Thursday, August 31, 2006

Capital Hill Staffers Name Santorum One of Dumbest Senators (Again)

Washingtonian Magazine's September issue has the results of the mag's annual survey of Capital Hill staffers. This year they had 1700 respondents. This year, Rick Santorum tied for second place (with George Allen) in the "No Rocket Scientist" category -- identified by those who know him best as one of the dumbest Senators in town. From what we could tell, Rick has been a repeat winner in this category. It seems that he has wins in 2005 (tie) and 2004 (tie). He came in third in 2002. Consistent with his falling off the perch as the number one dumbest Senator, he also finished second in the "Falling Star" category.

Pennsyltucky Politics has more coverage.

Appease this, asswipe

From Norman Solomon at Common Dreams:

On Dec. 20, 1983, the Washington Post reported that Rumsfeld "visited Iraq in what U.S. officials said was an attempt to bolster the already improving U.S. relations with that country." A couple of days later, the New York Times cited a "senior American official" who "said that the United States remained ready to establish full diplomatic relations with Iraq and that it was up to the Iraqis."

On March 29, 1984, the Times reported: "American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with relations between Iraq and the United States and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been restored in all but name." Washington had some goodies for Saddam's regime, the Times account noted, including "agricultural-commodity credits totaling $840 million." And while "no results of the talks have been announced" after the Rumsfeld visit to Baghdad three months earlier, "Western European diplomats assume that the United States now exchanges some intelligence on Iran with Iraq."

A few months later, on July 17, 1984, a Times article with a Baghdad dateline sketchily filled in a bit more information, saying that the U.S. government "granted Iraq about $2 billion in commodity credits to buy food over the last two years." The story recalled that "Donald Rumsfeld, the former Middle East special envoy, held two private meetings with the Iraqi president here," and the dispatch mentioned in passing that "State Department human rights reports have been uniformly critical of the Iraqi President, contending that he ran a police state."

Full diplomatic relations between Washington and Baghdad were restored 11 months after Rumsfeld's December 1983 visit with Saddam. He went on to use poison gas later in the decade, actions which scarcely harmed relations with the Reagan administration.

As the most senior U.S. official to visit Iraq in six years, Rumsfeld had served as Reagan's point man for warming relations with Saddam. In 1984, the administration engineered the sale to Baghdad of 45 ostensibly civilian-use Bell 214ST helicopters. Saddam's military found them quite useful for attacking Kurdish civilians with poison gas in 1988, according to U.S. intelligence sources. "In response to the gassing," journalist Jeremy Scahill has pointed out, "sweeping sanctions were unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate that would have denied Iraq access to most U.S. technology. The measure was killed by the White House."

The USA's big media institutions did little to illuminate how Washington and business interests combined to strengthen and arm Saddam Hussein during many of his worst crimes. "In the 1980s and afterward, the United States underwrote 24 American corporations so they could sell to Saddam Hussein weapons of mass destruction, which he used against Iran, at that time the prime Middle Eastern enemy of the United States," writes Ben Bagdikian, a former assistant managing editor of the Washington Post, in his book The New Media Monopoly. "Hussein used U.S.-supplied poison gas" against Iranians and Kurds "while the United States looked the other way."

From Keith Olberman:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: “confused” or “immoral.”

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

And so good night, and good luck.

From Me:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

You Look Iraqi -- Please Take a Seat in the Rear

Raed Jarrar is an American architect of Iraqi descent living in America (legally, thank-you very much). He recently returned from a trip to Syria and Jordan, where he visited Lebanese refugee camps and met with members of the Iraq parliament. In his Blog, Raed in the Middle, he notes that the anger towards the United States in connection with the Israeli attacks was palpable and indiscriminate -- it included him:
The other thing you can't miss in Jordan and Syria is people's anger against the US. On more than occasion, I got shouted at because I live in the US. The most interesting incident was during a visit to a Lebanese refugee camp. I was called by two young Lebanese people, and they asked me whether me and the rest of the delegation visiting their shelter where coming from the US. I said yes. They said: "you better get the hell out of here unless you want us to make a scene". I tried to explain that we are the "good" Americans who are against the war, so they said go back home and change your government. "you can't come here visit us in a shelter that we were sent to because of your tax money and your bombs, and expect us to be nice to you". So me and the other Americans got the hell out of there.
He was part of the US antiwar delegation that met with Iraqi MPs and others earlier in August. Tom Hayden was also there and wrote about the meetings in a recent Nation article.

After the week-long trip, he returned to the United States and spent a day in D.C., before taking the bus to New York for his flight home to California. That's when he got a taste of American Freedom, Bush-style.

It started when he passed through the security gates and was "randomly" selected for a more thorough search. He, and his papers, being in order, he was permitted to pass through and proceeded to his gate. While enjoying a snack of grapes, cheese, and orange juice, he was approached by several official and officious representatives of the 'freedom-loving' American government, and Jet Blue.

It seems as though Mr. Jarrar had attracted Jet Blue's attention because he was wearing a t-shirt with Arabic writing on it. He was, apparently, unaware of some of the new, albeit unwritten, laws we have in the country today. One of them being that anything arabicish is terroristic until proved otherwise. You see, his t-shirt, which he was wearing in the picture at the head of this article, reprinted, in Arabic and English, the simple slogan "We will not be silent". That's what he thinks. This is American, pal, and we have ways of silencing you:
One of the two men who approached me first, Inspector Harris, asked for my id card and boarding pass. I gave him my boarding pass and driver's license. He said "people are feeling offended because of your t-shirt". . . . I said "I am very sorry if I offended anyone, I didn't know that this t-shirt will be offensive". He asked me if I had any other T-shirts to put on, and I told him that I had checked in all of my bags and I asked him "why do you want me to take off my t-shirt? Isn't it my constitutional right to express myself in this way?" The second man in a greenish suit interfered and said "people here in the US don't understand these things about constitutional rights". So I answered him "I live in the US, and I understand it is my right to wear this t-shirt".
Oh, so now you want rights? Look, this is a different world after 9/11 and we're sorry, but sometimes you just have to give up a few rights -- like the first amendment (not to mention the fourth and fifth) -- or we'll be fighting your brethren in our grocery stores. Look, all kidding aside, this Inspector Harris had a very persuasive point when he told Mr. Jarrar that "you can't wear a t-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads 'I am a robber' and going to a bank". Apparently, Mr. Jarrar had not considered that simply having something written in Arabic was the equivalent of announcing that you're a bank robber.

Not only was he a bank robber, but don't think we could let it pass that the t-shirt was also the slogan of a group of people who are critical of the whole Iraq-war thing. So, not only is he a bank robbing terrorist, but if he is opposing our war policies, our government now views him as the equivalent of a Nazi appeaser. Since the Nazis were fascists, I guess that makes Mr. Jarrar an Islamic Fascist in the eyes of our government. And he's whining over having to change a t-shirt? Why, he's lucky they didn't put him on a plane to occupied Cuba!

