The Bush administration is concerned that China's "blue-water navy" could encroach upon American prerogatives in the Pacific. According to The Economist's recent study of American power, "China is the country that most worries the Pentagon." Human rights activists demand the release of thousands of Chinese political prisoners. American consumers are up in arms over tainted Chinese pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, and dog food.
The release of the second-quarter fundraising totals spells trouble for two presidential candidates: Democrat John Edwards and Republican John McCain. Edwards has always been a long-shot for the nomination, but McCain was once the Republican frontrunner and expected (by me, among others) to have an easy path to the nomination. His candidacy is in now a shambles--and for more reasons than money. When former Senator Phil Gramm was running for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996, he used to cite "Huckaby's Law," named after political consultant and fundraising expert Stan Huckaby.
Congress's approval rating is even lower than President Bush's--it's at 23 percent according to the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. And, in another poll, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's favorability rating is down there with Scooter Libby--at 19 percent. Some Democrats blame their low standing with the public on the difficulties inherent in controlling Congress when the opposition party controls the White House. The fact is that the Democrats, with only a 50-49 majority, do not have enough votes to override White House vetoes or even to stop a Republican filibuster.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is certainly thinking of running for president. If he does, which of the two major party candidates is more likely to be hurt? Initial polls show the Republican candidate, but I'd say it is much more likely he will hurt the Democrats--no matter who the candidate is.
What distinguishes the politician from the political agitator is a lively concern for his own job security. Politicians sometimes say what they believe, but they don't usually say things that might jeopardize their political future. Until recently, Chuck Hagel was a consummate politician, and a successful one at that. He defeated a popular sitting governor in his first Senate race in 1996 and won reelection, in 2002, with 83 percent of the vote.
The second Democratic presidential debate, held last night in Manchester, New Hampshire, was remarkably free of the usual cant. One could actually learn something about immigration and health care policy or U.S. options in Darfur from listening to the exchanges. Two of the leading candidates, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, were at their best, as were Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Biden. The one candidate who did himself no good whatsoever, however, was former Senator John Edwards.
Last Thursday, to great fanfare, senators announced that they had agreed on a bipartisan immigration bill that allows illegal immigrants a path to citizenship and authorizes 400,000 low-wage temporary workers a year. This week, the bill went to the Senate floor for consideration. But I'll be surprised if it ever becomes law. One reason is the complexity of the 326-page bill. The other reason is the complexity of the politics of immigration. Both parties have an interest in preventing it from reaching the president's desk. The politics of immigration resemble those of abortion.
Islamadora, Florida Fort Lauderdale's Coral Ridge Ministries, with its 10,000-member congregation, radio and television programs, and seminary, is one of Florida's most prominent evangelical groups. For over a decade, it has also run two organizations, the Center for Reclaiming America and the Center for Christian Statesmanship, that aimed to win over politicians and the public to a religious right agenda. But last month, the ministries shut down both organizations. Their demise may be attributed partly to the ministries' founder, Reverend James D. Kennedy, being taken ill.
Over the last few years, I've gotten to be on a first-name basis with Keith Watkins. Keith is an investigator for the Office of Cable and Communications Services of Montgomery County and is in charge of fielding complaints from county residents like me about Comcast. If it weren't for Keith, I might have taken a sledge hammer to one of those little green Comcast boxes that dot my neighborhood. Comcast, of course, is the cable giant which, in quite few areas of the country, enjoys a near-monopoly over residential cable and broadband Internet service.
Rupert Murdoch's Fox News is now embroiled in a controversy with the Democratic Party over whether it should be allowed to sponsor Democratic presidential debates. Spurred in part by protests from MoveOn.org, the Nevada Democratic Party cancelled a debate, scheduled for August, that Fox was planning to sponsor. And the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has refused to sanction another debate for September in Detroit that Fox plans to sponsor with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute.