Monday, October 30, 2006

For New Jersey, A Moment of Truth

Going to school in Washington, DC, it is not too difficult for classmates and co-workers to peg me as a New Jerseyan. The distinctive vowel noises and pronunciations of pet names (like "dawg") make for easy joke fodder. What I find harder to suffer is the endless jabs about New Jersey corruption. Despite my best attempts to explain that we all don't grease Tony Soprano's palm or knee cap political opponents in Elizabeth dock warehouses, the perception that Jersey is a festering nest of political bossism is irrepressible.

And to be fair, what have we as citizens of New Jersey done to convince anyone anywhere otherwise? Our tolerance for malfeasance is unbelievable, and the general apathy shown toward criminality on the part of state leaders is pathetic. Toricelli, Menendez and McGreevey are just the most recent and prominent names in a long line of disappointments. When the statehouse more closely resembles that bar from Star Wars than a legitimate legislature, does it come as a surprise when the rest of the country fails to take New Jersey seriously?

November 7th is evolving into a moment of truth for New Jersey in more ways than political outsiders or beltway pundits could ever comprehend. Sure, the outcome of the Senate race may very well affect control of the United States Senate. But for those of us who call the Garden State home, this race is about hope, pride, and the future of Jersey. Outside of a few rogue congressmen, Jersey is on the road to becoming not that much different than Massachusetts: an overtaxed and poorly served one-party fiefdom. Liberal Democrats dominate every branch of state government, and New Jersey's quality of life in declining. New Jerseyans are a hard-working, principled and prosperous people, but our industry is squandered by elected officials serving machines and special interests. Taxes break our backs and we receive the worst return on our federal income taxes of any state in the union. A vote for Menendez is unavoidably an individual affirmation for the status-quo. If New Jersey sends another corrupt, unethical, uninspiring party man to the Senate, what hope will the state ever have of achieving honest, competitive government that can tackle the issues New Jersey so desperately needs to confront?

A vote for Tom Kean is a battle cry; it is a vote for a new day in a state that is crying out for an honest man with principles worthy of its people. Property taxes, war votes and stem cells are secondary to New Jersey's need for fresh leadership that will enliven the statewide political discourse and change the nation's perception of our home. A vote for Tom Kean is an act of confidence in New Jersey as a place worthy of real leaders that treat their constituencies with respect, not as dollar signs. A vote for Tom Kean is a defiant gesture, telling the world that New Jersey will not be the milk cow for any political machine, crooked politician or statewide party. Will we learn our lessons after sustaining habitual abuse from the same old snake oil salesmen, or will we encase our self-respect in cement and leave it at the bottom of the Hudson?

I don't know whether it will be Tom Kean or Bob Menendez thanking voters on the morning November 8th, at some cheerful and delicious diner in Bergen County with great coffee and conversation. Maybe we won't know the result until Wednesday night, if the current polling is at all accurate. Nevertheless, I do know that a Menendez victory will do little to reverse the trends currently bleeding New Jersey of its children, fortune and dignity as they respectively flee to other locales, just as I know that a Tom Kean triumph will herald a new lease on life for my home state. Forgive me for getting excited, and hoping against all hope that my fellow New Jerseyans have come to the same realization. Thus is the nature of a genuine, cinema-quality moment of truth, in t-minus 8 days...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

TRS Ratings Change: MD Senate Toss-up, Brighter GOP Fortunes

When we here at TRS were in the process of handicapping races last week, we made it infinitely clear that of all the races at that time clearly leaning toward one party or the other, MD had the greatest potential to become competitive.

And so it has. TRS officially amends her most prestigious ratings to reflect the fact that the MD Senate Race has moved from lean Democrat to toss-up.

So what's happened? In 1000 words or less (much less):

1. Steele has run an extraordinarily aggressive and attractive campaign. Simply put, his TV ads, stump speeches, and televised debate performances have been superbly inspiring and endearing when compared to Cardin's boorish appeals. Ben Cardin may have thought this was going to be a walk, explaining the lack of energy on his part. Guess again.

