Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Morning copy 11.08.2005

Odd year elections

Governor races in Virginia and New Jersey. Mayoral race in New York City. Ballot initiatives in Kal-ee-fornia.

The Washington Times on VA's dead heat:

RICHMOND -- President Bush last night implored Virginians to choose Republican Jerry W. Kilgore for governor at the polls today while Gov. Mark Warner told voters that Timothy M. Kaine was the best choice in the too-close-to-call race.

Note the last sentence in this graf from the Washington Post:

The Democratic governor, who leaves office in January because of the state's one-term limit, is riding a wave of popularity. The Republican president won Virginia by nine percentage points in last year's presidential election, but his popularity has slipped lately. Both campaigns insisted Bush's appearance would work to their advantage.

Bush showed up late enough in the race, Votemas Eve, to minimize his impact. Whether Kilgore wins doesn't change that fact.

Regional election story from the New York Times:

New Jersey voters will choose a new governor today, bringing to an end the rugged campaign between United States Senator Jon S. Corzine and Douglas R. Forrester that began with debates over how to address high property taxes and corruption but closed with questions and denials about their marital conduct.

Bloomberg is running hard, New York Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg campaigned for 17 hours yesterday as he hit each borough twice in search of a historic victory - and an overwhelming new mandate - at the polls on Election Day. His Democratic challenger, Fernando Ferrer, concentrated on avoiding an embarrassing defeat, especially with black voters, by making clear that he had not given up.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's ballot initiatives and low approval rating play out in Kal-ee-fornia today, Los Angeles Times:

Stumping from Chico to Del Mar, the governor borrowed a line from his Hollywood days. "Tomorrow is judgment day," he told senior citizens at a Del Webb retirement community in Roseville, outside Sacramento. "Tomorrow we are going to make a decision: Does the state move forward or does it move backward?"

Linda Feldmann's news analysis in the Christian Science Monitor:

Do these two races provide clues to the following year's nationwide congressional elections? Usually, the answer is no.

But sometimes they do. See 1993, when Republican Christine Todd Whitman squeaked into the governor's chair of her solidly Democratic state. A year later, Republicans swept Democrats out of power in Congress.

The White House

Thomas DeFrank in the New York Daily News has a lot of blind quotes on the Bush-Cheney relationship:

"Cheney never operated without a degree of [presidential] license, but there are people around who cannot believe some of the advice [Bush] has been given."

The source declined to offer any specifics, citing the extraordinary sensitivity surrounding the Bush-Cheney relationship.

The John Roberts' court will decide on tribunals, New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 - The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would decide the validity of the military commissions that President Bush wants to use to bring detainees charged with terrorist offenses to trial.

Bush's malaise in the New York Times editorial:

He and his delegation failed to get even a minimally face-saving outcome at the collapsed trade talks and allowed a loudmouthed opportunist like the president of Venezuela to steal the show.

That page concludes that Bush has to take charge and minimize Cheney. Prisoner abuse issues would be a great place to start.


Violence has spread to nearly every major city in the country, New York Times.

New Orleans

Huge questions remain in reconstruction, New York Times:

Will New Orleans be granted a vastly strengthened flood protection system - at a cost of up to $20 billion - or will it be told to allow low-lying residential neighborhoods to return to marshland? Will the city have to take control of thousands of houses to restore them - at a cost that no one has calculated - or will it have to tell thousands of evacuated residents not to return?

Intelligence or lack there of

An important meeting on pre-war intelligence today, Washington Post:

Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee want the right to interview top policymakers or speechwriters as part of the inquiry into whether the Bush administration exaggerated or misused intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the panel's vice chairman, said yesterday.

Rockefeller raised the possibility of issuing subpoenas, and outlined a more wide-ranging approach than the one described by Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who said the work would center on comparing public statements by administration officials to intelligence reports circulating at the time. Rockefeller, Roberts and four other senators are to meet today to work out a schedule and process for the committee's review.

Senator Carl Levin is on CNN this morning pushing the intelligence committee to a broader search.

Budget cuts

The GOP's efforts to build a majority of votes in the House is detailed in the Hill:

Concerns vary, and members are listening to leadership as well as to constituents. Some of the most controversial items include allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), eligibility changes to the federal food-stamp program, increased prescription-drug co-payments for Medicaid beneficiaries and lender changes to the subsidized student-loan program.

The Washington Post has a vote count (sorta'):

But for now, Republicans concede they are well short of the votes needed to pass a bill that would require longer work hours to qualify for welfare, allow states to impose new costs on Medicaid beneficiaries, cut assistance for child support enforcement, trim student loan spending, cut back agriculture supports, and curb eligibility for food stamps.

Violence and politics mix?

A senior staffer for Representative Chuck Grassley was attacked at her home. The Hill has an alarming story that it may have been a retaliation:

Grassley is known for his aggressive oversight of the public and private sector. Over the past year, he has scrutinized healthcare fraud, organ-donation procedures used by hospitals, drug-safety matters and the use of nonprofit groups related to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In her line of work, DiSanto “doesn’t make a lot of friends,” an aide said.

Vision check

E. J. Dionne plays gadfly in the Washington Post:

But the Democrats will never fully expose the Republicans' contradictions without a clear -- forgive me -- vision of their own, and that's why this business about compacts and covenants could yet be constructive.


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