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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Clinton Rendition Flights: Why Didn't The MSM Find This?

Everyone knows about the bias the MSM has. This is why Marcie, Sabrina, and I post right here. No, we're not up there updating like the rest of the elites in the blogosphere all day long, but we try to keep up. With the day being as busy as it was (Sabrina left late this morning for her return to Chicago. We'll miss her around here. But, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, especially when it comes to good friends.)

Anyway, back to the MSM. As if we needed another example of this bias, this wonderful story was on Breitbart today. (By now, I'm sure this has reached quite a few people. We're still running with it, though.)

HT: Captain's Quarters http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/006045.php
(And PLEASE pray for the First Mate. She's sick, and needs all the prayers she can get.)

The CIA's controversial "rendition" program to have terror suspects captured and questioned on foreign soil was launched under US president Bill Clinton, a former US counterterrorism agent told a German newspaper. Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the CIA who resigned from the agency in 2004, told Thursday's issue of the newsweekly Die Zeit that the US administration had been looking in the mid-1990s for a way to combat the terrorist threat and circumvent the cumbersome US legal system.

"President Clinton, his national security advisor Sandy Berger and his terrorism advisor Richard Clark ordered the CIA in the autumn of 1995 to destroy Al-Qaeda," Scheuer said, in comments published in German.

"We asked the president what we should do with the people we capture. Clinton said 'That's up to you'."

Scheuer, who headed the CIA unit that tracked Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from 1996 to 1999, said that he developed and led the "renditions" program, which he said included moving prisoners without due legal process to countries without strict human rights protections.

Stop! If these people were not US citizens, there is no "due process" involved. They receive none as they have no protections enumerated under the Constitution. The protections listed within the Constitution apply to US citizens, born here or naturalized.

"In Cairo, people are not treated like they are in Milwaukee. The Clinton administration asked us if we believed that the prisoners were being treated in accordance with local law. And we answered, yes, we're fairly sure."

At the time, he said, the CIA did not arrest or imprison anyone itself.

"That was done by the local police or secret services," he said, adding that the prisoners were never taken to US soil. "President Clinton did not want that."

He said the program changed under Clinton's successor, President George W. Bush, after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

"We started putting people in our own institutions -- in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. The Bush administration wanted to capture people itself but made the same mistake as the Clinton administration by not treating these people as prisoners of war."

Stop, again. These people we have captured aren't prisoners-of-war. They have a different legal classification being labled as "unlawful combatants." This definition has been addressed and upheld by the US Supreme Court. In Hamdi, the court recognized the authority of Congress to define the detainees as "unlawful comabtants." It was also not the same mistake in regard to how these detainees are treated under the law, as opposed to a prisoner-of-war.

He accused Europeans of being hypocritical in criticizing the US administration for its anti-terror tactics while benefiting from them.

"All the information we received from interrogations and documents, everything that had to do with Spain, Italy, Germany, France, England was passed on," he said.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended renditions on a trip to Europe this month as a "vital tool" for fighting international terrorism but insisted that Washington does not condone torture.

So, back to my original question: Why didn't the MSM locate this? When the debate was raging over the WaPo's story regarding these flights, how was it that A) The WaPo missed it? and B) The rest of the MSM missed this? We should also take into account that the MSM missed another fact regarding these secret programs leaked to the press. Remember the NSA leak? Yeah, Clinton did that, too. This proves two things to me. There is an obvious, arrogantly-flaunted bias in the media. And that they really aren't paying attention to America over this.

There is no other way to lay it out. No one can deny that the MSM was absolutely in love with Clinton. He was charismatic, he was popular, and he gave the press unprecedented access to the White House. They were near-orgasmic when they broke "big" stories about Hillary or Bill. The only reason they'd cover for these two, and refuse to address it is because they think that it might hurt those two, or they don't want to implicate their favorite president in something that they've been screaming "ILLEGAL" for over a week now.

The hurt part is what I don't get, which proves the MSM isn't listening to america. In the recent Rasmussen Poll, 64% of Americans support the NSA program. And 51% of Democrats polled had absolutely no problem with it. If the MSM were truly listening, then they would've been the first ones out there to disapprove "right-wing spin." We took a look back after 11 Sept. to see what steps were taken to tackle terrorism under Clinton. We saw little, if any, serious attempt to address it.

Dick Morris, in interview after interview, claims that he was pushing paying attention to terrorism after the first World Trade Center attack. Instead of a response, he received a police action; feeble attempts to deal with these people, and the only route willing to be undertaken was through our courts. That's great, but if they keep sending their people into our country, and we don't take notice until AFTER the attack, what good does that do us? Innoncent civilians are dying in their attacks. An after-the-fact response was not what we needed. We had over 1 dozen serious terrorist attacks against the US in the 1990s.

If this were true (I say "if" because I find it interesting the link to the interview with the German newspaper is no longer working) then it would blow that whole outlook by Morris, and a fair majority of bloggers and members of the alternative media, out of the water. And it would give Clinton the benefit of building onto that tattered legacy he has. (Yes, I do blame him for the failures and shenanigans leading up to 11 Sept. There's his legacy in my eyes.) The MSM should've trumpted this to the highest heavens, and they didn't. They tried to play cover-up with this. I'm sure this will hit their news shows at some point, on some page, but this should have been priority number one today, and it wasn't.


Of course, I suppose the next question to be answered would be if they did know about it, why didn't they report it? Is there something embarrassing about Clinton's establishment ofthe renditions program? That's a question that requires a bit more digging. Unless the MSM would like to pipe up about it, if they have the answers. It's only going to look worse for them if they don't sound off soon. Again, that is if they knew.

Publius II

EVERYONE have a Happy New Year. We'll see y'all in 2006!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Here Come The Dirty Tricks Brigade

Purely pathetic. That's what I thought when I picked this up from the Boston Globe this morning. The DNC Dirty Tricks Brigade are already starting their dirt-digging. The focus of this digging is none other than Mitt Romney.


Earlier this month, virtually every agency in state government received public records requests for ''any and all records of communication" involving Willard [Mitt] Romney dating to 1947, the year of his birth. The letters, each dated Dec. 7, are signed by Shauna Daly, who only provided a post office box in Washington, D.C., as her address.

A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee confirmed yesterday that Daly is employed as its deputy research director. Prior to that, she worked as a campaign staff member for presidential candidate John Edwards, the former Democratic senator from North Carolina. She also worked on other races since graduating from Smith College in 2001, including a US Senate race in Florida.

The spokesman, Luis Miranda, said the Democrats are seeking information on 11 potential presidential candidates, including Romney.

''He's a Republican with well-known presidential ambitions, and these days, that's not that special," Miranda said. ''This is just real standard operating procedure. Romney can show his commitment to transparency in government by complying with the Freedom Of Information Act requests in a timely manner. We're looking to be ready. There's something to be said for the Democratic Party doing this this far out."

Yeah, they're doing this because they're worried about Romney. Along with Sen. George Allen, he is one of the perceived front-runners for the GOP in 2008. Romney is governor of Massachusetts, and Allen was governor of Virginia before jumping to the Senate. Both are considered dangerous by the Democrats because they constitute the strength in leadership the Democrats lack. As of right now, the Democrats have only congressmen looking for the nomination, and that doesn't bode well for prospective candidates. They call this sort of digging a "standard procedure," yet was it "standard" when Sen. Schumer's office started digging into Michael Steele's credit records and other records in an attempt to dig up dirt on him? He is the leading contender to take the seat in the Senate that's about to be vacated by Sarbanes.

Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's communications director, said fulfilling the public records requests will conservatively cost ''tens of thousands of dollars in staff time and legal review."

''Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for the Democratic National Committee to put its dirty tricks attack squad to work against Mitt Romney, and so we'll bill them for it," Fehrnstrom said. ''I don't know what the Democrats think they'll find, but the bottom line is Mitt Romney came into office and cleaned up a $3 billion budget mess without raising taxes. To paraphrase William Butler Yeats, that's all ye know on earth, and all ye ever need to know."

LOL. You gotta love it when we hit back. I wouldn't release a shred of documents until the DNC ponies up the money for this information request. And Fehrnstrom is correct: Romney turned a state around that had a deeper budget snafu than California did when Arnie took over as governor. He's done good things for the state of Massachusetts, and even took on the State Supreme Court when they ruled that same-sex marriages were legal despite what their state constitution said.

Dan Schnur, who served as communications director for US Senator John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign, said the records request demonstrates that the Democratic establishment considers Romney a serious contender in 2008.

''If the Democratic opposition researchers are paying this much attention to Mitt Romney, that means they're worried, and, at the least, they want to be prepared and are taking him seriously," said Schnur, a Republican consultant based in California. ''If Romney's advisers are smart, the Democrats won't find anything that his own people didn't find a long time ago. Nobody has an absolutely pristine record, but the smart ones know all the problems before their opponents."

