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OUTED AS GAY, GOP CONGRESSMAN QUITS. A shocking series of revelations about conservative Congressman Ed Schrock (R-VA) forced him to retire late Monday. Gay activist Michael Rogers posted a story on his BlogActive site outing Schrock as gay on August 19 -- and it slowly began to gather attention on the net. Schrock holds a 92% approval rating from the Christian Coalition and a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. What drew Rogers' ire was that Schrock voted for the Marriage Protection Act and also signed on as a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Rogers detailed how Schrock -- whose district contains Pat Robertson's Regent University and nine military bases -- would use an interactive phone sex service to hook up with other men (BlogActive even posted a recording today of Schrock using the phone sex service). The whispering grew so intense that Schrock finally released a written statement that he was immediately withdrawing from his race for re-election. Without ever directly addressing the allegations, Schrock said they have "called into question my ability" to serve in Congress. "After much thought and prayer, I have come to the realization that these allegations will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region," he said. Schrock, a 63-year-old retired career Navy officer and Vietnam War veteran, was first elected to Congress in 2000. Rogers has no regrets for outing Schrock, noting that during the 2000 campaign Schrock said he wanted to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" so that potential enlistees could be questioned about past homosexual experiences in order to bar them from serving. The Second District Republican Committee will hold a special meeting Tuesday night to select a replacement nominee. State Senator Ken Stolle and State Delegate Thelma Drake have both expressed an interest in the GOP nomination. Iraq War veteran and attorney David Ashe is the Democratic candidate. Rogers, meanwhile, says he will next focus on outing another Congressman and highly placed officials in the Bush Administration. "The time has come for these gay homophobes to step up or be outed. Schrock is the first -- more will follow," vowed Rogers.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.31.04 |

... AND SPEAKING OF QUITTING CONGRESSIONAL RACES. Usually, Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates are the most hardcore advocates of promoting third parties. Typically, they look upon the Big Boys -- the Dems and Reps -- with disdain. That wasn't the case this week in two hot Oregon Congressional races. In CD-5, software developer Mitch Besser (Green) quit this competitive race last week because -- he told reporters -- he did not want to be "a spoiler" and hurt the re-election chances for liberal Congresswoman Darlene Hooley (D). Now, CD-1 candidate and businessman Rich Whitehead (Libertarian) quit and endorsed conservative businesswoman Goli Ameri (R) in her race against Congressman David Wu (D). Whitehead even held a joint news conference with Ameri at the Libertarian Party's headquarters to announce the endorsement. To date, all five of the state's Constitution Party nominees for Congress are still running in their respective races.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.31.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Florida, the Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times poll shows Bush now narrowly leading Kerry by a 48% to 46% vote. In Iowa, the new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows Kerry has moved out to a 51% to 46% lead over Bush. In Wisconsin, Bush is leading Kerry by a 50% to 47% vote according to the new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. In Pennsylvania, the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll shows Bush-48%, Kerry-47%. In related news, a three-judge appellate panel threw Ralph Nader off the ballot in Pennsylvania on Monday. They found he was not eligible under state law to seek signatures as an Independent candidate in Pennsylvania while filing to run as the nominee of a party -- the Reform Party -- in other states. Nader's spokesman called the ruling "amazingly absurd" -- but said they were unsure if they would appeal to the State Supreme Court.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.31.04 |

NO "DO-OVERS" FOR LOUISIANA DEMS. Congressman Rodney Alexander (R-LA) can breathe a bit easier today, now that a state court of appeals ruled that he validly qualified to run for re-election as a Republican. A lower court last week ruled that Alexander's last minute party switch -- after he had previously qualified two days earlier to run again as a Democrat -- denied voters in his district of a meaningful choice. The lower court judge had ruled that candidate qualifying must be re-opened to allow more candidates to run. Now, the appellate ruling cancels the new qualifying period. The ruling makes Alexander a safe bet to win a new term as a Republican. In related news, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Monday that Alexander apparently made the switch on his own without any discussions with or assurances from GOP leaders that he will obtain a good committee assignment in the next Congress.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.31.04 |

TUESDAY OPEN THREAD. The GOP Convo ... Giuliani in '08 (or against HRC in '06)?? ... McCain in '08?? ... Michael Moore visits the GOP in NYC ... whatever.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.31.04 |

GOP CONVENTION PREVIEW. The Republican National Convention officially kicks off Monday in New York City. Like with the Democratic convention, the major TV networks plan to only carry a total of three hours of coverage apiece over the four days. Other than the network time reserved for the Bush and Cheney speeches, nearly all of the coveted TV prime time speaking slots have been given to pro-choice and pro-gay rights GOP centrists from the most moderate wing of the party. This group includes California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Governor George Pataki, and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Maverick Senator John McCain also gets a prime time slot, as does US Senator Zell Miller (D-GA). Party conservatives, however, solidly control the party organization and forged an uncompromisingly social conservative platform that rejected even the inclusion of a "unity plank" -- one that would have recognized that good Republicans can differ on controversial issues like abortion or gay rights. Meanwhile, outside the convention, large raucous anti-Bush demonstrations are taking place in the streets. Like the Dems, the Republican convo will also credential bloggers as journalists. The official RNCBloggers site will serve as an online aggregator for all of the stories posted by those bloggers. Last month, I predicted there would be -- at most -- only as minimal bounce in the polls from the Dem convention, due in large part to a combination of the minimal amount of TV coverage being broadcast and the relatively small number of undecided voters out there. For the same reasons I predict the same result -- a minimal bounce, at most, for the nominee -- in the aftermath of the GOP gathering.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.30.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Florida, a new South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Research 2000 poll shows Kerry and Bush tied at 46% apiece. The results are also identical in Ohio, where a new Columbus Dispatch poll also shows both men even with 46% each. Wow ... the two most prized battleground states in the nation are now dead heats!
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.30.04 |

FINAL FLORIDA PRIMARY PREVIEW. In Florida's open seat US Senate race, either former Congressman Bill McCollum and former US Housing Secretary Mel Martinez is in the lead for the GOP nomination -- depending on what poll you trust. The final Orlando Sentinel/Mason-Dixon poll shows that Martinez has passed McCollum and moved into first place. The numbers: Martinez-33%, McCollum-27%, businessman Doug Gallagher-12%, House Speaker Johnny Byrd-7%. However, the final pre-primary South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Research 2000 poll released the same day shows McCollum still leading Martinez by a vote of 35% to 31%, with Gallagher again at 12%. On Sunday, the Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times poll released Sunday gave the lead to McCollum by a 32% to 30% vote -- with a 3.5% margin of error. Republicans are looking forward to an end to the very nasty, personal and divisive McCollum-Martinez fight. McCollum -- a prominent Clinton Impeachment Committee floor manager -- was the 2000 GOP nominee for the US Senate. Martinez was recruited into the race by the White House -- although even Governor Jeb Bush openly criticized Martinez' harsh anti-McCollum TV spots over the weekend and issued a written statement calling on Martinez to yank them off the air. On the Democratic side, Sunday's Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times survey confirmed yet again that former State Education Commissioner Betty Castor appears have the nomination locked up. The numbers: Castor-48%, Congressman Peter Deutsch-24%, Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas-9%, Other-2%. Deutsch has savaged Castor for "coddling terrorists" who worked as professors when she formerly led a state university -- but there has been an apparent backlash for the intensity of the attacks. Liberal icons were also abounding throughout the contest: Howard Dean stumped in the state for Castor, while Michael Moore and Jesse Jackson campaigned for Deutsch. Retiring US Senator Bob Graham (D) made no endorsement in the primary, but vowed to actively campaign for the winner of the Democratic primary. The Castor versus McCollum/Martinez contest will be one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the nation this November.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.30.04 |

BOOK REVIEW: THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. Howard Dean didn't capture the Democratic Presidential nomination, but that shouldn't minimize the value of former Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi's new book The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Trippi -- a dedicated, colorful and curmudgeonly liberal strategist -- is a self-confessed computer geek. He took his tech interests and traditional political organizing skills and merged them into a model of what 21st Century campaign techniques could be. Obviously, an internet campaign will never be a whole substitute for a traditional on-the-ground campaign -- but it is an essential component of any complete campaign strategy. The net is a fundraising tool, an organizational tool, a meeting place for the exchange of ideas, and a substitute for the traditional campaign HQ. Trippi's book is really two books. First, it is the story of the Dean campaign's amazing rise from obscurity and the crash-and-burn implosion over a few weeks in January 2004. That, in an of itself, is an interesting lesson in what went right and what went wrong that future campaigns -- and the media -- can learn from it. As I was a Dean "Ward Captain" back during in the NH primary, I found that story revealing. Secondly, however, is the more important section for campaign professionals: Trippi's visionary concept of running "open source" campaigns and harnessing the power the technology in future races. Progressives will appreciate Trippi's personal political views -- and conservatives can simply ignore them and read the book simply as a textbook from someone who "got it right" (but still lost). Dean didn't win the nomination, but Trippi -- via the Dean campaign he created -- permanently changed the face of American politics and the methodology of running campaigns in the future. Good job, Trippi.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.30.04 |

MONDAY OPEN THREAD. You pick 'em!
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.30.04 |

WEEKEND OPEN THREAD. Your turn.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.29.04 |

HEAD SIGNS, GAS MASK WEDNESDAYS, CLEAN LAUNDRY, SPEED BUMPS, AND THE "TOY FACTORY." Over the past week, the advance party of our "adopted" 1/23 Marines were joined in Al-Asad, Iraq, by the rest of the unit. Here's the latest from special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree:

Dear Politics1 Readers,

Hello once again from Al-Asad, Iraq where everyday is a sunny day! Seriously, we have yet to see a cloud since we arrived here. The sunrises and sunsets are thus quite pretty, but it does add to the "Groundhog Day" effect of everyday being the same. The temperatures have not been that bad though. I have an indoor/outdoor thermometer that my step-dad gave me, which I have placed in a shady spot outside of my can. The high temp has been around 114 and the low gets down to about 72. There is also very little humidity so it causes it to cool off pretty quickly once the sun sets. Sunglasses are key here though because with little more than rocks and sand on the ground it causes the sun to bounce brightly into ones eyes.

Wednesdays are "Gas Mask Wednesday" here in the First Marine Division. The idea behind this was that the Commanding General would force the Marines to remain familiar with this piece of important gear by having every Marine and sailor in the division wear their gas masks all day on Wednesdays. This causes some laughter and grumbling amongst the troops, but it does serve to remind us what day of the week it is. My idea for a "Sandals Sunday" probably wouldn't get very far. It would boost morale however, while letting the Marines air out their feet. It could also help support the local economy by buying some of their popular footwear. Naturally the Marines on post and leaving the wire wouldn't be able to wear them. Well, I just thought it sounded like a literally cool idea.

Yesterday we received some of our first packages from the states. These included boxes of free magazines from The Economist and National Geographic. They have been great to us and I really enjoy reading them. Most of the magazines the Marines read around here tend to verge exclusively on men's magazines like Maxim and Stuff, so its good to read something that actually enlightens you a little bit on things other than the bra size of the latest female celeb in her lingerie.

We also received some more pen-pal letters and I have distributed those out to the companies. Hopefully the Marines will write back as soon as they can. I noticed that many of the packages were post marked about two weeks ago, so that is a lot quicker for the mail arrival then we had been led to believe. I hope that remains the case. One package that we got from a Politics1.com reader was from 15 year-old Michael Krekel of Palos Verdes Estates, CA. It looks like he single handedly wiped out the beef jerky and skittles selections of his local store. He also sent some great issues of The National Review and a cool St Louis Cardinals program that has a good story about President Bush's visit to opening day this year. The letter Michael sent us was awesome and it certainly was the highlight of the day for me. I'd like to personally thank him and everyone that has written us thus far. The pen-pal letters and care packages are starting to arrive in increasing volume. I will personally send an MRE postcard to everyone who writes us. This might take some time, but I want everyone to know how much we appreciate their thinking of us.

For some good humor I've enclosed a photo of the sign from our "heads" (Marine-ese for restroom) that crack me up. These head trailers are "run" by Kellog Brown & Root (note: the Marines do all the cleaning), and apparently the command of the English language is not a requirement. See below ...

I hope they don't change the signs since they provide us all with a little laugh each time we shave or brush our teeth.

I've also enclosed a photo (above) of our speed bumps -- made out of old Iraqi tank treads. I think this fits with T.R.'s quote about doing the best you can, where you are, with what you have!

Yesterday was also our first day we got our laundry back. Nothing to me is as nice as having clean camies and socks out here. Garrison Keillor once said that while depression and sadness are a general feeling, happiness is in the details. I think that's true for most of us here. Details like clean laundry, packages from home, and working electricity are all things that provide happiness in this place.

Finally, I want to stress something that some of you may be wondering about. What exactly are you Marines doing? Well, our Marines are doing a great job and are staying busy over here. I keep these reports in the realm of general news simply because I have to for security reasons, but I think every American regardless of ideology or political persuasion would be proud to see their fellow Americans in action. Everyday the Marines in this area work with the local Iraqi police and the Iraqi National Guard to try to make this place a little better than we found it. There are huge obstacles this new nation needs to overcome before we can say all is well here, and for the next seven months those of us from 1/23 are going to give our all to make this part of the world a little bit safer and a little bit more free. Daily our Marines train and instruct classes of Iraqi police and our lawyer works with Iraqi lawyers to help provide coalition money for public works projects and improvements. There is even an operation here on base known as the "toy factory" where Marines work with Iraqis to build swing sets and other items for children's schools and parks. I'll also add that I admire the Iraqis that are willing to stand up and fight the insurgents at the risk of losing their businesses, their families, and their lives. They are some real heroes and unfortunately for them they do not receive care packages from home, nor do they have the assurance that in seven months or so they can return to a place where the greatest concern one might have is sitting in a traffic jam or dealing with some infinitesimal issue that most Americans would view as a crisis. Most of these Iraqis would love to have the "problems" that confront the average everyday American.

Thanks as always for everything!

Semper Fi,
James

If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages, please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in the 1/23. If you'd like to read more about our adopted 1/23 Marine battalion in Iraq, please click here.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.29.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Maine, the new WCSH-TV/SurveyUSA poll has Senator Kerry leading President Bush by a 49% to 44% vote. In Michigan, Kerry is leading by a 48% to 45% vote, according to the new WDIV-TV/SurveyUSA poll. In Missouri, a new Los Angeles Times poll shows Bush leading Kerry by a 46% to 44% vote. Bush is likewise leading in Ohio according to the latest Los Angeles Times poll. The numbers: Bush-49%, Kerry-44%. shows President Bush leading by a 46% to 44% vote. In Pennsylvania, the new IssuesPA/Pew tracking poll shows Bush leading Kerry among likely voters by a 45% to 44% vote. However, among registered voters, Kerry leads by a 45% to 43% vote in the state. The Pennsylvania numbers also illustrated the wide gender gap between the two men. The poll showed men preferred Bush by a 50% to 38% vote, but women favored Kerry by a 52% to 35% margin. In Wisconsin, a new Los Angeles Times poll shows Bush leading Kerry by a 48% to 44% vote. All of these individual state numbers seem to be tracking the upward movement of the President in new national polls out this week. In other P2004 news, Nader qualified for the Iowa ballot Thursday -- but it is already beginning to look like he could fall short in Ohio. Here's why: the Butler County Board of Elections this week found that only 24 of Nader's 633 signatures submitted for that Ohio County were valid. A Nader spokesman said the Board's rulings were "disgusting."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.27.04 |

