Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Git Off My Trans Am!

A politican who promises not to get in bed with special interests -- just your sister? That's Tim Nieukirk. The write-in candidate for Illinois Governor has developed a following with his bizarre ads on YouTube -- and apparently only on YouTube.

From the Associated Press:

He'll blindside firefighters rushing to save cats caught in a tree. He won't climb into bed with special interests, but he will with your sister. And he goes after a breed of criminal that most politicians prefer to ignore - the Hamburglar.

As for getting into bed with your sister, that's one of his campaign platforms.

Check out one of his ads here and "get Nieuked."

The current Governor, Rod Blagojevich (D), doesn't hang around the state capital of Springfield. Mr Nieukirk tells the AP he would: "I'm more than happy to move into the mansion. I need to get out of my parents' house." (AP)

Kerry Pulls a Bushism

The White House accused Sen John Kerry (D-MA) of insulting the troops when the Senator botched a joke about the White House's own failures.

The actual prepared statement read:

"I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.">
Good thing our President's eloquent speechifying style has never allowed anything like this to happen! (YouTube)

UPDATE: The GOP has a new web ad up attacking Sen Kerry's remarks. See it here.

UPDATE: CNN Political Ticker has notable quotes on the Kerry gaffe.

No Pesky Questions on this Campaign Stop

WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, Virginia got video (below) of Sen George Allen's (R-VA) supporters attacking a man who tried to ask the Senator a question during a campaign stop. The man was asking the Senator about his first wife.

Questions have come up in the past few days over a pair of arrest warrants issued for Sen Allen in the 1970s andabout why court documents in the divorce of his first wife were sealed -- when no traditional circumstances for sealing the records existed.

At the same time, speculation has mounted that the divorce papers may accuse the Senator of assaulting his wife. (AP/WVIR-TV)

Curt's Italian Vacation

Italian defense contractors are sweating out the FBI probe of US Rep Curt Weldon (R-PA).

Just a year ago he was celebrating with them -- on the US taxpayer tab -- over victories in directing millions in defense dollars toward the Italian companies. Rep Weldon was staying at the five-star Splendido with a harbor view of Portofino (see picture).

He'd flown to Italy aboard a US military jet, and taxpayers were shelling out $1,153 a day in walking around money for the Congressman. But the Congressman is suspected of some dirty deals to get the royal treatment. From the New York Times:

The Justice Department is looking into whether he used his position to steer almost $1 million in consulting contracts from a Russian energy company and other Eastern European interests to a lobbying firm headed by his daughter Karen, 31. Her home and her office were searched two weeks ago by federal officials.

Democrats have already started running ads tying the Pennsylvanian to troubles other GOP House Members have had in this session of Congress:

Dirty Money

The two major parties have spent $160 million dollars on political ads this year. Only $17 million on ads painting a positive image.

That means roughly $10 spent on negative ads, for every $1 spent on positive ones. (AP via Yahoo! News)

Dems Talk War, Rural Voters Turn Blue

Iraq has been the elephant in the living room at Republican rallies for weeks now. It's also been missing from GOP campaign ads. The reason is simple -- talk about Iraq, and voterf migrate to the Democrats.

The Democrats are talking about the war -- and little else -- going into the final week of the campaign. The DNC is launching ads on Iraq in Connecticut, New Mexico, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. They also plan to launch the ads in other races they haven't named yet.

And new polling data from the Center for Rural Strategies (see video above) shows rural voters in some of the biggest, Reddest Congressional Districts are switching to Democrats this fall. They have the highest per capita enlistments in the armed services -- and the War is not only a local issue for them, but often a personal one. (Ap/KXMB-TV)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Porn & Politics

Republicans ran an ad accusing Rep Harold Ford (D-TN) of taking money from porn producers.

Turns out the GOP has taken porn money, too.

These are the Stakes

Saturday Night Live gave us a great preview on the final push of Republican campaign ads. (NBC via CrooksandLiars.com)


US troops in Iraq set a tragic benchmark this weekend.

The death toll for US troops in Iraq hit 100 Sunday -- making it the deadliest month for American forces there since January, 2005.

Overall, it's the fourth deadliest month since the start of the war in 2003.

Deadliest months in Iraq so far:
  • November, 2004: 137
  • April, 2004: 135
  • January, 2005: 107
  • October, 2006: 100* (as of Sunday, October 29)
The 100th death this month was a Marine -- as yet unidentified -- killed in action in the Anbar Province. (NYT, Photo from NYT Photo Essay)

[Click on Photo to View NYT Photo Essay]

Weapons Missing in Iraq

One in every 25 weapons the US has supplied to the new Iraqi Army & security forces has disappeared. Sen John Warner (R-VA) requested the audit. The findings suggest the weapons may have wound up int he hands of militants.

Still, 4% missing is an improvement.

After all, 100% of the WMDs are still missing. (NYT)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rush Limbaugh's Truckload of Manure

The GOP shoots itself in the foot. Michael J. Fox talks politics. Rush Limbaugh fails to learn Biff's lesson in taking on Marty McFly. Bush fails to use "the Google" before sinking "Stay the Course," an Okie candidate shoots calculus books, and rubber ducks take on Rick Santorm.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Shut Up & Sing -- What a Dumbsh**

NBC is refusing to air commercials for the new Dixie Chick movie Shut up and Sing.

The film follows the uproar over their criticism of President Bush during a 2003 concert. (Crooksandliars.com)

Ain't They Supposed to be Spying On Us?