Well, now that he understood, he permitted the Jet Blue clerk to buy him a new t-shirt to wear on his flight (because the other passengers were nervous about what those Arabic letters might do if they were permitted to be exposed once in the air). And he thought that was the end of it, but not when you fly Jet Blue, they had another surprise for Mr. Jarrar. They were moving him from the front of the plane -- seat 3a on his confirmed boarding pass -- to the rear -- seat 24a. Mr. Jarrar had this observation from his trip:
It sucks to be an Arab/Muslim living in the US these days. When you go to the middle east, you are a US tax-payer destroying people's houses with your money, and when you come back to the US, you are a suspected terrorist and plane hijacker.
Indeed. He also had a good recommendation that I am passing along. We should let Jet Blue know how we feel about their treatment of Mr. Jarrar. Leave them your comments here.

(h/ts to Ol' Froth and A Spork in the Drawer for their prior coverage of the whole mess.)


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

REAL Momentum -- Sestak and Lois Murphy on the Move

Yesterday came the news that the respected conservative political analyst Stuart Rothenberg had thrown the Casey err, Carney-Sherwood dust up for PA-10 into the tossup/tilting R category.

Today it seems that a couple of other Republican Congressmen are battling to retain their seats against "upstart" Dems. The Rothenberg Political Report has placed the PA-6 PA-7 battle between incumbent Republican Curt Weldon and Vice Admiral Joe Sestak in the pure tossup category.

Similarly placed in the pure toss-up list is Lois Murphy's PA-6 campaign against incumbent Jim Gerlach.

This is Murphy's second bid for the seat; she lost a very close race the last time out. Joe Sestak is in his first political run.

Santorum versus Floods


Rick Santorum on flood victims in Louisiana:

"I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."

Sen. Rick Santorum
Interview with WTAE-TV CH 4 in Pittsburgh
September 4, 2005


Rick Santorum on flood victims in Pennsylvania:

"The $10 million we have secured is critical to ensure that the people of northeastern Pennsylvania will never lose their homes again due to devastating floods. The floods in 1996 and Hurricane Agnes in 1972 have forced the people of the Wyoming Valley to rebuild their lives, homes and families not once but twice. The funding to build new levees and floodwalls, modify closure structures and relocate utilities offers reassurance to the people of the Wyoming Valley that they will never again have to endure the hardship of flood devastation."

Sen. Rick Santorum
Press Statement on federal funding
for Pennsylvania flood control projects

July 17, 2003

[Reprinted from Whiskey Bar (8/6/05)]

Black population in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania -- 1.69%
Black population in Louisiana -- 33%
Black population in New Orleans -- 67.25%

We report, you decide.

Whistling Past the Graveyard

Santorum has momentum!? That is the conclusion of the wingnut Human Events Online (h/t Santorum Blog) as it tries, ever so desperately, to rally the right to the support of incumbent Rs in trouble. The word on K Street mid-summer was that the smart R money was abandoning Santorum in favor of more profitable purchases. The wingnut machine ramped up the PR and used the late summer polls, which showed the spread between Casey and Santorum narrowing, to promote Their Rick as surging forward and Casey as floundering -- all this, mind you, before Labor Day.

It's downright silly -- Voodoo Politics. A year ago, when pollsters were the only ones paying attention to polls, Santorum was polling in the mid-to-upper thirties, with an occasional foray into the low forties. Today, he is polling in the upper thirties and very low forties. Yes, the spread has narrowed, but that's a natural result of the race being slightly more on the radar and slightly more people thinking seriously about it. Casey polled unduly heavily "early" on in this race because people are fed up with Santorum and Bush, looked for a fresh face, and were sending a message. But they really weren't thinking about it. (Actually, to say that the March polls were "early" in the race is silly -- NOW is "early" in the race. March was wonk time.)

Despite starting his advertising very early (the benefit of all that K Street money) Santorum hasn't gained anything in the last six months except perhaps a return to the R column of disenchanted or "confused" right wing Rs who are easily scared by sex, homosexuals, and brown people speaking Spanish. In the latest WSJ/Zogby poll, Santorum moved a whole 0.2% closer to Casey. (At that rate, he'll pull even in about 2009) Casey, on the other hand, has yet to do enough to define himself in a way that generates passion and, as a result, bunches of people in the late summer polls have yawned when asked to assume the election were held today.

Santorum's approval rating is among the lowest of all 100 Senators, in a state that approves of his fearless leader at a rate lower than the nation as a whole, in a state that has recently had a mini-revolt against incumbents, and in a state that has lost more of its citizens to the fubar excursion into Iraq than 47 other states.

He ain't going nowhere. He doesn't have the room to go up much more than the low forties in which he finds himself mired and Casey will, despite himself, stumble into Washington in January '07.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Right Wing Analyst Tosses Up Sherwood

The Carney Campaign is on the move. They have announced that the right-wing political analyst, Stuart Rothenberg, has moved their battle against adulterer and alleged mistress abuser Donald Sherwood from the leans-R to the tossup column.

Rothenburg, aligned with right-wing sentiments, is nonetheless a highly regarded analyst of Congressional Races. His paid-subscription newsletter is not widely circulated, but is must reading for political journalists and Congressional-Candidate-Committee-types, and for anyone else who depends on the state of the balance of power in the House.

In his analysis, Rothenberg notes that “"Cong. Don Sherwood has had plenty of problems",” and he calls Chris Carney "“an interesting challenger." He says that Sherwood'’s grip on the District is "“tenuous."” Rothenberg concludes that "This is a very interesting Democratic opportunity and a GOP headache in a very Republican district."

In short, this is major good news for the Carney folks. Sherwood, if not on, is stumbling towards the ropes. (That is a picture of not-his-wife, by the way.)

Romanelli Files Appeal with PA Supreme Court

As expected, Carl Romanelli has filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from the decision of the Commonwealth Court rejecting his argument that the retention election of Justice Newman was the last statewide election on which his signature requirement should have been based.

If you've been paying attention, you know that minor parties in Pennsylvania need to submit petitions bearing the number of signatures equal to at least 2% of the highest vote-getter in the statewide election immediately preceding the general election for which they seek to nominate a candidate.

The Pennsylvania statute (25 P.S. Section 2911(b)) states, in pertinent part, as follows:
Where the nomination is for any office to be filled by the electors of the State at large, the number of qualified electors of the State signing such nomination paper shall be at least equal to two per centum of the largest vote cast for any elected candidate in the state at large at the last preceding election at which State-wide candidates were voted for.
The State Board designated the 2004 election of Casey as "the largest vote cast for any elected candidate in the state at large at the last preceding election at which State-wide candidates were voted for", leading to the 67,000+ signature requirement for this year's minor party candidates.

But, there was a statewide election in 2005 -- the judicial retention election of Justice Sandra Schultz Newman. She won retention with about 800,000 votes, meaning that Romanelli would need submit slightly less than 16,000 signatures.

