Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Murtha: Pelosi's First Big Mistake

Americans had a chance to send some strong messages to Congress when we voted. We voted to end congressional corruption and the Iraq war. We didn't vote against one or the other. We voted against both.

The Democrats have chosen to ignore the message about corruption, so they will have to be reminded. We want ethics reform, new lobbying rules, the elimination of money-laundering through PACs. We do not want corrupt politicians in leadership positions.
John Murtha, by absolutely every account, is one of the most corrupt Democrats in Congress. He has been watch-listed by CREW, which cites a host of offenses, including influence-peddling through his brother's defense lobbying company.
Murtha's ethics problems go back years, as this Abscam video shows. In his 1980 meeting with undercover FBI agents, Murtha says he'll wait a bit before taking a $50,000 bribe, but wants money deposited in banks and other companies in his home district. Here is some of the transcript, provided by columnist Jack Anderson in 1980:
"You give us the banks where you want the money deposited," offered one of the bagmen.
"All right," agreed Murtha. "How much money we talking about?"
"Well, you tell me."
"Well, let me find out what is a reasonable figure that will get their attention," said Murtha, "because there are a couple of banks that have really done me some favors in the past, and I'd like to put some money in....["]
The full transcript is here and it is damning. The full video of Murtha's Abscam interview is available on-line.
Google Video (53:40)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nicaragua: Rapid Count Suggests Ortega Win

Old U.S. foe set to become new Nicaraguan president

The Grupo Cívico Ética y Transparencia, a chapter of Transparency International in Nicaragua, has released its rapid count data from Sunday's presidential election. The data shows FSLN candidate Daniel Ortega winning the election with about 38% of the vote. According to Nicaraguan electoral law, a candidate must win at least 40% of the vote, or 35% with at least 5% more votes than the closest competitor, to avoid a run-off. The runner-up in the election is Eduardo Montealegre, of the ALN party, with about 29% of the votes, or substantially less than would be required for a run-off election.

According to the Grupo Cívico's data, therefore, Ortega has won the election and will be Nicaragua's next president. The margin of error in its results is +/- 1.7%.

The rapid count results are:

Daniel Ortega (FSLN): 38.49%
Eduardo Montealegre (ALN): 29.52%
José Rizo (PLC): 24.15%
Edmundo Jarquín (MRS): 7.44%
Edén Pastora (AC): 0.40%

The official count is proceeding slowly, with just 15% of the votes counted by mid-morning on Monday. In that count, Ortega currently has 40% of the vote, and Montealegre has 33%. None of the international observer groups monitoring the elections have noted serious problems thus far.

Rasmussen: 48 All & 4 Toss-Ups in Senate

As campaigning draws to a close today, Rasmussen Reports has filed its final Senate tally, which shows toss-up elections in Missouri, Montana, Tennessee and Virginia. Democrats must win three of those four states to take control of the Senate. Most pollsters give Tester the edge in Montana, where incumbent Conrad Burns has largely fought a campaign against himself - embroiled in the Ambramoff scandal and committing one political faux pas after another.

That leaves Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia. Polls indicate that James Webb, who consistently leads Virginia Senator George Allen by a few points, has the best chance for victory. Tennessee polls are all over the place - some show Bob Corker with a 12-point lead over Democrat Harold Ford, while others give him an edge of only a few points. Our sense is that circumstances on the ground favor Ford. Corker was not the Republican base's choice in the primary, and GOP turnout may be lower than most pollsters expect. In Missouri, McCaskill and Talent continue to run neck and neck, meaning the battle will come down to GOTV, which probably gives Talent the advantage.

It would be pointless to make predictions about these three races. If one was flipping a coin, the chances it would come up heads at least twice in three tosses are 50%. Less than a year ago, most pollsters gave Democrats virtually no chance of taking control of the Senate, and most people would have been content just to see Rick Santorum's despicable career ended. It's a measure of how much the political climate has changed that today Democrats have an even chance of winning control.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ted Haggard Fired by Church

Update: In a statement written by Haggard and read to the New Life congregation Sunday morning, he said, "The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and liar there is part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it all of my adult life."

The following statement was released by the New Life Church in Colorado Springs this afternoon:

November 4, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New Life Church Colorado Springs, Colorado

We, the Overseer Board of New Life Church, have concluded our deliberations concerning the moral failings of Pastor Ted Haggard. Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.

The language of our church bylaws state that as Overseers we must decide in cases where the Senior Pastor has "demonstrated immoral conduct" whether we must "remove the pastor from his position or to discipline him in any way they deem necessary."

In consultation with leading evangelicals and experts familiar with the type of behavior Pastor Haggard has demonstrated, we have decided that the most positive and productive direction for our church is his dismissal and removal. In addition, the Overseers will continue to explore the depth of Pastor Haggard's offense so that a plan of healing and restoration can begin.

Pastor Haggard and his wife have been informed of this decision. They have agreed as well that he should be dismissed and that a new pastor for New Life Church should be selected according to the rules of replacement in the bylaws.

That process will begin immediately in hopes that a new pastor can be confirmed by the end of the year 2006. In the interim, Ross Parsley will function as the leader of the church with full support of the Overseers.

A letter of explanation and apology by Pastor Haggard as well as a word of encouragement from Gayle Haggard will be read in the 9:00 and 11:00 service of New Life Church.

Friday, November 03, 2006

If This Was Clue, We'd Have a Winner

Pastor Haggard in the Male Prostitute's Apartment with the Methamphetamine

Haggard Says He Bought Meth & Threw It Away

Ted Haggard's story just became a little weirder, after he was interviewed outside his home by a Colorado reporter. Haggard said he bought methamphetamine from Mike Jones, but threw it out because "I knew it was wrong." He admitted to phoning him for the drug.

He said he first met Jones when he went to him for a massage. He was placed in contact with the male prostitute through a "referral" from a Denver hotel.

Haggard denied having sex with Jones and said, "We're so grateful that he failed the polygraph test this morning."

(Kudos to the CNN reporter in this video, who kept a straight face after watching the interview.)

YouTube video (3:16)

Ted Haggard's Fantasies & Sexual Practices

In an interview with Denver's KHOW radio station, former male prostitute Mike Jones said evangelical leader Ted Haggard told him his fantasy was to have an orgy with college guys, from 18 to 22 years old. Certainly, Haggard had plenty of access to such a group.

Via Good Morning America
YouTube video (4:56)

Jones also told KHOW this morning that he and the minister practiced oral sex on each other, and that they had only engaged in "something else" (presumably anal sex) once. Jones said he was the one wearing the condom during that encounter.

Meanwhile, PageOneQ dug up an ad for Mike Jones' services. Is this part of the War on Christmas?

Is Ted Haggard the Final Nail in the Republican Coffin?

The overnight revelation by a New Life church pastor that Ted Haggard had, in fact, admitted to some of the allegations of homosexual encounters and/or methamphetamine use is huge. Haggard is president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which boasts 30 million members. He was known to be an ardent Bush supporter. He was invited, at the president's personal request, to the signing of the partial birth abortion legislation on November 3, 2003. This is from an e-mail Haggard sent far and wide about the invitation.

Well, on Monday I was in the World Prayer Center and my cell phone rang. It was one of the special assistants to President Bush calling from the White House. It turns out that when the President was reviewing the list of those attending the signing of the partial birth abortion ban, he asked why I wasn't attending and asked that they call me. So the White House staff got onto the phones and were calling the NAE Washington office, our church office and my cell phone at the same time trying to see if I could come to the signing.

Haggard also claimed to participate in weekly conference calls with the White House. The NAE publishes a regular newsletter, which it encourages its 45,000 member churches to place in their Sunday bulletins. Here is an excerpt from the latest edition (PDF):

The fate of the Republican Party’s political dominance depends in large measure upon how evangelicals vote this November 7. Making up over one-third of the GOP, polls show that evangelicals still remain the most supportive group, but at levels significantly below that they were in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

Evangelicals have, in just a few short weeks, been hit by the Foley scandal, the revelations of David Kuo's book and now by the Ted Haggard scandal. Separately, each of those events might not have weighed very heavily on the elections. The weight of all three, however, will be crushing to evangelical voters who must now decide whether it's worth the effort to vote, much less for Republicans, on November 7.

We noted with some amusement yesterday that National Review Online's The Corner included 189 (yes, we counted them) references to John Kerry on its home page, but had not one reference to Ted Haggard. Is there any question which story will have a greater impact on the elections?

In this tense election climate, the timing and magnitude of the Haggard scandal could not be worse for Republicans. It may very well be the final nail in the coffin as election day quickly approaches.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

KKTV: Haggard Admits to Allegations!

Update 1: Text of e-mail message sent by pastor Ross Parsley

Update 2: Voice-mail messages released - Haggard buying drugs

In a stunning overnight development in the Ted Haggard sex scandal, Colorado Springs' KKTV is reporting that the besieged minister has admitted to some of the allegations made against him:

After a day of whirlwind controversy surrounding New Life Church and its leader Ted Haggard, who went on administrative leave earlier Thursday, the acting Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley tells KKTV 11 News that Pastor Haggard has admitted to some of the indiscretions.

Thursday morning, Mike Jones went on a Denver radio talk show and said Pastor Haggard paid him for sex over the past 3 years. Jones also claims Haggard did drugs with him. Pastor Parsley says Haggard admitted that some of the allegations are true, but not all of them. The church is not saying what Haggard admitted to.

Haggard initially denied the allegations and said he did not know Mike Jones.

Update 1: The Ross Parsley statement was sent out via e-mail late this evening to members of the New Life Church:

From: Pastor Ross Parsley Mailed-By:
Date: Nov 2, 2006 10:59 PM
Subject: Update from Pastor Ross

Dear New Lifers and friends of New Life Church,

Many of you have expressed concern about today's news regarding our pastor. Thank you all for your prayers and support, and for your concern for our church family.

As you've likely heard by now, Pastor Ted has voluntarily placed himself on administrative leave as New Life's senior pastor to allow our external board of overseers to work effectively. Below is the statement that we released to the media on Thursday afternoon.

Since that time, the board of overseers has met with Pastor Ted. It is important for you to know that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true. He has willingly and humbly submitted to the authority of the board of overseers, and will remain on administrative leave during the course of the investigation.

Update 2: The voice-mail messages have now been released to Colorado's KUSA, and reveal that Ted Haggard was requesting methamphetamine from Mike Jones. The transcripts of the voice mail messages and analysis by a voice recognition expert have been published by KUSA.

The first voice message, left on August 4 at 2:18 p.m., says:

"Hi Mike, this is Art. Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply. And I could pick it up really anytime I could get it tomorrow or we could wait till next week sometime and so I also wanted to get your address. I could send you some money for inventory but that's probably not working, so if you have it then go ahead and get what you can and I may buzz up there later today, but I doubt your schedule would allow that unless you have some in the house. Okay, I'll check in with you later. Thanks a lot, bye."

The second voice message, left on August 4 at 5:10 p.m., says:

"Hi Mike, this is Art, I am here in Denver and sorry that I missed you. But as I said, if you want to go ahead and get the stuff, then that would be great. And I'll get it sometime next week or the week after or whenever. I will call though you early next week to see what's most convenient for you. Okay? Thanks a lot, bye."

Ted Haggard used the name "Art" in his dealings with Jones. His middle name is Arthur.

Video: Haggard on Homosexuality

This is from the documentary "Jesus Camp."


We've decided the Bible is the word of God. We don't have to have a general assembly about what we believe. It's written in the Bible. Alright? So we don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible. [closeup] I think I know what you did last night. If you send me a thousand dollars, I won't tell your wife. If you use any of this, I'll sue you.

Ted Haggard, pastor of the New Life Church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals stepped down today after the Denver Post published allegations of a three-year, sexual affair with a male prostitute and methamphetamine use.

YouTube video (0:42)

The Ecstasy of Ted Haggard

Too cute to be straight?

Ouch. One of the nation's most influential wingnuts has been outed, as a practicing homosexual and ecstasy user, according to the Denver Post. We're talking Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which claims to represent 45,000 churches and 30 million followers who receive a pro-Republican mailer in their church bulletins every week. Haggard is pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, with 14,000 members.

