Iowa Presidential Watch
Holding the Democrats accountable


January 31, 2006

"I think that basically we are now watching a deliberate policy of neglect take root," Sen. Hillary Clinton said about the Bush administration.

"If in fact the president does believe that our current laws are restricting him because of new technologies ... then he should come together with Congress and say we need to amend it," Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said about the National Security Agency’s spying on terrorists.

"If the president broke the law [spying], that's unacceptable. But I think it's debatable whether he did," said Governor Tom Vilsack (D-IA).


J U S T   P O L I T I C S


WMD's did exist

Georges Sada, one of Saddam Hussein's top generals and military advisors, has written a book, "Saddam's Secrets - How an Iraqi General Defied and Survived Saddam Hussein," which is causing liberals to increase their consumption of bromides. Sada's new book demonstrates how Saddam made fools of liberal commentators and the "Give Peace a Chance" crowd.

"[W]hen Syrian president Bashar al-Assad asked for help from Jordan and Iraq, Saddam knew what he would do." Sada writes. "For him, the disaster in Syria was a gift, and there, posing as shipments of supplies and equipment sent from Iraq to aid the relief effort, were Iraq's WMDs."

Harkin’s troubles grow

The Associated Press reports that Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) is under investigation in the Jack Abramoff scandal for taking actions similar to those of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). Doolittle wrote Interior Secretary Gale Norton in June 2003 criticizing the Bush administration's response to a tribal government dispute involving the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa.

Harkin was approached by a colleague of Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig, who wrote most of the letter that Harkin sent in the same matter. The Associated Press in stating that Harkin was under investigation for corruption said that within weeks of Harkin’s letter being sent he received $17,000 from Abramoff related funds.

Harkin also used the Abramoff skybox at the Washington, D.C. MCI Center without reimbursing Abramoff for its use until the Abramoff scandal began to come to light. Then, Harkin reimbursed the Indian tribes that help provide the skybox .

Abramoff lobbying reports show that from July of 2003 to the termination of the contract on Dec. 31, 2004, Abramoff’s lobbying firm was paid $1,060,000 by the Sac Fox Tribe. Abramoff represented the Mesquaki gambling management group who were overthrown in the new election conducted at the Tama Indian Settlement.

State of the Union

Everybody is jumping on what the State of the Union address by President Bush will accomplish. A person who is worth reading is Ron Brownstein of the LA Times:

Then there's the deficit. Bush is likely to call this week for more spending reductions. But the annual deficit is projected to remain stuck indefinitely at about $300 billion or more if Bush's tax cuts are extended, as he's seeking.

That's a big hole to fill with spending reductions alone. Peter R. Orszag, a tax and budget expert at the Brookings Institution think tank, says that if Congress wants to eliminate that deficit without touching entitlement programs or defense, it will need to cut all other federal programs — from domestic security to environmental protection — by two-thirds. "Or we could cut all existing Social Security benefits by two-thirds," he says. "If you don't like that, you could reduce Medicare payments by 93%."

Hillary is bringing the opposition to the floor of the State of the Union speech according to NewsMax:

Bush-bashing 9/11 widow Monica Gabrielle will be Sen. Hillary Clinton's special guest tonight during President Bush's State of the Union address.

Mrs. Clinton's spokesman told the New York Daily News that the senator invited Gabrielle to recognize her push for security improvements and for more information about the attacks - but also to remind Bush of challenges that still face New York.

Who has the votes?

The numbers don’t add up in the race for Majority Leader... the totals claimed by Republican Representatives Roy Blunt, John Boehner and John Shadegg far exceed the 232 lawmakers eligible to vote when the rank and file selects a new leader on Thursday. The prediction is that if Blunt doesn’t win the vote on the first ballot he will not be the Majority Leader of the Republican Conference.

A closed-door session with the entire House Republican Conference will question the Majority Leader candidates on Wednesday. The conference will also hear any motions for additional leadership elections on Wednesday.

The battle for Catholics

The Boston Globe reports that the Democrats' response to the President’s State of the Union address will be given by a Catholic – Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine. The Democrat Party is recognizing that it has a growing problem among Catholic voters:

The Democratic Party's intensifying efforts to reach out to Catholic voters will hit a high-water mark tonight, when party leaders turn to Virginia's newly installed governor to deliver the response to President Bush's State of the Union address.

Governor Timothy M. Kaine, a devout Catholic who spoke openly about his faith during his election campaign last year, will speak about his work as a Jesuit missionary in Honduras, said Delacey Skinner, a Kaine spokeswoman. Kaine said that experience during his time as a Harvard Law School student inspired him to enter public service.

Wacky Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan, after returning from visiting communist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, participated in an Impeach Bush rally. At the rally, Sheehan joined others who are calling President Bush a terrorist. Sheehan made note of the fact that President Bush estimated some 30,000 Iraqis have been killed since the beginning of operations.

Sheehan said, "3,000 Americans were killed, so does that make George Bush 10 times the bigger terrorist than Osama bin Laden?"

Iowa 2008 update

Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) headlines an Iowa GOP Victory 2006 event at Luciano's Restaurant in Sioux City, IA on Thursday.

Wednesday, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) delivers a speech at Iowa State University in Ames, IA.

The Sacramento Bee offers a look at the recent flood of early presidential contenders coming to Iowa:

Mike Huckabee, the Republican governor from Arkansas, ate chili with 150 Iowans in a high school cafeteria in Sioux Center on Jan. 16, marking his sixth visit. Four days later, Mitt Romney, the Republican governor from Massachusetts, showed up to raise cash in Council Bluffs, marking his fourth visit. And John Edwards, the former North Carolina Democratic senator and 2004 vice presidential candidate, will make his fifth visit Feb. 25, going to Davenport to give a speech on poverty.

If you are interested in the list of visitors, here is a fairly complete one from the Bee:

On the Republican side, recent visitors have included Huckabee, Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel and New York Gov. George Pataki.

On the Democratic side, recent visitors have included Edwards, 2004 nominee Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and retired Gen. Wesley Clark. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., the top choice of Democrats in most polls, has avoided Iowa, but she invited a group of Iowans to meet with her at her Washington home in May.

Alito sworn in!

It is official... Samuel Alito is the 110th Supreme Court justice. {LINK: YahooNews AP article] With a Senate vote of 58-42, Alito was confirmed and sworn in just hours later (12:40 p.m. EST) by Chief Justice John Roberts. A private ceremony was held for the swearing in at the Supreme Court building, with his wife, Martha-Ann present. Alito is ready to man his seat – having taken both the constitutional and judicial oaths.

According to the AP News article:

Alito will be ceremonially sworn in a second time at a White House East Room appearance on Wednesday

"Sam Alito is a brilliant and fair-minded judge who strictly interprets the Constitution and laws and does not legislate from the bench," President Bush said after the vote. "He is a man of deep character and integrity, and he will make all Americans proud as a justice on our highest court."

All but one of the Senate's majority Republicans voted for his confirmation, while all but four of the Democrats voted against Alito. Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island voted no and Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia voted yes.




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