towards determining the NFC West champ.

Tennessee at Washington: Skins. If you have to ask why, you haven't seen the Titans this year.

Kansas City at Pittsburgh: Until Pittsburgh gets on the right track, they are going to have a hard time with even mediocre competition like K.C.

Miami at N.Y. Jets: J-E-T-S! Jets Jets Jets!

San Diego at San Francisco: Do you even have to ask?

Oakland at Denver: Allow me to repeat: Do you even have to ask?

Chicago at Arizona: Da Bears in Da Desert. Ob la Da...

UPDATE: Sorry, Ed, but I'm using my host privileges to put my picks in the body of your post! So, herewith are RAG's picks:

This may be Detroit's only chance of winning all year, so I'm going with the Lion's at home (Question: Why does Matt Millen still have a job?).

Baltimore over Carolina.

Tampa Bay in the upset over Cincinnati.

Dallas over Hapless Houston (How's that Reggie Bush non-pick working out?)

Last year, the G-men used their win over the Redskins to launch them on their run to the NFC East championship. That will happen again this year. Giants over Atlanta in a tough, rough, squeaker.

Heart says New Orleans; head says Philadelphia. As much as I hate the the team, I have to go with the E-A-G-L-E-S.

St. Louis over a Shaun-less Seattle.

Tennessee at Washington. What Ed said.

Pittsburgh finally comes out of its rut against Kansas City. Expect Herman Edwards to come up short in a big game.

Miami at Da Jets. What Ed said. Also, Joey Harrington. Also, Nick Saban may already be losing the team.

San Diego at San Francisco. Ed, how can YOU ask that? SF is much improved while the Chargers (or Philip Rivers) have forgotten that they have a Pro-Bowl tight end. Marty Schottenheimer is bringing his bad mojo to yet another team. And LT ain't LT no more.

Oakland at Denver. Now, here's where the "Do you have to ask?" is appropriate. I thought the worst thing that was ever done to Art Shell was the NFL ignoring him after his pretty good run coaching the raiders in the '90s. Now, I can confidently say that the worst thing was the Raiders hiring him back this year. Art, the fact that all those folks turned the job down before you took it should have been a major warning sign!

Chicago at Arizona. I shouldn't do this, but something tells me that this is Chicago's "trap" game. Consider this Matt Leinart's coming out party.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

 

No Mark Warner/Open Thread

Given the Blogger meltdown this morning, posting was not a possibility.

So, have an early thread on me -- and perhaps contemplate the significance of ex-VA Gov. Mark Warner NOT running in '08.

First thought: Gee, Hillary's opposition research is REALLY good! Heh. Heh.

Second thought (via THOTS pal ERA): "Looks more and more that the anti-Hillary candidate will definitely be to her Left which will help her come the general."

Gore? Feingold? Kerry? Edwards? Player to be named later?


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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

 

The South Ain't Risin'...

Chris Bowers at MyDD has an intersting post. While the main point is on the liberal, uh, I mean, "progressive" leap created by a Democratic House, his history lesson on geography and politics holds interest for more than just the partisan reader:

One thing few people ever both to point out about the 1994 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives is that "the South" never lost control. Democrats still have a majority of non-southern seats in the House of Representatives, just as we had before the 1994 election. Although it happened to little fanfare, Democrats re-took their non-southern majority in the elections of 1998, and have never lost it since (although it was tied from January of 2003 until February of 2004). However, when the south switched to majority Republican control in 1994, Republicans took over Congress. Whatever transfer of power took place between the two parties in 1994, the majority of the south has remained in unbroken control of the House of Representatives since 1955, the year after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court.

If Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in this election, there is basically no way that they will control a majority of southern seats. While Democrats need fifteen seats to win a majority in the house, they actually need seventeen seats to win a majority of congressional districts in the south. The Cook Political Report only lists 11 southern seats among the top 59 Democratic targets, meaning that in order to win back majority of the south this year, Democrats will need to pick up something like 75 or 100 seats. That just isn't going to happen. Thus, if Democrats win control of the house, it would mark the first time in the post-civil rights era that a party has built a majority coalition in the House without a majority of the south.