He was personally invited by President Bush to attend the signing of the partial birth abortion legislation and had a 56-minute, private "sit-down" in the Oval Office afterwards. (Is that what they're calling it these days?)

Haggard was outed by a male prostitute who says he and the good reverend had a three year sexual history, claims to have a letter and voicemail from Haggard and says the minister used methamphetamine in his presence.

Haggard has stepped down from his posts at the NAE and New Life Church, pending an internal investigation.

Arizona Senate Seat Up for Grabs?

Here's an ad Jim Pederson began running in Arizona in early October. Looks like it's working. As we reported below, he has a 4 point lead over Republican incumbent Jon Kyl in early voting. The Democrats are buying up all available air time for last minute advertising that could push Pederson over the top in his Senate challenge. This is not a race any pollster seriously thought was competitive. The implications for toss-up races in Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee and Montana are enormous.

YouTube video (0:29)

Quiet Week is Bad News for Republicans

Surprising Dem strength in Arizona senate race

When the Republicans have nothing more than a flubbed line from John Kerry to hang their hopes on, you know the situation is desperate. It's actually been funny to watch them blow it out of all proportion and their reaction confirms our sense that Rove is slipping. Our best guess is that the affair was a net loss for Republicans, because a) it kept the discussion on Iraq and b) the American public doesn't fetishize the army as Washington does. This is one of those Beltway things that the public doesn't relate to very well. Meanwhile, Republican candidates started talking about Iraq, which is absolutely kryptonite to their campaigns, when any smart pollster would have advised them to keep their mouths shut.

When Seymour Hersh talks about American soldiers gunning down a soccer team in Iraq, the public's sense is not to blame the soldiers, or Hersh for reporting it, but Washington for putting our soldiers in this mess. The outrage over Kerry's remarks is feigned by "Anal Cyst" Limbaugh, a long line of Republican candidates and the cadre of non-volunteers at NRO, and, yes, the public knows the outrage is fake. Bottom line: the issue has further demoralized Republican voters and will negatively affect turnout.

The news cycle abhors a vacuum, and, as we said, when there's nothing more than Kerry to talk about for two cycles, you know it's a quiet week. Meanwhile, Democrats have started pouring money into the Arizona senate race, where early voting has shown surprisingly strong turnout for Democrat Jim Pederson. The National Journal reports via its blog:

Why AZ? Here's a memo from pollsters Paul Harstad and Chris Keating the DSCC will release today: "According to our October 29 to 31 survey of 745 likely Arizona voters, fully 30% of the Arizona electorate has already voted. We expect that perhaps up to two-fifths of the voters in this election will vote early or by absentee ballot. In our October 8 to 31 tracking polls (since early voting started) we have interviewed a total of 594 early voters. Among these early voters, Jim Pederson is leading Jon Kyl by 4 points: 44% for Pederson compared to 40% for Kyl, with 4% for other candidates and 12% refused. This 4% Pederson lead is all the more remarkable since registered Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to have voted early, and in fact there are more Republicans than Democrats in this early-voting sample of 594 respondents."

Arizona hasn't been on anyone's list of competitive states. This news will strike fear into the hearts of Republican candidates across the nation.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Limbaugh to Interview Bush Today

It's hard to think of anything less presidential the president could do than sit down for an interview with Rush Limbaugh, one of the pioneers of hate radio. Yet, the AP is reporting that's just what Bush has planned for the day. The president and first lady have pulled out all the stops, as they hurry around the country to try to keep subpoena power from falling into the hands of an adversary Congress. Given the public's disgust with recent Limbaugh comments on Michael J. Fox, will this interview backfire? We'd like to think so.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is Bob Corker Tall Enough to be Senator?

The Fox News interview with Bob Corker last Sunday really set us to thinking. Far be it for us to use a man's physical attributes against him, but is he tall enough to be Tennessee's senator?

Wendi Thomas, a Memphis columnist, has wondered about Corker's height as well:

Height shouldn't matter, but it does. Corker says he's 5 foot 7 inches tall, but when I met him at a debate, we stood just about eye to eye. And I'm 5-1. On a good day. With thick socks and heels.

Here's our best guess at how he'd look posing with French President Jacques Chirac, who is 6 foot 3 inches tall.