Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Morning News Roundup (24 October)

Polls, Polls, Polls
  • Two weeks before the midterm elections, Republicans are losing the battle for independent voters, who now strongly favor Democrats on Iraq and other major issues facing the country and overwhelmingly prefer to see them take over the House in November, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
    The independent voters surveyed said they plan to support Democratic candidates over Republicans by roughly 2 to 1 -- 59 percent to 31 percent -- the largest margin in any Post-ABC News poll this year. Forty-five percent said it would be good if Democrats recaptured the House majority, while 10 percent said it would not be. The rest said it would not matter.
    Among the electorate as a whole, the poll highlighted how the political climate continues to favor Democrats. President Bush's approval rating among all Americans stood at 37 percent. Two weeks ago he was at 39 percent, and in September he was at 42 percent. By more than 2 to 1, Americans disapprove of the way Congress has been doing its job.[WaPo]

  • If the elections for Congress were held today, according to the new NEWSWEEK poll, 60 percent of white Evangelicals would support the Republican candidate in their district, compared to just 31 percent who would back the Democrat. To the uninitiated, that may sound like heartening news for Republicans in the autumn of their discontent. But if you’re a pundit, a pol, or a preacher, you know better. White Evangelicals are a cornerstone of the GOP’s base; in 2004, exit polls found Republicans carried white Evangelicals 3 to 1 over Democrats, winning 74 percent of their votes. [Newsweek]

  • There are two other items of interest in the Newsweek poll. The poll shows that 51% of those polled say that impeaching Bush should be a priority of the new Congress. And 66% say that rolling back Bush’s tax cuts should be a congressional priority. [The Left Coaster]

  • With two weeks and a day to go before the midterm elections, a new USA Today/Gallup poll is undercutting two bits of conventional wisdom about congressional races.

    All politics are local: Forty-three percent of the likely voters surveyed said that "national issues" will make the biggest difference in how they vote on Nov. 7. That's the highest number Gallup has ever recorded, and it isn't good news for Republicans hoping to make the election something other than a referendum on George W. Bush.

    People like their own representative even if they don't like Congress: Thirty-eight percent of Gallup's likely voters said the member of Congress from their district doesn't deserve another term in Washington -- another all-time high, and another dose of bad news for Republicans with a whole lot of nervous incumbents to defend. [Salon's War Room]

  • In a sign that public opinion is hardening against Britain's military presence in Iraq, 61% of voters say they want British troops to leave this year, even if they have not completed their mission and Washington wants them to stay. Only 30% now back the prime minister's commitment to keep troops in Iraq as long as is considered necessary. [The Guardian]

BushCo's Wars
  • President Bush and his aides are annoyed that people keep misinterpreting his Iraq policy as "stay the course." A complete distortion, they say. "That is not a stay-the-course policy," White House press secretary Tony Snow declared yesterday.

    Where would anyone have gotten that idea? Well, maybe from Bush.

    "We will stay the course. We will help this young Iraqi democracy succeed," he said in Salt Lake City in August.

    "We will win in Iraq so long as we stay the course," he said in Milwaukee in July.

    "I saw people wondering whether the United States would have the nerve to stay the course and help them succeed," he said after returning from Baghdad in June.

    But the White House is cutting and running from "stay the course." [WaPo]

  • The Mahdi Army militia engaged in a military operation in Amara, killing 4 policemen (presumably actually members of the rival Badr Corps militia that was trained in Iran). They also attacked a police station with bombs and mortar shells, causing extensive damage to it. Al-Hayat reports that [Ar.] the renewed violence was set off when the body of the brother (named Husain al-Bahadili) of a major Mahdi Army leader was found. It was headless and showed signs of torture. He had earlier been detained or kidnapped by the police (which has been infiltrated by the rival Badr Corps militia). [Juan Cole's Informed Comment]

Climate Crisis
  • Current global consumption levels could result in a large-scale ecosystem collapse by the middle of the century, environmental group WWF has warned. The group's biannual Living Planet Report said the natural world was being degraded "at a rate unprecedented in human history". Terrestrial species had declined by 31% between 1970-2003, the findings showed. [BBC]

Domestic Potpourri
  • A radical new approach to government accounting that would require the US administration to account for the cost of future social security payments year by year as people build up entitlements will be proposed on Monday.

    The proposal by the federal accounting standards advisory board (FASAB) – which would also require the government to account for benefits accrued under Medicare and other social insurance programmes in the same way – is unprecedented internationally. It would radically change the presentation of US government finances, in effect bringing forward the cost of rapidly increasing social security and Medicare obligations and greatly increasing the reported fiscal deficit.

    George W. Bush’s administration is firmly opposed to the proposal, which officials believe wrongly implies that the government is contractually obliged to make future payments based on current benefit rules. [Financial Times]

Obama Watch.
  • Tim Russert took Barack Obama to task over the weekend for saying, in his new book, that George W. Bush has shown a "messianic certainty" about his policies.

    "Those are strong words," Russert said. "When you say 'messianic certainty' ... you're suggesting that it's almost as if he believes God wills it." Obama said he doesn't presume to know what's in the president's heart, but that he has seen Bush approach problems in "ideological, absolutist terms," and that his "certainty has precluded him from looking at issues based on facts as opposed to based on ideology."

    The would-be presidential candidate isn't alone.

    In his own new book, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says he was disturbed by Bush's God talk in the run-up the Iraq war. "What worried me, despite a relaxed atmosphere to our talks, and to a certain degree what made me skeptical, was how much it came through that this president saw himself as 'God-fearing' and saw that as the highest authority," Schroeder says. [Salon's War Room]

And one more thing... the latest Sutton Impact:

Sutton Impact @ Village Voice

[ posted with ecto ]


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