The Commonwealth Court sided with Casey's party in rejecting Romanelli's argument and it is from that decision which Romanelli has now appealed. The Commonwealth Court ruled that a retention election was not an "election" within the meaning of the statute. Romanelli's argument to the Supreme Court is multi-faceted, but the central point is made obvious by this quote from his appeal:
Objectors to the Romanelli nomination papers argue that the Pennsylvania Election Code does not apply to the retention elections held in the Municipal Election or General Election. The absurdity of their position is exposed when taken to its logical conclusion. If the Election Code does not apply to retention elections then the prohibitions against stuffing the ballot box, 25 P.S.§ 3535 Repeat voting at elections, Bribery, 25 P.S. § 3539, Bribery at elections, among other things, are now perfectly legal with respect to judicial retention elections. This is hardly the legislative intent or judicial interpretation one would expect in a government of laws. Common sense has to prevail here.
From a reading of the statute, it is clear that the legislature did not draw any distinction between rentention elections and any other statewide election. To rule in favor of Casey's party, the Commonwealth Court had to read that distinction into the law because a facial reading required a ruling in favor of Romanelli. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will have to decide if it wishes to write the law or to simply apply it as the legislature wrote it. As my two readers know, I don't hold much faith that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will reach the correct result.

h/t to PoliticsPA for the Appeal.

Bloggers -- You're On Notice

Create your own.

h/t to Nasty Little Man.

Casey Has Nine Point lead in New Zogby/WSJ Poll

The results of the latest poll in the Pennsylvania Senate race show Bob Casey leading floundering incumbent Rick Santorum by 9 points. According to the Wall Street Journal, which sponsored a multi-state poll of the Senate races, Pennsylvania voters are siding with their favorite perennial candidate 50.5% to Santorum's 41.7%. This is practically unchanged from the July results in the same poll (in July the spread was 9.0, in August, 8.8), and up from the June 6.6%. Casey's high water mark in this poll was the 9.9% advantage he scored in October, 2005.

The WSJ doesn't release crosstabs for these polls, so we don't have the breakdowns. But it does confirm what we have been saying -- despite the "narrowing" of the spread, Santorum is making nearly zero headway. He picked up a tiny 0.2% over this last month, despite heavy advertising.

But, it is early kids, stay tuned.

{Disclosure: I was a respondent in this poll. You can register to to become a Zogby Interactive polling respondent here.}

It's Pay-Back Time for Specter

Arlen Specter, a so-called Wednesday Group Republican, begins his stumping for rightwingnut Rick Santorum this week. Specter, who received key support from Santorum which helped Specter ward off Pat Toomey's right-flank assault in 2004, visits Allentown today to help prop up Santorum's efforts to ward off Bobby Casey's attack from the right-center, The Morning Call reports.

It is an expected move -- Specter has frequently said that he won the battle against Toomey thanks in large part to Santorum's help. The relationship between the two has been interesting over the years. Specter is certainly left of Santorum (but not as far left as he would like you to believe). Of course, it is hard to find anyone who is not left of Santorum, although Pat Toomey probably qualified there.

When Santorum first ran for the Senate, Specter sat out the primary and didn't exactly cozy up to him. But when Santorum won the primary in 1994, Specter rushed to his side and even provided him with a campaign manager for his successful Senate run against incumbent Harris Wofford (who had been appointed to fill out John Heinz's term and then won a stunning come from behind victory in the special election). Two years later, Specter ran from for President with Santorum's support. {On Edit: Oops, it is THIS year that the Republicans are running from President.}

But in 2004, when uberconservative Pat Toomey challenged Specter in the Republican primary, Santorum pissed off his base by turning his back on his philosophical compadre in favor of the floundering Specter. That support helped Specter immeasurably and, many say, has been a factor hurting Santorum in this run against Casey. We are told that Santorum's base is lukewarm about him this year because they still feel slighted that they were not successful in getting Toomey the nomination. (I think that's nonsense -- the conservative base is supporting Santorum overwhelmingly according to the polls that provide crosstabs on political ideology.)

Obviously, Specter isn't going to move any conservative Republicans or liberals over to Santorum's side of the ledger. Santorum is hoping that Specter's support can move some moderates his way -- moderates are going to Casey in large numbers. It is unlikely, however, that many moderate Democrats would move to Santorum. After all, Casey is already to the right of moderate Democrats. So what is the best that Santoprum can hope for from Specter? Moving some moderate Republicans his way? It is hard to see how that will help at all. In the recent Quinnipiac poll, Republicans are going for Santorum 3-1 and undecided Republicans are leaning Santorum's way 8-2. Even if Specter moved three-quarters of the 25% of Republicans who aren't favoring Santorum right now, that would hardly result in two points on Santorum's side. Specter is merely paying back a debt -- he's not going to be able to do anything to help Santorum out of the hole that Santorum dug for himself. Santorum is too-far out there, even for Pennsylvania.

The relationship between the two becomes curiouser this year. Santorum has latched onto immigration as his personal wedge issue -- appealing to the rightwing bigots who are worried about brown Spanish-speakers making their towns look different. It's an old Republican strategy and Specter has called "bullshit" to Santorum's claim that the bi-partisan proposals on immigration amount to an amnesty. The two have provided dueling quotes to the media on the subject this year. They have similarly sparred on the Santorum's nutty opposition to stem-cell research.

Nevertheless, they are both good party men and we'll see the "moderate-only-when-compared-to-Santorum" Specter out there stumping for 'lil Ricky until the cows come home in Virginia.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Santorum versus Bush

More from the Casey YouTube Reality Theatre:



It says something when you know even less than Bush . . . . or are willing to admit less. The more I look at Santorum, and replay these silly statements of his, the less that I am worried about Casey blowing it (those are good days). But then again . . . . it is Bobby Casey, after all . . . . (those are the other days)

The nashing and wailing over Casey's drop in the polls is misplaced. It is still August . . . . once Casey's advertising gets going, people will remember why they made Rick Santorum the lowest-rated Senator in the country. On my good days, I believe that Casey will be back up over 50% and well into double digits by October 1. On the other days . . . .

Friday, August 25, 2006

Santorum versus Santorum



From the Casey Campaign's YouTube Reality Theatre. It compares the recent (silly) Santorum Polka ad with the (amateur) video of a Santorum speech in 1994 in which he state his preference to move the Social Security retirement age back beyond age 70.

As to the Social Security bill that the Senator chirps about in his Polka ad -- here's what the Philadelphia Inquirer had to say about it:
It would provide a written guarantee to people born prior to 1950 that they will receive all promised Social Security benefits and cost-of-living increases. His bill is a two-fer, at least on paper. It attempts to soothe seniors who fear that Santorum is trying to take away their benefits, and it insinuates the concept that people born after 1950 do not enjoy the same guarantee (hence the need for private accounts).

Technically, this guarantee is no guarantee at all. Congress could rescind it at any time. This proposal is just one more attempt to give private accounts an ideological foot in the door, while the larger problem of Social Security's pending insolvency goes unsolved.