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Foley Saga Defined

Americablog points to one of the funniest Daily Show segments -- beginning to end -- that I've seen in a long time.

The Wolf Blitzer/Patrick McHenry interview, Tom Reynolds ad, the page-dorm "moat", "the pages are safer, but not yet safe..."

Priceless.

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Plane Crash in Manhattan

New York Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle was on board.

Condolences to his family.

Sad echoes of
Thurman Munson. Of course, the fact that the plane hit a high-rise on the Upper East Side brought back even more unpleasant memories.

It is a particular sad irony that had the Yankees won their playoff series, they would have been preparing for the second game of the American League Championship Series at home.


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"Culture Of Corruption" Redux

That's the problem with Washington: Lobbyists AND pages with their hands out! Capitol Hill is like a virtual "lord of the (unzipped) flies.

How can any "member" resist? No wonder this awful source of temptation should be rutted
gutted!

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God, That's Funny! Funny...that's God

As regular readers of this space know, the author dabbles in stand-up comedy and improv (upcoming next week is a comedy show at the IGNITE Festival in Soho; I'll be appearing with several of the folks from my "Laughing With The Enemy" show).

Well, occasional Commenter Umar Lee discusses two topics that people don't often consider going together --
comedy and Islam.

Umar's view on how different types of comics approach religion in the context of their audiences is particularly interesting:
I recognize that Maher and Carlin are funny men, and enjoy it when they talk about some things (just as I enjoy John Stewart and Colbert); but when they talk about religion and the religious I tune them out because I know they are going to be disrespectful and arrogant.

Contrast this with the humor you will see from Americas funniest comedians, who are almost always African-American, such as Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Mike Epps, Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey and the like and you will see that even when they joke about religion they show respect and draw a line. You will also see that comedians that cater to the white working-class, such as Jeff Foxworthy, draw the same line.

The reason for these different stances on the issue of comedy and religion is the fact that African-American comedians, Latino comedians, and white comedians of “blue collar comedy”, are speaking to audiences of people who believe in God and respect the scripture even if they do not follow it. Comedians such as Maher and Carlin speak to audiences largely made up of atheists, agnostics, “progressive” believers, and cultural and moral relativists. For them, there is nothing they are hostile to more than religion, and no group of people that angers them more than people of faith.
Umar is onto something here and it has a real significant serious ramifications in the context of politics as well. I was raised a Catholic(though now perhaps something of a lazy Catholic -- no, not quite an Episcopalian).

When I was working for the Republican National Committee as its Coalitions Director, I was able to have very straightforward conversations with all groups from the pro-choice Republicans to the Christian Coalition to the Log Cabin Republicans to the Right To Life Committee. Why? Because I was able to respect the viewpoints of all sides and not treat any of them as either "nutty" or "extreme."

Yes, that was part of my job, but it's also not something that comes easily to everyone -- especially people who grow up on the coasts.

Among the modern urban citizen -- regardless of official political identification -- there is an instinct to be dismissive of those people with strong religious faith.

Now, white liberals are more comfortable deriding white Southern Baptists than they are African American protestants, but that has more to do with concerns over race, than anything else. (Besides, they have to live on a daily basis with religious blacks, but don't have to worry about the Southern Baptists, except for when they are flying over their towns).

This gives liberals and, by extension, Democrats a "brand" that is often perceived as being
anti-religious or contemptuous of those grounded in faith (except, again, those coming out of the traditional civil rights movement).

One of the reasons why Harold Ford is doing pretty well down in Tennesssee is that he recognizes religion as being
of tangible significance in the lives of the people in his state -- and figures out how to make a personal appeal on that basis:
In one commercial, Ford walks down the aisle of his Memphis church, sun shining through the stained glass windows, and says: "I started church the old-fashioned way - I was forced to. And I'm better for it.
"Here, I learned the difference between right and wrong," he says before accusing Republican opponents of "doing wrong," distorting his record on homeland security and military spending.
He settles into a pew and adds: "I won't let them make me someone I'm not, and I'll always fight for you. Give me that chance."