UPDATES FOR FL & PA SENATE, OK CD-1 RACES. In Florida, the latest Orlando Sentinel/WESH-TV/Mason-Dixon poll shows that former State Education Commissioner Betty Castor appears likely to win next Tuesday's Democratic primary for US Senate. The numbers: Castor-45%, Congressman Peter Deutsch-31%, Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas-9%, Other-1%. No new GOP poll in Florida, but former Congressman Bill McCollum and former US Housing Secretary Mel Martinez are the clear frontrunners. In recent days, Martinez has repeatedly attacked McCollum for being insufficiently conservative because he supports embryonic stem cell research and is too moderate on gay rights issues such as federal hate crime legislation. Martinez' heavy-handed gay baiting of the McCollum campaign drew a public rebuke from conservative former US Senator Connie Mack (R-FL). Mack said that Martinez "has forfeited his ability to attract mainstream Democrats and independents in November." Martinez was recruited into the open seat race by the White House. In Pennsylvania, the latest IssuesPA/Pew tracking poll shows US Senator Arlen Specter (R) continuing to lead challenger Congressman Joe Hoeffel (D) by a wide margin. Specter led by a 54% to 36% vote -- and he even captured one-third of all those who said they planned to vote for Kerry. In Oklahoma's CD-1, Congressman John Sullivan (R) appears safely on his way to re-election. A new KJRH-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows Sullivan leading former Tulsa School Board President Doug Dodd (D) by a 23-point margin.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.27.04 |

MORE HELP FOR THE 1/23 MARINES. A special note of recognition for the folks in the Katy Independent School District Police Department in Texas. Public Safety Director Mark Hopkins noted his nephew was in 1/23 and they wanted to do something to help more of the unit. "We will collect items for the care packages, send letters, and recruit others to join in making sure our brave Marines know we care about them," said Hopkins. Many thanks to the KISDPD from Politics1 and the 1/23. If you'd like to help, please address any care packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in 1/23d. If you'd like to read more about our adopted 1/23d Marine battalion in Iraq, please click here. Finally, for those 1/23 family members who inquired, Lt. Crabtree advised that "Most of our Marines [who left the US earlier this week] have arrived, but some are still waiting on flights out of Kuwait."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.27.04 |

FRIDAY OPEN THREAD. Sorry about yesterday, but it was one of those work days that I was so busy (i.e., in my "real job") that I just didn't have time to post any updates Thursday.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.27.04 |

MURKOWSKI VS. KNOWLES SENATE RACE SET IN ALASKA. US Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) won her primary yesterday, as expected, by a comfortable margin over former State Senate President Mike Miller and two others. On the Democratic side, former Governor Tony Knowles won an easy victory in his primary with 95% of the vote. The GOP vote: Murkowski-58%, Miller-37%, Others-4%. Miller is a pro-life conservative who supports the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, while the incumbent is a pro-choice centrist who opposed the amendment. Miller also frequently raised the issue of nepotism, as Murkowski was appointed to the seat two years ago by her father, Governor Frank Murkowski (R). Murkowski outspent Miller by an 8-to-1 margin in the primary. "When 41% of the voters are rejecting the establishment, I think it sends a loud message," said Miller's spokesman. When the outcome became clear, Miller said he would stick to his pre-primary pledge to support the GOP nominee. "I have some real differences with Lisa ... but we cannot have the US Senate in Democratic control," said Miller. Murkowski said she was "pleased" with the primary results and immediately took aim at Knowles. "People need to be reminded there are two teams in the US Senate: Democrat and Republican. Tony will be part of a team led by Tom Daschle," she said. "We have our issues, the ones Alaskans feel are important," said Knowles, who promised to focus on health care, jobs, and education. The Murkowski-Knowles contest will be one of the most hotly contested US Senate races in the nation.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.25.04 |

DESPITE INDICTMENT, EX-ALABAMA GOV PLANNING COMEBACK. In 2002, Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (D) lost for re-election to Bob Riley (R) by a margin of less than 3,200 votes out of more than 1.7 million ballots cast. Three months ago, Siegelman was indicted on federal big rigging, conspiracy, and corruption charges. This week he sent a fundraising letter to supporters urging them to contribute to his legal defense fund -- but it also urged them to keep him in mind for the 2006 gubernatorial race. Siegelman's spokesman told the AP that he won't let "these outrageous charges" stop him from "fighting for what he believes in." In fact, Siegelman went so far as to say he will again make support for the creation of state lottery to fund education programs the central theme of his 2006 campaign. Despite the indictment, Siegelman has maintained a high profile in recent months with constant campaign-like appearances around the state. In a sign that Dems expect Siegelman to run, State House Speaker Seth Hammett (D) announced a few weeks ago that he will not run for Governor. Ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) -- better known as the "Ten Commandments Judge" -- is considering a primary challenge to Governor Riley, who saw his early popularity plummet after he made a failed effort to push through a massive tax hike last year.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.25.04 |

NADER OFF MICHIGAN BALLOT ... AT LEAST, FOR NOW. In the face of various legal challenges filed by the Democrats, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted 2-2 to place Ralph Nader on the ballot for November. The two Republicans voted to place him on the ballot, and the two Democratic members voted against it. Because Nader failed to secure a majority vote, he did not survive the challenge to the validity of the petitions he filed. Dems complained that the State Republican Party violated the law in the manner it collected most of the petitions Nader filed. Nader will now appeal the matter to the Court of Appeals. One faction of the state's Reform Party -- which is officially affiliated with the Reform Party of the US that nominated Nader -- offered Nader the Reform Party line on the ballot. The problem is that their rival faction -- the faction aligned with the former "Buchanan Brigade" and unaffiliated with the national Reform Party of the US -- is the group that legally controls the "Michigan Reform Party" ballot line. The Buchananites do not back Nader. A Nader spokesman said he expects the federal courts to award Nader the Reform line in the state, avoiding the need for a lengthy state court battle. Meanwhile, in West Virginia, Attorney General Darrell McGraw (D) filed motions in court this week to knock Nader off the ballot in the state even though he filed more than enough total petition signatures. McGraw's motion said that "there is doubt as to the legitimacy and the validity of the petitions" and challenged the methods used to collect the signatures. McGraw also asked the judge to compel Nader to appear at the upcoming hearings on the case or use that as grounds for knocking him off the WV ballot.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.25.04 |

RODNEY REDUX. Congressman Rodney Alexander's campaign website gives lots of info about him. Where he went to school. His birthday. Where he's lived. His business background. It even contains this gem of info: "Rodney, a pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment Democrat, is an active member of the Blue Dog Coalition, and serves as a conservative voice in the Democratic Party in Congress." That may have been true when the site was originally written -- and even a few weeks ago -- but the freshman legislator switched parties to the GOP on August 6.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.25.04 |

BASE LIFE IN IRAQ. Now that the advance party of our "adopted" 1st Battalion/23d Marines have been in Iraq for about week, they're already getting used to life in Al-Asad. Here's a latest report -- and pix -- from special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree:

Dear Politics1 Readers,

Well, all is still as good as can be considering this is Iraq. The base post office has not received any mail in the last several days, but they said they are expecting a huge shipment soon and hopefully some of our stuff will be with it.


This is our "beautiful" main post office here in Al-Asad.

I've also attached a picture (above) of one of the typical HMMWVs around here so you can see how the doors are now armored and are higher in order to better protect the vehicle occupants from any fragmentation from an IED (improvised explosive device). All of the vehicles have sand bags on the floor boards for added protection as well.

To better give you an idea of what our life here is like, I've attached a photo (above) of the best place to eat on base. It's the chow hall at the Regiment and I was lucky to be able to have lunch with my good friend Capt Matt Nodine there on Sunday.