The county Homeland Security office in Memphis got a good going over from the FBI after someone bugged the place. From the Commercial Appeal:

Officials became suspicious and had the FBI sweep the office for bugs after a local television station said it possessed "damaging and embarrassing" audiotapes that were secretly recorded and given to the station.

With homeland security tax money going to popcorn factories, widescreen plasma screen televisions, and gym memberships -- it's hard to figure out what qualifies as "damaging and embarassing."

The Commercial Appeal got hold of a chain of emails that suggest the FBI suspects a former interim agency director. (Commercial Appeal)

Justice is Swift

Talk about an attack ad. Georgi State Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein(right) didn't like an ad here opponent ran against her.

So she ran one claiming opponent Mike Wiggins threatened to kill his sister.

Hey, at least he supports capital punishment. (Macon Telegraph)

Hall of Shame Ad

Remember the "Culture of Corruption." The issue kinda fell by the wayside as it became more of a way of life on Capitol Hill.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has brought it back as the "Hall of Shame" in this attack ad on Rep Curt Weldon (R-PA). (CNN)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Private Jets for Bush Appointees -- You Pay

An analysis shows Bush administration honchos taking flights on private jets and helicopters at taxpayer expense.

Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA) released the report showing 125 trips to 300 locations.

All this cost taxpayers around $1.5 million dollars.

He also shows that the taxpayer funded trips suddenly spiked in 2004 -- in trips to battleground states (see chart).

Some specifics:
  • October, 2004: $50,290 to charter a private jet to travel from Philadelphia to Seattle to Kansas City for Education Secretary Rodney Paige
  • September, 2004: $11,678 to fly Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to Spencer, Iowa, where she attended the Clay County Fair
  • August-October, 2004: $41,471 for three multi-state tours by EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt
Administrator Leavitt may hold the record for taxpayer funded trips. The study found he made 19 trips to 100 cities aboard private jets at a cost of $726,048.

    Fox Shakes Up the Election

    The Michael J Fox stem cell ads have become surprisingly powerful. A new study by HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion (MCIPO) suggests the ad is causing people to switch their votes after seeing it:

    "Support among Democrats increased from 89% to 93%, support among Republicans increased from 66% to 68% and support among Independents increased from 80% to 87% after viewing the ad.”

    A real time response curve from a focus group shows interest peaking with Mr Fox's plea for help and plummeting when the candidate's photo appears. (BusinessWire, HT: PoliticalWire.com)

    Santorum Wrassles for Votes

    Sen Rick Santorum (R-PA) is a conservative's conservative. But he's trailing by double digits in his re-election effort.

    So in his latest ad, he talks about joining liberals like Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) on legislation.

    Love how the action comes to a halt when he mentions his work with Sen Clinton:

    With money running short, and an inability to catch up to Bob Casey in the polls, the Santorum Campaign has pulled their ads from broadcast TV and are relying on cable and Internet efforts. Thus the wrestling theme aimed at appealing to younger male voters in those audiences. (YouTube/RickSantorum.com)

    Watch What You Say, or the Voters Will Watch it in Commercials

    Rep Jean Schmidt (R-OH) is upset because something she said on the House floor is being used in a campaign ad against her. There's a House Rule against that sort of thing.

    Opponent Victoria Wulsin (D) ain't a member of the House, so the rule doesn't apply to her. Well, not yet.

    Dr Wulsin is using the infamous rant where Rep Schmidt refered to retired Marine and combat veteran Rep John Murtha (D-PA) as a "coward."

    Rep Schmidt was booed on the House Floor for her comments.

    By the way, someone needs to tell Rep Schmidt it's also against House Rules to refer to another lawmaker by name or disparage him on the House Floor. Oops! (Cincy Enquirer)

    700 Mile Long Fence, with a 1,400 Mile Long Gate

    Offering up dramatic proof that politicians can't do simple math, President Bush hails a new 700 mile long border fence as victory in stopping illegal immigration.

    It looks good on paper, until you realize, no money's been put aside to build it. Guess contractors will have to cut cost by hiring illegals.

    Considering that the US-Mexican border is 2,100 miles long, this could explain why we have a deficit. This "victory" also explains why the administration thinks we've got another "victory" in Iraq.

    Lessee, the fence covers only one-third of the border. Hey, Mission Accomplished! (AP)

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Jesus Strikes Michael J Fox Dead

    Actually more like the guy who played Jesus in Passion of the Christ striking back in the stem cell debate.

    Actor Jim Caviezel joins other Hollywood types and Missouri sports stars to campaign against Amendment 2 on the Missouri ballot. The measure would provide Constitutional protections for stem cell research in Missouri.

    Mr Fox is featured in several political ads around the nation -- including one in Missouri -- supporting Democrats who want to expand stem cell research.

    The anti-Amendment 2 ad is sponsored by Missourians Against Human Cloning.

    And if you watch it closely, you'll notice none of the actors or jocks exhibiting any signs of Parkinsons disease. Guess that's why Rush won't criticize this one. (AP)

    Course Correction

    The White House's clumsy efforts to drop "Stay the Course" like an anchor this past weekend has already become an albatross around the President's neck.

    The Democratic National Committee is up with an ad showing the President or senior members of the administration using the term 15 times in recent weeks and months to describe their plans for Iraq.

    A Candidate Who Likes Girls -- For a Change

    Republicans are attacking Rep Harold Ford (D-TN) in a couple of ads that bring up his attendance at a Playboy Mansion party. (See the ads below)

    The Democratic Senate candidate let's loose a backhanded slap at the Mark Foley scandal and possible GOP cover up:

    "I was there. I like football and I like girls. I don't have no apologies for that."

    -- Rep Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN), quoted by the Memphis commercial Appeal, on attending a Playboy-sponsored party at the 2005 Super Bowl.

    That slap at the GOP could result in their leadership threatening a serious sissy slap fight with the Congressman.

    We also included the ads in this week's Watching Washington Video Podcast -- final story below.(PoliticalWire.com)

    Parkinson Foundation Wants to Grab Rush & Give him a Good Shaking

    Crazy like a Michael J Fox. That's the theory from radio screaming head and conservative non-doctor Rush Limbaugh is peddling about the Michael J Fox effort on the part of Democrats supporting expanded stem cell research. Example below:

    The Missouri version of the ad -- for Democrat Claire McCaskill's Senate campaign -- has had more than a million views on YouTube since it appeared Saturday.

    Mr Limbaugh -- a Missouri native -- has suggested on his radio show that Mr Fox is exaggerating his movements because Mr Fox is, afterall, an actor:

    Rush Limbaugh on Michael J Fox

    Not so fast. If Rush's fact-checkers had done a little research they might have gotten some information that the folks at ThinkProgress.com got from the National Parkinson Foundation:

    An official of the National Parkinson Foundation said movements like those exhibited by Fox are the result of taking medication to treat the disease, which would otherwise result in rigidity.

    "When you see someone with those movements, it's not because they have not taken medication but because they probably have taken medication for some time," the official said. "If you don't take the medication, then you freeze."
    Let's help Rush out with an even more nutjob conspiracy theory:

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Porn Star Pulls Out -- of the Campaign

    One candidate has guaranteed that at least two boobs will not win election this year.

    Porn star Mary Carey has dropped out of the California Governor's race. She rose to fame with her last campaign in the free-for-all election that put Arnold Schwarzenegger in office.
    The star of "Boobsville Sorority Girls" and "Cheerleader School" became a Republican and even attended a fundraiser featuring President Bush at one point. She ran this year as a write-in candidate after failing to round up enough signatures to get on the ballot.

    Ms Carey is leaving the campaign to help her mentally ill mother who was injured after jumping off a four story building in Florida. (AOL.com)

    She May be Over Qualified

    Alabama Liberterian Loretta Nall (right) is counting on her cleavage to put her in the Governor's mansion. The Guardian reports on the 32-year-old's campaign advertising.

    Her campaign is offering T-shirts and marijuana stash boxes adorned with a photo of her with a plunging neckline and the words: ``More of these boobs.'' Below that are pictures of other candidates for governor - including Republican incumbent Bob Riley and Democratic Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley - and the words: ``And less of these boobs.''
    The old question of "boxers or briefs" has never come up for Ms Nall. She announced last year she goes "commando." (The Guardian)

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Booking on the Crazy Vote

    The closer you get to an election, the crazier the campaign promises become. This from the Dallas Morning News on an Oklahoma race:

    Republican Bill Crozier (right) of Union City [Oklahoma] said that if elected, he will require that used textbooks be placed under every student's desk for self-defense during a school shooting. Mr. Crozier said thick textbooks will stop bullets shot from weapons wielded by school intruders.

    Wanna bet someone in Washington will be reworking this idea for a book drive to replace body armor in Iraq within the week. (Dallas Morning News)

    Lobbying is all Relative

    Lobbying groups employed 30 family members last year to influence spending bills that their relatives with ties to the House and Senate appropriations committees oversaw or helped write

    Add those deals up and it comes to millions of dollars in fees for themselves or their firms.

    USA Today looked at family ties between lobbyists and the 94 members of the House and Senate appropriations committees. They also examined connections with 250 top staffers who serve those members.

    Reporters plowd through "thousands of pages of financial disclosures and lobbyist registrations, property records, marriage announcements and other public documents." All to identify which lawmakers and staffers had relatives in the lobbying business. (USAToday, thanks to IRE)

    Bad Call

    What appears to have been a wrong number has turned into a political hot potato in a New York Congressional race.

    A number for a phone sex hotline showed up on hotel bill for Democrat Michael Arcuri. That was all it took for the National Republican Congressional Committee to create a TV ad attacking Mr Arcuri.

    But the Republican candidate running against Mr Arcuri is denouncing the ad. Republican Ray Mier says the ad was "way over the line."

    The number dialed shares the same last seven digits with the phone number for the state Department of Criminal Justice Services. And that number was dialed the minute after the first call was made. (Citizen-Times.com)
    Seven television stations have refused to run the ad, but you can see it here:

    Playboy Party Politics

    Campaign ads feature Michael J Fox, classified information, and jabs at Harold Ford hanging out with Hef.

    Mad as Hell

    Americans are mad and focusing their anger on ballot boxes in the latest batch of polls.

    Michael J Fox's Political Message

    Actor Michael J Fox has cut a campaign commercial for Claire McCaskill, the Democrat running for Sen Jim Talent's (R-MO) seat.

    Stem cell research has been a big issue in that race. It's a big issue to Mr Fox, who's championed the research to battle Parkinson's disease. The symptoms of Mr Fox's Parkinson's is evident in the ad:

    And in an effort to bridge the great divide in the "Show Me State," Mr Fox says the word "Missouri" twice -- pronouncing it once as "Missou-REE" and once as "Missou-RAH." (www.claireonline.com)

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Return of the Politics of Fear

    The GOP is falling back on their old reliable "Politics of Fear."

    They've launched an ad on the Internet that hits cable channels this weekend. It features images of terrorists and their quotes promising to hit us with suitcase nukes.

    There's no narration, only a ticking timebomb in the background. Problem is, it could backfire on the misfiring GOP.

    Recent polling shows Democrats are more trusted to deal with terrorism. Without a link to candidates -- the ad may come across as pushing Democrats. (AP via Yahoo! News)

    Thank God, "National Character Counts Week" is Almost Over!

    In what may be a record for political scandals to break on a single day, the GOP is in damage control mode nationwide.

    Here's a quick rundown:

    President Bush declared this "National Character Counts Week" on October 13.

    Wonkette points out the President will be raising money this week for Sen George Allen (R-VA), who was caught on tape using a racial slur, and Rep Don Sherwood (R-PA), currently being sued amid accusations he choked his mistress.

    Yep, character counts. You just can't keep count of all the characters!

    Beauprez Ad May be Illegal

    Rep Bob Beauprez (R-CO) (left) is under investigation for possibly using classified information in a political attack ad.

    From the Associated Press:

    The TV ad refers to a suspected illegal immigrant who was arrested in Denver in 2001 on suspicion of heroin trafficking. The ad says that when Ritter was the district attorney for Denver, he chose to seek a plea bargain in the case, the man avoided deportation, and he was later arrested in California on suspicion of sexually assaulting a minor.

    The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether the information in the ad came from the National Crime Information Center -- instead of from public records. Use of information from the NCIC, for any purpose other than law enforcement is a crime. Penalties include fines and up to a year in prison.

    Watch the ad below:

    Ducking the Issues

    The National Wildlife Federation is running an ad featuring rubber ducks against Sen Rick Santorum (R-PA).

    The ducks ask voters to tell the Senator to "quit ducking" issues of mercury poisoning and global warming. (YouTube)

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Iraq is on Double Secret Probation

    Sen Conrad Burns (R-MT) claims he and President Bush have a "secret" plan for winning the Iraq War -- they're just not going to share it with anyone.

    The claim came in the Senator's debate with challenger Jon Tester (D), and has provided plenty of comedy foder for Montana disc jockeys and editorial writers all day long.

    “He [Tester] says our president don’t have a plan. I think he’s got one. He’s not going to tell everyone in the world.” -- Sen Conrad Burns (R-MT), quoted in the Billings Gazette
    You'd think, though, President Bush would at least tell the troops about this amazing plan. (Billings Gazette)

    The X-Rated Debate

    The candidate who makes Katherine Harris and Rick Santorum look like deep thinkers had is opponent fighting back laughter in their first debate.

    Congressional candidate Vernon Robinson (R-NC), most famous for his Twilight Zone ad, claimed that his opponent, Rep Brad Miller (D-NC), wants to import homosexuals into the US and pay teenage girls to watch porn.

    "Those are San Francisco values, not North Carolina values." -- Vernon Robinson, Candidate for Congress

    "It's clear that Vernon Robinson is obsessed with sex." -- Rep Brad Miller (D-NC)

    Rep Miller took Mr Robinson to task for a campaign ad critical of the Congressman for being "childless" -- suggesting that made him a homosexual. Rep Miller's wife had a hysterectomy nearly 20 years ago. (AP via Yahoo! News)

    Twilight Zone Ad:

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Foley & the Priests

    Former Rep Mark Foley (R-FL) has decided to take up the Catholic Church on it's offer of counseling. Considering the recent history of the Church, you have to wonder if it's not just an effort to compare notes.

    But Mr Foley's lawyer says the former Congressman has decided not to seek criminal charges against the priest Mr Foley claims molested him as a boy. I mean, that would require naming someone, and " Father, uh, um, boots-boob-face" just sounds like he's making it up on the spot. (CNN)

    More Than One Way to Win an Election

    When you're down by 28-points in the polls -- kick your opponent off the ballot.

    That could happen in Ohio's Governor's race.

    Turns out that Democrat Ted Strickland has two residences in Ohio. He's registered to vote in an apartment, but actually lives in a condo he owns elsewhere in the state.

    His opponent, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell is Secretary of State. Mr Blackwell's supporters argue that because Mr Strickland is registered to vote in the apartment's precient, instead of the condo's -- he's technically not a qualified voter -- and therefore shouldn't be allowed to run for Governor.

    And who would have to rule on that?

    Why Secretary of State Blackwell, of course.

    Forget the fact that Mr Strickland lives in Ohio, forget the fact he's registered to vote in Ohio, and forget the fact that Mr Blackwell has a snowball's chance of winning the election at the polls at this point. Someone has found a way to game the system -- so that Ohio voters lose. (NYT)

    Frodo Failed, Bush Has the Ring!

    From our "And You Thought Katherine Harris was Batshite Nuts Department" -- a quote from Sen Rick Santorum (R-PA) that puts him back in the running for the top Looney Tune running for office this year.

    In a desperate bid for the serious geek vote, he drops a "Lord of the Rings" reference into his explanation on staying the course in Iraq. From Salon.com:

    "As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum said. "It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."
    His comments came in a editorial board meeting at the Bucks County Courier Times. (Salon)

    Taxpayers Thrown Under the Bus

    Wanna learn how to drive a city bus? Try Flint, Michigan's $12 million bus simulator.