Yes, the cynics among us can wonder about the blatant use of a church for a political ad, but the presentation makes a strong impact. Furthermore, whether the sincerity is "fake" or not, the fact is that Ford doesn't appear like he's walking around a building that he's never been in before:



The appeal he is making in the context of faith is personalm, not academic and so it resonates. Of course, this is something that Sen. Barack Obama recognizes as well -- and why he
mesmerized the nation at his DNC speech in 2004. And, while one can question how "moderate" or "conservative" Ford and Obama are politically, no one can really dispute that they are true "believers."

In short, whether the topic is comic or serious, the best way to connect with the broadest audience is to recognize that faith and values do inform large swaths of an "audience." Dismissing it contemptuously may only cause one to be "booed" on-stage -- but it can be suicide in the political world.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

 

The Foley Pushback?

The American Spectator's blog has an interesting post on the development of the Foley scandal:

One of the stories going around Democrat Party circles is that party operatives like Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and American Family Voices weren't quite ready for primetime with the opposition research materials they had gathered for the 2006 election cycle.

According to one political consultant with ties to the DNC and other party organizations, "I'm hearing the Foley story wasn't supposed to drop until about ten days out of the election. It was supposed the coup de grace, not the first shot."

So why the rush? According to another DNC operative: bad polling numbers across the country. "Bush's national security speeches were getting traction beyond the base, gas prices were dropping, economic outlook surveys were positive. We were seeing bad Democratic numbers in Missouri, Michigan, Washington, Arizona, Florida Pennsylvania, even parts of New York," says the operative. "A month before, we were looking at launching an offensive against Republicans who according to polling barely held a five-seat majority if the election were to be held at the end of August. That was doable for Democrats from September 1 to November 7. But by mid-September, Republicans were back to having held seats for a 15-seat majority. In the Senate, it looked like a wash. We held seats in Florida, Nebraska, picked up seats in Pennsylvania, but that that was about it. They were holding in Missouri and possibly within reach of Maryland and Washington. We were looking at a disaster in the making."

So how to remedy? "You pull out the bright shiny things that distract the average American voter away from the issues we all know they care about -- national security, anti-terrorism -- and focus on the ugly: Foley and Iraq."

Sorry, call me cynical when I say that I just can't buy this story (aside from the fact that it begins with the annoying conceit of some conservatives to call the opposition the "Democrat Party")

For one thing, it doesn't "sound" right, i.e., the "voice" of the alleged Democrat activists "quoted" off the record doesn't sound like any Democrat that I've ever met (and you meet quite a few in New York). I can't imagine any "DNC operative" who would feel so relaxed to say that the entire Democratic campaign strategy was falling apart in mid-September and the Democrats had to "go nuclear" with the Foley stuff prematurely. If anything, that sounds like a Republican spinning the way the GOP strategy was supposedly going before the Foley mess stopped any "momentum."

Secondly, this phrase -- "You pull out the bright shiny things that distract the average American voter away from the issues we all know they care about -- national security, anti-terrorism -- and focus on the ugly: Foley and Iraq" -- also sounds completely phony. Seriously, can anyone imagine a partisan Democrat "consultant" saying about the "average American voter" that the issues that "we all know they care about" are "national security, "anti-terrorism"? Again, we're talking about a Democrat analyzing the electorate from his perspective.

The Foley matter? Yeah, they might call it "ugly." But Iraq? That's only been the major talking point for Democrats all year long; a Democrat isn't going to say bringing that up is "ugly."

Besides, dumping this on the CREW people seems odd, given that a
The Hill newspaper last week reported that a Republican was the source of the e-mails back in July.

The Spectator's piece reads exactly like the strategy Republicans want to use to fight back on Foley, turn it away from the facts of the case and into a convoluted Democratic dirty trick. As today's
Washington Post said: "GOP officials are urging lawmakers to focus exclusively on local issues and leave it to party leaders to mitigate the Foley controversy by accusing Democrats of trying to politicize it." (Emphasis added).

We are in the final four weeks of a major off-year election. One should take just about every political story coming out with at least a pound of salt. And Allah Pundit agrees with me -- and reminds folks of an earlier Prowler "exclusive."


