- The Washington Times - Monday, August 30, 2010

HISTORIC POLL

GOP ballot lead unprecedented

Republicans have taken a 10-percentage-point lead over Democrats on the midterm generic ballot for Congress, the party’s largest lead in the nearly 70 years Gallup has tracked the measure.

The Republican leads of 6, 7 and 10 points this month - 51 to 41 among registered voters - are all higher than any previous midterm Republican advantage in Gallup’s history, which dates to 1942. Before this year, the highest such gap was five points, measured in June 2002 and July 1994. Elections in both of those years resulted in significant Republican gains in House seats, Gallup said.

Large leads on the generic ballot are not unprecedented for Democrats. The widest generic ballot lead in Gallup’s history was 32 points in the Democrats’ favor, measured in July 1974, just before Republican President Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal.

Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to be “very” enthusiastic about voting, and they hold - by one point - the largest such advantage of the year, the polling firm said.

The survey is based on aggregated data from registered voters surveyed Aug. 23 through 29.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to avoid two words in speech

The White House says there are two words President Obama will not say Tuesday night in his speech about the end of the U.S. combat role in Iraq. The words not spoken: “Mission accomplished.”

Seven years ago, President George W. Bush stood on an aircraft carrier to declare an end to major combat operations in Iraq. A banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” flew nearby. The Bush White House came to deeply regret that sign as the war dragged on and U.S. deaths mounted.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “You won’t hear those words coming from us.” Instead, he said Mr. Obama will talk about what is involved in the U.S. troop drawdown and the changing mission in Iraq.

ARIZONA

Drones to watch Mexico border

PHOENIX | The U.S. government will have unmanned surveillance aircraft monitoring the whole southwestern border with Mexico from Sept. 1 as it ramps up border security in this election year, a top official said Monday.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said U.S. Customs and Border Protection would begin flying a Predator B drone out of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Wednesday, extending the reach of the agency’s unmanned surveillance aircraft across the length of the nearly 2,000 mile border with Mexico.

“With the deployment of the Predator in Texas, we will now be able to cover the southwest border from the El Centro sector in California all the way to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, providing critical aerial surveillance assistance to personnel on the ground,” Ms. Napolitano said during a conference call.

“This is yet another critical step we have taken in ensuring the safety of the border and is an important tool in our security toolbox,” she added.

Illegal immigration and security along the porous border with Mexico has become a hot topic this year, when the ruling Democrats’ control of Congress is on the line in Nov. 2 elections.

Earlier this month, President Obama signed a $600 million bill that would fund about 1,500 new Border Patrol agents, customs inspectors and other law enforcement officials along the border, as well as pay for two more unmanned drones.

Miss Napolitano said the additional aircraft pledged under the bill, together with the new aircraft soon to begin operations in Texas, would increase the Customs and Border Protection drone fleet to six by the start of next year.

ENVIRONMENT

Activists seek ban on removal mining

Activists from Appalachia are calling on the Obama administration to end the practice of mountaintop-removal coal mining.

The administration has set out to curb the practice, but the activists say it hasn’t done enough. They announced plans at a news conference Monday for a rally in Washington next month, and they are inviting President Obama to attend.

In mountaintop-removal mining, forests are clear-cut, explosives blast apart the rock, and machines scoop out the exposed coal. The earth left behind is dumped into valleys, covering intermittent streams.

Mickey McCoy, a former mayor of Inez, Ky., called mountaintop-removal mining “environmental terrorism.” Coal operators say it’s the most efficient way to reach some reserves.

NEW YORK

House race boils down to Wall St.

NEW YORK | Nine-term Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, may have a real fight on her hands.

She’s being challenged by 34-year-old newcomer Reshma Saujani even though Mrs. Maloney’s liberal, activist record is almost perfectly in sync with her strongly Democratic district.

Many voters in the wealthy district work in the financial industry in New York City and have resisted congressional efforts to reform Wall Street practices. Those efforts often were led by Mrs. Maloney.

Miss Saujani served as an attorney for three hedge funds, including the Fortress Investment Group, for which former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards briefly served as an adviser.

Fortress invested heavily in lenders that offered subprime mortgages higher-priced loans for borrowers considered greater risks. The meltdown of the subprime mortgage industry in 2007 helped fuel the collapse of the housing market.

TRANSPORTATION

New stickers use environmental info

Car shoppers would receive more details on window stickers about fuel efficiency, emissions, energy costs and energy consumption under a new government proposal for 2012 model year vehicles.

The Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency announced the sticker proposal on Monday. Options include giving letter grades of A+ to D for the vehicle’s overall fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions or keeping the current label’s approach on miles per gallon and annual fuel costs with an updated design.

Consumers scan the window stickers when shopping for a new car or truck.

Officials say they want labels to give consumers straightforward information about the vehicle’s affect on the environment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports