Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Is Bush's Iraq Policy Extreme?

SAW AN INTERESTING mailer today from Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican member of Congress from Pennsylvania facing a touch challenge from Patrick Murphy, a Democrat and an Iraq War vet. Earlier this month, Fitzpatrick sent out a mailer arguing for a 'better, smarter plan in Iraq.' A plan that:

"says NO to both extremes: No to President Bush's 'stay the course' strategy...and no to Patrick Murphy's 'cut and run' approach."
What? So now we have Republicans calling Bush's strategy 'extreme'? This certainly is a change from even a few months ago. Of course, it's not just Fitzpatrick who's changing his tune on Iraq. Shays (CT), Sen. Lindsay (SC), and Sen. McCain (AZ) have all begun testing new talking points on the war -- talking points that sure don't sound like they were written by Dick Cheney or Rummy.

This new Republican descant may be in response to several new polls recently released that show that, for the first time, a majority of people surveyed found no linke between the war in Iraq and broader war on terror. That means that a majority of people surveyed now reject the core foreign policy argument of this administration!

Just Inside the Beltway is going to monitor what Republican incumbents are saying about the war between now and November. Let's see to what lengths some will go to save their job. Calling Bush's policy 'extreme' is a pretty good start.

If you know of other incumbents (Republicans or Dems) who are changing their tune now that elections are coming, send them along and I'll post them.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Religion and Foreign Affairs

I SEEM TO be on a bit of 'religion & politics' kick right now. A friend of mine who works on Capitol Hill forwarded an interesting article to me from Foreign Affairs written by Walter Russell Mead (a fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations here in DC.) The article examines how fundamentalists, liberal christians, and evangelicals view US foreign policy. Read the article here.
For a lot more on religion and politics, visit my friends at Spectrum Magazine.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Katherine Harris on Church & State

KATHERINE HARRIS (yes, the Katherine Harris) is taking religious pandering to a new level. Take a look at her comments to Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. Harris is seeking the Republican nomination for Senate and faces a tough primary on Sept. 5:

ORLANDO, Aug. 25 -- Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws" and that the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics..."If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris said. (except from story in Washington Post, August 26, 2006)
Harris goes on to cite abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of the sin she is referring to. You can read the entire story at the Washington Post or read Harris's profile and interview straight from the source at Florida Baptist Witness. Then, if you dare, check out the editorial by James Smith, the Executive Director of Florida Baptist Witness. Here's the opening paragraph:

How many of you will sin on Sept. 5th by failing to vote? That’s the day when Floridians will go to the polls and choose candidates in each political party’s primaries for various statewide and local offices, as well as for certain non-partisan positions. Some voters choose to take advantage of the option of voting early or by absentee ballot. But, the bottom line is—by whatever means it is done, I believe Christians who fail to vote are, in fact, sinning.

I wonder which person has committed the greater sin: a man who doesn't vote or a man who marries his boyfriend?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Weekend Round-Up

THE MOST IMPORTANT things to read this weekend:

  • POTUS unveiled his new Iraq arguement this week: 'it could be worse.' For three years we have been told time and time again that we are 'making progress' in Iraq - much more progress that we realize. We've been told that the reason American's don't think the war is going well is because the media never reports on the 'good things happening in Iraq.' Now Bush tells us that it could be worse. It seems to me that this change in rhetoric reflects a broader pessimism within the administrion -- even in it's most optimistic corners -- that the venture in Iraq has taken a significant turn for the worse in recent weeks and months. WaPo is one of many papers writing about this.
  • Much Ado About Macaca. This is big news around DC. Again, the Post has the story, including a good column by Dana Milbank.
  • The LA Times is happy that France is finally stepping up to the table.
  • Amir Taheri writes in the WSJ that Hezbollah did not win.
  • Chatham House, a prominent British think tank based at King's College, recently published a report in which they argue that Iran may be the chief beneficiary of the war on terror. An excerpt:
    There is little doubt that Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the war on terror in the middle east...Iran...has now superseded the US as the most influential power [in Iraq].
    Hmmm. Chew on that for a minute.
  • Next time you rent a car, take a moment to consider what you are doing -- from a Freakonomics point of view.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Did I Miss Anything?

