Monday, September 04, 2006

maybe a change is gonna come?? not without work....

Folks: It's been a while, but I have been busy, as all have been with the holiday and what it requires of us to make it come off okay....the last gasp of things before school starts with children in the streets and such.

These things were on my mind as I guided my car through the Mt. Hood area on HWY 97 toward Bend on a sunny weekend that was perfect to drive in....

Except that I do wish that people wouldn't follow so close on those roads, or any highway for that matter.
It is just so patently dangerous to be within a car length. with 3000 pounds of metal around you, at 60-65 miles an hour...
we all could just end up...
well you get the drift if it doesn't go well for the person in front of us.

I had a great time playing with the DK4 at Sunriver for their music series in the courtyard.
Thanks to Michael John, our host, and all of the wonderful people at the restaurant that took care of us from start to finish, which name escapes me, but they were great to play for.
Thanks also to my long time buddy Carolyn (known her since the early-mid 80's) and her always great hospitality in town there...
and her friend Diana who was fun to talk to and hang with, and here's hoping the next life chapter is good for you, D!!

I was reading the NY Times today, and this looked juicy and ready for consumption....

Enjoy with me, and let's keep the right direction on all of this. Keep your resolve firm.
Call your senators and congressmen, and let them know what you don't need them to endorse, and what you do need them to endorse...

and for big safety's sake....
One car length for every 10 miles an hour...MINIMUM!!!

your humble servant,

G.O.P. Seen to Be in Peril of Losing House

Published: September 4, 2006

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 — After a year of political turmoil, Republicans enter the fall campaign with their control of the House in serious jeopardy, the possibility of major losses in the Senate, and a national mood so unsettled that districts once considered safely Republican are now competitive, analysts and strategists in both parties say.

Sixty-five days before the election, the signs of Republican vulnerability are widespread.

Indiana, which President Bush carried by 21 percentage points in 2004, now has three Republican House incumbents in fiercely contested races. Around the country, some of the most senior Republicans are facing their stiffest challenges in years, including Representative E. Clay Shaw Jr. of Florida, the veteran Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee; Representative Nancy L. Johnson of Connecticut, a state increasingly symbolic of this year’s political unrest; and Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the No. 4 Republican in the House.

Two independent political analysts have, in recent weeks, forecast a narrow Democratic takeover of the House, if current political conditions persist. Stuart Rothenberg, who had predicted Democratic gains of 8 to 12 seats in the House, now projects 15 to 20. Democrats need 15 to regain the majority. Charles Cook, the other analyst, said: “If nothing changes, I think the House will turn. The key is, if nothing changes.”

Republican leaders are determined to change things. Unlike the Democrats of 1994, caught off guard and astonished when they lost control of the Senate and the House that year, the Republicans have had ample warning of the gathering storm.

“I have been in all these tough races, and the ones in those tough races are doing what they have to do,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House majority leader, who spent all but two days of the August recess campaigning for fellow Republicans. “It is a difficult environment. I can see us losing a seat or two. But I don’t see us losing our majority at all.”

Representative Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, countered, “The Republicans are playing defense in over 40 races — one-tenth of the House.”

“My biggest worry,” Mr. Emanuel said, “is getting overpowered from a financial perspective.”

A turnover in the Senate, which would require the Democrats to pick up six seats, is considered a longer shot. Democrats’ greatest hopes rest with Pennsylvania, Montana, Rhode Island, Ohio and Missouri; the sixth seat is more of a leap of faith.

It would require Democrats to carry a state like Tennessee, Arizona or Virginia, where Democratic hopes are buoyed as Senator George Allen, a Republican, deals with the fallout from his using a demeaning term for a young man of Indian descent at a rally last month.

Democrats must also beat back Republican challenges to Senate seats in Washington, New Jersey, Maryland and Minnesota.

National polls show that key indicators — presidential approval ratings, Congressional approval ratings, attitudes on the direction of the country — reflect an electorate unhappy with the status quo and open to change.

“It’s the most difficult off-year cycle for the Republicans since 1982,” said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma and former chief of staff to the Republican National Committee. “Environmentally, it’s about as good from the Democratic perspective as they could hope to have.”

In the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, just 29 percent said the country was headed in the right direction, a measure of national pessimism that rivals the 26 percent who felt that way in October 1994. The war in Iraq, the price of gas and a sense of economic unease all play roles, analysts say. The mood is particularly sour in states like Indiana and Ohio, where it is stoked by local issues and the Republican governors’ political difficulties.

Representative Chris Chocola, easily re-elected two years ago from the district centered in South Bend, Ind., is battling a Democrat, Joe Donnelly, in a race so tight that several people offered Mr. Chocola their sympathies on the campaign trail this week. “You doing O.K.?” a bank executive asked at a groundbreaking for a small manufacturing company. Mr. Chocola replied, “It’s an exercise in democracy.”

Mr. Chocola began advertising in March, rather than in May as he has in his three previous races. The attacks and counterattacks have been swift and nasty. In one recent round, the Chocola campaign charged that Mr. Donnelly, who owns a printing and rubber stamp company, had paid his property taxes late 15 times. “Joe Donnelly wants to raise our taxes,” the ad warned. “Even worse, he’s delinquent paying his own.”

Mr. Donnelly’s advertisement pointed out that the company Mr. Chocola once ran, which manufactures products for the agricultural industry, had itself missed a tax payment of $67 one year. “But hypocrisy is normal in Washington,” the ad said, concluding, “It’s time for a new congressman.”

Outside groups are advertising heavily there, as well: trial lawyers and against Mr. Chocola, the Chamber of Commerce in his favor.

Even in such a climate, Republicans retain some formidable institutional advantages to help them hold on, Mr. Cole and others say. After 12 years in control of the House, Republicans have done much to fortify their incumbents, including having district lines so carefully drawn that even in a tumultuous year only about 40 House races are seriously competitive, compared with roughly 100 considered in play in 1994.

Moreover, Republicans are counting on their vaunted get-out-the-vote campaign, which proved so effective in 2002 and 2004, to overcome what many concede is a less than enthusiastic conservative base. The Republicans are also expected to have a financial edge this fall, although the Democrats have worked hard to narrow it.

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The strategic imperative facing the Republicans, many analysts say, is clear: transform each competitive race from a national referendum on Mr. Bush and one-party Republican rule into a choice between two individuals — and define the Democratic challengers as unacceptable.

“Democrats are trying to indict an entire class of people, who happen to be called Republican candidates for Congress,” said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster handling dozens of House races. “We have to bring individual indictments with different cases and different pieces of evidence.”

Mr. Bolger added, “If you like positive campaigns, you’re going to be let down.”

The question, analysts say, is whether the Republicans’ race-by-race strategy can overcome what is shaping up, so far, as a classic midterm election driven by national issues. “I don’t really care what the national climate is,” said Representative Tom Reynolds of New York, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “At the end of the day, House races are a choice between two people.”

Democrats will be pushing hard to remind voters of the big picture, and their frustrations with it. In southeastern Indiana, Baron Hill, a Democrat who is trying to reclaim the Congressional seat he lost two years ago to Representative Mike Sodrel, held an event at a gas station where he pumped fuel at a 2004 price, $1.80, rather than $2.79.

“People are angry,” Mr. Hill said. “They want to know why we’re paying $3 a gallon and Congress is giving tax breaks to oil companies.”

Another major variable is whether Republicans are able, as they were in 2002 and 2004, to make the national security issue work in their favor. Democratic strategists say they are determined — this time — to answer every suggestion that their party and their candidates are less committed to the national defense.

“The key on national security: every time they hit us, answer them back strongly and hard,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “People are not happy with how George Bush conducted the war in Iraq, and they know we’re not safer.”

Over the next four weeks of Congress, beginning on Tuesday, both parties will try to frame the security debate.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority whip, made his party’s case on the CBS program “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “We’ve liberated Afghanistan and Iraq, and by staying on offense we’ve protected America here at home,” Mr. McConnell said, acknowledging that the struggle was “a tough slog.” But in terms of the ultimate goal of protecting the home front, he said, “that policy has been a 100 percent success.”

In the end, Democrats are acutely aware of how close they have come since 1994 to regaining power on Capitol Hill, and how often a majority (218 votes) slipped from their grasp, notably in 2000, when the Republicans held on with just 221 seats. Representative Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, a veteran Republican strategist, said Democrats simply had trouble “closing the deal.”

Mr. Emanuel, discussing the widespread predictions that his party would win the House if the election were held today, said simply: “It isn’t today. That’s the unfortunate part.”

Robin Toner reported from Washington for this article, and Kate Zernike from Indiana.


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