    Hey, it ain't rocket science -- it's not even a 737. It's a freakin' city bus. You'd think an old bus and some rubber cones in a vacant parking lot might have saved some cash. (WJRT)

    Congressional Clout

    Congress.org is out with a listing of the most powerful people in office on the Hill. Let's just say Sen Mark Pryor (D-AR) ain't too happy with his place on the list -- but, hey, what's he gonna do about it? (Congress.org)

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    Sickening Story of 9/11 Relief Agency

    Thousands of rescue and recovery workers have been sickend by toxic air at Ground Zero in New York. A billion bucks were set aside to help them.
    So far, around 5,000 claims have been denied to 9/11 responders.

    Instead, the New York Post has found that the fund's head honcho is paid $350,000 a year -- and gets a $20,000 health insurance package. Many of the people affected by the air problems have no health insurance at all.

    $40 million has been spent on overhead for lawyers who's chief job is to challenge claims from responders. They charge $550 an hour for their dis-services. (NYP)

    Screw 15 Minutes of Fame -- In the Future, We'll all be Naked on the Internet

    Rick Magnuson is running for Pitkin County Sheriff in Aspen, Colorado. A year ago, he made an "art film" in which he masturbates. Says it was a "legitimate mode of self-expression."

    "Expression" -- or "abuse" or whatever.

    Anyway, it's been shown more than two dozen times on GrassRoots Television -- and Mr Magnuson is surprised it's become an issue in the campaign. (Post Independent)

    Using Your Money to Buy Your Vote

    The blizzard that buried Buffalo is a boon to Rep Tom Reynolds (R-NY).

    It's one last time to try to buy votes with taxpayer money. And it comes as the Congressman is battered from the Foley Page Scandal. Mr Reynolds knew of the Foley e-mails as early as February, but accepted $100,000 from Mr Foley's committees for Republican campaigns in July. He's run TV ads apologizing for his part in the scandal, and trying to shift the blame.

    But with Buffalo under umpteen inches of snow and thousands without power, Rep Reynolds is boasting today about helping deliver $5 million in federal aid to help dig out upstate New York.

    This comes as the GOP has reportedly written off Rep Reynolds' re-election and added him to a "gone" list.

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Bush makes Good Reading

    From Taegan Goddard's PoliticalWire.com

    "Newsweek notes that in the first six years of the Bush administration, there have been 230 books published on Bush as compared to 157 on the Clinton administration -- already more than the 217 book written during Clinton's full eight years."
    Should make for some good ekalectical reading. (PoliticalWire)

    The First Rewrite of History

    RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman went on CNN to help rewrite history. Appearing on "Late Edition," Mr Mehlman told Wolf Blitzer the GOP leadership acted quickly to fix the Foley mess.

    "They said, get out of Congress or we're going to throw you out. They called in the FBI and the Department of Justice to investigate." -- Ken Mehlman, RNC Chairman, CNN's "Late Edition"
    Thing is, it never happened. The GOP leadership never got a chance to talk to Mr Foley after the story broke. When ABC's Brian Ross confronted Mr Foley with damning copies of emails and IMs, Mr Foley stepped down quickly -- before the GOP leadership knew ABC's hand.

    GOP leaders knew at least as early as this past spring about the communications, but never asked Mr Foley to resign. (CNN)

    What is the Meaning of this, Mr Christian?

    Two Republican Senators suggest a change in course on Iraq.

    Senators John Warner (R-VA) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) appeared on the Sunday talk shows saying staying the course ain't working. They're joining a chorus of GOP voices now bordering on mutiny against the President's course in the war. (RawStory)

    Videocast: I Approve This Message

    Our second round up of campaign ads.

    Videocast: Holy Foley!

    How the "daddy party" morphed into the "creep old guy" party in the Foley page scandal.

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    I Cheated on My Wife -- But I Never Choked my Mistress!

    Rep Don Sherwood's (R-PA) mistress accuses him of choking her.

    We've added subtitles translating the political speak of his latest commercial into English.

    Reynolds Passes the Buck

    Rep Tom Reynolds (R-NY) apologizes for his role in the Foley Scandal.

    We've added subtitles, translating his campaign commercial from political speak into English.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    The Candidate, the Country Star, and Group Sex -- What a Song That'll Make

    Country music star Sara Evans has dropped out of "Dancing with the Stars" because she's going through a nasty divorce with her Congressional candidate husband, Craig Schelske (R-OR). That's a photo of the formerly happy family taken from hubby's campaign website.

    You may remember, former Rep Tom DeLay (R-TX) circulated a letter urging people to vote for Ms Evans on the reality show.

    The Tennessean dug up the court filings:

    According to the document filed in chancery court, Schelske allegedly has on his computer at least 100 photographs of himself posing in an aroused state. There are several photographs of him having sex with other women, the filings stated.

    “On his computers, husband maintains ‘Craigs Lists.’ Many of them involve requests for three party sex and anal sex. Husband’s ‘Craigs Lists’ are composed of personal ads on his personal sex engine involving him and prospective sex partners,” the documents stated.

    I'm beginning to think Bill Clinton wishes he had the sex life of a Republican. (Tennessean)

    More Time for Campaign Ads -- Than Election Coverage

    Amid all the house fires, car crashes, and "parents' worst nightmares" ripping through the midwest, there's only about 36 seconds a day to devote to politics in local newscasts.

    That's what the folks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's NewsLab found.

    They looked at 30 minute evening newscasts on 36 statons around nine midwestern television markets. On average, only about 36 seconds were devoted to political issues.

    They also found that stations report three times as much on campaign strategy as opposed to the issues in a race. (AP via Yahoo!)

    Ney Pleads Guilty, Passes Go, Collects $200

    Rep Bob Ney (R-OH) will resign, but not today.

    His lawyer says the Congressman will step down before his January 19 sentencing. His term actually expires on January 3.