I TRIED TO keep up with the world while vacationing, but it was hard while spending several hours each day on the beach, or at the pool, or eating out a nice restaurants, or just relaxing with a book. But I did get my hands on a copy of NY Times a couple of times and my television had cable so I was able to watch The Daily Show. What more did I need?

I was happy to have a copy of Foreign Policy waiting for me when I got home. The cover story is quite interesting. Here's the opening -- and you can find the rest at the Foreign Policy site (sub. required).

At 8:45 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001, we were living in the post Cold War era. At 9:37 a.m., just 52 minutes later, as the third hijacked airliner careened into the Pentagon, the post–9/11 era had begun. Everyone told us that everything had changed.
The question the article looks at is this: Has anything changed?

Also read Fiasco while away. If you haven't read it -- get it and read it now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

JUST INSIDE THE BELTWAY will return when I get back from vacation on August 23. In the meantime, there is plenty of good reading at the links on the right.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

CT Fallout

EVERYONE'S GOT SOMETHING to say about the Lamont/Lieberman primary. Rather than subject you to my ramblings, here's a sample of what others in the blogosphere are saying:
  • Andrew Sullivan is short and too the point.
  • John Marshall (TPM) has a column at Time.com that looks at both the Iraq Factor and the Liberal Blog factor (or neither!?!)
  • Dan Froomkin has an interesting piece in the Wash Post, calling the Lamont victory the beginning of a real anti-Bush movement. I suppose. But then again, when would a Democratic primary not be anti-Bush? I think we might have to wait until the general election to see how deep the anti-Bush sentiment is -- although recent polls suggest it's getting deeper by the day.
  • Rove tells Lieberman, 'The boss wants to help.' Rove is helping Lieberman? Details at The Plank.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I'm Calling It

IT'S JUST PAST 11:00pm on the east coast and I'm calling the CT race for Ned Lamont. I have basis for doing this other than the fact that I'm tired and I have to get up early. That, and the fact that AP is reporting 95% of the vote in with Lamont up about 51.2% to 48.7%.

Much closer than many thought earlier in the week. And you can be sure that you haven't heard the last of Lieberman. We may be watching a tight Lamont/Lieberman race again in November.

Lieberman (I-CT)?

THE 'I' IS for Independent. If Lamont wins (51-49 right now with nearly 90% reporting) you can count on Lieberman taking this race to November. If he'd lost by 10 or 12 points he probably would have given up. But if he finishes within 3-5 points he'll be the Independent candiate for Senate. Especially when you consider that he closed the gap by nearly 10 points in the final 2-3 days.

Remember this: CT has more registered Independent voters than registered Democrat or Republican voters. I think they may be the only state in the union where that is true.

More Primary Buzz

IT LOOKS LIKE Cynthia 'Do You Know Who I Am' McKinney (D-GA) is losing her primary election to Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, the former DeKalb County commissioner. With about 51% reportng, Johnson is leading by a commanding 58%-42%. This must be a relief to the Capitol Hill Police.

And Bill 'What Do You Want For Dinner, Honey? I've Got Frozen Vegetables, Frozen Dinners, or Frozen Cash' Livingston (D-LA) may have a primary on his hands afterall. State Senator Derrick Shepard has announced he will try to unseat Livingston, who is under a federal investigation for bribery, in the Democratic primary later this fall.

And finally, Tom Delay has decided to drop out of the race for his seat in Texas. You see, he had wanted to have his spot taken by another Republican, but Antonin Scalia (yes, that Scalia) refused to block a lower court's ruling that Delay must remain on the ballot. Delay says he hopes his withdrawal will enable him to focus on electing a Republican through a write-in campaign.

By the way, if you're keeping score at home, that makes three members of congress (Cunningham, DeLay, Ney) with close ties to Jack Abramoff who have resigned or will not seek re-election, and one (Ralph Reed) who lost in a primary bid to be the Lt. Govenor of Georgia.

Thanks for all the help, Jack.

Still Very Close

IT'S CLOSE! AND it's getting closer as the night goes on. The latest numbers I've seen show
Lamont 51.76%, Lieberman 48.24% -- that's with 76.86% of the vote in. What's fascinating, though, is the fact that the margin has been decreasing all night. I wish I knew which precincts were in and which were still coming.