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A Snapshot of GOP Difficulties

Hastert, Reynolds Drop Out Of Campaign Event For GOP Rep. Accused Of Choking Mistress:


House Speaker Dennis Hastert and another Republican leader criticized for his role in the congressional page scandal will not be appearing at fundraisers on behalf of a Pennsylvania congressman who has admitted to an extramarital affair.
You really can't make this stuff up.

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Should He Stay or Should He Joe?

The "day job" Paper of Record says that the Joe Torre era in the Bronx may not be over yet.

It's tabloid rival
sticks with its story.

The ultimate winner --
George Steinbrenner. He manages to make everyone forget that the New York Mets are playing in the National League Championship Series tomorrow!

Never forget whose town this is, baby!


UPDATE: It's official. Torre's back in 2007!

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Fall Foley-(Under)-Age, Cont'd

Josh Marshall's TPMuckraker presents a nice timeline of what and when the Denny Hastert-led GOP leadership knew of Mark Foley "page-inations."

UPDATE: One of the architects of the 1994 "Republican Revolution", Frank Luntz, weighs in.

And more polls: here, here and here...as the GOP braces for a possible complete electoral tornado. Of course, all of this is displayed with that major caveat mentioned here several months back.


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Monday, October 09, 2006

 

Fall Foley-age, Week 1

A round-up of the political world after the first full week-plus of Foley-mania:

1) A good Washington Post weekend overview on
the still-unanswered questions in the matter.

2) A current staffer corroborates ex-Tom Reynolds' aide Kirk Fordham's contention that he alerted Dennis Hastert's chief of staff in 2003 about Mark Foley's
inappropriate focus on male pages. The staffer claims Hastert's COS, Scott Palmer, confronted Foley about it. Given that Palmer also happens to be Hastert's roommate in Washington, it is hard to believe that he wouldn't have informed his boss of a confrontation with a Member of Congress on such a sensitive matter.

3) The NY Times
on expanding number of House seats in play.

4) In a measure of fair and balanced reporting rarely seen by the Gray Lady, the Times checks in on conservative evangelicals who
don't seem ready to abandon the GOP yet -- and does a snapshot on the impact of the Foley scandal on gay Republicans.

5) Newsweek's
tough poll numbers and ominous bottom line:
Fully 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win control of Congress next month, including 10 percent of Republicans, compared to just 35 percent who want the GOP to retain power. If the election were held today, 51 percent of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39 percent who would vote for the Republican. And while the race is closer among male voters (46 percent for the Democrats vs. 42 percent for the Republicans), the Democrats lead among women voters 56 to 34 percent.
6) Among the Republican leadership, Tom Reynolds appears to be taking the biggest political hit.

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Random Thoughts on the NFL in Week 5

MINNESOTA 26, DETROIT 17: Who was the moron who thought Jon Kitna (3 interceptions) would be a good starting quarterback? Hello, Matt Millen. Or is that goodbye Matt Millen?

SAN FRANCISCO 34, OAKLAND 20:
While the rest of the world was watching the T.O. vs. his old team, I watched this.

Oakland may not win a game this year. If they do, it's a fluke. This team is AWFUL! Even Randy Moss is dogging it.

I don't know if they could find three worse quarterbacks in the NFL. I include Aaron Brooks, even though he did not play. I have seen enough of Brooks this year to know he is not any better than he was with New Orleans. The best part: Oakland passed on Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler for these three bums.

Their defense? Well, San Fran put up 27 points on them (7 points came from an ugly fumble return). There is no defense in Oakland. Or FOR Oakland.

As for the 49ers, it is hard to praise them when the Raiders looked so bad.

Running back Frank Gore looks like the real deal. He runs hard and fast. He doesn't lose anything late in the game either (one of my concerns about him was that he would be like Charlie Garner). When the 49ers actually block for him, Gore is scary good.

Quarterback Alex Smith has me curious though. When he plays against bad defenses, he makes them pay dearly. Now I want to see him put together a good game against a good defense. Then we will know he has arrived.

INDIANAPOLIS 14, TENNESSEE 13: This game never should have been this close. Indy mailed this one in. Of course, they can do that against Tennessee.

By the way, did anyone notice Indy is undefeated going into their bye week, and they have already swept all their division foes?

JACKSONVILLE 41, N.Y. JETS 0: The Jets didn't look bad. Jacksonville looked dominant. I think the Jags were a little ticked after their overtime loss to the Redskins last week.

ST. LOUIS 23, GREEN BAY 20: I was watching the end of this game with my dad. When Green Bay got the ball at the end and started driving, I told him, "The only question is whether Favre will give the game away before the Packers score."

A minute later, Favre fumbles and the Rams recovered. Do I know Brett Favre or what?

KANSAS CITY 23, ARIZONA 20: If Arizona had an offensive line, they might have won this game.

CHICAGO 40, BUFFALO 7: Rex Grossman. Respect him or pay the price. He doesn't put up huge numbers like a Peyton Manning. Just watch him win games.

PHILADELPHIA 38, DALLAS 24: Forget Terrell Owens. Donovan McNabb rocks!

By the way, Rush Limbaugh was wrong. I like Rush on politics. But on football, his knowledge has the quality of a matchbook cover.

CAROLINA 20, CLEVELAND 12: Yawn. Who cares?

NEW ORLEANS 24, TAMPA BAY 21: Even though I thought New Orleans would win, I must say I was surprised by Bucs QB Bruce Gradkowski. He looked real good.

Before everyone in Tampa starts thinking "quarterback controversy", consider that Cadillac Williams had his best game of the season so far. That was sorely lacking when Chris Simms was starting.

N.Y. GIANTS 19, WASHINGTON 3: I will take my lumps on this one now. I thought it would be a good offensive shootout. It wasn't even close to that. What a yawner!

Note to Tom Coughlin: You still haven't fixed your offensive problems, although the defense looked a lot better.

Note to Joe Gibbs: This is the kind of game your teams needs to win. They didn't. Time to retire.

NEW ENGLAND 20, MIAMI 10:
Joey Harrington loses to Tom Brady. Any surprises here? I thought not.

SAN DIEGO 23, PITTSBURGH 13: Amazing! Phil Rivers CAN win games! And Ben Roethlisberger CAN lose games!

Maybe that second part is not too big a surprise, since that is all Roethlisberger has done this year. But Roethlisberger better get his act together soon or the Steelers will be on the outside looking in come January.

As for Phil Rivers, I almost wonder if this Chargers team will be the one that puts Marty Schottenheimer into the Super Bowl? Nah...

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

 

End of An Era

After the New York Yankees collapse in Motown, it looks like the decade-long ride for Joe Torre is done.

Eleven playoff appearances, ten AL East Division championships, four World Series wins, losses in two others (including the epochal 2001 seven-game Series against the Diamondbacks). Not a bad ride, Joe, and nothing for which you should be ashamed. Hey, when you go to work for Steinbrenner, you know how these things work out -- and end.

Besides, it's not like you begged the Yankee front office to get Alex Rodriguez. Funny how Alfonso Soriano -- whom the Yankees traded to Texas for Rodriguez -- was a more clutch, big-game, player in his 2001 rookie year than A-Rod will ever be. Recall that Soriano hit the home run off Curt Schilling that put the Yankees ahead in Game 7 agains the Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, Mariano Rivera happened to turn up human that year and blew the save and the Series. Buster Olney called that the "
Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty."

Even with the emergence of Robinson Cano at second base (the same position Soriano played for the Yankees), the Soriano-Rodriguez trade may turn out to be the one that triggered the full collapse of the current Yankee "dynasty" period. Yes, Soriano had a bad 2003 World Series, but nowhere near the consistently collapsing-under-pressure that A-Rod has demonstrated over his career.

And now Pinella is supposedly on deck -- the most successful Yankee manager to never get the team to the playoffs. With A-Rod, he managed to get the Mariners to the playoffs multiple times -- only to lose to Torre's Yankees. Let's see if he can manage to get clutch performers over the supposedly best player in the game.


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