2. The Lt. Governor demolished Cardin in the last debate. Not even close. Even The Washington Post, which also oddly enough has endorsed MD Governor Erlich (R) for re-election, remarked how deflated Cardin appeared under the Steele assault. Hasn't this guy been a congressman for some time?

3. This particular item is the most intriguing to the political analyst. The Democratic Party regularly does little for African Americans in exchange for the overwhelming support this demographic has afforded. This could be ending, at least for the purposes of our current race. Michael Steele was the first African American elected statewide in MD's history, and I can't believe that counts for nothing. In addition, he has received a series of high profile endorsements from members of the black community, including Russell Simmons and the son of his former opponent Kweisi Mfume. But most critically, Cardin has snubbed blacks left and right. Recently, the congressman ducked appearances with black groups. Anger might be building and Cardin cannot afford to lose 35% of the black vote, but recent polls indicate this nightmarish reality is a distinct possibility for Ben Cardin.

So does the Race for the Senate 2006 stand?

If Republicans win in NJ and MD, Democratic hopes to recapture the Senate are dashed. As of today, Democratic gains look to be somewhere between 2-4 seats... not enough. Also, keep an eye on MT this week. While Burns has been down for some time, word has it that some recent polls and movement on the ground may cause the GOP to make one last play for the Treasure State. Crazier things have happened, especially for the electoral ambitions of Conrad Burns.


TOSS-UP: NJ, MD possible +2 GOP or +/- for Dems


Overall, the election forecast is showing some brighter skies for Republicans. How bright will depend on how much momentum the GOP can build in 10 days.

Thursday, October 26, 2006



Wow. Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb has a lot of explaining to do. Apparently, he uses one hand to sling slime at George Allen, and the other to write gross pedophile prose in his novels. Neither hand is enlisted to remove the plank from his own eye.

So long as this story turns out to be everything it promises to be, TRS may be able to switch VA to likely Republican within 72 hours. October is full of surprises...


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Orwell Realized

Great Britain, the exalted democracy that once liberated European Jews from the clutches of the Nazis, has now developed
furnaces of its own...

Forget the Queen. God save us.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Michael J. Fox Reminds Me Why I Vote Republican

Alex P. Keaton may have been one of television's most famous feisty Republicans, but the actor who made Keaton a household name is making headlines as a left-wing pawn. Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, agreed to shoot an advertisement in support of McCaskill and the pro-cloning "Amendment 2" on the ballot in Missouri this year. An emotional and heart-wrenching appeal, mainly because of how sick Fox appears to be at this stage of his disease, the ad does its best to paint Senator Talent and embryonic research's opponents as enemies of "hope" for millions of suffering Americans.

No one can seriously blame Michael J. Fox for invoking hope as a powerful and real motivator for progress and a font of strength in difficult situations. Nor could Nancy Reagan, Cindy Sheehan, or any other person in the immediate throws of loss, illness or despair be held fully accountable for desiring solace- even if it comes at the expense of Reason. But cooler heads must prevail, and campaigns/candidates/pundits who exploit persons in such desperate situations are sadistic, soulless, and destructive individuals unworthy of a place in the public dialogue.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Under 3 Weeks to Go: TRS Senate Ratings

With only 18 days to go until Election'06, it's time to update TRS's race ratings. 2 weeks can still change a lot in this business, but here is where we stand:

***S E N A T E***

VA: Allen v. Webb- Likely Republican Retention

Allen has maintained a modest yet undeniable lead in most recent polls. Having weathered everything that the Dem research team had to throw at him, I have more confidence in Allen's ability to hold on than most other analysts. He remains a Republican candidate in a Red state with a good pedigree and an extensive political network that will be difficult to overcome. Webb's candidacy has not been perfect, either.

MO: Talent v. McCaskill- Lean Republican Retention

Jim Talent deserves to win, more so than any candidate up this year. And as of now, I believe that he will. While Claire McCaskill has offered a strong challenge, Talent has pulled ahead in recent polling. I've never thought McCaskill was a good candidate, and have always thought that Talent's troubles were more indicative of MO and the nation-at-large being electorally divided. MO is also a number one target for the GOP's superior stream of resources and manpower, which while I refuse to believe can win you the season alone, has to be good for winning at least one ball game.

TN: Corker v. Ford- Lean Republican Retention

If the GOP can't beat back a liberal Democratic challenge in TN, expect election night to be ugly. Luckily, I am confident that the GOP will. Ford is a charismatic candidate, but TN is a conservative state that likes their candidates a little more well-worn. I can't wrap my head around Tennessee electing a politician who wears some of the outfits Ford sports to weekend BBQs and county fairs. Corker's campaign has not been flashy enough, but recent staff changes and positive polls seem to speak of good news for the Republicans.

NJ: Kean v. Menendez- Toss-up

Easily the race in which I am the most emotionally invested. My home state needs an independent voice, and Tom Kean may be just the man to buck the machine. Menendez's ethics problems have bestowed upon him issues more akin of Republicans in this cycle, and in most polling, as had trouble breaking through the 44-46% range. Not good news for an incumbent. Granted, the Democratic machine and the state's natural liberal-leaning adds a couple points to each poll for the Democratic candidate. Nevertheless, if the last batch of polls before Election Day show "Kean 48, Menendez 45" or "Kean 49, Menendez 46", this contest could turn out to be the juiciest piece of irony in recent American political history.

MD: Cardin v. Steele- Lean Democrat Retention

I refuse to let this one go. Certainly, MD is a very blue state in a year that does not favor Republicans almost anywhere. That aside, a very conveniently ignored phenomenon this cycle has been seemingly historic apathy among black voters. Normally a given for the Democratic column in numbers around 90%, a recent Zogby survey shows African Americans either remaining unaffiliated or declining to vote in significantly higher numbers than '04. In a close race like this one, black apathy or mutiny could make this race more competitive than preelection polls would indicate. Steele is also the better candidate, and polls show his supporters considerably more likely to be voting for him than against Ben Cardin. Watch this one for serious clues regarding GOP 2006 fortunes. If Steele loses by 15%, hold on to your rear. If Steele's eeks it out or loses by less than 5, Republicans should survive nationally.

RI: Chafee v. Whitehouse- Likely Democratic Pick-up

It cannot be under-emphasized how strange it is to have a Republican anything this far north in New England, even if said Republican voted against Bush in 2004. Even if Chafee were a great candidate, the current national mood would probably not spare his job in this bastion of blue sentiment.

OH: DeWine v. Brown- Solid Democrat Pick-up

This is a painful one to watch. Sherrod Brown, who doesn't believe in free trade and also doesn't believe in wearing shoes around his congressional office, would make a horrible U.S. senator. However, when the Republican governor of OH has a 12% approval rating and the state barely went for Bush in 2004, this rust-belt behemoth is primed to do something (sorry Ohio) emotional and stupid. I would not want to sit next to Brown or Bernie Sanders in the Senate Chamber for fear of contracting, as South Park's Cartman would diagnose, a hippie disease. Mike DeWine took this one seriously at a date that made effort irrelevant, if it would have helped at all anyway...

MT: Burns v. Tester- Solid Democrat Pick-up

Burns always had close elections. Both times, he ran a solid campaign and pulled out a victory. The present difference with this campaign is that it is not at all solid. His inability to control his image, as he was able to do in prior contests without the shadow of Abramoff to haunt him, has doomed his seat to Tester control.

PA: Santorum v. Casey- Solid Democrat Pick-up

Perhaps the saddest of them all. Regardless of where you stand on Rick Santorum's controversial positions, one has to have a degree of fellow feeling for a candidate that wants to win this badly. I can empathize with a confrontational Italian guy from Northeastern blue collar town (I am one). That said, Rick has made too many mistakes in a state where conservatives must be flawless to win. He'll have a great career at a think tank.

MN, MI and WA, while close before, are all Democrat retentions that now appear out of the realm of competitiveness and unreachable for the GOP. The same goes for AZ's Jon Kyl, where the veteran GOP senator is no longer in serious danger.


Of the 9 seats profiled above, the Democrats are almost assured 4 pick-ups. That puts the Senate at 51-49. The GOP has a good chance of retaining MO and TN, but this result is by no means certain. The DEMs losing MD or NJ, or the GOP dropping VA are the wild cards that could make election night very interesting. As of today a 51-49 or 50-50 Senate split looks like the most probable outcome, leaving Republicans with weak but effective control of the chamber. But what could happen? ...

***GOP Best Case Scenario***

Retain VA, MO, TN, as well as manage upsets in MD and NJ. Senate would be 53-47 Republican, a net lost of 2. Maryland is a long-shot, but watch to see if Steele gets any momentum from some solid ad buys.

***DEM Best Case Scenario***

Run the board, racking up all 6 leaners/toss-ups and grab VA as the icing on the cake. Senate becomes 52-48 Democratic, a GOP net loss of 7.

Stay tuned. Keep an eye on all of these races, particularly TN, MO, NJ, MD.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


National Journal's Hotline Blog is reporting that the DNC will take out $5-10 million in loans in order to adequately fund candidates locked in heated 2006 Senate races.

James Carville astutely called for this strategy last week, adopting the logic that Democrats need to take full advantage of the current political environment. Whether or not this strategy yields results remains to be seen, but certainly it represents an historically unique move by a very confident national political committee.

How would you like to be Howard Dean's loan agent?

Monday, October 16, 2006

When it Rains, Yeaahhh...


The latest in a string of GOP disasters may be unfolding in Eastern Pennsylvania, where Republican Congressman Curt Weldon is under investigation for corruption. Earlier today, FBI agents executed six raids in connection with the inquiry.

Weldon denies any wrongdoing, but does it matter at this point? Water makes you wet, no matter where it comes from. And the GOP's umbrella ain't big enough...

The 1994 Republican "Correction"

34 Democrats lost their jobs. Stalwart liberal heavyweights like Dan Rostenkowski and Jack Brooks were sent packing, and Newt Gingrich solemnly declared November 1994 a "Republican Revolution." As an idealistic young conservative, the allure of the Speaker's phraseology has always been overwhelmingly compelling. It also proved dangerously intoxicating for national GOP leaders. Many seemed to believe that liberalism, if not dealt a definitive deathblow, had been put on the tract to ultimate extinction by a wave of conservative revivalism within the electorate.

12 years later Newt's glorious revolution seems like a fading dream, much as Lenin's or Robespierre's. But what happened to the Republican Revolution? To start with, it was not really a "revolution" at all. After the dust settled on that long ago election night, the GOP had 230 seats to the Democrats 204. A 54-seat swing and a dramatic realignment of Congress, certainly. A new era in American politics? Undoubtedly. A revolution? A 26 seat majority pales in contrast to the 196 seat advantage the Democrats won in 1932, or even the 82 seat control the Dems commanded just two years earlier in 1992. Admittedly, the "1994 Republican Correction" is a less-than-sexy way to label a historic victory. Taking over Congress after 40 years of uninterrupted opposition control was a tremendous accomplishment. Nevertheless, a revolution by definition constitutes a momentous change in government which, in the case of 1994, never took place. Partly due to its small majority, largely as a result of the corrupting trapping of Congress, no conservative revolution took place. Some great legislation was produced, including real welfare and tort reforms. Other efforts failed, notably (and tellingly) The Citizen Legislature Act which would have constitutionally mandated congressional term limits. Certainly Republicans like Tom Delay acted as if they commanded a massive ideological mandate, believing that all-day votes and ridiculous spending would go unnoticed. A decade later, many of the courageous "revolutionaries" who compelled President Clinton to declare big-government "over" now treat taxpayer's resources very much like a 16-yr old girl with a credit card in the mall. Freedom fighters have become the tyrants, liberators devolved to conspirators.

The House Of Representatives circa 1992 was not representative of the nation at large. America is not a liberal country, and as Fmr. Speaker Foley found out, unwilling to long-indulge socialist tendencies in their national leadership. Nevertheless, the United States is not now a bastion for Milton Friedman libertarianism or Barry Goldwater conservatism. I would contend that the U.S. is considerably right of center, especially in contrast to Europe or Central America. Yet, the American polity remains equally divided between two broad philosophical camps. How else can one explain Sherrod Brown's Senate race lead in Ohio, or the continued market for Pat Buchannan books with conservatives?

The most sensational claim that could rightly apply to 1994 was that it gave birth to a resistance. It's coming was foretold by Goldwater and Reagan, and that wonderful Fall saw conservatives battle back after half a century stained by leftist dominance of the federal government. The fatal folly of conservatives was to assume that hope is unto itself sufficient for victory. Somehow, many posited, the awesome righteousness and intelligence of the Right will bleed liberalism to death. But concepts like the free market, personal responsibility, and constitutional primacy are a tough sell. Many in our own party remain unconvinced, and many in power treat the principles behind the Contract with America as inconvenient platitudes. Consequently, the voters will sow a crop that yield a bitter Republican harvest.

Until then Americans are waiting for a revolution, one that 12 decades of Republican rule failed to enact and Democratic leadership will never embrace. We are thirsting for a real defeat of 19th century backward socialist idiocy, signaling a victory that will move a nation forward to a brighter future. We demand a realization of a City on a Hill, of which Reagan foretold and for what millions of conservatives have labored. Whether it arrives through a visionary in 2008 or means unknown in 50 years in the future, American businessmen, truckers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, homemakers and students will not cease the endless call to return to a form of government that is by, for, accountable to and cognizant of the timeless persons and principles that ensure the greatness of these United States.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Three Reasons for Conservatives to Smile

The last few months have been a rollercoaster for conservative Republicans, characterized by more dips than inclines throughout the whole of the stomach-churning ride from Hell.

That said, here are three reasons to calm down and buck-up with just 26 days to go:


Fellow fiscal conservatives, long depressed and nearly suicidal, finally have something to celebrate in a disappearing federal deficit. Despite record spending, the Bush tax cuts have helped spur tremendous economic growth. For the benefit of the many friendly libs in our audience, here is (again) a brief economics 101 lesson:

a) Tax cuts give taxpayers more to spend.
b) Taxpayers spend money, either on retail goods or some other form of positive reinvestment.
c) Citizens with more cash are then able to pay more in taxes to the government, leading to increased government revenue.
d) Consequently, America can pay more of its bills.

This doesn't excuse wasteful spending any more than it represents permanent relief for U.S. credit. Nevertheless, a solid step in the right direction for a country financing two wars.


Fmr. VA Governor Mark Warner announced Thursday that he has no intention of seeking the 2008 Presidential nomination. Many pundits and party insiders looked to Warner as the only viable candidate to confront McCain, outside of Bayh (who, frankly, is not as exciting a candidate or speaker).

What does this mean? The liberal majority of the Democratic Party no longer has a moderate to block its nominating another fire-breathing liberal. Today's unexpected press conference opens the door for a Clinton-Gore struggle that should make every right-of-center politico downright giddy. It's infinitely too early to make any solid predictions, but Warner's departure has undoubtedly complicated Democratic chances of re-taking the White House.


This last item is a tad more speculative. With the GOP in virtual free-fall after weeks of negative press, it is unrealistic to assume that nuclear fears will shock most Americans into rallying around President Bush. The media has done their best to spin North Korea's success as just another Bush Administration failure, and the current political environment is fertile soil for such recriminations.

More possible, and worth watching, is whether or not Poyongyang's ambitions prompts the GOP base to rally on November 7th. Base discontent may be somewhat soothed by the realization that the United States can ill-afford a change to liberal-Democratic government at this time. Sure, many Republican Congressmen has been spending, fighting and (in some now infamous cases) tramping around like a college frat boys... but is our anger worth two or more years of Speaker Pelosi, as if the Dems would clean-up anything? The question begs asking. Yet even if some dissatisfied conservatives come home, would they return in ample numbers to save the day? Perhaps just enough to turn precisely the needed amount of tight congressional races into the red column?

Only time will tell the tale of the GOP faithful, federal spreadsheets and '08 hopefuls. I'm not trying to impart warm 'n' fuzzy feeling among TRS readers: this election will be painful with or without my words or morphine. Just please remember that, if you look hard enough, there is always something to smile about in politics.

Monday, October 09, 2006

It Ain't Over Until It's Over

Events are happening fast now.

