- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Growing majority?

Democrats aren’t so happy with their 233-member majority in the House (compared with 202 Republicans) that they will stop now.

The 2008 congressional campaign has begun, with Democrats “aggressively on offense and working to put 35 Republican seats in play.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is in the process of targeting districts where Republicans last November won by less than 5 percent of the vote. Twenty seats fall into that category. There are also inevitable open seats in 2008 to target.

“As history shows, following an election in which party control changes, the losing party will have a much higher rate of retirements and open seats,” the DCCC notes. “Following the 1996 election, Democratic open seats nearly doubled the average.”

Pass the aspirin

Don’t ask us to name the ingredients of a “Grangertini,” but the concoction will be served this evening at Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger’s birthday bash at Bobby Van’s Grill.

The drink must be good, given the $500 per-person cover. (The money goes to Common Sense Common Solutions Political Action Committee, which supports GOP congressional campaigns.)

Mrs. Granger’s birthday is Thursday. And no, we’re not telling her age.


Inside the Beltway sends deepest apologies to Karna Small Bodman, former senior director of the National Security Council under President Reagan, for accidentally deleting the word “and” when publishing her quote yesterday about “Checkmate,” her new novel inspired by Mr. Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

Mrs. Bodman had told us that Mr. Reagan’s “dream is now deployed at Vandenberg Air Force Base ‘and’ in Alaska.” Vandenberg, obviously, is in California.

We did have it correct that Mrs. Bodman will be signing her new novel at 6 p.m. Thursday at Borders Books at 14th and F streets Northwest.

Keep your mittens

Amid all the excitement that Al Gore is a shoo-in to win an Oscar for his global-warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” comes this eye-opening story in Canada’s Financial Post, dated Jan. 12:

“The science is settled on climate change, say most scientists in the field. They believe that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are heating the globe to dangerous levels and that, in the coming decades, steadily increasing temperatures will melt the polar ice caps and flood the world’s low-lying coastal areas.

“Don’t tell that to Nigel Weiss, professor emeritus at the department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, past president of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a scientist as honored as they come. The science is anything but settled, he observes, except for one virtual certainty: The world is about to enter a cooling period.”

Yes, Mr. Weiss like Mr. Gore thinks man-made greenhouse gases have recently played a role in warming the Earth. However, he points out that climate change is driven by factors other than man.

“Variable behavior of the sun is an obvious explanation,” he says, “and there is increasing evidence that earth’s climate responds to changing patterns of solar magnetic activity.”

He explains to writer Lawrence Solomon that sunspots flare up and settle down in cycles. Right now, the world is experiencing the latter stages of a hyperactive period that lasts “perhaps 50 to 100 years, then you get a crash,” Mr. Weiss says. “It’s a boom-bust system, and I would expect a crash soon.”

When a crash occurs, as it did for 70 years during the 17th century — known as the “Little Ice Age” — and for 30 years during the 19th century, the Earth cools dramatically. It got so cold during one crash, Mr. Solomon writes, that New York’s harbor froze solid, “allowing walkers to journey from Manhattan to Staten Island.”

10 days to read

Speaking of sunlight, Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, has just introduced the “Sunlight Rule,” which would ensure that members of Congress have sufficient time to read a bill before being asked to vote on it.

“One of the chief causes of increasing public cynicism regarding Congress is the way major pieces of legislation are brought to the floor without members having an opportunity to read the bills,” says Mr. Paul, who adds such concerns are already raised in these opening days of the 110th Congress.

In the previous Congress, he recalls the House voting on the fiscal 2006 defense appropriations conference report at about 4 a.m. — “just four hours after the report was filed.”

The proposed rule would require that no piece of legislation be brought before the House unless it has been available to members and staff in both print and electronic version for at least 10 days.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin @washington times.com.

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