Romney announced Dec. 14 that he would not seek reelection, fueling speculation that he would devote considerable energy to a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. His announcement was long expected by many political observers.

I think Romney is serious about a run in 2008. And I think he's got a good chance of winning the nomination. (All you McCain lovers out there aren't going to gain any traction. I have made it my mission in Arizona to do as much to McCain in the primaries as I can. I don't want him getting the nomination, and I don't want him anywhere near the White House as the Commander in Chief. He's a knuckle-head that's going to end up getting us killed.)

Romney has yet to say whether he will run for the GOP nomination, but is widely considered as a viable potential candidate, along with McCain of Arizona, former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, US Senator George Allen of Virginia, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.

Romney is serious. So is Allen. McCain's serious, but I'm betting he won't make it through the primaries. Giuliani is reluctant to make the run, and having only been a mayor and a prosecutor, his chances are slim and none. Frist has no chance of taking the nomination, and if he does get it, chances are he'll be running against a stronger Democrat, and they'll beat him like a bongo drum. My money, right now, is riding on Romney and Allen.

The letters from the Democratic National Committee arrived by the dozen in Massachusetts on Dec. 15, according to stamps on the letters, several of which were obtained by the Globe. In each, Daly appears to have used a form letter with a different agency name at the top. Agencies that received the letters include the Board of Registration in Medicine, Office of the Comptroller, the Department of Social Services, Department of Workforce Development, the Governor's Commission of Mental Retardation, the Department of Correction, the Division of Banks, the Secretary of State's office, the Treasurer's office, the Division of Insurance, the Division of Standards, the Office of Consumer Affairs, the state Commission for the Blind, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Commission on Indian Affairs, and the Commonwealth Corporation, a quasi-public entity.

The letters demand all records of communication ''including but not limited to letters, written requests, reports, telephone records, electronic communications, complaints, investigations, violation [sic] and memos" between the agency receiving the letter and Romney. The letters also demand all similar requests for documents filed since Jan. 1, 2002, the year Romney ran for election.

Daly asks that the information be provided on computer disk or CD-ROM within 20 business days and requests that any fees associated with fulfilling the request be waived. She provides a Washington telephone number. Calls placed to that number were not answered yesterday.

Um, no. You want the information, then you're going to pay for it. This request is no different than a request made by any citizen under the FOIA. We have to pay for things we're looking for. Daly should have to, as well. Just because this is "party research" doesn't mean that the fees should be waived.

Opposition research is a key element in political campaigns, as candidates or parties attempt to find controversial, embarrassing, or previously undisclosed information about a politician's past.

US Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts hired detectives to scrutinize Romney's past during the 1994 Senate race, in which Romney, a former venture capitalist, gave Kennedy his most vigorous challenge in his long career in Washington. The effort unearthed information that badly damaged Romney during the campaign: namely, that his venture capital firm had acquired an Indiana paper goods factory called Ampad Corp., fired more than 250 workers, and then rehired them at lower wages, leading to charges from the Kennedy camp that Romney was antilabor.

Ted Kennedy launching a dirty tricks campaign is rich. I've played the game before, and all I have to say to Uncle Teddy is "How's Mary Jo doing?" And how asinine was that charge? If Romney had been antilabor, then he wouldn't have hired any of them back.

Will Keyser -- a former Kennedy spokesman who is now senior vice president at the advertising firm Hill, Holliday -- said such research is ''standard operating procedure in modern campaigns."

''I would imagine that the Republicans would be doing the same thing, which is that they will be taking a good, hard look and beginning the process of compiling research on any of the possible presidential candidates," Keyser said.

''The Republicans did a remarkable workup on John Kerry [in the 2004 presidential race], and a lot of it was disgraceful stuff, but he lost and they won."

It's nice to see that the Democrats believe this is simply the way things are done, but they would be throwing temper-tantrums if this sort of dirt-digging was ever pulled on one of their candidates. And Keyser is wrong about Kerry. Pres. Bush and Karl Rove dug up John Kerry's Senate record, which is open to all. The people who tackled John Kerry on his service record were bloggers. And the reason for this is that politicians don't like to speak badly about one another.

Bloggers are a bit different. We're going to pose questions that people don't want to answer. We're going to do the digging and find out the facts. When we have them in hand, we're going to hit back with them. John Kerry's biggest mistake was in running his campaign on his Vietnam record. His record wasn't stellar to begin with, and when he started spinning the lies about his service, we just finished unraveling his campaign.

There is nothing wrong with looking into candidate's past dealings and work. It crosses the line when it goes after personal things, like the underhanded tricks by Schumer's office. But when it comes to people like Romney, who are going to be powerhouse candidates in the upcoming presidential election (maybe, Romney hasn't made it official, yet) the Democrats are virtually expected to cater to the lowest common denominator in opposition research. I suggest that Romney locks his mailbox and trashcans. I'm sure they'll be digging through those soon enough.

Publius II

About Damn Time: The Investigations Are Going Forward

We are not the only ones lining up and screaming for this. Many people have been calling for it since the NSA leak. And we do not want the culprits shoved under the rug. Let us get them up, out, and in the open. This cannot be allowed to continue. Those that are discovered should be charged and tried; prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as a warning to anyone one else that thinks that this is okay to do.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of information to the media about a domestic eavesdropping program run by the National Security Agency, senior Justice Department officials confirmed Friday.

Officials have confirmed to FOX News that the FBI
is involved in the investigation, but did not comment on whether other agencies were involved, or when the investigation began. One official has said the referral for the probe came from the NSA.

The White House is expected to comment further on the investigation at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Details of the program were first revealed Dec. 16 by The New York Times, which reported that the NSA has monitored phone calls and e-mails inside the United States without court warrants since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The program circumvented a secretive court process that allows warrants to be issued without the knowledge of the warrant's subject.

Times' spokeswoman Catherine Mathis on Friday declined to comment on the investigation, according to The Associated Press.

Hmm. I wonder if the Times might be worried that a pair of their journalists will be put int he same cell Judy Miller was. Will the Times stand behind these two the way they did with Miller if they refuse to reveal a source? This is not a game. Leaks like this can be dangerous, and could very well cost those involved in this war--abroad or at home--their lives.

President Bush and other administration officials have vigorously defended the program, saying the secret court process begun under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is too slow to pursue the country's enemies.

Officials said the program only focused on members or associates of al-Qaeda, and there is legal justification for it in the Constitution and the Sept. 14, 2001, congressional resolution authorizing force after the attacks.

Yes, it is Constitutional (under Article II, Sections 1 and 2), and the authorization to use military force on Sept. 14 clearly states the following:

IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

In short, "all necessary and appropriate force" includes the NSA surveillance. And I am pretty irritated when I hear the press call this "domestic spying." It is not domestic spying. That is something entirely different. This is domestic surveillance of our enemies.

Bush said details of the NSA program were "improperly provided to news organizations."

"As a result our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, [and] endangers our country," Bush said.

And that makes the act a crime, under USC 18 793, 794, and 798. There is no protection in this. There needs to be prosecutions. These people need to serve quite a bit of time behind bars for this. They revealed a classified program, and the press participated. There should be a couple of people at the Times that joins the leakers in a prison cell.

The president has also described the leak as "shameful," saying the program's disclosure gives terrorists the upper hand. He said he presumed the Justice Department would look into the matter if the NSA requests a probe of the leak.

Political Backlash
Several lawmakers have demanded hearings into the NSA surveillance program. Sen. Arlen Specter
said this week he would like hearings as soon as January. Others have said the leak itself is a serious breach.

Sen. Specter has his plate full in January. Not only does he have the Alito hearings, but he wants hearings into the leak. I hope he realizes that this investigation needs to move slowly. Not slow in a plodding, drag-your-feet sort of way, but one in a methodical way. I want names, I want people held responsible, and I want a message sent that this is not acceptable, and it will be punished.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and one of the members briefed by the administration about the surveillance plan, expressed deep reservations about the program to the vice president in 2003. But he said he also would like hearings into whom leaked the story to reporters at the Times.

Rockefeller better mind his "p's" and "q's." There are plenty of people we know that think he might be behind the leaks, or have a hand in them. He has just as much to prove to those people as anyone else does. This is a nation that one is innocent until proven guilty, however people are quick to assess guilt, and wait for their innocence to be proven.

Reps. Peter Hoekstra and Jane Harman, the chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, on the House Intelligence Committee, also condemned the leak, saying it hurt national security.

While Harman, of California, said she believes broader oversight is needed of the NSA program, "its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities."

The oversight involved is fine right now. The president, those in his administration that are aware of the program, the congressional leaders, and those within the NSA go over the program every 45 days. That is better oversight than what Congress can usually afford such a program.

"These politically motivated leaks must stop," Hoekstra, of Michigan, said in a statement.

Amazing that: A Democrat that gets it. He knows these are politically motivated. He knows that these leaks were designed to do one simple thing: Hurt the administration. The Times can hold the leakers up as "heroes," but in my opinion they rank up there with the rest of the POS's in politics. They are criminals, and deserved to be treated as such. The revelation of this program was anything but patriotic.

Edward Turzanski, a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a national security analyst at La Salle University, agrees. He told FOX News that he believes a special prosecution team might be needed to investigate the leak.

"We've reached a critical mass," Turzanski said. "There's too much damage to our national security capabilities, to critical information and to the war-fighting effort. And that is where this urgency comes in."

Good. Get a special prosecutor, but the two journalists on the stand, and grill them. They are the only people who know, for sure, who the leaker is. We need to know what they know, and again if this involves jail time, oh well. We are perfectly well within the law to do so. Their refusal to reveal the names constitutes an obstruction of a federal investigation. I would love to see how long they will last before they crack, and give up the name(s).

But special investigations can be distractions, and too much pressure will be put on bringing back an indictment, said Ronald Cass, a legal scholar and former dean of the Boston University School Of Law
"It's better to leave these matters in the hands of the Justice Department; let them handle it through the ordinary course," Cass told FOX News.

What's Next?
And there is already speculation over what might result from a leak investigation. Some question whether the government can even pursue the leakers in this particular case.

"The government has no legal right to pursue the whistleblower [or] whistleblowers who disclosed what's been publicly aired to date," Tom Devine, the legal director for the Government Accountability Program
and a lawyer who represents whistleblowers, told FOXNews.com.

Not true. If there are whistleblowers that come from Congress, or the NSA, they can be prosecuted. It is not up to them to determine what is and what is not a breach of civil liberties. Further, if it is proven that those under surveillance were not US citizens, then they have no protections under the Constitution.

Devine said at least two laws protect a potential leak source. One is a so-called anti-gag statute that prevents the government from spending money on a leak investigation unless it specifically warned the employee that its gag rules cannot trump good-government laws.

On the contrary, anyone involved in this program--a classified program--are bound by the Espionage Act of 1917. The Supreme Court ruled in 1919 that the Act was Constitutional in Scheneck v. United States. The renewals and changes under the Espionage Act still make it a crime for a government employee with classified information to release said information.

The leak also could be legal if the Whistleblower Protection Act covers it, Devine said, as long as the leaker was not in the FBI, CIA or NSA, which aren't covered by the act. For instance, a civilian Pentagon employee who wanted to expose government wrongdoing would have free speech protections to expose abuses of power or illegal actions.

Point of order: A civilian would not have been privy to such information. No civilian in the NSA would have had access to this program, or knowledge of it, unless someone involved with the program told them. Again, an act like that would also be a crime. The government has said that this was a "secret" program. Regarding the levels of classified information, "secret" is the middle tier. Any information under the "secret" classification is deemed as creating serious damage to national security if the information is revealed. And anyone handling this information must have that level clearance or higher to handle it, or be involved with it.

The laws don't apply to public disclosure of classified information, Devine said, but a government worker could tell an inspector general if wrong-doing involving classified information has occurred. He said someone could also disclose unclassified aspects of a classified program, and be protected.

The White House has made it clear--including in today's press conference held just a few minutes ago--that the release of this program's existence was a detriment to our efforts in the war on terror. Our enemies now know how we have been keeping an eye on them. Their tactics will now change.

Because it's not yet known if classified information was given to reporters, there's no telling yet if that's a problem in this case. So far, though, Devine said he thinks everything he's seen published so far is safe from prosecution.

I have no idea what Mr. Devine is thinking. The majority of those in the law field have stated, point blank, that a crime was committed in the release of this information. This is a classified program. Had the government wanted everyone to know, they would have announced it. They would not have relied on someone to leak it at a later date. And to be fair to Mr. Devine, calling this person a "whistleblower" gives an impression that what they did was good; that they should be free from prosecution. This spin is no different than the Times calling this program a "domestic spying" program.

"This has been apple pie, protected speech," he said.

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism,
told FOXNews.com undoubtedly the Times story was enabled by a leak. But noting the ongoing investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame-Wilson's identity, he said politicians will have a hard time meeting the burden of proof of criminality in a leak.

"There's a difference between a leak that violates, or might violate a specific law against outing an individual who's undercover or whose identity is classified, and an investigation into the more general kind of leaking about operations policies, that goes on, frankly, every day in this town," Rosenstiel said.

Except that Mr. Rosenstiel forgets that there was no outing of Valerie Plame. She was not covert. She had no NOC identity at the time she was revealed in the Novak piece, and her husband had outed her almost a year earlier on a website. They never took the precautions to keep her identity a secret, as was stated by many of their friends. And their kids, just days ago, confided to reporters that mommy was a "secret agent." (That may be what mommy and daddy tell the kids, but the facts paint a different story; that is a story where Valerie Plame should have been facing dismissal from CIA for going behind the backs of her superiors in regard to the Niger probe.)

Because of that, Washington's press corp doesn't appear to be greatly concerned. But Rosenstiel said it doesn't mean journalists should forget about the ethics of revealing secretive or sensitive information.

Rosenstiel stopped short of saying whether the Times should have run the story; rather, he said, those decisions are made on a case-by-case basis that changes not only by the story but by the people running the newsroom. The Times has said it held the story for a year after the administration told editors it could harm national security.

They were told! They were told it could hurt national security, and the Times still ran it. Knowing what they knew, hearing what they heard from the government, the Times still ran the sotry, knowing full well what the impact would be. If that is not blatant, purposeful malfeasance I honestly do not know what is. That would be the equivalent of the Times printing the date, time, and landing locations of the D-Day invasion after being told it would damage the war efforts in World War II. Someone on the editorial staff needs to lose their job, and face prosecution.

"There is no perfect equation," Rosenstiel said. "We want journalists to be parsing out and not just publishing everything they take in. ... If you're just putting everything you know in the newspaper ... then you're not doing your job."

And when they publish things that the government has told them not to, they are not doing their job, either.

Georgetown University constitutional law professor Peter Rubin said he hasn’t seen anything in the stories that gives terrorists additional information about government operations. It’s widely known, he said, that the United States can spy on people via wiretaps without letting the subject of the wiretap know beforehand — that’s the purpose of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Rubin noted that illegally putting out classified information is still a crime. But regardless of any investigation, he said he thinks that the general public is better off now than it was before the story about domestic spying broke.

“It seems obvious that they’re better off by having this story in front of them,” Rubin said.

I am glad I am not going to Georgetown for my law degree. I do not think that general public is better off. I do not think the general public needed to know. We are not cleared for it, and the Times was wrong to have run the story. The FISC was too slow in dealing with the necessary warrants. As a matter of fact, I found this a couple days ago. It comes from the UPI, and was part of a story regarding the FISC.

But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for surveillance by the Bush administration, the report said. A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003 and 2004. And, the judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years -- the first outright rejection of a wiretap request in the court's history. (Quote, Hat-tip: Hugh Hewitt) http://hughhewitt.com/archives/2005/12/25-week/index.php#a000899

He said the NSA program is “a dramatic step of spying on American citizens in the United States. I think most people were very surprised to hear it,” including lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

We do not know, as yet, if any of these people were US citizens. If they were, I am sure that the warrants were obtained for them. When it comes to "surprise," I doubt that any American was truly surprised that it was occurring. I believe the surprise came in the fact that a major news outlet was reporting it.

“That suggests a level of gravity of this,” Rubin said. The government has not said who has been the subject of eavesdropping, but that it may have involved American citizens.

The Times reported that the eavesdropping program helped uncover a plot by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker and naturalized citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to helping Al Qaeda plan to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Yes, and upon hearing of this program, Faris's lawyers want to know if he was the subject of such surveillance, if any of the information used against him was based on such information obtained in the surveillance, and if so why they were not privy to that information. Thanks to the Times, Faris might end up getting another appeal.

The rest of the FOX story points to other leak cases undergoing investigation. Now, I have respect for the people that FOX found to give their opinions regarding this program. But, based on the laws of the land, the Times is not protected from possible prosecution, and the leakers can be prosecuted, too. There is no protection for anyone who purposefully leaks this information to the poress, knowing that this program was to be kept secret. Not from the public, per se, but from our enemies. Mr. Rubin can claim that the terrorists know what we are capable of, but are they really?

Do they really know what this nation is capable of doing. I doubt it. They have an idea, an inkling, but I doubt they truly know the extent we are willing to go, and the legal boundaries we must play within. Now, they do. There is a reason this program was labled as "secret." It's release has done serious damage to national security; it has tipped our hand to the terrorists, and now they will change methods and tactics.

The Bunny ;)

Steyn, Barone, And Barnes: Part II

As promised, here is the interview between Hugh Hewitt, Mark Steyn, Michael Barone, and Fred Barnes. And tonight we offer a special treat. Normally only one of us would be injecting our thoughts. Not tonight. Tonight, we match three minds with three minds. Transcript courtesy of Generalissimo Duane


Gentlemen, thanks for joining us as we look ahead to a very pivotal year. I'll start with the overarching question, which cards would you rather be holding right now? The Republican hand or the Democratic hand, Fred Barnes, and why?

FB: Well, I think I'd rather be holding the Democratic hand, but not for anything that they've done, but strictly because of history, and because the Republicans, after the 2004 election, may be a little bit overextended in the Senate and the House and in governorships. They've done so well since 1994, over that ten years, while politics in America was being realigned in their favor, that it's probably in order that there'll be a little fallback by Republicans. But my prediction would be that while Democrats pick up a few House seats, they will not get control of the House, thus no impeachment effort on President Bush. And while they may pick up a Senate seat or two, they will not control the Senate. And while they may pick up a governorship or two, they will not have any sizable lead among governorships. So small gain that means very little.

I will field this one. I must concur with Mr. Barnes, but any little gain that the Democrats make will undoubtedly be trumpted as some sort of "mandate." I expect to see the MSM playing that same tune for days after the election, possibly even weeks. The Democrats will attempt to spin their victory. However, there are four key races to watch. Frist is out; he is retiring. Snowe, DeWine, and Chafee are the toss ups, and either they will be taken by a Democrats (doubtful) or a Republican (far more liekly, but only if they can unseat them in a primary).

HH: Michael Barone, do you agree with that?

MB: Overall, I do agree with that, Hugh. I mean, the Republicans were successful in picking up Senate seats, governorships in the 2002, 2004 election in the South, and other parts of the country that leaned towards them. There's not a lot of that low-hanging fruit left. There's only four Democratic Senators from the old eleven states of the old confederacy. So there's not...and only one of them is up this year, Bill Nelson of Florida. So consequently, the gains aren't as easy for the Republicans, and they're going to fall back in some governorships. Certainly, they're in particular trouble in Hugh, your home state of Ohio, where they've been in power in the legislature and the governorship for sixteen years. That's longer than any party's been in power in Ohio since before the Civil War. And they've raised taxes and done other unrepublican things like that, and have gotten themselves in trouble on some scandals. So yeah, I think the stage is set for minor Democratic gains. I think for them to achieve major gains, they've got to change the contours of voting preference around the country that have prevailed, pretty much, since '95-'96. I don't see signs yet that that's happening.

Ladies first, and all that. I agree that some states, especially those in the northern US may experience gains by the Democrats, but I doubt it will be significant. Mr. Barone was correct to bring up Ohio. It will be a battleground, and Mike DeWine--between his inclusion to the Gang of 14 deal, and his participation in the Patriot Act filibuster--could very well spell the end of his career as a US Senator. Mr. Barone also brought up another of McCain's cronies in Bill Nelson. Nelson is facing an uphill battle in Florida, and again, his inclusion to the extra-Constitutional wrangling of the Gang of 14 deal could assist him right out of office, as well.

HH: Mark Steyn, are you in agreement with Fred Barnes and Michael Barone?

MS: Yes, I'd say Michael's analysis is pretty accurate there. I think the long-term problem for Democrats is that they're stuck with issues that are all the 40% issues, and indeed falling. And we mentioned impeachment earlier. I don't believe even Karl Rove could get lucky enough to persuade the Democrats to impeach the president because he's spying on people who have telephone contact with terrorist cells. That would just be...that's a classic example of what I think the Democrats are doing wrong, which is that they're in this conversation with themselves over very technical, legalistic issues, that are just perceived, in political terms, completely differently in the country at large.

The Democrats are going to make a key mistake in 2006: They're to campaign against the administration, and take swipes at the president. If this is their sole message, they'll have problems. The president isn't running for their seats. He has his job until 2008. He's sealed. But, if they campaign on these perceived wrongdoings, it'll go nowhere fast. Even the Times is trying to disavow the new Bush polling data from Rasmussen. America is behind the president on the NSA program. They're behind him on the steps he's taking to protect the nation. They're not behind the Democrat obstructionism, and in fact, 51% of Democrats polled by Rasmussen agreed that the president is doing fine, they agree with his surveillance programs, and see nothing wrong with them. For the Democrats, the war is a bad issue to pick up. It's going to backfire on them.

HH: Let me stick with you for a second, Mark Steyn. George Bush led the ticket in 2000, 2002, 2004, campaigned vigorously, and won in each of those elections, although in 2000, he lost ground in the Senate. Is he a plus or a minus for the Republicans, heading into 2006?

MS: Well, you know, I think he's a problematic figure. I think basically now, people have their view of George W. Bush. Nobody after six years is going to say hey, you know, I listened to a Bush speech last night, and I've got to say, I haven't liked him for six years, but he's persuaded me this time. I think he clearly is, essentially, a 50/50 president, that people who haven't warmed to him aren't going to warm to him now. But at the same time, I think for the Republican base, if he's not more of a plus, he's certainly less of a minus than the Republican Congress, and particularly, the Republican Senate at the moment. So I think he will be out there, and he won't be a drag on the ticket. At least when it comes to charging up the base.

I have to agree with Mark. The president will not garner the momentum he did in 2002, or in 2004. He will give the candidate he campaigns for a slight boost, and that might be enough in tightly contested races like Santorum's, Kyl's, and Frist's vacant seat. The GOP, in my opinion, has a better chance of retaining more seats int he Senate than the Democrats. They he two retiring (Dayton and Sabanes), and Corzine still has to announce his replacement. Dayton in Ohio will heat up that battleground. If I were the president, I'd campaign for the GOP candidate in Ohio, provided it isn't DeWine. Dayton's seat will be challenged by the GOP, and it could fall to them.

HH: And Michael Barone, you coined the term 48/48 America, rather than 50/50. And you thought after 2004, it might have shifted to 51/48. Can George Bush add more to that number as he heads into` the 2006 campaign?

MB: Can he add more? I think he can add marginally more. I don't think he's added marginally more as we sit here. But we've noticed over the last six weeks, since Bush started pushing back on the Iraq issue, starting with the November 11th speech, in response to the Congressman Murtha's call for us to withdraw, that Bush has made headway in the public opinion polls. He has moved opinion in his direction. He has restored the support of the Republican base, which is unprecedentedly strong. And he has changed some opinions. So what he's got to do is keep up the assault. The mainstream media is going to be keeping up an assault on Bush, non-stop, as they've been doing for five years. That's their mission in life, is to try to destroy his presidency, and he's finally woken up to the fact in November that he's got to make his own case, because they're certainly not going to provide any information on which people can make it for him.

Michael makes an interesting point. Yes, the president can make significant headway. The Democrats have 14 seats up for grabs. The Republicans have 15. Our prediction is that Sarbanes' seat is going to Michael Steele, and Dayton's will go to a GOP candidate. The GOP will win--as it stands right now--11 seats. The Democrats should onyl win 9. That gives the GOP the edge by two seats in this election. But it does take this form of pushing back, not only by the administration, but by those up for reelection, as well. The agenda must be set, and the agenda is sound--first uttered by Hugh Hewitt--and parroted here. Win the war, cut the taxes, control the spending, confirm the judges; it's as simple as that. Maintain that course, and the GOP can't lose, and remain steadfastly on the offensive. Thomas was correct earlier tonight in emphasizing that strategy. The media's not going to let up, and neither are the liberals. You don't fight on your heels, and neither should the GOP.

HH: Fred Barnes, you've written this portrait, Rebel in Chief, of George Bush, on how he confounded every expectation. Will he do so again in 2006, by reversing what ought to be a historical trend against his political coattails?

FB: I think he will, and remember, Hugh, he doesn't have to be a president with a 65% job approval rating. He'll never get there. Bush recognizes, or he finally does this year, he drifted away from his essential political analysis that actually comes from Karl Rove, and that's we are a polarized nation. He didn't create it, but it's there. There aren't many Democrats for him to get, even soft Democrats. And the best he can do is pull together his coalition, a right of center coalition, which gets him to 51 or 52%. And he can't get any better than that. He just has to pull it together again. I think he's on his way to doing that. And remember, 51 or 52% may not be great, but it's a majority.

I think he's going to make the Left look stupid again. We've seen that Karl Rove is a good advisor, but final term politics differ. The same thing happened to Reagan. The Left knew he was on his way out, so they used every dirty trick, took every dirty little swipe, and obstructed him the best they could. Bush is going to be savaged over the next couple of years. Get in their and get your hands dirty. However, what will irritate the base is the support of moderate/RINO Republicans that have participated in nearly as much obstructionism as the Democrats did. If he opts not to back a Chaffee, a DeWine, or a Snowe, I think the public will think better of him in those states. (Well, maybe not in Maine, but the other two, yes.)

HH: Before we get in the tall grass of particular races in the House, the Senate, and the governorship, and I do want to go there, I've got a specific question for each of you. Fred Barnes, how's the money shaking out in 2006? We had the Soros bankrolling of the fever swamp in 2004. Is he still there? Does the Mehlman machine have what it takes? Or has Senator Dole lost the energy that the National Republican Senatorial Committee used to have in raising dough?

FB: Well, she's lost it there, on the Senate side. The Republican Campaign Committee on the House side is raising money like crazy, and so is the RNC. And you know, it wound up toward the end of the campaign that the Republican-oriented independent expenditures were as much as Soros and Peter Lewis, and other limosine liberals were financing on the Democratic side. And if you remember...what was the name of that girl, who had met President Bush, and he hugged her after her mother died in 9/11 in New York? Remember?

HH: Oh, yes. Ashley.

FB: That ad, the Ashley ad, turned out to be the biggest one of the campaign. Now the people remember it the most...obviously one of the reasons was it came toward the end of the campaign. So I think the Republicans, except on the Senate side, are in good shape financially. And they ought to be ahead of Democrats, and they are.

The Senate side is having a problem because of literally multitudes of brainfarts that Republicans have had over the course of the last year, or so. The Gang of 14 deal led by our POS senator, John McCain, George Voinovich crying on the floor of the Senate, McCain's redundant torture legislation, the pork barrel spending, etc., etc. The GOP shot themselves in the foot in the Senate, and America sees it. Those people are the ground-pounders in 2006; they will go out and get the message out to the rest of the voters.

HH: Michael Barone, my specific for you. Not money, but demographics. You spent a lot of looking at Catholic voting patters in 2004. Has that shift endured? Is it still something that we look for at this level, Senate and House races, governor races?

MB: Well, I haven't seen a major change in it. I mean, Bush won a majority of regular Church attender Catholics, and ran essentially even with John Kerry among the Catholic vote, even in the state of Massachusetts. Last time we had a Catholic on a major party ticket in 1960, John F. Kennedy, I think, carried more than 80% of Catholics in Massachusetts. John Kerry couldn't get 50%. So yeah, that's a change. I think it's enduring. Key question here, Hugh, both for the Catholics, Evangelical Christians, strong religious belief people, who's going to turn out? I think that in the period of September and October, when Bush's job ratings were lagging, when he wasn't making the case for himself, there was a real danger that if those numbers persisted, you weren't going to get the turnout from the Republican base that you need in order to win, and that you might get turnout from the Democratic side, the crackpot left that we hear so much from. I think that danger is less now that Bush's job rating is better, that he's making the arguments for himself, that he's rallying his troops. But '06, like '04 and '02, is going to be a battle of turnout. That's the thing that's hardest for pollsters to predict.

Michael couldn't be more correct. Something major has to occur to get people out to vote. This has become a serious problem over the last few years, and much of this is due to the liberals; they have literally dragged politics down into the gutter. They've alienated the voters to believing their vote doesn't count. And we can point back to 2000 and state that every vote counts, but memories are short. Backed up fact, informing the voters, focusing on the Democrats--what they have said, what they have done--will be the game breaker. "If you're ticked about this, then vote," should be the mantra of the volunteers. A point that Thomas and I disagree on is the right of voting. I believe that if you don't vote, you have nothing to complain about, so shut up. He won't stand up and tell them to shut up. He believes they have a right to speak, even from a point of ignorance.

HH: And Mark Steyn, the effects, if it happens, and we pray it doesn't between now and the election, of another attack on America?

MS: Well, you know, I think that really is the wild card. Bush has this...can make the case that on the one hand, there has been no attack on U.S. soil since September 11th, which is certainly not what anybody expected that week. They thought that something would come along in a few weeks, and all the rest of it, and nothing has happened. On the other hand, the longer that goes on, the less the war is an issue. I think, insofar as the whole War On Terror factors into 2006, Iraq is basically waning as a domestic issue, because the Democrat case has not been accepted by sufficient numbers of the American people.

I hate to disagree with Mark, but we still have enemies. The War will not end in the next few years. It will hang over us for awhile. Granted, 2008 is a ways off, and by that time we may end up with a Hillary or a Kerry in the Oval Office pulling a Murtha, and running from all of it. More than liekly with an apology and offer for reparations. But for right now, the revelation of the NSA program could prove to be beneficial to the campaign; one of the reasons why we haven't been hit again. However, to focus on Hugh's main question, it's tough to say what the effects another attack may have on America before the election. More than likely, the sheeple-moonbats will parade to the polls in their tin-foil hats to follow the footsteps of Spain. I hope that doesn't happen, but only God knows what this country would do in a situation like that.

HH: Mark, when we went to break, you were saying the American people have not bought the Democratic critique of the war in Iraq. In fact, John Murtha might get flowers every month from the White House for a long time to come. But if the United States gets hit again, domestically, as London has been, as Spain, as Bali, all of these places have been, does that indict Bush's leadership? Or does it energize the American people to the war's diligent prosecution again?

MS: I think on balance, that would work for the president and for the Republican Party, because basically, the Democrats have become over-invested in defeatism and quagmire and everything going to pieces in the War On Terror, and indeed in the idea that there is no War On Terror. It's just some myth cooked up by the Bush White House to boost Halliburton's profits, or whatever the thing is. And that is simply not something that resonates with enough people. So I think that if America was hit again, major city, major bombs, big numbers of people dead, I think on the whole, that would not work to the Democrats' advantage.

This is the primary argument against Thomas' tin-foil idea that we would turtle and hide from the terrorists. If we get hit again, it will not be pleasent for those that committed the act. If al-Qaeda thought we were mad after 9/11, then all I have to say is try it again; you do not understand the meaning of the word "pissed." America is not rolling over for these fanatical losers.

HH: It would be a terrible tragedy, but it would focus us on the long war again. Michael Barone, let's turn to the House now, and talk very inside baseball. How many competitive seats are there really in the House of Representatives?

MB: Well, the answer is that we don't know that for sure. If the contours of the vote that have basically been in existence since the 1995-1996 showdown between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are still in play, the answer is that there's only about 25 or 30 seats in the House that are in play. The Democrats are hoping that the Republicans are going to be significantly weaker in some parts of the country, with some demographic, with some group, that will enable them to make breakthroughs in districts that under the hitherto prevailing contours have not been available to them. And they're trying to run candidates in a lot of districts that seem improbable, in the hopes that those trends are changing. I haven't seen the indication from the polling data, and the stuff that I've seen so far, that those trends are changing substantially. And so I think the Democrats are still in a position of trying to draw to an inside straight.

Out of the 25-30 seats that Michael sees, I predict the GOP will lose about 5-7 of those seats. It's still not enough to tip the balance of the House. The House is far more structured, in terms of parties sticking together, and I doubt the GOP will be fractured by the few that might have zipped off the reservation for that stray piece of publicity. There is no John McCain or Lincoln Chafee in the House, at least not in the respect of those two. The introduction of new candidates into districts maintained by the GOP for awhile might prove to be a defeat, especially if the prospective Democrats take a "hard left" from time to time throughout their campaign, or make asinine statements like those from John Kerry in the 2004 election, or Howard Dean since his election to head up the DNC.

HH: Fred Barnes, they are trying to replay the Jim Wright era by indicting Delay, with Ronnie Earl's made-up charges in Texas. But they also have real ammunition in the disgraceful bribery of Duke Cunningham, and in the spreading scandal of Jack Abramoff. And where that goes, who knows. Does that have the possibility of a realigning moment, as Newt Gingrich used right to realign the House, along with the Contract With America?

FB: Well, it has the potential of causing some problems for Republicans, but it doesn't have any chance of being a realigning moment, or creating one for the simple reason that all the other factors, open seats of moderate Democrats, and so on, that were available in 1994, when Republicans picked up 52 seats. I mean, those opportunities are just not there. The Duke Cunningham case really stands alone. I mean, there's nothing new, or anything fresh about it. It's just old-fashioned corruption. A guy selling his vote. I don't think that indicts the Republican Party. The Delay stuff will be over by then. Those charges in Texas are clearly not going to get anywhere, and it's designed just to hurt Delay, and make sure he doesn't come back as majority leader, which he may not. The Abramoff stuff, we don't know where that's going to go. You know, we've heard about scandals many times. It would blossom in the past, and they really let to nothing. Remember the one about that bank...I really can't even remember the name of it. About ten years ago, it was supposed to be the mother of all scandals, or twelve years ago, and it turned out it wasn't at all. So we have to wait on Abramoff. But look, when you think of the House of Representatives, Hugh, you have to realize, as Michael just said, 25-30 seats may be competitive. And Democrats aren't going to win all of those. Some of those seats are Democratic seats. I live in a state like Virginia, where there are 11 House seats, none competitive. You live in a state with even more, California, with what? 52 or 54 seats? None competitive.

And if the Democrats decide to hang their hats on the supposed scandals of the GOP, they're going to get burned. Yes, DeLay's will be over by then. He may or may not return as Majority Leader. Personally, I think he needs to. He didn't need a whip for the party. He was the whip and the leader holding it. Abramoff, indeed, must be waited on. As yet, nothing serious has popped out, not like the Cunningham scandal. That was bad--really bad. It was definitely nothing that was expected, but hey, a crook's a crook. Selling one's vote is a serious charge, and Cunningham got nailed dead to rights. He resigned. Smart man. Now, let the prosecutors do their job, and move on. But to harp on the scandals isn't going to give the Democrats any traction.

HH: None competitive.

FB: Illinois' the same way. So many states are that way. They're just not competitive. They're gerrymandered, either by one party or by both parties getting together. You know, two guys in a room deciding which seats go to which party. So that makes it very hard for Democrats to get enough seats. I think they need to net fifteen, in order to take the House. I think there's almost no chance of that, regardless of what issues they may want to manipulate.

I agree (as I have Sabrina nodding her head in regard to Illinois). The redistricting across the nation balanced both sides out. The only reason Democrats are complaining is that their power was finished when it occurred. Couple that with the '94 mudstomping handed to them, and you have a party that has a snowball's chance in Hell of reclaiming the House. The only way they're going to is to find a message, stick to it, and sell it. The problem with that is that their message right now flies about as well as a lead balloon to the majority of America.

HH: Michael Barone, I think I heard you say something at that point.

MB: 53 seats in California, Fred.

FB: Okay.

HH: Mark Steyn, what about the attempt by Democrats to turn the president's ordering of surveillance of al Qaeda communicating with their American agents into the Nixon plumbers, part 2?

MS: Well, I think this is a good example of how even if they were right in a very narrow, legalistic sense, they're just wrong on the basic politics of it. I think Rasmussen had a poll a day or two ago showing that 2/3rd of Americans believed that this National Security Agency should be allowed to intercept phone conversations between terrorist cells in other countries and people living in the United States. And the idea that the Democrats can go to the country and say oh, it's outrageous that this Achmed in Hamburg was calling a number in Virginia and New Jersey, and the government was listening in on the conversations. That is simply not going to play. I don't believe even...the president has essentially become like one of these sort of creatures in a horror movie where the Democrats pump evermore ineffectual bullets into him, over Katrina, over Abu Ghraib, and now over this thing. And none of them resonate with the broader public.

And this goes back to the scandal point. No matter what they try to hang the GOP on is going to have little effect on the president, or the candidates. America doesn't buy trash, and this is undeniably the strategy. There would be no large amount of blustering over the NSA program were it otherwise. We're heading into the weekend of New Years, and the liberals in Congress and the media are going to beat on the president over this. It doesn't matter what the public says, including telling them to shut up because they're flat wrong, they're going to keep firing away. Hopefully, they'll blow both feet off.

MB: Can I just add onto that, Hugh?

HH: Please.

MB: You know, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the mainstream media that's been pumping this story, has an obvious subtext in all their stories, which is that the American people are going to be horrified when they hear that this is obviously a terrible abuse. Mark is right, and I've the Rasmussen Report figures right in front of me as I'm speaking to you. 64% of Americans believe that National Security Agency should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorist suspects in other countries and people living in the U.S. Only 23% disagree.

And this is a key point to the whole argument. America--64% of America--understands that the president is doing this to protect the nation, and that this program applies to foreign agents in our nation intent on killing us. No one cares that you call your aunt in Hoboken, and their not listening in on that killer business deal. They're listening to the people trying to kill us, who are planning their next move. WE understand this. WE know that it's legal. WE know that the president has this authority. It's the Left that doesn't, and that is detrimental to their side. It shows they aren't willing to take the steps necessary to protect this nation. At least, they say it's an egregious crime. And if it was such a bad, bad crime, then why didn't anyone bring this up about Clinton? Why wasn't he impeached for it? They can't have it both ways. It can't be good for them, and bad for us.

HH: That's remarkable.

MB: I'd like going into an election with a 64-23 issue on my side, and 68% say they're following the story closely. So that opinion's likely to be pretty solid. When Rasmussen asked them is President Bush the first one to authorize this, 48% said no, 26% said yes. So the NYT can hyperventilate all it wants. But this is a loser for the Democratic Party.

HH: All right. Into the tall grass...

FB: And there's one other factor. One other factor I would add to it, the media insists, led by the New York Times, insists on calling this the domestic spying scandal. It's not a domestic spying scandal. It's about phone calls or e-mails overseas from some al Qaeda agent. But they call it the domestic spying scandal, but smartly, the American people aren't buying that.

As it is to be expected. America is not full of morons. The John Walker, Jr. spy case was a scandal, and it involved a domestic spy working for the Soviets. This is not spying. It is surveillance, and it is surveillance against our enemy. Are we not to fight with our eyes and ears open any longer? That is a losing strategy, and not only is it a bad move for a paper trying to retain readers, but it is bad for the Democrats for even siding with the paper on this. It is a dog issue, and one that is assured to bite the Democrats in the butt if they pursue this avenue.

HH: All right. Now into the tall grass, the United States Senate, and we're going to do inside baseball here, America, but you've got to get the lineup, if you're going to know whose going to be ahead at the end of the game. Let me start by throwing Rick Santorum's situation at you, Michael Barone. Is it over? Or does he have a fighting chance?

MB: I think that Rick Santorum's in a very negative position. He's been trailing Bob Casey, Jr., the longtime statewide official, son of the former governor. I don't think this one is quite over, Hugh, because I think that if you look at the underlying numbers, Santorum's numbers are fairly positive, despite some pretty controversial statements he's made. Casey has not had substantive exposure. People know the name, but he's been very careful not to take positions on issues, and I think it's possible that we could see some movement on his numbers, perhaps enough to re-elect Santorum, once people see Casey's position on the issues. Does he want to get stuck with Nancy Pelosi's positions? I think he probably doesn't.

Santorum's sitting pretty if he sticks to the issues, and gets Casey to stick to them. The hardest part, of course, is going to be getting Casey to stick to the debating topics. The other problem for Santorum is that his "controversial" statements are going to be used in attack ads. Santorum's got to be prepared to fire back quickly and often. I'll predict a 53-47 squeaker for Santorum, barring any serious screw-ups.

HH: Fred Barnes, let me go to you. Olympia Snowe is probably invulnerable. But Lincoln Chafee is the only time I've ever hoped for the defeat of a Republican Senator. Is he vulnerable to either the Laffey primary challenge in September of 2006, or to a Democratic challenger?

FB: I think he's more vulnerable in the primary than he is to a Democratic challenger. I mean, he's withstood them, candidates Democrats thought were very good in the past. You know, conservatives are really going to have to come out of the woodwork and get behind his challenger in the primary. So far, they haven't. He's going to have to raise some money, and really go somewhere. But my expectation is that Chafee, you know, benefitting from his father, who really was not as liberal, was a moderate Republican, and a wonderful person. He really benefits from being his father's son, and I think he'll be in the Senate for another term.

If Chafee wins, I'm going to be ticked. If Laffey is serious to challenge him, then it's time to take the gloves off. It's time America dug into it's pockets and supported Laffey, and those in Rhode Island that are conservative need to get our and pound the pavement for Laffey. Allowing Chafee to head back to the Senate is like allowing McCain to win the presidency. It's just not a good idea. He's too liberal for what needs to be done in the Senate, and has been involved in enough of his own obstructionism, including his participation with the Seditious Seven in the Gang of 14 deal. (Yes, get used to that because it's something that needs to be pointed out about every candidate involved in that deal. These people basically granted themselves extra-Constitutional powers that trump the Constitution, itself.)

HH: Yeah, I always say he should be paying the estate tax on his salary. Let's talk now about Ohio, Michael DeWine, Mark Steyn. Sort of a classic Senator: invisible most of the year until he screws up with the Gang of 14, or voting against ANWAR. The Democrats, as Michael Barone pointed out, are poised for blood in Ohio. Do you think Mike DeWine has got what it takes to be a sort of modern successful politician in a battleground state?

MS: No, I think the problem with the Senate as a whole is that it's a kind of lagging indicator. So often, you have people in position who are there, like Lincoln Chafee because of his father, or for example, New Hampshire's all Republican delegation, which doesn't quite fit the profile of that state. And it would be interesting to see how well either Judd Gregg or John Sununu would do against serious Democrat challenges. And I think Mike DeWine's in that situation, too, that suddenly, when your state comes into play, when you're in serious times, when you've got issues that it's tough to make a political call on, and actually require you to show some principle and backbone, that's when these guys are found wanting. I would...I know you're much more of a party man than I am, but I would certainly be in favor, just as a cautionary tale, Pour l'encourager les autres, if some of these people paid a price for what's happened in the last couple of years.