It's a transparent ploy; it's sad to see such stuff coming from someone who, before the President came along, had been a leader in the public debate over Social Security.

This is just another reason why this guy can't get it up over 40% anymore.

Rasmussen: Casey 48 - Santorum 40

Election Polls 2006: Pennsylvania Senate

Rasmussen weighs in:

After having lagged by as much as twenty-three percentage points this election season, Republican Senator Rick Santorum now trails Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. by only eight, 40% to 48%.

Until now the incumbent has failed to pull within single digits of his opponent. Last month, Santorum suffered an eleven-point deficit in our poll, which he'd shaved from fifteen points in June. But Santorum had also been eleven points behind in March...a gap that in May more than doubled.

This poll has shifted Pennsylvania from “Democrat” to “Leans Democrat” in our Balance of Power summary.

Senator Santorum is still a point behind his best support level of the year. It's a slight dip in Casey's support that has allowed Santorum to draw as close as he is now. That dip might have something to do with recent ads attacking Casey's record as State Treasurer.

A third-party candidacy may also affect the outcome, with 5% of likely voters now supporting Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli. However, it’s worth noting that “some other candidate” attracted 5% of the vote in our previous Pennsylvania poll. Overall, it appears that the shift in the race results from declining enthusiasm for Casey more than any other cause.

Rasmussen makes two noteworthy points -- Romanelli's 5% isn't really affecting anything because that's the same number which has been consistently "other" in the last several polls and the narrowing of the race has more to do with "declining enthusiasm" for Casey. (One rarely sees the word "enthusiasm" in the same sentence with "Casey".)

Once again, Santorum is mired in the 40% zone. His three-poll rolling average in the Rasmussen poll is 39%, his average since March, 38%. In short, he really hasn't moved very much despite his heavy advertising over the last 8 weeks, and what Rasmussen calls his negative attack ads.

Which brings me back to what I said earlier this week and earlier this summer -- Casey's fear of defining himself during a decade of running for statewide office has left Pennsylvania decidedly "unenthusiastic" about this guy. I said the same thing when he was 20-something up in the polls -- he has got to do more than run as the anti-Santorum and vaguely promise to ask tough questions. He needs to engage the voters and Santorum.

It is still his election to lose. His declining numbers in the Rasmussen and other polls isn't translating into better numbers for Santorum. This means that he still has plenty of time to turn those with declined enthusiasm back his way. Of course, if he keeps doing what he's been doing, he also has plenty of time to hand Santorum a win when it should have been a cakewalk.

New Solar Order

By the great Jim Borgman.

h/t to An Upstep or A Downstep for the link.

Other People Working

A Friday round 'em up of to what others up are:
2 Political Junkies on the Forbes' helpful advice to men: Don't Marry Career Women.

Gort42 on the those who depend on the generosity of strangers: Corporate Welfare.

Capital Ideas on Rendell quitting after this one last campaign . . . or maybe not: A Friday Quickie.

On the other hand . . . GrassrootsPA on Rendell setting sights on Washington after this last run at Harrisburg: Rendell Says He’s Open To Democratic White House Cabinet Post.

Lehigh Valley Ramblings focuses on Nothampton County Hogs.

PoliticsPhilly is shocked to find out that people playing, well, politics, with on-line polls: Poll Hijinks.

The Bob Casey Blog doesn't talk about keeping Romanelli out of the debates or off the ballot, and ducks the Keystone Poll, but does go ape over Santorum.

The Santorum Blog, on the other hand, covers Diane Irey; Santorum Haters; Romanelli; and the Keystone Poll.

Comments from Left Field has a new brew with a celebrity endorsement to tell us about.

Will Divide examines the really old band joining the old band at the WH and the WaPo lack of examination of the same.

Liam, on the other hand, examines the difference between "gay" and "smart". Stay until the end for the special show at the bottom.

Blue Wren
searches for the answer and finds the answers we've been given a little more than merely wanting.

Jesus's General has the perfect tee vee show for Red America in his sights.

Finally, Carnival of the Liberals needs your posts.
I'm not working today, so I let these other hard-working folks do it for me. I guarantee (double 'yer money back) that any and all of these posts will be more than worth your time.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Houston, One of Our Planets is Missing . . . .

Well, they went and did it. At the International Ubergeek Festival Astronomical Union General Assembly in Prague, they eliminated the only planet discovered by an American -- Pluto. The discovery of Pluto was itself an inspiring and uniquely American story. But now those geeky bastards have robbed us of our planet and relegated it to just another rock lost in space-time.

[UPDATE (8/25/06): The 93-year old widow of Pluto's discoverer was frustrated by the decision, but says that she and her late husband expected it. She noted that with the advance in telescopes, the discoveries of similar-sized bodies forshadowed the development. As an aside, the discovery of similar-sized bodies just points up how remarkable and achievement Tombaugh's discovery was. With much more sophisticated equipment than available to Tombaugh in 1930, it still took astronomers 60 years to find another body the same size as Pluto.]

Redux

Yeah, it is self-referential, but this is what I said back in June and it is still, painfully, true:

Casey needs to engage the electorate and Santorum. He needs to get some grassroots organization put together and not rely on media buys to sell the public on the Casey campaign. We hear that the Casey campaign has decided not to engage in its own grassroots organizing -- which means no local volunteers knocking on doors, local campaign offices, phone banks, local newsletters and email lists, none of that. Great strategy, there Bob. Ignore the individual voters and rely on TV to GOTV. Is that how you parlayed a double-digit lead over Rendell into a double-digit loss?

Off the top of your head -- can YOU name the top three Casey priorities? Okay, maybe that's unfair. What is Casey's number one priority? What will be on the top of his to-do list in January?

I pay attention and I can't answer these questions.

Sometimes I think the whispering that Casey really doesn't want to go to Washington might be true and might be reflected in how this campaign is being run.

New Keystone Poll Not Good News for Santorum

While the caseyphiles are not happy over the 5-points to which their man's lead has shrunk according to the most recent Keystone Poll, any joy over in Santorumland is much misplaced. The poll shows that Santorum hasn't gained any ground on Casey since the last Keystone Poll -- in fact he lost ground. In fact, Santorum's 39% support in this latest poll, versus 44% for Casey, is four points lower than the 43% Santorum had in March, 2005 when Keystone first began polling this race. The last Keystone Poll was right after the Democratic primary in May and Santorum had 41% support at that time and 39% in February, 2006.

As we said when the news was first leaked, look to see if Santorum has broken out over the 40% mark. He hasn't and that is the Mendoza line for incumbents.

But the news gets worse for Santorum. You have to go back 12 years -- TWELVE -- to 1994, to find the favorables rating for Santorum lower than the 37% he scored in this Keystone Poll.

Hate to say it (well, no I don't really), but there is something worse -- Santorum's unfavorables have NEVER been as low as the 37% of this month's Keystone respondents who had a "not favorable" view of Virginia's third Senator.

While Casey's favorables (31%) are lower than Santorum's, a full 49% say that they don't know or haven't decided.