    Rep Ney formally pleaded guilty to corruption charges today, though he agreed to a plea bargin on September 15.

    He's still on the federal payroll, drawing around $452.05 per day in his Congressional salary.

    Since agreeing to plead guilty, he has collected roughly $12,657.53 in Congressional pay as of today. (CNN)

    President Ford Tested for Wolves, Deliciousness

    Former President Gerald Ford is in the hospital for the fourth time this year. Doctors say the 93-year-old former Chief Executive is there for tests -- they won't say what kind. We're betting it's tests for wolf bites. Yet once again, the wiley Mr Ford has escaped their powerful jaws! (AP)

    MP3 File

    Pillagin', Plunderin' & Politics -- Oh, and Grog, Sweet Grog

    Iowa's 1st District may be the only one this year where a self-professed "drunken pirate" is running for Congress. James Hill is running as an independent -- what else would a pirate choose.

    He's basing his platform on lobbying reform -- and he'd like to have them scurvey lobbyists walk every plank in that platform. (AP)

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Never Once Shooting His Mouth Off

    Talk about your elephant in the room.

    President Bush spent an entire hour discussing school shootings without ever once mentioning guns.

    The Chief Executive hosted a panel discussion on ways to deal with the most recent rash of school shootings -- and was able to keep any gun control advocates away from the talks.

    A couple of teenagers did get past the screeners and did point out, on microphone, that the main thing all the shootings have in common -- is guns are involved. (WashPost)

    Values? Character? GOP Dodging those Pesky Issues

    In light of the Cunningham, Abramoff, and Foley scandals, Republicans are taking a beating on "values" and "character." No where is that more pronounced than in Ohio -- which had it's own state-wide GOP scandal: Coingate.

    Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (left) is going down in flames in the Governors Race, just two years after he led the triumphant charge for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages in Ohio. From the Washington Post:

    "As the Republican candidate for governor, Blackwell has been counting on values voters to do for him this year what they did for the party in 2004. But the culture wars are being eclipsed as a voting issue by economic worries and Republican scandals that have altered the political dynamic here in striking ways."

    Most polls show Blackwell trailing Democrat Ted Strickland (right)by double digits. (WashPost)

    Jay Leno accused of Bias

    Jay Leno's invited Arnold Schwarzenegger onto the Tonight Show. But, with less than a month before the election, that's got a California Congressman hopping mad.

    Rep Xavier Becerra (D-CA) has filed a complaint with the FCC accusing the Tonight Show of violating the equal time provision of the Federal Communications Act. (MSNBC)

    Voter Excitement

    Politics is a hot topic -- hotter than it's been in years. A new AP-Pew Center Poll suggests it could turn into higher voter turnout next month. From MSNBC:

    "Seventy percent say they are talking politics with family and friends, and 43 percent are debating the issues at work. Among churchgoers, 28 percent share their political views, a number that rises to 34 percent among the congregations in the South."

    The poll shows the higher numbers are driving by Democratic "anger and optimism." Republican voters are about average in their level of interest. (MSNBC)

    Fat Cats

    YouTube is empowering nonpoliticians to add their ads to the campaign commercial mix.

    Stateline.org points out this one featuring Idaho Interim Gov. Jim Risch (R) disco-dancing with cartoon "fat cats" as pennies fly into their pockets – a protest of the state’s recent 1-cent sales tax hike. (Stateline.org)

    Duck, Duck, Goose

    Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Peter Hutchinson (I) is using YouTube to campaign. One of several state candidates around the country who've found the video-sharing service a cheap way to campaign.

    Mr Hutchinson was having trouble getting the major party candidates to debate him. In his video, Hutchinson gives a speech standing between two people in giant duck suits. Get it? "Ducking the debate?" (Stateline.org

    Does Medicaid Cover Viagra?

    Folks in Ohio calling a toll-free Medicaid help line -- were being referred to a phone sex service.

    Seems a typo in the voice mail script got the number wrong.

    But at least the calls took people's minds off their health worries for a while. (AP)

    A "Pubic" Embarrassment

    A Michigan county left the "L" out of the word "public" on their November ballots.

    Ottawa County decided to reprint the ballots -- at a cost of $40,000 -- to avoid embarrassment. (AP via Yahoo! News)

    Nuke Your Neighborhood

    North Korea has set off an atomic bomb in the one kiloton range. How much damage can it do?

    This website uses Google Maps to show how much area nukes of different yeilds can damage and destroy. Select a major city, or put in the longitude and latitude of your house, and see what happens. The default setting is for a 100-kt blast -- about nine times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb and 100 times more powerful than what North Korea is believed to have tested. (Meyerweb.com)

    Rescuing Pets

    Dogs and cats must figure into all new emergency plans. A new federal law requires that emergency planners figure a way to get pets out with people. Part of the problem with Katrina was a lot of the stranded people stayed because rescuers wouldn't let them take their pets.

    Click on the photo to see National Geographic's photo gallery of pets rescued from the Katrina aftermath. (SFGate)

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    Foley Only Talked About Doing it to Chickens

    Rep Don Sherwood (R-PA) says he cheated on his wife but swears he never choked his mistress -- and he'll lower your taxes!

    Remember when "character mattered?" (CNN)

    It's Friday -- Time To Bury a Story

    Late Friday -- well, afternoon, but too late to be a package in the evening news -- Karl Rove's administrative assistant, Susan Ralston resigned. That's her in the picture with the President.

    Before working for Karl Rove, she worked for disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Her resignation is linked to that scandal.