Bush is also down. Way down. But is he out? Maybe, but history cautions the savvy student of politics to avoid a rush to judgement. The Weekly Standard, as usual, offers some sage council on the subject.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday News Brief

-While we argue over whether or not the government can listen in on people who receive collect calls from Tora Bora, consider a country with a real crisis of liberty. You have no idea what real tyranny is...

-Republicans are tanking in the polls, erasing gains made in early to mid September. While its still a bit too early for hoisting the white flag, my belated grandmother's favorite axiom is a sage warning to GOP candidates: "Shit or get off the pot." If it's not too late...

- ...largely because of mounting ethics problems. Sure, the Dems are no less crooked (certainly more so), but that is a deflection, not an excuse, for a real crisis of purpose for the national GOP.

-The most cruel of all ironies asserts itself, as the Church demands clarity from Mark Foley. What a miserable time in history for Republicanism and Catholicism to have identity issues...

-The real question remains: Why do illegals even have the right to sue? This better not raise prices and destroy the Value Menu....

Have a great Sunday, folks. Keep the faith, never surrender, and enjoy football!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foley Unbelievably Ordinary for DC

Fmr. Rep. Foley did something very wrong. And for that he will be punished, ironically, by the same laws he helped enact during his tenure in the House of Representatives. This much is highly probable. Whatever else can be expected from "Foleygate" remains, for now, shrouded by government intrigue. Certainly calls for the Speaker of the House to resign and an already close election conspire to make prognostication attractive, but unfortunately, no more advisable as a practice. This political situation is simply too extraordinary, weird, and without precedent.

Or is it? Perhaps not, at least from a perspective jaded inside this accursed Beltway. The strange, perverted and downright criminal behavior of congressman is a tastelessly celebrated Washington institution that occurs free of variables such as full red moons, biblical weather patterns and moribund Republican majorities. The figures guilty of hiring prostitutes, groping women or even more serious transgressions are largely familiar: Gary Condit, Bill Clinton, James McGreevey, Barney Frank, Wilbur Mills, Bob Livingston, Grover Cleveland, Thomas Jefferson, Bob Packwood, Drew Nixon, Lester Crawford, most Kennedy men, and hundreds of other here unnamed power brokers. Even in now distant 1983, two congressmen (Gerry Studds and and Dan Crane) were outed for having engaged in sexual relationships with pages. And many more of these men did indeed commit crimes as least as reprehensible as solicitation of a minor. Particular acts were arguably more heinous. Ted Kennedy infamously left a sweetheart at the bottom of a Massachusetts estuary, and Gary Condit's suspicious circumstances beg equally troubling speculation. Rape, murder, harassment, betrayal, and numerous grave sins have stained Capitol soil.

Far from an attempt to rationalize or trivialize Mark Foley's alleged crimes, my grim analysis of sexual wickedness in Washington is meant to convey sad truths about power, corruption and evil. Too many Americans view these depressing instances as either isolate incidents or the wild corollaries of grand corruptions. Often these are not the case, as the root problem is as old as time. Even back to when King David spilled innocent blood out of covetous greed and lust, men of power have let their often dominance genes go wildly unchecked. Powerful people seek to control in all aspects of their lives, and the result is too often the treating of the weak as chattel. Seducing an intern or hitting on a page are just two more twisted examples of a disturbing, primal assertion of power by the strong over the powerless.

Acknowledging fully that my assessment is overwhelming bleak, I still summon little in the way of adequate consolation. Politics will continue, as it has for millenia, to attract a number of unbalanced individuals who will treat ethical and moral consequences as irrelevant issues for "great men." But we are not without recourse in a democratic system. Free elections and independent courts are the primary levers of justice, and other reforms like tougher term limits could help check previously unregulated egos. Most difficultly, and therefore most unlikely, citizens must decide to move their culture in a direction that rejects the roots of criminal government. A country that tolerates The Real World, gangster rap and the rationalizations of William Jefferson Clinton has to expect a certain degree of value-related decline.

Yet in the end, unless the next Congress approves genetic selection at birth (which, if Democratic, is a potentiality), some politicians will remain sadistically warped, and Mark Foley will continue as an unremarkable example of just more of the same.