What this means is that Casey hasn't blown another election -- yet. He's still got plenty of time to either pull back those who have moved from his side to the dunnos, or hand it over to Santorum. We are hoping it will be the former but Casey ain't exactly got history on his side.

Romanelli Threatens Legal Action to Join Debates

Carl Romanelli isn't taking the Casey announcement that he will not be invited to participate in debates and joint appearances lightly. Two days ago, we broke the exclusive report that Larry Smar, Casey's campaign chief, said that Casey will not permit Romanelli to participate in the debates. In reply, we have another breaking news item to exclusively report -- Romanelli is prepared to take legal action against any media group which does not let him participate in joint appearances with Casey and Santorum.

In an email to the Slob, Romanelli said "I will file legal actions against any media that does not include me in the debates. Including NBC"!

The Green Party candidate accused the Casey camp of trying to duck Casey's conservative policy positions and of being fearful that the inclusion of a real liberal in the debates would expose him. In his email to the Slob, Romanelli said:
"Larry Smar's name should be Larry Smear. I am frustrated by the media acting like I need Bob Casey's permission to debate. Casey is the one who is trying to hide his Santorum-like positions on the important issues. Please note that Bob Casey has taken tons of Republican PAC money, yet they try to destroy my campaign. Regarding my appearance on the ballot, I am on. Casey has to PROVE that my signatures are no good. They can't and I will beat them in Harrisburg on this attempt to further shorten my campaign season."
Take that!

Romanelli also told the Slob that his campaign has been trying to contact Meet the Press for three weeks, but that the producers have ignored him. The Slob has similarly sent numerous emails to the MTP producers since August 1, when Romanelli filed his petitions. MTP has refused to respond to our inquiries, also (imagine that). We are contacting them and the other debate/appearance sponsors for their reactions.

Stay tuned. This is starting to get fun!

[UPDATE (8/24/06): The League of Women Voters has confirmed that one campaign is insisting that Romanelli be invited and the other is insisting that he be excluded. They did not say which was which, but we already know that, don't we? It looks like Romanelli is going to be invited to at least one debate (if he remains on the ballot).]

PA Supreme Court Convolutes Law to Punish Nader

Presenting yet another reason why the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is generally held in low regard in legal circles, "Justice" Sandra Newman has rewritten the law to fit the decision she wanted to render. The Court issued an opinion upholding a Commonwealth Court order that Nader and others pay over $80,000 in court costs in connection with the successful challenge to the third-party nominating petitions in 2004.

At the outset, let us understand that it is unusual in the American system of jurisprudence for a litigant to be forced to bear the expenses of the winning side. This is known as the "American Rule" and it grew from the colonist's strong aversion to the British system (judicial and otherwise) which favored the strong, wealthy and powerful. From the start, American jurisprudence advocated a system under which access to the courts by the weak and poor would not be chilled by the prospects of having to pay the fees and expenses of the other side. Think about that a moment. We live in a capitalist society where access to the best legal representation is a matter of affordability. The poor generally have fewer choices than the wealthy and the better advocates are usually available only to the wealthy. Believe it or not, even a just cause can fail to prevail in our system largely because of the quality of the advocacy. (Can you say "OJ"?)

That bit 'o legal instruction out of the way, understand, then, that such costs can be assessed only pursuant to legal authority. There are a number of statutes which permit of "fee-shifting" to require the loser to pay (civil rights laws, consumer protection statutes, are examples). In the case of the Nader petitions, that statute is Section 977 of the Election Code, which states:
Objections to nomination petitions and papers:

All
nomination petitions and papers received and filed within the periods limited by this act shall be deemed to be valid, unless, within seven days after the last day for filing said nomination petition or paper, a petition is presented to the court specifically setting forth the objection thereto, and praying that the said petition or paper be set aside. A copy of said petition shall, within the said period, be served on the officer of board with whom said nomination petition or paper was filed. Upon the presentation of such a petition, the court shall make an order fixing a time for hearing . . .

If the court shall find that said
nomination petition or paper is defective. . . it shall be set aside. . . .

In case any
such petition is dismissed, the court shall make such order as to the payment of the costs of the proceedings, including witness fees, as it shall deem just. . . .
Typically, this Pennsylvania law is not terribly well-written (Pennsylvania has one of the fewest percentages of legislators trained in the law of the fifty states, and it shows). However, it is clear that the references to the "petition" which I have boldfaced are references to the objecting petition and the "nomination petition or paper" refers to the minor-party candidate's nominating petitions.

If that is correct, and I think it is clear that it is, then the legislative scheme provided for the dismissal, simpliciter, of a defective nominating petition. However, the statute provides that the objector could be ordered to pay the costs of the minor-party candidate who successfully defends against an objection.

This reading fits hand-in-glove with the tradition of the American Rule. Think about it, minor party candidates are generally the weaker outsiders, struggling against a system designed to make them irrelevant and against well-financed "major" parties. The objections are financed by whichever political party sees a danger in the upstart third party candidate. So it makes sense for the legislature to have decided that if the big, rich, powerful major political party tries to bully a minor candidate out of the race with an expensive challenge (which, even if unsuccessful, could leave the minor party's available funds too depleted to finance any kind of effective campaign), then the bully would have to pay the little guy back -- but not visa versa.

But, Justice Newman and her cohorts decided that, with the final reference to "such petition", the legislature was referring to BOTH nominating and objecting petitions. This despite the fact that nowhere else in 977 did the legislature refer to nominating and objecting petitions simultaneously. Justice Saylor's dissenting opinion neatly eliminates any pretense of logic to the majority opinion and demonstrates that their reasoning was not in the least reasonable:
The majority'’s holding, however, is apparently that the last of these encompasses not only objection petitions, but additionally serves as a generic reference also subsuming both nomination petitions and papers filed by candidates. I find such reading to be implausible for several reasons.
First, the two prior references back in the statute clearly could not serve such an enlarged function, since their context (discussing the service of objections and the requirement of a hearing triggered by the filing of objections) makes plain that they refer exclusively to objectors'’ petitions to set aside. I therefore have difficulty with the conclusion that a third and parallel reference was intended by the Legislature to serve a much more expansive purpose.
Second, nowhere else in the statute (and, at least to my knowledge, in the Election Code) did the General Assembly use the word "“petition"” to generically include both nomination petitions and papers, let alone nomination petitions, nomination papers, and objections to nomination petitions and papers. Indeed, the General Assembly was otherwise very careful in Section 977 to specify both nomination "petitions and papers"” in every proviso in which the candidates'’ filings are addressed.
Further, a broad, generic use of the word "“petition" to address three discrete forms of documents under the Election Code spanning both candidate and objector submissions is not only uncharacteristic, but also seems to me to be unnatural. Moreover, the more natural construction of the statute is consistent with the precept that the Election Code should be construed liberally, in favor of candidates' ballot access. See In re Nomination Petition of Driscoll, 577 Pa. 501, 507, 847 A.2d 44, 48 (2004).
Fourth, in delineating the consequences of the filing of defective nomination petitions and papers, Section 977 indicates that these documents should be "“set aside"” upon appropriate and meritorious challenge, whereas the assessment of costs is authorized by the statute only when a petition is "“dismissed.
The phraseology of "setting aside"” attaching to the treatment of nomination petitions and papers comports with their filing with the Secretary of the Commonwealth or county boards of elections as opposed to in courts of law, whereas, the use of the term "“dismissal"” in the cost-assessment provision more properly aligns with the disposition of documents submitted to the courts, here, objection petitions.
What we must always guard against in our judicial matters is not to let the identities of the parties, or our personal feelings about the parties, interfere with a fair and just reading of the law and application to the facts of the case. It is difficult here because there remain many open wounds from Nader's ego-run in 2004 (including in your correspondent's heart). Ralph Nader was a hero to me in the 1970s and today I find him every bit the irrelevant egotist that he was unfairly labeled by Spiro and Ford Motor Company back then.

Nevertheless, even someone as low as Nader deserves a just court and a fair hearing. Sandra Newman, whether because of faulty intellect or ethics, gave him neither.

(h/t to Dave Ralis for alerting me of the decision)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Decision Upholding Signature Law Not Relevant to Romanelli Petition Issues

Contrary to the implication by a bunch of uninformed caseyphiles elsewhere, today's decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholding Pennsylvania's signature requirement for minor party candidates has no bearing on either the Democratic attempt to keep Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli off the ballot nor on Romanelli's legal action challenging the State Board of Elections' application of that law.

The Third Circuit decision came in the case of Marakay Rogers, The Green Party, and others, who challenged the constitutionality of the state law requiring minor party candidates to obtain signatures equal to 2% of the most votes cast for a candidate in the statewide election preceding the general election in which the minor party seeks to nominate a candidate. While there were a number of arguments presented to the Third Circuit on the constitutional issues, a prior decision of the United States Supreme Court, which upheld even more onerous requirements, was controlling.

Romanelli's legal challenge to the signature requirement does not challenge the constitutionality of the statute. Therefore, a Federal Court decision on the constitutionality of the statute is irrelevant to the state court proceeding. In Romanelli's petition, he contends that the Board of Elections erred in selecting Bobby Casey's vote total as the basis.

The Pennsylvania statute (25 P.S. Section 2911(b)) states, in pertinent part, as follows:
Where the nomination is for any office to be filled by the electors of the State at large, the number of qualified electors of the State signing such nomination paper shall be at least equal to two per centum of the largest vote cast for any elected candidate in the state at large at the last preceding election at which State-wide candidates were voted for.
The State Board designated the 2004 election of Casey as "the largest vote cast for any elected candidate in the state at large at the last preceding election at which State-wide candidates were voted for", leading to the 67,000+ signature requirement for this year's minor party candidates.

But, there was a statewide election in 2005 -- the judicial retention election of Justice Sandra Schultz Newman. She won retention with about 800,000 votes, meaning that Romanelli would need submit slightly less than 16,000 signatures. His argument is not unpursuasive:
The Election Code states that the word "election" shall mean any general, municipal, special or primary election . . . . A general election is defined as an even year election and a municipal election as an odd year election. . . . "The Election Code is to be liberally construed so as not to deprive a candidate of the right to run for office or the voters of their right to elect the candidate of their choice." Smith v. Brown, 590 A.2d 816, 818 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1991). This construction of the Election Code is a longstanding and established policy. . . . The Department of State erred when it set the 2% signature requirement based upon the 2004 statewide results in the Treasurer√É‚’s race and has ignored the 2005 statewide race for judicial retention wherein Justice Sandra Schultz Newman won the retention election with 797,465 votes cast by the citizen electors of the Commonwealth on November 8, 2005.
Today's decision by the Third Circuit didn't address the sole issue raised by the Romanelli petition -- whether a judicial retention election is, well, an "election". Any suggestion to the contrary, that the Third Circuit decision means we can kiss Romanelli goodbye, is just silly and entirely uninformed. But, considering the source, we're not surprised they got it so wrong.

[UPDATE (8/24/06): Those buffoons are at it again. They repeated their story today and again insisted that this decision will knock Romanelli off the ballot. They are so intent on getting their guy elected that they abandon all objectivity, and, from all appearances, anysemblancee of intelligence. Credibility is hard to develop and easy to lose. They either don't know what they are talking about, or think that their readers don't. Regardless which it is, being an advocate is fine and fair play; but being the fool, or treating your audience like one, is just, well, foolish.]

[UPDATE (8/24/06): The Patriot-News is reporting that the judge hearing the Romanelli petition is expected to rule by the the end of the day tomorrow. THAT would be the relevant case. The judge, Commonwealth Court President Judge James Collins, will have to decide if the rentention election of Justice Newman in 2005 was an "election". If so, it would be her votes which would form the basis for the Green Party's signature requirements this year, as opposed to the Casey vote in 2004. That would have the result of reducing the Green Party signature requirement from nearly 70,000 to around 16,000. Everyone pretty much agrees that if Romanelli wins that case, he is on the ballot for good. If he loses, he has to defeat the Democrat's challenge to his signatures. By reports, that is looking doubtful.]

Casey Said to Lose More Ground to Santorum in New Polls

Terry Madonna told us a few weeks ago that the next Keystone Poll on the Senate Race would be out the end of this month. Rasmussen's web page has the results of their most recent poll on the PA-SEN available only to their premium members. Last week we know that Zogby was conducting yet another interactive poll on the Casey-Santorum contest. Rumor central has it that the new polls show continued tightening of Casey's once-insurmountable 20-something lead over the multi-term incumbent.

The ever-vigilant Santorum Blog turned us on to the GrassrootsPA claimed-scoop on the surveys. According to GrassrootsPA report, the new Keystone Poll has Santorum back by only 5 points; the Rasmussen survey supposedly has the head-to-head at 8 points; and the Zogby results purportedly will show the difference at 9.

The prior Keystone Poll was done way back in May and had Casey up by 6 points. The huge time gap between the polls doesn't make comparisons terribly worthwhile. When released, you'll be able to find the latest Keystone Poll here.

Rasmussen last released a survey in early August, and that one gave Casey an 11-point lead over Santorum. If this latest report is correct (and we are betting that it is), that would not paint a happy picture for the Casey campaign.

The July 19 Zogby results put the spread at 9, where it will supposedly stay for the August Zogby survey.

GrassrootsPA says that Casey's new statewide television advertisement was rolled out early in response to these results. I'm not so sure about that. Let's not get too hysterical here, Casey is still leading an incumbent Senator by anywhere from 5 - 11 points in these three polls and the DSCC poll that the Casey folks released yesterday. This, in a state that gives the President some pretty low confidence ratings and where Casey's opponent likewise scores incredibly low on statewide approval polls. Casey's really going to have to work at it to lose this one. As these polls come out, watch how Santorum's numbers trend -- Santorum has had a hard time getting above 40% in the head-to-head match-ups. Granted, Casey has had a hard time staying above 50%; but Santorum isn't going anywhere if he continues to poll in the low 40s.

UPDATE: From the Patriot News, tipped by the Santorum Blog, again, the Keystone Poll taken August 16-21st shows Casey slipping to 44% to Santorum's 39% and 4 points going to the Green Candidate, the rest dunno.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Casey: Romanelli Not Invited to Debates

Larry Smar provided a fast reply to my inquiry about the participation of the Green Party candidate in the upcoming Senatorial debates: 'no way'.

After posting the article today about the upcoming debates and joint appearances, I sent an email to the Casey and Santorum Campaign chiefs asking:
Assuming that Mr. Romanelli is still on the ballot at the time of the two October debates now scheduled, what are your respective positions on inviting him to participate.

If the challenge to Mr. Romanelli's petition is not determined by September 3, what is your position on his participation in the joint appearance on Meet the Press?
Within minutes I had the following reply from Larry Smar, Casey's spokesperson:
From: Larry Smar
To:
A Big Fat Slob
Date:
Aug 22, 2006 12:24 PM
Subject:
RE: INQUIRY on Debates

We have a rule: only one representative from each campaign on stage. Rick Santorum bought and paid for Romanelli because Santorum is afraid to face Bob Casey one-on-one.

In 2000, Santorum didn't want third-parties in debates. See the end of the 2000 AP article below.
With the appended 2000 AP article, Smar fairly reminds us that, when Santorum faced a challenge from Ron Klink and three conservative minor-party candidates, Santorum blocked their participation in the debates. (Incidentally, the Libertarian Party candidate that year was John Featherman, who was ousted from his primary challenge to Santorum when he didn't have the money to finance a defense to the Republican challenge to his petitions.)

At the time, I thought it was wrong of Santorum to exclude the third-party candidates from the debates. It is wrong for Casey to do so now.

As an aside, that same article quoted the Santorum campaign as having already agreed to three debates and willing to schedule at least three more (they ended up doing five). Casey should follow that practice and agree to at least five debates (as in "debates" not joint appearances like MTP and KYW radio's "Breakfast with the Candidates".)

[UPDATE (8/23/06 am): The Santorum and Romanelli campaigns were invited to respond to Smar's comments about the Green Party participation in the debates. They have not.]

[UPDATE (8/23/06 pm): Apparently, I sent the invitation to the Santorum campaign to comment to a general email box, although I thought I had sent it to Vince Galko. Virginia Davis, the Santorum Campaign press secretary has sent in this response to Larry Smar's comments:
Tens of thousands of citizens have spoken out that they want real debate on the key issues that matter to the future of our Commonwealth and our nation. Yet Bobby Casey is going to great lengths to silence the voice of a candidate who shares this commitment. One might recall when Governor Robert Casey, Bobby Casey Jr.'’s father, was silenced from the 1992 Democratic National Convention because some feared that his pro-life views would conflict with their political agenda. Isn't it ironic that 14 years later, Casey Jr. is trying to silence a candidate who, too, has an interest in expressing opposing views? What exactly is Casey Jr. afraid of?
While I agree that, if on the ballot (and he is at the moment), Romanelli should have full participation rights in all joint appearances and debates, the response from the Santorum camp doesn't try to deal with the apparent hypocrisy.

The story may be apocryphal, but the legend goes that a pre-politician Abe Lincoln was arguing a case before the circuit court one morning and won. That afternoon, he had a second case to argue which involved the same issue of law but on which Lincoln's client was on the opposite side. The chief justice asked him if he didn't advocate the other side of the question in the morning, to which Lincoln responded, "Yes, Your Honor. But the vital difference is that, this time, I am right."

I guess that's something like what we have from the Santorum camp. They aren't willing to directly answer Smar's charges, either.

And, by the way, it is a fiction that Casey's father was not given speaking time at Clinton's convention because he was anti-choice -- several other speakers at the convention were also anti-choice. The big difference -- Casey, Sr. refused to support Bill Clinton.]

Finally, Casey Sets Two Debates, Promises More

The Casey campaign has apparently agreed to two debates -- one in Philadelphia on October 16 and one October 12 in Pittsburgh. This information by way of the Philadelphia Inquirer and KDKA, respectively. I assume that someone will take care of getting directions to those locations to Larry Smar, since Casey apparently doesn't know where they are.

Okay, snark aside, it is good to finally see Casey agree to face off with Santorum. Doubtless his shrinking lead in the polls has something to do with his sudden willingness to schedule the debates. [UPDATE: Larry Smar responded to this post with the following statement, accusing the Senator of dragging his feet on setting the debate dates: "for the record on your previous post, we’ve been talking to debate organizers throughout the summer. Santorum has dragged his feet on agreeing to dates."]

The two candidates have also scheduled joint appearances on Meet the Press and KYW Radio in Philadelphia, but those are not debates. The MTP joint appearance might work out to 14 minutes, and that's not including Russert's lame, long-winded, self-promoting questions. The Philadelphia date is something of a debate-lite -- it is only an hour long. Barely time to scratch the surface. But, with the Pittsburgh face-off within the week (no word on the length) and the hope for at least two more real debates (Smar, Casey's campaign chief, promised that Casey will agree to more debates), if they aren't repetitive in subject matter, enough of the key issues could be covered.

None of the reports mention the Green candidate. By the time of these debates, the Democrat's attempt to oust the Green Party candidate from the ballot should have been decided. At that point, assumin g he is still on the ballot,we would expect to see him invited to attend. It is less than certain that the issue will be resolved before the September 3 Meet the Press date. Repeated inquiries to MTP about Romanelli's participation on that program have gone unanswered.

[UPDATE: I just saw this much better coverage of the same issue by 2 Political Junkies. Nice job, there.]

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Good News for Santorum in New Approval Numbers

For only the second time in the last twelve months, Rick Santorum's approval numbers in the SurveyUSA poll are greater than his disapproval figures. With a series of recent polls showing a narrowing of the race, maybe now Casey will start to wake up and do some real campaigning.

The poll results, released today, hand Santorum a 48% approval rating, against 45% who disapprove of the junior Senator's performance. That is a five-point swing to the good in both numbers from last month's figures. Santorum's 48% approval is the highest SurveyUSA has polled for him in this election cycle. Regionally, SurveyUSA has him at 51% approval in every region (including Casey's home turf) except his own -- the Southeast, where his approval is 41% versus 48% disapproval.

Santorum has managed to get the Casey campaign all kinds of distracted with the Green candidacy and, in the meantime, pound away with advertising designed to appeal to his base and, to a degree, soften his image. Meanwhile Bob Casey is on a bus going to meet a couple dozen voters someplace where the woods meet the road. And when he gets there, he's got nothing to say.

If he keeps this up, he could be the proud proprietor of yet another historic blown election.

h/t to Santorum Blog for the heads up.