    The White House has repeatedly said that there were very few contacts between Mr Abramoff's lobby firm and people in the White House. Turns out there were more than a hundred contacts with Ms Ralston.

    Ooops! (MSNBC)

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Hastert Fundraiser Goes Bust

    Rep Ron Lewis (R-KY) has canceled a fundraiser featuring House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

    Mr Hastert is under mounting pressure from the Foley email scandal. The fundraiser was supposed to be next week. (Louisville CJ)

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Foley Casualty

    Rep Tom Reynolds (R-NY) has fired his chief of staff -- Kirk Fordham -- over the Mark Foley scandal.

    Mr Fordham was a former Mark Foley staffer and repeatedly warned Republican leaders about Mr Foley's penchant for pages. But, sources tell ABC's Brian Ross Mr Fordham urged GOP leaders to keep it quiet from the full Page Board.

    Rep Reynolds is Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and accepted $100,000 from Mr Foley's committees four to five months after learning about the email issue. (ABC)

    The Jokes Keep Coming

    Talking Points Memo has this rather regretable photo of fmr Rep Mark Foley presenting the "Rough Rider Award" to Rep Vernon Ehlers (R-MI). It was posted on Rep Ehlers' website. (TPM)

    Maybe Next Year

    There'll be a big party when the War in Iraq is won -- the money's already set aside. Congress put away $20-million for a celebration in DC when victory's declared. That may be pretty optimistic. From the New York Times:

    Tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year
    was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation’s capital
    “for commemoration of success” in Iraq and

    Not surprisingly, the money was not spent.

    Now Congressional Republicans are saying, in effect, maybe next year. A paragraph written into spending legislation and approved by the Senate and House allows the $20 million to be rolled over into 2007.
    Let's hope it's collecting interest. If that's the case, and considering the way the war's gone so far, by the time Washington gets around to spending the money, it'll either be the biggest blowout in history -- or enough to pay off the national debt.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Maybe Tapping Quakers' Phones is Easier than Reading Terrorists' Mail

    Forget the questionable wiretaps. The Justice Department just found out they haven't been reading the mail from convicted terrorists in US prisons.

    From the AP:

    The mail investigation was spurred, in part, after three convicted terrorists at a federal maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., were found to have written an estimated 90 letters between 2002 and 2004 to Islamic extremists — including some with links to the March 11, 2004, attacks on commuter trains in Madrid.

    And the investigation found federal prisons are reading less mail to and from convicted terrorists than they were a year ago. (USAToday)

    Foley Fallout

    A round up of reports today on how the Foley email scandal and possible cover up could hurt the GOP in next month's elections:

    CNN -- Greenfield: Could Foley's follies hurt the GOP?
    Well, it's October, so -- surprise! The most politically explosive writing to hit Washington last week wasn't what's in Bob Woodward's pages. It was those alleged e-mails between Mark Foley and at least a couple of congressional pages and what the House Republican leadership did or didn't do back last fall.
    Washington Post -- After Foley, New Fears For the GOP, Some Say Party Could Lose House and Senate

    Republican operatives closely following the battle for the House and Senate said that they are virtually ready to concede nearly a third of the 15 seats the Democrats need to recapture control of the House, and that they will spend the next five weeks trying to shelter other vulnerable incumbents from the fallout of the Foley scandal in hopes of salvaging a slender majority.
    New York Times -- Pressure Grows for Republicans Over Foley Scandal

    Across the country, in competitive and noncompetitive races, Democrats seized on an issue that they said was resonating with voters. In an effort coordinated in Washington by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s candidates urged their Republican opponents to call for the resignation of Mr. Hastert and other leaders.

    MSNBC (Howard Fineman) -- Then came the Foley scandal

    If the Democrats can’t take the Hill now, they deserve to go the way of the Whigs.

    NRCC to Keep Foley's Contributions

    Republican candidates are in a rush to unload campaign contributions they recieved from former Rep Mark Foley (R-FL).

    But the National Republican Congressional Committee will keep the $550,000 he gave them since 1996.

    Rep Tom Reynolds (R-NY) chairs that committee. He knew about the emails as early as February, but says the NRCC will keep the $100,000 it took from Mr Foley in July. He defended keeping the money while flanked by a photo-op of 30 or so children with their parents.

    Giving money away to charity or returning it to Mr Foley:

    Sen George Allen (R-VA) -- $2,000
    Rep Heather Wilson (R-NM) -- $8,000
    Rep Clay Shaw (R-Fl) -- $2,000
    Rep Nancy Johnson (R-CT) -- $1,000
    Rep Deborah Pryce (R-OH) -- $5,000
    Rep Curt Weldon (R-PA) -- $1,000
    Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) -- $1,000
    Geoff Davis (R-KY) -- $1,000
    Rep. Mark Green Republican candidate for Wisconsin Governor -- $1,000

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    Forget Character

    Sen George Allen (R-VA) has launched a new ad urging voters not to consider "character" when they vote.

    The Washington Post calls it "unusual." But with Sen Allen's record embracing the Confederate flag, using the racial slur "macaca" on video, being offended over his Jewish heritage, being photographed with leaders of the Conservative Concerned Citizens (a white supremist group), and....well, the list goes on.

    Anyway, with that kind of record, it ain't "unusual" to try to divert the campaign from "character." (WashPost)

    Hot Sweaty GOP "Man-Boy" Love

    Drudge reports the Washington Times will call for House Speaker Dennis Hastert's resignation in Tuesday's issue -- all because of his handling of the Rep Mark Foley (R-FL) scandal:

    WASHINGTON TIMES ON TUESDAY WILL CALL FOR SPEAKER HASTERT'S RESIGNATION, NEWSROOM SOURCES TELL DRUDGE... DEVELOPING... Editorial titled: 'Resign, Mr. Speaker': 'House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once... Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance'... -- Washington Times, October 3, 2006...
    Of course, if you look at Speaker Hastert's website, you might get a clue as to why Mr Hastert didnt' think anything was out of order. Afterall, Mr Hastert was once a high school wrestling coach -- and accustomed to watching hot, sweaty, teenage boys man-handle each other. That's "Coach" Hastert with his 1976 State Champion "rasslin'" team in the picture.

    Loved the Part about "Protecting Exploited Children"

    CNN's Political Ticker has launched it's "Ad of the Day" with the last campaign ad Rep Mark Foley was airing in his relection bid. CNN says"

    The ad specifically mentions his "record of ...protecting missing and exploited children." It ran a total of 143 times between Sept. 9 and Sept. 29 at a cost of $101,000, according to TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on television advertising spending. The ad was running the day he resigned.

    What Goes Around....

    Oops! This ad from the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee blasted Democrat Congressional candidate Brad Elsworth for a mistake that let a pedophile go free.

    Chairman of the RCCC is Rep Tom Reynolds (R-NY). Mr Reynolds learned of the Foley emails in February or March of this year, but still gave his campaign $5,000 in May. And the RCCC accepted $100,000 from committees run by Rep Foley.

    Don't ya just hate it when it comes back to bite you? (NYT)

    Foley's Replacement

    Florida Republicans have selected a replacement for Fmr Rep Mark Foley (R-FL).

    Problem is, it's too late to get his name on the ballot. Voters will have to cast their ballots for Mr Foley if they want the new candidate -- State Rep Joe Negron -- in Congress.

    That -- along with the whole problem of fundraising -- could make it an uphill fight for the GOP in a district they considered safe until Thursday. (FOX)

    Yanking the Kid Protection Stuff

    Think Progress reports that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (D-IL) has yanked three links from his website listed as "Keeping Kids Safe in Cyberspace." TP says the links disappeared early Monday morning -- but they've got screen captures of both versions of the website.

    Mr Hastert has been caught in conflicting stories about when he first learned of the Rep Mark Foley e-mails. He first said he didn't know about them until the story broke on Thursday. But has since admitted he knew last fall. (Think Progress)

    Tony Snow talks "Naughty

    In the understatement of the campaign season, White House spokesman Tony Snow refered to Rep Mark Foley's e-mails and online chats with teenage boys as "simply naughty."

    Interviewed on CNN, Mr Snow said:

    "I hate to tell but it's not always pretty up there on Capitol Hill and there have been other scandals as you know that have been more than simply naughty emails."

    You can judge for yourself.

    Read Rep Mark Foley's Online Chats: Click Here

    Read Rep Mark Foley's E-Mails: Click Here

    Warning, Explicit Content

    Foley's Cash Flow

    Rep Tom Reynolds (R-NY) sent a campaign check to Rep Mark Foley (R-FL) even after he knew about Mr Foley's e-mails to teenage Congressional pages.

    The New York Daily News reports Mr. Reynolds's personal PAC, TOMPAC, wrote Foley a check for $5,000 on May 10, 2006.

    Rep Reynolds chairs the Republican National Campaign Committee (RCCC), which also accepted $100,000 from Mr Foley on July 27, 2006.

    Both these dates fall after Mr Reynolds was made aware of the sexually explicit e-mails -- sometime in February or March of this year. (NYDN)

    Gas Prices Still an Issue?

    Gas prices are dropping -- and Republican candidates for Congress are happy about that. But voters may not be. From today's New York Times:

    A gallon of regular gas now averages $2.33, after rising above $3 in August. But given that even the current lower prices are higher than was common just a couple of years ago, the question of who will benefit politically from the drop is still hotly disputed.
    Politicians may be out of touch with what average voters feel. Congressmen, for instance, make far more than the average American household -- and may not feel the pinch as much as their constituents still shelling out a huge share of their wages at the Shell station. (NYT)

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    Covering Their Congressional Butts

    The FBI is looking into those e-mails Rep Mark Foley (R-FL) has been sending to Congressional pages. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) sent a letter to the FBI requesting the probe after Democratic leaders also called for one:
    “Since the communications appear to have existed for three years, there should be an investigation into the extent there are persons who knew or had possession of these messages but did not report them to the appropriate authorities. It is important to know who may have had the communications and why they were not given to prosecutors before now.” -- Hastert Letter to the FBI
    That's a good question, since there are indications that Mr Hastert and other Republican leaders reportedly knew about the e-mails for at least a year. And there are reports that Republican leaders quietly warned pages about the e-mails -- but did nothing to stop them -- as far back as 2001. (NYT)

    Mixed Messages on Iraq

    The Washington Post ran a full page analysis on what the President said verus what he was told about the Iraq War by senior advisors and analysts. An example:

    What President Bush said on May 1, 2003:

    "The Battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11, 2001, and still goes on."
    What he'd actually been told on June 18, 2003:

    "We've made three tragic decisions. Three terrible mistakes."

    Click the WaPo graphic to see a list of comparisons. (WashPost)

    Foley's Fetish, Ney's Pay

    A Congressman in trouble for attempting Internet seduction of teenage boys, a convicted criminal drawing Congressional pay, and "dog whistle politics" for the true believers.