- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Democratic loss?

Democratic candidate Francine Busby’s failure Tuesday to win more than 50 percent of the vote in her quest to take the California U.S. House seat formerly held by Randy “Duke” Cunningham is foreboding news for Democrats, Jay Cost writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

The Democrat ended up with slightly less than 44 percent, and now faces a runoff with Republican Brian Bilbray, a former congressman.

“Judging by the early reports on the election, the media is going to spin this as a good development for the Democrats in their quest to take the House. I could not disagree more,” Mr. Cost wrote early yesterday.

“The election will go to a June runoff, but this seems to me to have been the Democrats’ only real chance at this seat. GOP candidates pulled in a majority of the vote and it is hard to imagine that not happening in June.

“The Democrats had everything going for them in this election. They had a corrupt felon-incumbent, they had low turnout, they had a well-financed challenger, and they had a divided Republican field. They had a district that has, in the last 10 years, skewed Republican less and less. And they only managed to get about 8 percent more of the vote when they needed 14 percent more. In 2004, Busby pulled in 36 percent. This time around she won 43.9 percent.

“This is roughly equal to how both Kerry and Gore did in the district in the last 6 years and roughly what you would expect a Republican-leaning district to do with an open-seat election: stay Republican by a slightly smaller margin than when the incumbent is running.

“There is no other way to understand this but as a loss for the Democrats.”

Mr. Cost added: “As I mentioned in my previous post, this is the type of seat the Democrats need to capture to take the House. As a matter of fact, they will have to win tougher seats than CA 50. With a Democratic loss there, it will become harder to see a Democratic victory in open seats like IL 06, MN 06 and WI 08. These are similar in their partisan composition to CA 50 but, unlike CA 50, none of them have a Republican incumbent tarnished by scandal and none of them have 13 Republican candidates fighting among themselves. These open seats need to switch to the Democrats for a change in control. A Democratic takeover of the House with CA 50, IL 06, MN 06 and WI 08 off the table is unimaginable.”

Debasing science

“There have been repeated claims that this past year’s hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change,” Richard Lindzen writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?” asked Mr. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy-makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes.

“After all, who puts money into science — whether for AIDS, or space, or climate — where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.

“But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.”

Hillary and Corning

The mainly Republican executives at Corning Inc. are among the leading financial contributors to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Mrs. Clinton, in turn, has done much to help the upstate New York company, the New York Times reports.

The company and its employees have contributed $137,000 to the New York Democrat from the time she was elected in 2000 through the end of 2005, the newspaper said.

“In April 2003, a month after Corning’s political action committee gave $10,000 to her re-election campaign, Mrs. Clinton announced legislation that would provide hundreds of millions in federal aid to reduce diesel pollution, using, among other things, technology pioneered by Corning. It was one of several congressional initiatives Mrs. Clinton has pushed that benefit the company,” reporters Mike McIntire and Raymond Hernandez said.

“And in April 2004, Mrs. Clinton began a push to persuade the Chinese government to relax tariffs on Corning fiber optics products, inviting the Chinese ambassador to her office and personally asking President Bush for help in the matter. One month after the beginning of that ultimately successful effort, Corning’s chairman, James Houghton, held a fundraiser at his home that collected tens of thousands of dollars for her re-election campaign.”

“The reporters added: “It is part of a senator’s job description to help a major employer in his or her home state, and it is not unusual for that employer to encourage that help or to reciprocate with campaign contributions. In Mrs. Clinton’s case, her alliance with Corning provides a window into how she has used her singular clout as a former first lady on behalf of new constituents in her adopted home state, and how those efforts in turn have helped her to bolster her already powerful fundraising machine and win over previously skeptical New Yorkers.”

Debateless crisis

“The crisis for conservatives is that while there is no consensus, there is also no debate,” Patrick J. Buchanan writes in the American Conservative magazine.

John McCain, the likely successor as party leader, is as committed to the Bush policies as Bush himself. And his rivals seem to echo McCain,” Mr. Buchanan said.

“What is the alternative the nation is likely to be offered by the Democrats? Hillary [Clinton], who supports free trade, open borders, amnesty, the war in Iraq, etc.

“Question: Is the future decided no matter what the people want? Have the establishment and corporate money killed politics?”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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