Lt Crabtree with Capt Nodine

He's the lawyer for one of our sister battalions to our north and he and I went to Officer Candidate School together back in 1999. As we were eating he remarked that who would have thought five years later we would be eating in a chow hall in Iraq. It's pretty mind-boggling when you think about it.

Take care and thanks for everything.

Semper Fi,
James

P.S. I have yet to get a photo of one, but we get lots of "dust devils" here. They look like mini-tornados and are harmless, though the Marines from 2/7 tell the story of how one was big enough that it blew through the camp knocking over some tents and turning over port-a-johns. All of the port-a-johns are now wired to the ground or have cinder blocks in them to weigh them down.

If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages -- and they'd really be appreciated -- please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in 1/23d. If you'd like to read more about our adopted 1/23d Marine battalion in Iraq, please click here. Just an aside here, but I really like how James' reports give us a unique look -- from the mundane and annoying to challenges and professionalism -- at the Iraq War from the unfiltered perspective of the young Americans who serve in uniform. Thanks again, James, for these reports.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.25.04 |

WEDNESDAY OPEN THREAD. Whatever.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.25.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Florida, the new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows the state is again a key battleground. The numbers: Bush and Kerry tied with 45% apiece, and Nader at 3% with registered voters. When the Florida numbers are limited just to likely voters, Bush moves out to a narrow 48% to 46% lead. In Arkansas, the new KTHV-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows the race there a virtual tie. The numbers: Bush-48%, Kerry-47%. In Virginia, the latest WSLS-TV/SurveyUSA poll has Bush leading Kerry in the state by a competitive 49% to 45% vote. In Nevada, the new Reno Gazette-Journal/KRNV-TV/Research 2000 poll shows Bush-44%, Kerry-42%, Nader-2%. If Nader is knocked off the ballot in NV by pending challenges -- as just happened to Nader in IL, MD, MO and VA -- the poll reported that Bush would lead Kerry by a 44% to 43% vote. In New Jersey, an on-again/off-again battleground state, a new Bergen Record/Research 2000 poll shows Kerry leading Bush by a 52% to 41% vote, with Nader at 2%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.24.04 |

DEMS CLOSER TO LAGNIAPPE FILING PERIOD IN LOUISIANA. Congressman Rodney Alexander (R-LA) ensured himself an easy re-election race this year when he changed from Dem to GOP just minutes before the close of filing and leaving the Dems without a viable candidate ... or so he thought. On Monday, State District Court Judge Allen Edwards ruled in favor of the State Democratic Party that the candidate filing period in the race must be reopened to allow additional candidates to file. "Mr. Alexander has attempted to subvert the electoral process for his own personal gain. His action deprived voters of the right to vote for a Democratic candidate," ruled Edwards. He found that Alexander fully qualified to run as a Democrat during the first day of filing and -- by making his last minute switch -- acted improperly by later fully qualifying in the same race as a member of a different party. Edwards, however, stayed his own order pending the Republican Party's appeal so as to minimize electoral chaos until the matter is dispositively resolved. Unless the ruling is reversed, it looks like Senator Breaux, Senator Landrieu and others may still get the opportunity to recruit a candidate into the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.24.04 |

US SENATE UPDATES FROM ARKANSAS, ILLINOIS ... AND THE KY CD-3 RACE. Dems look fairly certain to hold the US Senate seat in Arkansas and pickup the open Illinois seat according to two new polls. In Arkansas, a new KTHV-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows US Senator Blanche Lincoln (D) holding a big lead over challenger State Senator Jim Holt (R). The numbers: Lincoln-58%, Holt-34%. In Illinois, the latest Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows State Senator Barack Obama (D) cruising to a likely landslide victory over former Ambassador Alan Keyes (R) by a 65% to 24% vote. "The poll suggests that Keyes' candidacy could hurt other Republicans in local and legislative races. Nearly three in ten voters said they were less likely to back GOP candidates because of the way party leaders went about settling on Keyes as their candidate," explained the Tribune. Keyes even trailed Obama among self-described "fairly conservative" voters by 9-points. Meanwhile, in Kentucky, four-term Congresswoman Anne Northup (R) seems to survive close races for re-election every two years in her swing CD-3 district. In Northup's case, 2004 may be her toughest contest to date. The new WHAS-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows the incumbent trailing challenger Jefferson County Clerk of Courts Tony Miller (D) by a 48% to 44% vote. "I don't know what more we can do ... [Miller's] campaign so far is a stealth campaign ... It seems the strategy is to avoid issues and comparison with Anne and hope that the Democratic registration propels him into victory," said Northup's campaign manager. Gore defeated Bush in the district by 2% in 2000, and Miller now frequently tries to tie Northup to the President.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.24.04 |

TUESDAY IS PRIMARY DAY IN ALASKA. Voters go the polls to cast primary ballots on Tuesday. US Senator Lisa Murkowski is expected to win the GOP nomination by a comfortable margin over former State Senate President Mike Miller and former US Attorney Wev Shea. Miller and Shea are both more conservative than the centrist Murkowski -- and they repeatedly raise the issue of nepotism, as Murkowski was appointed to the seat two years ago by her father, Governor Frank Murkowski (R). On the Democratic side, former Governor Tony Knowles will score a big win in his US Senate primary. The Murkowski-Knowles contest will be one of the most hotly contested US Senate races in the nation.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.24.04 |

TUESDAY OPEN THREAD. New computer up and running, so Politics1 is back in business again.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.24.04 |

MONDAY OPEN THREAD ... AND SOME TECHNICAL PROBLEMS. My laptop that I normally work on died on Sunday morning. So, sadly, there won't be any new articles for Monday morning. I'll be back with new stories on Tuesday after I get all of my programs and files installed on my new laptop. Sorry. Until then, use this thread to talk amongst yourselves.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.23.04 |

SUNDAY OPEN THREAD. As always, you call the shots here.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.22.04 |

WELCOME TO IRAQ. The advance party of our "adopted" folks in the 1st Battalion/23d Marines have been in Iraq for less than a week -- and they've already come under hostile fire. Here's a new report from special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree:

Dear Politics1 Readers,

I just wanted to send you a quick note on how things are here right now. I printed off and read to everyone in our staff meeting last night the posting you had from the McDaniel family. That makes all of us here feel good to know that so many people have reached out to them. It was touching to me that they still consider themselves a Marine family. Indeed they always will be.

Well, the big news here is that we got attacked by mortars this morning around 0645 our time. I was in the chow hall, as were most other Marines, and needless to say, it ruined our breakfast. They landed away from us out on one of the flight lines, but its quite a feeling to be "welcomed" to Iraq that way. They say its been several months since the base has been hit and that these fires are basically never accurate. We have our guesses as to why this might have happened today, but you never know. Perhaps some guy had a fight with his wife last night and wanted to let off a little steam by dropping some rounds on the Marines? If only it was that simple.

In more positive news, Cpl Villa and I were able to venture over to the Iraqi shops on the mainside portion of the base yesterday. These stores are unreal! For some reason they are allowed to sell bootlegged copies of dvds to the Marines on base. I'm sure the Motion Picture Assoc. of American wouldn't be too happy about that. They had movies that are still in theatres for sale for $8 a piece! Everything from Dodgeball and Collateral to oldies like the Police Academy movies. I think they have everything except for The Passion of The Christ.

They also had a product in one of the stores that was an exercise device that said in english that it was a "Micro Computer Fat Movement Machine." I think something was lost in the translation. Oh, and their old movie theatre looks like something even Austin Powers would have considered too tacky. It was right out of 1968 and didn't look like it had been cleaned since then.

Thanks for everything!

Semper Fi,
James

P.S. I saw someone post something about the enlisted living in tents. Actually, our enlisted guys live in the same cans we do. The only difference is that officers and senior enlisted get a can to themselves while junior enlisted get a roommate. The Marine Corps has a lot of officers that used to be enlisted (including yours truly) so we tend to remember what it was like to be the low one on the pecking order.

If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages -- and they'd really be appreciated -- please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in 1/23d. If you'd like to read more about our adopted 1/23d Marine battalion in Iraq, please click here.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.21.04 |

SATURDAY OPEN THREAD. Swift Vets? GOP Convo? Polls? Whatever.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.21.04 |

McGREEVEY SAGA TAKES A TURN FOR THE EVEN MORE BIZARRE. Golan Cipel -- the alleged former lover or sexual harassment victim (depending on who you believe) of New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey (D) -- flew back to Israel this week. "I have had a very difficult time," Cipel told reporters in Hebrew outside his parents' home. He promised to return to the US "in a few weeks" to pursue his lawsuit against McGreevey. Cipel has maintained he is straight and that -- while McGreevey repeatedly hit on him -- that there was no sexual relationship. This is entirely at odds with McGreevey's account that he engaged in a sexual relationship with the man. Cipel was a city tour guide and former Israeli Navy officer in Israel when McGreevey first met him on a trip nearly two years ago, before hiring Cipel to serve as New Jersey's Homeland Security Advisor. On Wednesday, a 47 (or 51)-year-old (he gave differing ages) Jersey doctor named Michael Miller came forward to claim to the media that he was Cipel's ex-gay lover. Miller's credibility, however, is much in question. "I like Golan. He can be very affectionate," Miller told the New York Post. Miller claimed he spoke with Cipel last week and plans to visit him in Israel. Miller said that Cipel is gay and has also been involved with other men in the past. However, as reporters waited outside Miller's house Wednesday night, he emerged with his hair disheveled and wearing only socks and shorts. "At times cursing and erratic, he alternatively told scribes he would talk to them [only] in Hungarian, Spanish or Hebrew," wrote the Post. Miller claimed Cipel was a gold digger. "Out on a date, he would ask me how much money I have, how many properties I own. We were out for a pleasant evening and to have sex. It took away from the moment. Don't you think it's a weird question to ask? Conversations with him always ended up with money," explained Miller. The doctor also told reporters that he spent "$100,000 on therapy" the year before he got divorced, and that he was worth "several million dollars." Miller's interview with the New York Daily News was even stranger. "We love each other. Is that a crime? We're lovers," said Miller of Cipel. The Daily News describer Miller as "manic, disjointed." The newspaper also reported that Miller "also claimed to reporters that he is a CIA operative who takes pills doled out by the intelligence agency to make his skin darker so he can infiltrate unnamed groups" and "insisted on speaking Spanish because, he said, he hates the United States." In response to Miller's tales, Cipel told reporters in Israel that he "never had any relationship with any man, so I don't know what they want from me ... It doesn't bother me that it is said I am gay, but I really am not. I'm straight," said Cipel, who also denied he ever made any attempt to extort money from McGreevey. Cipel added that Miller's account was "ridiculous and laughable ... a blatant lie and manipulation" possibly orchestrated by McGreevey or his allies. The Governor's office said that Miller attempted to contact them a few days ago, but they neither followed-up the contact nor looked into the allegations. Cue up the Twilight Zone music.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.20.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Pennsylvania, a new Pittsburgh Tribune-Review/Franklin & Marshall College poll shows that Kerry is leading Bush in the state. The numbers: Kerry-48%, Bush-42%, Nader-3%. In South Carolina, a new WCSC-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows Bush leading Kerry by a 53% to 42% vote. In California, the new KPIX-TV/SurveyUSA poll has Kerry leading by a surprising close 49% to 46% vote. Wait a minute ... SC and CA ??? ... are we so polarized that every state is becoming a swing state this year or are these two SurveyUSA polls simply weird anomalies?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.20.04 |

SC, CA, OK SENATE POLLS. In South Carolina, the new WCSC-TV/SurveyUSA poll implies that the supposedly close open US Senate race is far from a tight contest. The numbers: Congressman Jim DeMint (R)-52%, State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum (D)-39%. In California, the new KPIX-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows that a race the was supposed to be a Dem landslide is more competitive than anticipated. The numbers: US Senator Barbara Boxer (D)-48%, former Secretary of State Bill Jones (R)-42%. In Oklahoma, a new KFOR-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows maverick conservative former Congressman Tom Coburn (R) leading Congressman Brad Carson (D) by a 47% to 43% vote to the open US Senate seat. In Pennsylvania, the latest Pittsburgh Tribune-Review/Franklin & Marshall College poll shows US Senators Arlen Specter (R) to be a safe bet to win a fifth term. The stats: Specter-53%, Congressman Joe Hoeffel (D)-26%, conservative activist Jim Clymer (Constitution)-2%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.20.04 |

OUT, OUT ... AND NEARLY OUT. In Louisiana, former State Health Secretary Bobby Jindal (R) can start packing for DC. This week saw State Rep. Steve Scalise (R) -- his last major opponent -- quit the race for the open CD-1 congressional seat. Jindal, who was the 2003 GOP candidate for Governor, should now easily roll over his five remaining little-known rivals. In Kansas, retired railroad worker Robert Conroy (D) withdrew as the US Senate nominee, saying he did not have the energy or resources to run a real campaign. The party may now file a replacement nominee -- but it is unclear if anyone wants to take on safe incumbent US Senator Sam Brownback (R). Meanwhile, in Florida, it looks like Congressman Clay Shaw (R) -- a DCCC target -- can be moved onto the "safe" list. Former Wilton Manors Mayor Jim Stork (D), 37, immediately suspended his campaign on Thursday for two weeks while he undergoes "some medical tests" for "health issues." Stork, who is openly gay, made a point of telling reporters that he remains HIV negative and this is unrelated to HIV/AIDS. While Stork says he plans to return to the race soon, many speculate that this paves the way for his withdrawal from the race for "health reasons." Stork said he has raised approximately $1 million to date, and has at least $375,000 cash-on-hand. To win against this entrenched incumbent, Stork needed every break to go his way. With the poor handling of this situation -- raising perceived doubts about his physical ability to serve -- he likely handed Shaw another term. If Stork withdraws, the Dems will be allowed to substitute another nominee -- but it is unlikely to matter unless the person is wealthy enough to adequately self-finance. Postscript: The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported Friday that Dem leaders have already approached State Rep. Stacy Ritter about becoming the replacement nominee. Shaw himself was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year but only released a media statement after he had undergone treatment to say he had received a clean bill of health from his doctors.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.20.04 |

"THANK YOU FOR YOUR EXPRESSIONS OF SYMPATHY" FROM THE FAMILY OF LCpl JUSTIN McDANIEL. We just got a touching note from the parents of LCpl Justin McDaniel of the 1/23d, who was killed last month in a training accident. I wanted to share it with all of you: "I wished you could have met my son. He was really an inspiration and full of life, and he really loved being a US MARINE. May God bless you for remembering him and especially for remembering his family. Again, thank you. - The McDaniel Family (Still a Marine Family)" Our thoughts and prayers are with the McDaniel family. If you'd like to read more about our adopted 1/23d Marine battalion in Iraq, please click here.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.20.04 |

FRIDAY OPEN THREAD. Plans for the weekend? Any stories I missed?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.20.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. Several new polls out today. In Nevada, the KVBC-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows President Bush leading Senator Kerry by a 49% to 46% vote. In Colorado, the latest KUSA-TV/SurveyUSA poll has Bush and Kerry now tied at 47% apiece. In Washington State, the new KING-TV/SurveyUSA poll placed Kerry at 53%, Bush at 41%, and Nader at 2%. The contest in Missouri is close according to the new KSDK-TV/SurveyUSA poll. The numbers: Bush-48%, Kerry-47%. In Pennsylvania, a new Quinnipiac College poll give he lead to Kerry with 48% versus Bush at 43%. In Ohio, a new Gallup poll shows some very interesting results. Among registered voters, Kerry leads Bush by a 50% to 41% vote. However, among likely voters, the same poll shows Kerry leading by a closer amount of 48% to 46%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.19.04 |

GOVERNOR, US SENATE RESULTS FROM MISSOURI, WASHINGTON. In Missouri, US Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond (R) continues to look like a solid candidate to win re-election in November. In the latest KSDK-TV/SurveyUSA poll, Bond leads State Treasurer Nancy Farmer (D) by a 55% to 38% vote. The same poll also shows Secretary of State Matt Blunt (R) leading State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) by a 49% to 44% in the race for Governor. McCaskill defeated incumbent Governor Bob Holden in the Democratic primary last month. In Washington State, US Senator Patty Murray (D) still looks very strong. The new KING-TV/SurveyUSA poll has Murray leading by a 53% to 39% vote over Congressman George Nethercutt (R).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.19.04 |

GOP CONGRESSMAN SAID HIS SUPPORT FOR IRAQ WAR WAS "MISTAKE." In a surprising open "letter to constituents" released Wednesday, conservative 12-term Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-NE) apologized for his previous support for the Iraq War. "I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action, especially without a broad and engaged international coalition ... The cost in casualties is already large and growing, and the immediate and long-term financial costs are incredible ... Now we are immersed in a dangerous, costly mess and there is no easy and quick way to end our responsibilities in Iraq without creating bigger future problems in the region and, in general, in the Muslim world," he explained. Did the Bush Administration lie or manipulate data to provoke the war? "Left unresolved for now is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action," he wrote. "He is not an opinion maker or someone who has taken a leadership role. I don't think you can take this as a sign his comments are a barometer of other Republican thinking," a Bush campaign aide told CNN. Bereuter, who is retiring this year, was the Vice Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.19.04 |

"HOWDY FROM AL-ASAD, IRAQ." The 1/23d advance party is now in Iraq. We just got our first note and pix from Iraq from our "adopted" folks in the 1st Battalion/23d Marines. The advance party -- which includes our special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree -- arrived a few days ago. Here is what James wrote:

Dear Politics1 Readers,

Well, the fifty of us from our battalion's advance party have all reached Iraq safely. It was a long and tedious series of flights, transfers, bus rides, middle of the night briefs, and finally an hour and a half C-130 flight from Kuwait into Iraq which featured some quick turns to avoid potential ground-to-air fire.


The waiting area at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California
before we flew out to Iraq last Saturday.

We left 29 Palms by bus at 0830 Saturday morning and did not get here to Al-Asad air base until around 1100 local time on Monday. I've got all sorts of stories I want to share with you and will do my best to put them down in a logical and smooth flowing manner. Many of the things we did on our way here involved things that I'd love to tell about, but can't because of security matters. In fact, the only way you will ever really know what our life is like here is once this war is over. At this point so much of what we do and how we do it cannot be told in detail for fear it could compromise the lives of our Marines.

One thing I can tell you is that this place is very hot, very dry, and feels like it is in the middle of nowhere. The dust is so fine and prevalent that many call it "moon dust." I have been expecting this environment and living conditions, but it does not really set in until you are here. In some ways it's very surreal and quite spartan. We all live in little 8 foot by 15 foot trailers with AC units, have a little trailer-like shower area, and a chow hall with plastic plates and cutlery because there is no place to wash dishes. We also send our laundry off to another part of the base because we have no laundry facilities.


These "cans" are our living quarters in Al-Asad.

The interior of my can.

One positive however about this spot (besides looking like Tatooine for Star Wars fans) is that it breeds unity and everyone feels the need for teamwork. We've also got a tent set up by Segovia communications where we can phone home for just 4 cents a minute. There is also a nice recreation tent set up with a TV that gets the Armed Forces Network, has a ping-pong table, board games, a PlayStation, books on disk, and cold water. Speaking of water, the water here is non-potable so we all have bottled water that is produced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's good stuff and we have it everywhere. Drinking lots of water here is the only way to keep from becoming a heat casualty.

The one group that is delighted to see us is the battalion we are replacing. 2d Battalion, 7th Marines is an active duty Marine infantry battalion from 29 Palms, California. They have been here since March and our arrival means that their departure is imminent. They have really done a great job while they have been here. This area of operations used to be quite bad, but they have succeeded in getting to know many of the local Iraqis well and have accomplished a great deal by way of patrols. They have also paid a pretty high price as over 40 of their Marines have received Purple Hearts and several have been killed. Our turnover process with them is going well thus far and they've made us feel at home as best they can. I believe this place can best be summed up by a less famous quote of Theodore Roosevelt, "Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have."


Where I work: Our HQ in Al-Asad.

We are located at a far remote end of the huge Al-Asad air base, which is about 100 miles west of Baghdad. This base has about a big perimeter and we have to go about 30 minutes by vehicle to get to the "main side" of the base that has a PX and the main post office. I hope to get over there in the next day or so to check on our mail. The great thing about mail here is that we can send letters and "MRE postcards" for free. In fact, I plan to mail out some of those "MRE postcards" soon. All they are is part of the cardboard from a meal-ready-to-eat (MRE) package that you use to send as a postcard.


Cpl Villa from San Antonio, TX filling out an "MRE postcard"
the other day while we waited for our C-130 flight.

One thing I am looking forward to soon is to be able to see a couple of my buddies that are up the road with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. I went to Officer Candidate School with each of them, one of them was in my same platoon in recruit training back in 1997. The Marine Corps is really a small world and seeing them here in Iraq is proof of that. While I was typing this letter I met 1stSgt Geletko of 2/7's H&S Co. He was our company GySgt during OCS and he and I shared a few stories about that time. Who would have thought that I'd see him in a place like this?

Well, I've got to go attend some more meetings now and will have to close. Again, thank you as always for all of your support.

Semper Fi,
James

Regardless of your views on the war itself, Politics1 asks you to please support the brave Americans in uniform who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages -- and they'd really be appreciated -- please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in 1/23d. Thanks!!
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.19.04 |

THURSDAY OPEN THREAD. Apropos of nothing but ... I was out drinking with friends at a club Wednesday night. While in the bathroom, I noticed a posted for "3 Vodka - Ask for it by number." What struck me amusing was not the stupid brand name but the claims on the advertisement. "Zero Carbs. Gluten-Free." Yeah, whatever, because when I'm looking to get buzzed, like I'm really thinking a lot about gluten. Rant over.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.19.04 |

FOXX, McHENRY WIN CONGRESSIONAL RACES IN N.C. In the most watched race in Tuesday's North Carolina primary, volatile Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson lost the GOP run-off for in the open CD-5 race to State Senator Virginia Foxx. Through the primary and run-off, Robinson ran what was likely one of the dirtiest attack campaigns in the nation. Voters rebelled and Foxx won by a 10-point margin. Presumably, based on his earlier conduct, maybe Robinson will blame his defeat on an unholy cabal of homosexuals, abortionists and gun-hating communists. In the open CD-10 race, State Rep. Patrick McHenry edged out Sheriff David Huffman by less than 100 votes in the Republican run-off. A recount is likely. Foxx and McHenry are both very heavy favorites to win in November. Voters also went to the polls on Tuesday in Wyoming, and Congresswoman Barbara Cubin (R) easily won renomination with 55% against four challengers who attacked her poor attendance record. Jeremiah "DemoGog" Brewer (D) -- 22-years-old and a regular blogger here -- lost his primary for a State House seat by a 61% to 39% vote.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.18.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. Not much in new numbers to report today. However, pollster Zogby International reported Tuesday that -- based on recent poll numbers -- that they "will soon begin tracking the 2004 Presidential election in four new Battleground States: Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina and Virginia." Hmm ... we've treated two of the four (CO, AZ) as battleground states for a few months already, and also declared NC and VA as new "swing states" within the past month. On the flip side of that, it's probably time to remove Tennessee from the list and throw it into the likely Bush column.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.18.04 |