Bush -- A Man of Genius

If there are among my readers any young men or women who aspire to become leaders of thought in their generation, I hope they will avoid certain errors into which I fell in youth for want of good advice.

When I wished to form an opinion upon a subject, I used to study it, weigh the arguments on different sides, and attempt to reach a balanced conclusion. I have since discovered that this is not the way to do things.

A man of genius knows it all without the need of study; his opinions are pontifical and depend for their persuasiveness upon literary style rather than argument.

It is necessary to be one-sided, since this facilitates the vehemence that is considered a proof of strength.

It is essential to appeal to prejudices and passions of which men have begun to feel ashamed and to do this in the name of some new ineffable ethic.

It is well to decry the slow and pettifogging minds which require evidence in order to reach conclusions.

Above all, whatever is most ancient should be dished up as the very latest thing.

* * *

One of the most important elements of success in becoming a man of genius is to learn the art of denunciation.

You must always denounce in such a way that your reader thinks that it is the other fellow who is being denounced and not himself; in that case he will be impressed by your noble scorn, whereas if he thinks that it is himself that you are denouncing, he will consider that you are guilty of ill-bred peevishness. Carlyle remarked: ``The population of England is twenty millions, mostly fools.'' Everybody who read this considered himself one of the exceptions, and therefore enjoyed the remark.

You must not denounce well-defined classes, such as persons with more than a certain income, inhabitants of a certain area, or believers in some definite creed; for if you do this, some readers will know that your invective is directed against them. You must denounce persons whose emotions are atrophied, persons to whom only plodding study can reveal the truth, for we all know that these are other people, and we shall therefore view with sympathy your powerful diagnosis of the evils of the age.

Ignore fact and reason, live entirely in the world of your own fantastic and myth-producing passions; do this whole-heartedly and with conviction, and you will become one of the prophets of your age.

-- "How to Become a Man of Genius" by Bertrand Russell (1932)

Feingold's Progressive Patriot Fund - "Pick a Candidate" Vote

Two Pennsylvania candidates are on the list -- Joe Sestak and Pat Murphy:

Milwaukee – US Senator Russ Feingold today announced the Progressive Patriots Fund will hold another installment of its popular “Pick a Progressive Patriot” online contest. As with past contests, people will be able to cast a vote for their favorite candidate on the Progressive Patriots Fund website.

This, the sixth round of the “Pick a Progressive Patriot” contest, will feature 12 candidates for congress. Past events have featured congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative candidates. The candidates featured for this event are: Joe Sestak (PA – 7), David Gill (IL – 15), Tim Barnwell (TX – 26), Phyllis Busansky (FL – 9), Carol Voisin (OR – 2), Chris Murphy (CT – 5), Nancy Skinner (MI – 9), Patrick Murphy (PA – 8), Patty Wetterling (MN – 6), Larry Kissell (NC – 8), Ed Perlmutter (CO – 7), and Jim Hansen (ID – 2).

Voting will begin today, at www.progressivepatriotsfund.com and will run through Wednesday, August 23rd. Winners will be announced on Thursday, August 24th. The candidate who receives the most votes will receive a $5,000 contribution to their campaign.

“Today marks the beginning of our sixth round of online voting for the next ‘Progressive Patriot,’” Feingold said. “These contests let the people decide who we should support financially and I'm proud we’ve been able to support more then 35 key Democratic campaigns across the country with this program. Democrats have a historic opportunity to bring a much needed progressive majority to all levels of government this November and the Progressive Patriots Fund will continue to work toward that goal."

Past winners of the “Pick a Progressive Patriot” are John Courage (TX-21), Bill Winter (CO-06), Rich Olive (IA-5 Senate District), Jerry McNerney (CA-11), and Phil Angelides (CA Governor).

Feingold formed the Progressive Patriots Fund to promote a progressive reform agenda and support candidates across the country. More information is available at the newly redesigned www.progressivepatriotsfund.com.

New SV Poll -- Casey 47, Santorum 41, Romanelli 4

Strategic Vision just released its latest poll numbers and they confirm the Quinnipiac results earlier this week that the Green Party candidate just is not having an impact on the election. In the latest SV survey, in the three-way race, Casey gets 47%, Santorum 51 41%, Romanelli 4%, with 8% dunnos. Head to Head, Santorum stays put at 41% and Casey picks up one point for 48%. The seven-point Casey lead in the head to head match up is a three-point drop from last month's SV poll which gave Casey 50% and pegged Santorum at 40%.

On the approval ratings, Santorum's are virtually unchanged from a month ago. The August survey says 47% approve, 45% disapprove; last month it was 46% approve, 46% disapprove.

Interesting swing over on the gubernatorial side of the ledger. Last month SV's poll put the race at 49-36 for Rendell, with 13% undecided. Swann seems to have moved some undecideds his way. The August results narrowed the 13-point gap to ten, with Rendell at 51% (+2) and Swann at 41% (+5) and the dunnos at six points. Fast Eddie's favorables are up two points over last month, sitting at 49% this month, while Swann's approval dropped two from last month's 50%. The same 60% say the state is heading in the wrong direction. Swann could move up a bit with numbers like those (and with the extra cash Bush is helping him raise).

As with the SurveyUSA poll earlier this week, the Prez approval numbers are better, but still dismal. The August SV survey put Bush's approval at 32% versus 59% disapprove, up from last month's 26-64% split. Yeah, Pennsylvania still says "Bush sucks!".

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Bush Approval Ratings -- Shoring up the Base

The latest SurveyUSA Bush approval ratings are out and, in Pennsylvania, Bush's dismal 40% approval rating is only slightly less dismal than last month's 32%. That increase comes mostly from respondents who identified themselves as Republicans. Two percent more admitted to registering R this month than last, and this month's survey had two percent fewer Independent respondents. Some Rs are starting to come out of the closet.

In the July poll, 58% of Republicans approved of The Decider. In the August tally, that number jumped to 69%. The balance of the rise seems to come from the Independents, whose approval of the President increased to 46% from last month's 30%.

Broken out by self-identified ideology, 77% Conservatives of conservatives approve of Bush this month, up from 68% last month; 27% of Moderates, down a point from the last survey; and, someone explain this one to me, last month only 5% of self-labeled Liberals approved of the way the President was handling his job. This month that figure jumped to 22%.

The more education one has, the less likely one is to view the President favorably. His highest scores in this breakdown come from those who have no more than a grade school education -- 50% support the President. In the abortion camps, he jumped to 61% approval among the anti-choice contingent, up from 48% last month (only 43% of Pennsylvania respondents identified themselves as anti-choice; 52% are pro-choice).

Regionally, the President is still below the 50% mark everywhere -- 44% Western, 39% Northeast, 31% Southeast, 45% in the T. His biggest jump from last month came in Santorum's area -- the Southeast. In July, he scored a 19% approval rating there. The August numbers were a 12-point increase.

Some good news for the President and his loyal supporter, Rick Santorum. But, no matter how you slice it, the bottom line remains the same -- Pennsylvania says the President still sucks.