Here, here. However, I would prefer they lose to a real conservative instead of another RINO, or a more centrist Republican. Losing to a Democrat is not an option, and if DeWine is going to be the candidate, then he had better learn how to fight. Ohio is in full play right now, and Dayton's seat (he is retiring) is going to be key in Ohio along with DeWine's. If DeWine wins, and a conservative wins, then it is a wash; one we can live with. We will have rid ourselves of one liberal, and retained one in the same state.

HH: No, I am with Disraeli. I am a party man. But I...nevertheless, I worry about DeWine. Michael Barone, what about DeWine and Conrad Burns? Are either of them seriously vulnerable?

MB: I think you've got to be worried about that. I mean, a year ago, all of us who analyze these races pretty much assumed that Mike DeWine was not going to have serious problems, that the Democrats were going to have trouble coming up with a candidate. It looks like they've got possibly serious challengers, this Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, who ran an unusually close race in the 2nd Congressional district, special election, and/or Congressman Sherrod Brown from Northeastern Ohio, and the problems that the Ohio Republican Party had. So that looks like a real race. DeWine is going to have to make his case that he's done things for the voters that they're currently not aware of, if he's going to win. Conrad Burns had a close race in 2000. It was really rescued at the last minute against a very attractive Democrat, Brian Schweitzer, whose now the Governor of Montana. I think that he's got a problem. He was the number one contributee from people associated...Jack Abramoff and Abramoff clients. He has now given back the money. My own view is that you should give it away to charity, rather than give it back to the presumably wrongfeasor. But he's given back the money. But he's clearly...he's going to have to hustle in Montana. The Democrats have made gains in the state government, the governor's race, and in the state legislature. And once again, I think he's got to make a positive case to voters if he's going to be re-elected.

As Marcie just pointed out, DeWine will have his hands full in Ohio, and yes, Burns will too. This isn't just parrting these guys. We're watching these develop, too. Maybe what many in the public don't realize is that the Democrats are making serious inroads at the state level. Governors, State House and Senate members, city councils, mayors, etc. They do tend to climb within state politics, and many a governor know that they will be looked at in 2008 and beyond as possible candidates for president. The people in power within the states today could set the tone for days ahead. The GOP only has a five seat lead in the Senate, and 15 will tip the balnce of the House back in favor of the Democrats. No, we can't afford to screw up here. So, our candidates that haven't faced any serious opposition are going to have to dig in and hold the line.

HH: Either of them foregone, though, Michael Barone?

MB: Not for sure, no.

HH: Okay.

MB: I think looking a year out, you've got to say that they're both quite conceivable winners. But I think they've got to supply their voters with more information than they currently have, or they're highly vulnerable.

HH: Fred Barnes, give us a minute on the open seat in Tennessee being vacated by Bill Frist, and Mississippi's Lott, who confuses and fails to inspire continually.

FB: Well, look. Republicans better hope Lott runs again. I think he probably will, but he's reconsidering it, for an obvious reason. You know, he lost half his net worth when his house was blown away in Hurricane Katrina. And he's a guy whose never made a lot of money, because he's been in Congress for years and years. I think he was first elected in '72, so as an adult, he's mainly been a member of Congress, or a staffer. He was a staffer for a southern Democrat before that. Mike Moore, the former Democratic attorney general is poised to run, if it's not Trent Lott. So Republicans need Lott to be in there.

Despite his overly retarded gaffe costing him his leadership position, Lott isn't a bad guy. However Hugh hits the nail on the head. If he runs, and he's hoping for the leadership position, he's not getting it. He fails to inspire anything other than a nap. But the GOP does need him to run again. The seat needs to held onto. I've done reading on Moore; he's not one to be taken lightly. If Lott goes in half-hearted, he could and probably would lose.

HH: How about Tennessee?

FB: Well, Tennessee is a different state. I mean, Republicans have a number of good candidates, and the young Ford from Memphis, the Congressman, a Democrat, an African-American, is making a run. Tennessee may not be quite ready for him, so I'll bet that state stays Republican.

Tennessee will stay in the GOP column. No one among the Democrats have strepped up yet to mount a serious challenge. Ford might be the closest, but this kid's wet behind the ears still. Another term in the House, and he might be ready for prime-time. I wish Frist would stay, I just want him gone as Majority Leader. He's too weak, and is consistently unable to keep the party in line when the vote matters. He proved this with the Gang of 14 deal. He proved it with the recent filibuster on ANWaR, on the Patriot Act, and the Defense Appropriations. No, he can stay and vote, but I want a strong leader in the Senate for the GOP. Frist isn't it.

HH: We went through all the Republican vulnerabilities. There are six vulverable races there. Michael Barone, let's say three of them go each way, so they're down three as we turn to the Democrats. Let's start in New Jersey, where a new appointee, Menendez, is up against a great name in that state, Tom Keane, Jr. Whose got the edge here?

MB: Well, initial polls show Menendez slightly ahead. I think this is another one of those races that hasn't played out. Menendez has a particular problem that he seems to share with the governor-elect, John Corzine, which is a personal relationship with a woman with whom he's steered a lot of government contracts. In Corzine's case, he forgave a $470,000 loan to a woman who was one of the chief negotiators for the largest public employee union in the state, somebody with whom he'll presumably be dealing with as governor. In Menendez' case, I believe it's a former staffer who has done very well. I wonder if at some point, New Jerseyans are not going to want to have such kind of soap opera.

Menendez is a dead horse right now. The burdgeoning scandal revolving around his favortism for his favorite little lady could undo his bid to take Corzine's seat. A Mitt Romney-like conservative could slip in under the radar and spoil the party for all involved. That person has yet to throw their hat int he race yet, but I'm pretty sure one will pop up.

HH: Florida, Fred Barnes, where Bill Nelson is running in a red state against a very famous name from 2000, then-Secretary of State, now Congresswoman Harris. Does she have a chance?

FB: Well, not if she doesn't raise some money. There's a lot of thought being given to the idea that she will back out. Her fundraising has been, really, almost non-existent. And someone else will jump in and run. Certainly, the Bush White House is against her running. Others in the Republican Party outside Florida are against her running, because they believe that she cannot beat Bill Nelson, who is otherwise vulnerable. You know, Bill Nelson, you want to run that picture of him, that goofy looking picture when he went in to see Fahrenheit 911, in a Washington theater, and he comes out with a goofy grin on his face. His picture was in the Washington Post with a thumb up. You know, thumbs up on Fahrenheit 911. I mean, I think he just didn't know any better. And he's vulnerable, but they need the right candidate, and it's probably not Katherine Harris.

I agree with the White House. Harris is a dog in this race if she enters it. She does not have what it takes to unseat Nelson. A Jeb Bush might be able to do it, but it must be a candidate like that. Someone strong, with a strong reputation, and excellent name recognition. She has the reputation, and she has the recognition, but something about her just says to me that she is not the one. I would love it if she ran, and won, but I have a lot more doubt than faith if the race boils down to her and Nelson. Also, the president may not venture to Florida to help her because of his disapproval of her running for the Senate. I believe she is better in the House than the Senate. I am not positive she could handle the partisan politics involved in the senate. The House is like going to the local softball game, and watching your favorite team win over and over again. The Senate is the majors, and your favorite softball team is going to be hammered by the big boys.

HH: Mark Steyn, let's talk about two other goofy Senators. One is West Virginia's Byrd, and the other is Mark Dayton in Minnesota, who is quitting, and leaving an open seat for Congressman Mark Kennedy to go after a Klobuchar, or some other Democrat. What about Byrd in Virginia, and the Minnesota open seat, Mark Steyn?

MS: I think when you get up to...you know, whatever one feels about Senator Byrd, when you get up to that age, six months can make an awful lot of difference. In quite what shape he's in by the time he's actively campaigning in the summer is worth considering. And also going back to what I said earlier about the Senate generally being a lagging indicator. I don't think he is where West Virginia is, in the year 2006. And I would certainly say he's got a chance of being knocked off. I am glad to see Mark Dayton going. I'm glad to see Jim Jeffords going, and that's another tough seat, because the fellow who is most likely to get that is already an at-large Congressman, since he's a state-wide elected official anyway. That's Bernie Sanders. And I would say in those two cases, you're getting rid of kind of goofy people, goofy eccentric characters, who are actually not where their states are. and I think we talk about the 48/48 nation. No state is quite as Democrat or quite as Republican as it appears when you look at the numbers. And certainly, I think in West Virginia, Byrd is extremely vulnerable to an effective Republican campaign. Whether he gets that is another matter.