Media Say Lamont

AS EARLY AS 7:00 pm (EST) most news channels were all but predicting a Lamont victory. Chris Matthews was asking his quests questions like, 'What is Lieberman going to do now?' and 'How will Lamont impact the Senate.'

Only polling I've seen shows that Lamont is leading. Somewhere around 55%-45%.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

What Would a Lamont Victory Mean?

SO WHAT WOULD a Ned Lamont victory mean for Dems as 2008 nears? It certainly will embolden the anti-war wing of the party. It also will serve as the most important victory to date for the internet-based, grass-roots faction of the party -- the same group that gave Howard Dean such a huge lift in the early stages of the '04 primary.

But more importantly, a Lamont victory will have huge implications for the presidential plans of people like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, and...yes, Al Gore. As Dan Balz reports in Sunday's WaPo, it may be Al Gore who would gain the most from Lamont win.

Lamont v. Lieberman: One Day Left

A COUPLE OF new poll results were released this weekend and none of them were good news for Joe Lieberman. In fact, most of them showed him losing to Ned Lamont by double digits. The problems for Lieberman go beyond the Iraq war, although it is clear the his position on Iraq is the fueld for the Lamont fire.

Jeff Greenfield has a piece at CNN.com that argues Lieberman's problems extend well beyound Iraq. Fair enough, my only concern is that Ned Lamont's positions don't extend beyond Iraq.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Great News for DC Caffeine Addicts

DAN MILBANK IS away so Washington Sketch is on a bit of a break at WaPo. But that doesn't mean page A2 doesn't have some good information. Today's Post has an interesting graph that shows how many Starbucks outlets there are in each state per 100,000 people. Although DC is not listed on the graph (we're only a city, remember), I found the Starbucks info for DC and added it to the list. Here's what the list would look like if DC was a state.

Starbucks per 100,000:
District of Columbia 11.8
Washington 8.89
Nevada 7.99
Colorado 6.90
Oregon 6.67
California 5.56
Hawaii 4.63
Arizona 4.18
Alaska 3.77
Illinois 3.23

Of course, this shouldn't be surprising for any who lives near DC. This is, after all, the city where you can go to Connecticut Ave near Dupont Circle and find a Starbucks directly across the street from...you guessed it...another Starbucks.

What's not to like about that?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Endorsement Update - CT Senate

OVERKILL MIGHT DESCRIBE my attention to the CT Senate race. But that's what happens this time of year -- political races rule my free time. Just ask my wife -- she wonders why I spend so much time watching C-SPAN. (I tell her it's for the hot chicks).

In the latest round of endorsements, both Lamont and Lieberman picked up big ones. The NY Times (damn you, NY Times!) has abandoned Lieberman -- their candidate of choice for the past, oh, 20 years or so -- in favor of Lamont. Meanwhile, Lieberman got the endorsement of the hometown Hartford Courant.

One Week and Counting

LIEBERMAN-LAMONT IS going down to the wire. Why?

That's the big question isn't it? Pundits from both sides have been trying to explain (and predict) this race for the past few months. Neither side really knows how the race is going to end up, but rank-and-file Dems have been coming out in force for Lieberman in recent weeks. A couple of weeks ago Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail. This week, a who's-who among Senate Democrats took up the Lieberman cause. Shumer, Dodd, Levin, and others. My favorite was Ken Salazar (CO), who gave a stump speach calling Lieberman "a hero of mine and someone who has inspired me." Glowing words.

But there's a bigger issue at play in this race, and this is future road map for the Democratic party. Are Dems in Connecticut (and around the country) abandoning Democrats who they see as chasing a 'center' that has been moving to the right since 1980? Are Democrats so disgusted with the Bush presidency that they will sacrifice one of their most effective Senators for a 'further from Bush' candidate?

I'm sure it's not that quite that simple. EJ Dionne has some more insights in today's WaPo. Here's Dionne's summary:

As for the primary, the lesson already is clear. A Democratic Party that has been on the defense since the 1980s desperately wants to go on offense. Lamont understands that. If Lieberman is to survive this round, he needs to make clear between now and next Tuesday that he's gotten the message.

The only thing we know for sure is that this will all be decided next Tuesday. Isn't that the beauty of politics?