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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

News and Notes: National Scene

What's going on?
A Washington Post-ABC poll shows that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) leads other Democratic presidential hopefuls by 2-1 among women, even more among lower-income and lesser-educated women, and this factor accounts for her large lead over the others. Overall, Clinton garnered 51% support from women, compared to 24% for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and 11% for former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC).

A new Gallup poll shows that Republicans reject evolution by a better than 2-to-1 margin, 68% to 30%. Overall the nation is about evenly split on evolution. Independents are more likely to believe in evolution (61% to 37%) than Democrats (57% to 40%).

A study shows that political considerations have played a major role in the selection of immigration judges by the Bush administration, although that is specifically forbidden by law.

New polls show Hillary Clinton pulling away in New Hampshire and also show John McCain continuing to fade nationally (he is now battling with "Don't Know" for third place behind Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney). However, social conservatives are showing signs of ganging up on front-runner Giuliani over his pro-choice and pro-gay positions.

President Bush is meeting GOP lawmakers at lunch today to urge them to support the immigration reform legislation that stalled in the U.S. Senate last week, and business lobbyists, labor unions, religious organizations and Hispanic advocacy groups plan to flood Capitol Hill this week in support of the troubled bill.

The 53-38-1 vote that killed the no-confidence resolution against Albert Gonzales yesterday could have been a little closer to the winning margin of 60. Presidential candidates Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. Sam Brownback, Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. John McCain, and Sen. Barack Obama all missed the vote because they were on the campaign trail, costing at least three votes. The lone "present" vote was cast by Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens, who faces a corruption investigation by the Department of Justice and thus perhaps didn't want to take a position as to the future of its chief official. Five of the seven Republican senators who voted for the no-confidence resolution are up for re-election in 2008: Gordon Smith (OR), Chuck Hagel (NE), Norm Coleman (MN), John Sununu (NH), and Susan Collins (ME).

Does anyone else find it disturbing that Democratic legislators negotiated directly with a lobbying group, the powerful National Rifle Association, to craft new federal gun control legislation in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre? The sway of the NRA over GOP lawmakers is apparently so utterly complete that the Republicans who actually fill the legislative seats are not a necessary part of the negotiations or the agreement. Don't get me wrong, I applaud better background checks for gun buyers and improving the databases of people who should not get guns due to criminal records and/or mental health problems, I just find it extraordinary and unsettling that the NRA has virtually stepped into the shoes of the Republicans who fill the legislative seats when it comes to this issue.

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Friday, June 1, 2007

McCain (R) Agrees with Bill O'Reilly That "White, Christian, Male Power Structure" Must Be Protected

The bigotry underlying the right's objection to the proposed immigration overhaul is laid bare in this exchange between presidential contender Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Fox "News" host Bill O'Reilly, the video of which was posted on YouTube by the McCain campaign. The relevant part is about one minute into the segment:

Here is the text (emphasis added):

Bill O'Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you've got to cap with a number.

John McCain: In America today we've got a very strong economy and low unemployment, so we need addition farm workers, including by the way agriculture, but there may come a time where we have an economic downturn, and we don't need so many.


O'Reilly: But in this bill, you guys have got to cap it. Because estimation is 12 million, there may be 20 [million]. You don't know, I don't know. We've got to cap it.

McCain: We do, we do. I agree with you.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

News and Notes: Presidential Candidates

What are those would-be CIC's up to?
Duncan Hunter - The national security-obsessed California Congressman announced the launch of his "The Right Stuff Express" RV tour yesterday, featuring legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager. Playing off John McCain's well-known "The Straight Talk Express" bus tours, Hunter will begin his RV tour by travelling around South Carolina this week.

Al Gore - The Democratic non-candidate is getting a lot of media play, from the New York Times' sunday magazine feature about his big plans on global warming and yesterday's review of his new book out today to two new pieces on Huffington Post yesterday (one promoting Gore individually and the other pumping a Gore-Obama ticket), to a laudatory column by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post today:
Whatever flaws he has, Gore suffered through an extreme injustice with great dignity. His revenge is to have been right about a lot of things: right about the power of the Internet, right about global warming and right about Iraq.
John McCain - Reacting perhaps to yesterday's Des Moines Register poll that showed Mitt Romney with a substantial lead in Iowa, the Arizona senator ripped the former Massachusetts governor yesterday for attacking the compromise immigration reform bill now under consideration in the Senate. Perhaps Romney's solution to the immigration crisis is "to get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn," McCain said, alluding to a newspaper report that a landscaping crew at Romney's gubernatorial mansion included illegal aliens. McCain also intimated that Romney's views are dictated by political expediency, saying that McCain might "wait a couple of weeks and see if the winds change and Mitt comes back around."

Hillary Clinton - Who benefits the most from Florida's decision to advance its primary to the very early date of January 29th? A chart compiled by Chris Bowers at MyDD.com shows that the average of three recent polls puts the former First Lady well ahead of nearest rival Barack Obama in Florida (41.3% to 18.%). It is the biggest number for Clinton among the various early-primary states, according to the chart.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

News and Notes: Presidential Candidates UPDATED

This morning's tidbits on some of the White House wannabes:
John McCain - In a speech to the Oklahoma State Legislature today, the GOP senator from Arizona will call for more ethics and efficiency in government. Meanwhile, the Washington Post Capitol Briefing notes that McCain has missed 42 straight roll calls over the past five weeks, a large number even for a presidential contender. He has been missing an extraordinary number of votes ever since his dismal fundraising report for the first quarter was released.

John Edwards - As noted by Joseph on the estimable blog Plunderbund this morning, a new poll from the Des Moines Register shows the former North Carolina senator pulling slightly ahead in the critical state of Iowa:
29% Edwards
23% Obama
21% Clinton
10% Richardson
Jonathon Singer notes on MyDD that Richardson's early advertising has pulled him up into double digits. Will this cause other candidates to unleash a flurry of ads?

Hillary Clinton - The junior senator from New York today will unveil a $5 billion plan for universal pre-kindergarten classes at an elementary school in Miami. The voluntary program would require states match federal spending, which could increase to $10 billion as more states join during the first five years. Teachers funded under the program would be required to have bachelor’s degrees and training in early childhood development, and there would be standards for early learning curriculums and teacher-child ratios. The money could also be used to expand Head Start programs.

Bill Richardson - The Governor of New Mexico is expected to formally announce his candidacy at about 1:00 pm our time:
Richardson, who is currently operating under the rubric of an “exploratory” committee, is due to speak in California at the Los Angeles Press Club on Monday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time. While his campaign would not confirm the details of his speech, multiple media outlets report the governor will formally enter the presidential race.

If that is the case, the venue is hardly a random choice. Richardson, who is in his second term as New Mexico governor, is the only one of the prominent Democratic contenders who is from the West.

UPDATE: Some highlights from Richardson's remarks:
"I am running for president, because these times call for a leader with a proven track record, and a demonstrated ability to bring people together to tackle our problems at home and abroad. I am that person, not because I say so, but because of what I have done, and what I can do for the American people....

"The challenges we face are not acts of God or accidents of fate. They were man-made and deliberate. Whether it was willful ignorance or an ignorant will, we are left with the ravages of an administration that will take years to rectify."

UPDATE: Mitt Romney - The Des Moines Register poll also show the former Massachusetts governor with a substantial lead over the other two front runners, McCain and Guiliani, with Romney pulling down 30% and the the others at 18% and 17% respectively. The pollster said that Romney's strong lead may be attributable to "solid performances in the two national debates, his work in building a network of supporters in Iowa, his fundraising prowess and money spent on TV ads." It also helps that the new poll does not include the two persistently-popular non-candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN).

Fred Thompson - And speaking of the former senator from Tennessee, Chris Cilizza reports in The Fix today that Washington veteran Tom Collamore, a former Reagan administration official and aide to Bush I, has become Thompson's "manager in waiting." Since his government service, Collamore has been a corporate officer at tobacco giant Phillip Morris and its successor Altria. Cilizzi takes this move as a sign that Thompson is becoming more and more serious about jumping into the race, probably before the end of June.

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