Byrd had a strong opposer not too long ago, but she dropped out of the early goings. Rumor has it that she wasn't garnering the funds she needed to make the run. But Mark's correct. The right candidate could knock off Byrd with little effort. She the old fool's senility and where he stands as opposed to the Constitution he proclaims to "love." She his opposition to the war, to judicial nominees, to national security, and he can be beaten. Dayton's seat, at this point is a gimme. The Democrats have a strong candidate who will probably take the seat. Sanders is bad. He's as liberal as they come in supporting the NAACP, the NEA, and NARAL. Sandersalso receives disfavorable reviews from the likes of the NRA, Citizens Against Government Waste, and worked avidly against the military. So, I doubt an independent like him is getting elected. Jim Jeffords going is a blessing in disguise. Unfortunately, in that neck of the woods (Vermont) we're liable to get another Jeffords.

HH: Michael Barone, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington State, Nebraska, North Dakota, maybe even New Mexico, all have Democrats sitting there that some people think vulnerable. How do you rank those races? Who do you think really is vulnerable on the Democratic side?

MB: Well, I think the best chance for Republicans in those races that you mentioned right now is Minnesota, where they've got a candidate in Mark Kennedy. Minnesota did turn out an awful lot of those left-wing crazy voters in central city Minneapolis/St. Paul in 2004. And the state was carried 51% by John Kerry. So it's a bit of an uphill race. I think they've got a strong candidate. Republicans have had less success recruiting in Michigan, where Senator Debbie Stabenow, elected with a plurality last time, is anything but a powerhouse. North Dakota, the governor declined to run against Senator Kent Conrad. Nebraska, the Republicans are looking as a self-financer against Ben Nelson, who has got about the most moderate voting record of any Senate Democrat. I think the Republicans, of these other races, the Republicans are most optimistic about a guy named Mike McGavick. He's capable of self-financing in Washington State against Senator Maria Cantwell. He's got...the Republicans were, in their view, robbed of the governorship by a messy recount process after the 2004 election. It's a state that was carried by John Kerry, but I think that that's...I'd have to rate it a long shot for Republicans right now, but I think that that is a conceivable pickup for them.

Cantwell should be easily beaten, but again, the GOPer has to be the right one. Conrad should win handily. Stabenow, on the other hand, is one who is weak right now. She's highly vulnerable against a candidate that has all his stuff wired together. If someone steps forward, she could be in real trouble. And even though Kerry took Washington and Minnesota doesn't mean squat when it comes to the Senate races. I think the GOP will take Washington and Michigan sending Cantwell and Stabenow home crying.

HH: Fred Barnes, do the state houses for us. Ken Blackwell, African-American Secretary of State in Ohio is a promising candidate. Pawlenty has got to fight off a strong challenge up in Minnesota. Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, they're all up for grabs. Pennsylvania's got Rendell and Lynne Swann. And of course, Arnold's in very iffy situation...how do you see the state houses breaking in 2006?

FB: Well, I think in most of those states you mentioned, I'd rather be the Democratic candidate than the Republican candidate, although I suspect Arnold will wind up winning. You may know about it more than I do in California, but he's a great campaigner. In fact, campaigning for himself, I think he'll be even better than campaigning for referenda, which obviously didn't pass. It's hard to believe that...I mean, the Democrats and the unions can spend quite the way they did over these referenda a few weeks ago. When you get to Ohio, look. I know Ken Blackwell. He's a great candidate. I think he's going to be running in the wrong year. It's just going to be tough for a Republican to win in Ohio, to win a governorship there, because that's where most of the scandals have been, at the state level, at the governor's level, and may not affect Mike DeWine as much as Ken Blackwell running for governor. Now what other states did you mention?

Unless Tom McClintock is going to challenge him again, Arnie should win. And I hate to say that because as a politician, I dislike him. But those are ideological differences that neither us are going to change one another's minds on. Blackwell's got a serious chance if he can steer clear of the scandals, and show he has no skeletons in his closet. If he can do that, then Ohio might swing to the GOP in regard to the governorship.

HH: Pawlenty in Minnesota. I think he's pretty safe.

FB: Well, Pawlenty's a pretty impressive guy, and probably should hold on. You know, if he holds on, and Mark Kennedy wins, it can be pretty impressive. Minnesota has trended Republican for a number of years, but just hasn't quote gotten there fully. And so, I'd rather be Pawlenty than whoever runs against him as a Democrat.

Ditto that; Pawlenty's sitting pretty. He's been a solid governor since first being elected, and will continue to serve the citizens of Minnesota diligently.

HH: Mark Steyn, what message would you hit early and often, if you wanted to turn what is at best, a 50/50 year for the Republicans around, early in 2006?

MS: Well, I think that their trump card is that these are serious times, and you need a serious party. And whatever you feel about the Republican Party, and there's a lot of disillusionment at the grass roots with the performance of the Repubican Congress. Whatever you feel about them, they're still serious on the serious issues, in a way that the Democrats are not. The Democrats have had four years to get serious about the new age in which we live in. And they've persistently failed to do so. In fact, they've become more frivolous over these last...since the election. I thought a lot of that rubbish in 2004 would be over once the election was over. But they've got worse since then. And as long as that persists, they will be un-electable for a certain critical sliver of the American people.

Agreed. If the Left keeps up their garbage, they're going to go nowhere. If they increase their rhetoric, they risk losing a lot this year. My best advice to the Democrats is develop a platform America wants, and stick to it. The GOP has the ability to, as well. The difference is ours really hasn't changed. We just had some goofballs in the Congress that lost their frelling minds for a short time. They're getting back on track. But part of that is our problem; we let the kids go running off without a chaparone. Now, we're watching, and thus far they've been doing better. Granted, the knuckle-heads are still there, but I think they're getting the message. They had better, or they'll be handed their hat as quickly as the Democrats will.

HH: Michael Barone, your advice to Ken Mehlman and the president?

MB: Well, I think that Mark Steyn has hit on something important, which is that the Democratic Party is really split down the middle. It's split between the Michael Moores and the Joe Liebermans. And the Michael Moores are the ones that seem to have the ear of most Democrats, as we saw with the surge of support for the patently unqualified Howard Dean for president in 2003. Fred Barned mentioned earlier that Bill Nelson came out with a big smile and a thumbs up after the premiere of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911. At the time that movie premiered, Michael Moore had on the front page of his website, the statement that Americans are the stupidest people in the world. You know, I was a Democratic campaign consultant many years ago. I never advised any of my Democratic clients to run on the slogan that Americans are the stupidest people in the world. And that you ought to associate yourself with people who take those sentiments. So there's a large part of the Democratic Party that wants to see America lose. They want to see America defeated. Their hatred of George W. Bush is so great, they don't consider this country as an especially good or decent place. And I think that's the grave weakness for the Democratic Party, and it would be in the interest of the Republicans to point that out.

If any point needs to be driven home more, it's this one. Despite what they say, their records show a different picture. They paint a picture that is adamantly against the president, therefore they're against America. George Bush isn't making America into some fascist state. This is a moonbat screaming point. Nothing could be further from the truth in that regard. He's trying to protect the nation. Sometimes, extra measures have to be taken, and in doing so, some controversy is bound to pop up. They're beating that drum right now, and it's not flying wit the public. The poll numbers show this. For thirteen years, this party's been driven by poll numbers, and because they disagree with this one doesn't make it incorrect. Rasmussen doesn't make mistakes like these numbers.

HH: Fred Barnes, Joseph Chamberlain split the liberals and joined the conservatives at the end of the 19th Century, because the liberals were not serious about their obligations in the world. Any chance of that happening in 2006 with a Lieberman, or some other figure?

FB: No, I really don't think so. Those Democrats that were going to leave have had a chance to leave and won't. But I think...I would follow on what has been said so far, and that is for Republicans, go negative. They have to go negative. They have to scare people about what Democrats would bring. You know, Democrats would run up the white flag in Iraq. Democrats don't want to fight the War On Terror. Democrats want to raise your taxes. That's what you have to do. You have to argue, well, look. Times are pretty good. It turns out we're winning in Iraq, the War On Terror. We haven't been hit again. We're aggressive in waging that war. The Democrats would take all that away. I mean, you really have to go heavily negative.

HH: Yeah. They'll get us killed, I guess.

FB: And it's not hard to do.

HH: No, it's not. Fred Barnes, Michael Barone, Mark Steyn, thanks for a tremendous hour looking ahead at the politics of 2006. I appreciate it, as does the audience.

And there you have it. We do apologize for the lenght, but this was the important interview of the day. Everyone get used to it. We're entering an election cycle, and we need to pay attention to this one. This is the one that counts, as it will set the direction the party is on for the next few years. Will we lose more than we gain? We'll know after the elections are over. We've got a pretty bright picture here, and only time will tell.

The Bunny ;)

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