CLOSE ... AND NOT CLOSE. There are two new independent polls out today from US Senate races. In Colorado, a new KUSA-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows beer magnate Pete Coors (R) now leading Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) by a 48% to 47% vote. Salazar had been leading in all previous polls over the past several months. Meanwhile, in California, US Senator Barbara Boxer (D) continues to cruise to an easy re-election victory against former Secretary of State Bill Jones (R). The Public Policy Institute poll shows Boxer leading by a 53% to 36% vote.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.18.04 |

PROSECUTOR LOCATES INTERNATIONAL FUGITIVE ... ON CONGRESSIONAL BALLOT. In 2002, little-known candidate Jack E. Shepard lost to Norm Coleman in Minnesota's GOP primary for US Senate by a lopsided 94% to 6% vote. In fact, few people paid any attention to Shepard then. This year -- filing again from an address in Italy -- Shepard is running for Congress in CD-4. He even posted a website with lots of old pictures (including one from his old USAF identification card), his birth date, full name, and more. That's when his troubles began. Based upon the info on his site, Hennepin County Prosecutor Amy Klobuchar now says her office believes that candidate Shepard is the same Jack E. Shepard who fled 22 years ago to avoid trial on a felony arson charge. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Klobuchar said that Shepard is a former dentist who was previously convicted of criminal sexual conduct and drug possession. "We will only be certain after he is located and fingerprints can be taken. But, based on the pictures and other evidence we have, we believe he is the person," she said. Hennepin County District Court records show Shepard was also charged with making terrorist threats and illegally possessing a gun after a felony conviction, but these were not resolved at the time he fled. Klobuchar's office has since asked the FBI to locate Shepard in Italy so he can he arrested and extradited to the US for trial. In response to an email inquiry from the newspaper, Shepard provided some strange answer that " Jack Shepard is his legal name, but not his real name" and that "it is a felony to expose the identity of a clandestine CIA agent." Klobuchar said she wants to arrest and extradite Shepard because his two candidacies were an "in-your-face" challenge to the legal system.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.18.04 |

WEDNESDAY OPEN THREAD. Whatever.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.18.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES ... AND DO YOU HAVE A PASSPORT? Yesterday we had one North Carolina poll, and today we have another: the WBTV-TV/SurveyUSA poll. The numbers: Bush-51%, Kerry-45%. Kentucky, meanwhile, is definitely not a battleground state. A new WHAS-TV/SurveyUSA poll found that Bush leads Kerry in the Bluegrass State by a 56% to 39% vote. Finally -- and I know I generally ignore all national polls (and I'm going to do so right now with the overall results of this one, too) -- we noticed this interesting item parsed from the latest national Zogby poll. "Voters with active passports prefer Kerry 58% to 35%, while those without a passport are for Bush 48% to 39%," explained Zogby's report.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.17.04 |

N.C., WYOMING VOTE TUESDAY. Voters go to the polls in North Carolina on Tuesday to decide one of the most colorful and nasty congressional races this year. In CD-5, Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon RobinsonVernon Robinson and State Senator Virginia Foxx face-off in the GOP run-off for this open Republican seat. Robinson hurled numerous accusations at all his rivals in last month's crowded GOP primary (many consisted of fairly baseless or grossly exaggerated allegations of them being closeted liberals, pro-choice, or pro-gay rights) -- and then there were the rumor campaigns and poison pen letters that spread fictional stories of drug usage, drunkeness, infidelity, and other vices. Read about the infamous "Pastor Randy" email, which was traced back to the Robinson campaign by an investigative subpoena. Foxx calls Robinson "a dangerous liar" and several of the candidates eliminated in the primary have endorsed her. Robinson has outraised Foxx by a better than a 3-to-1 margin, and argues he is the only true, pro-life, anti-gay conservative in the race. In related news, the latest WBTV-TV/SurveyUSA poll showed Governor Mike Easley (D) ahead of challenger Patrick Ballantine (R) by a vote of 51% to 44% -- a margin closer than any previous poll has shown. Ballantine avoided a run-off when early frontrunner Richard Vinroot -- who finished less than 1% behind Ballantine in the primary -- quit the gubernatorial run-off contest just days after last month's vote in order to promote GOP unity. The NC poll also has former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles (D) leading Congressman Richard Burr (R) by a 50% to 42% vote in the open US Senate seat contest. By contrast, the new Raleigh News & Observer/Research 2000 poll of the US Senate race shows Bowles leading by a similar margin: Bowles-47%, Burr-38%. Elsewhere, Wyoming Republicans will see a hotly contested Congressional race on Tuesday. Congresswoman Barbara Cubin (R-WY) is facing a primary challenge from State Senator Cale Case, attorney Bruce Asay, and two other minor opponents. Asay and Cubin are both conservatives -- both are pro-life and support the constitution amendment to ban gay marriage. Case is a GOP centrist who is pro-choice and opposes the marriage amendment. However, Case and Asay are not opposing Cubin because of any ideological differences. Instead, they both entered the race because of Cubin's poor attendance record in Congress. In the 107th Congress, she missed 27% of all votes -- and missed another 19% in 2003. In a state that only has one Congressman, they argued that hber record meant that Wyoming was frequently without any representation in the US House. Cubin counters that her husband was ill (he has since recovered) and that the votes she missed were not very important. Case and Asay had talked about working a deal where the weaker would have dropped out in favor of the stronger challenger so as to not splinter the vote -- but they could not agree on which man should have quit so both remain in the running. A Wyoming Tribune-Eagle poll last week showed Cubin holding a 40-point lead over her nearest rival. Also, we'd wish good luck to 22-year-old Jeremiah Brewer (D) -- known to regulars of our blog as the ever-bombastic "DemoGog" -- in his primary for a State House seat.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.17.04 |

WAIT, DID I MISS THE END OF THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL RACE? After months of dropping coy hints, US Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) confirmed to a newspaper in his homestate that he will explore a 2008 run for President. "I will consider a race for the Presidency ... If I decide to run for the Presidency -- or seek re-election [in 2008] -- it will be for the right reasons, and the reasons are that I think I can make a contribution and help effect change in our country and have some influence over the direction of this country," he told the Lincoln Journal Star. At next week's GOP convention, Hagel plans to meet with the influential Iowa and New Hampshire delegations. Hagel -- a 57-year-old GOP centrist, wealthy former businessman, and Vietnam War veteran -- is John McCain's closest ally in the US Senate. Like McCain, Hagel has cultivated a reputation for being an outspoken political maverick. Even though Hagel is actively supporting President Bush's re-election -- and is the state co-chair for Bush -- it is not an unqualified endorsement. Earlier this year, Hagel called on the Bush campaign to pull a TV ad that attacked Kerry as "weak on defense." Hagel defended Kerry's voting record on military issues, and Kerry's Vietnam service record. This week, Hagel was again critical of the Iraq War. "I don't think we planned well [for the Iraq War]. I don't think we prepared well. I don't think we understood what we were getting into ... [But] when it comes to the role of government and the entirety of the record, I am far closer to Bush than to Kerry," he explained.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.17.04 |

OLYMPICS POLITICAL TRIVIA - PART 2. Yesterday we came up with the names of ten former US Olympians who later went into politics (Anderson, Bradley, Camejo, Campbell, Mathias, McMillen, Metcalfe, Richard, Ryun, Spock). Notes from Politics1 readers revealed the names of even more former US Olympians who went on to serve in or seek elected office:

  • Milt Campbell (R-NJ) - Silver medalist in decathlon at the 1952 Olympics, and gold medalist in decathlon at the 1956 Olympics. Later played pro football as a halfback for the Cleveland Browns. Candidate for State Senate in 2001.
  • Dwight Davis (R-MO) - Member of the US Olympic tennis team in 1904. Founder of tennis' Davis Cup challenge. Member, St. Louis Board of Freeholders, 1909-11; US Secretary of War, 1925-29.
  • Philip Goodman (D-MD) - Member of the 1932 and 1936 US Olympics wrestling squad -- but, as a Jew, he boycotted the 1936 Berlin games because of Hitler. State Senator, 1955-59. Baltimore City Council President, 1959. Baltimore Mayor, 1959-63.
  • John B. "Jack" Kelly Sr. (D-PA) - Won two gold medals in rowing at the 1920 Olympics, and a gold medal in rowing at the 1924 Olympics. Candidate for Philadelphia Mayor in 1935, and for US Senate in 1936. Father of actress (later Monaco Princess) Grace Kelly, and of Olympic rower and former US Olympic Committee President Jack Kelly Jr.
  • Judy Martz (R-MT) - Member of the US speed skating team at the 1964 Olympics. Lieutenant Governor, 1997-2001. Governor, 2001-Present.
  • Willye White (D-IL) - Member of the US Olympic track & field team in 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972, and won silver medals in 1956 (long jump) and 1964 (track). Candidate for Chicago City Council in 2003.

Honorable Mentions go to 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Committee President Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA); Peter Ueberroth (R-CA), President of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Committee and a 2003 candidate for Governor; and General Douglas MacArthur (R-WI) -- a 1948 and 1952 candidate for President -- who was President of the US Olympic Committee in 1928.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.17.04 |

TUESDAY OPEN THREAD. Ready, set, go.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.17.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In North Carolina, the latest Raleigh News & Observer/Research 2000 poll shows President Bush's lead in the state dwindling. The numbers: Bush-48%, Kerry-45%. In related news, the same poll also showed Governor Mike Easley (D) leading in his race for re-election over former State Senate Minority Leader Patrick Ballantine (R) by a vote of 51% to 35%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.16.04 |

LIBERTARIAN V.P. NOMINEE TOUTING FAKE DOCTORATE. Last month we wrote about Libertarian Presidential nominee Michael Badnarik refusing to get a driver's license, use zip codes, or pay federal income taxes. It turns out his Vice Presidential nominee is just as unconventional. CampagnaPsychologist and attorney Rich Campagna occasionally touts himself as "Dr. Campagna" and holds himself out as "a multi-disciplinary professional." What makes no sense is why a guy with real Ivy League B.A. and M.A. degrees, another legit M.A. degree, and a real J.D. degree, would need to embellish his resume by adding a Ph.D. from the American College of Metaphysical Theology. If you'd like a Ph.D. from that school, you can get it for just $249 (see the school's website, as they're for sale right from the homepage). Campagna explains that he had nearly completed his Ph.D. studies in psychology at the University of Iowa when he withdrew from the program in 1993 "for a plethora of complex personal, familial, professional and philosophical reasons." Afterwards, Campagna decided he "chose to craft my own educational destiny and final degree of distinction in a manner that any libertarian would appreciate" (to wit: by buying it from a diploma mill). "I am proud of the ACMT degree and the unique methodology I employed to obtain same ... The institution in question is not a fraud; it does exactly what it says it will do. It promises no qualifications for licensure ... Considering the travels I have engaged in, the practical experience obtained and the time, energy and moneys expended to finally obtain this degree, I do not feel compelled to blush from mentioning this degree in my resume. The manner of obtaining this degree ... is part of my campaign, part of my identity and in a way, part of my platform stance on 'freedom of choice' in education," he defiantly explained in a written statement. Talk about Orwellian New Speak, but who knew that "Educational Choice" included buying fake degrees!
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.16.04 |

BOOK REVIEW: THE CANDIDATE. A new John Kerry book on shelves these days is news reporter Paul Alexander's The Candidate: Behind John Kerry's Remarkable Run for the White House. The The Candidatebook is described as an "all-access pass to the inner workings of the Kerry campaign, the grooming of the candidate, and how decisions get made and who will be making them in the run up to the November election." Alexander was given extensive, behind-the-scenes access to Kerry, his wife, campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill and others. Clearly, the Kerry camp felt a high level of comfort and trust with Alexander -- and he did not betray that trust. There really aren't many "secrets" revealed, but it does give you an idea of how methodical Kerry is in his thinking and decision-making -- and the major role Cahill plays in day-to-day decisions. You'll read of early stumbles, the November 2003 firing of Kerry's first campaign manager, the great disdain the Kerry crew had for the Howard Dean campaign, and the re-tooling that brought him back from the brink of defeat to victory in Iowa (and, ultimately, the Presidential nomination). The book also contains a lot of passages that clearly contain Kerry's personal thoughts about events as they unfolded. It's a quick read, has interesting tidbits, and will be of interest to Kerry supporters. However, it is not a particularly critical look at Kerry because the author is clearly an admirer of his (much like Karen Hughes' recent book -- Ten Minutes from Normal -- that similarly fawned over President Bush).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.16.04 |

OLYMPICS POLITICAL TRIVIA. With the Athens Olympics in full swing, I was trying to recall the names of former US Olympians who later went into politics. These are the ones that come to mind:

  • Wendell Anderson (D-MN) - Member of the 1956 US Olympics hockey team. State Legislator, 1959-71; Governor, 1971-76; US Senator, 1976-79.
  • Bill Bradley (D-NJ) - Gold medalist in basketball at the 1964 Olympics. US Senator, 1979-97; Candidate for President, 2000.
  • Peter Camejo (CA) - Competed in yachting for Venezuela in the 1960 Olympics. Socialist Workers Party nominee for President, 1976. Green Party nominee for Governor, 2002 and 2003. Ralph Nader's VP runningmate in 2004.
  • Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) - Member of the 1964 US Olympics judo squad. State Legislator, 1983-87; US Congressman, 1987-93; US Senator, 1993-Present.
  • Bob Mathias (R-CA) - Gold medalist in decathlon at both the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. US Congressman, 1967-75. Director, US Olympic Training Center, 1977-83.
  • Tom McMillen (D-MD) - Member of the 1972 US Olympics basketball team. US Congressman, 1987-93.
  • Ralph Metcalfe (D-IL) - Silver and bronze medalist in track at the 1932 Olympics, and gold and silver medalist in track at the 1936 Olympics. Chicago Alderman, 1955-71; US Congressman, 1971-78.
  • Rev. Bob Richards (Populist-TX) - Bronze medalist in pole vaulting at the 1948 Olympics, and gold medalist in pole vaulting at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics; also competed in decathlon. Was the 1984 Presidential nominee of the ultra-right Populist Party (the same party that nominated David Duke for President in 1988).
  • Jim Ryun (R-KS) - Silver medalist in track at the 1968 Olympics. US Congressman, 1996-Present.
  • Dr. Benjamin Spock (Peace & Freedom-CT) - Gold medalist in rowing at at the 1924 Olympics. Famed author of best-selling parenting books. Was the 1972 Presidential nominee and 1976 VP nominee of the leftist People's Party.

If you know of others, please drop me a note.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.16.04 |

Red Cross Hurricane ReliefHELP THE VICTIMS OF HURRICANE CHARLEY. Hurricane Charley swept through Florida's Gulf coast on Friday, leaving 16 dead, many injured, tens of thousands homeless, and caused an estimated $15 billion in damage. Anything you could do to help these folks is appreciated. A donation -- of any amount -- to the American Red Cross' Disaster Relief Fund will help provide essential services to the families.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.16.04 |

MONDAY OPEN THREAD. So, what haven't we discussed today?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 08.16.04 |

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