"Dean calls Iraqi PM an 'anti-Semite'"---Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an "anti-Semite" for failing to denounce Hezbollah for its attacks against Israel.
Al-Maliki has condemned Israel's offensive, prompting several Democrats to boycott his address to a joint meeting of Congress and others to criticize him. Dean's comments were the strongest to date.
"The Iraqi prime minister is an anti-Semite," the Democratic leader told a gathering of business leaders in Florida. "We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy to Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself and who refuse to condemn Hezbollah."
On Tuesday, leading Senate Democrats said in a sharply worded letter that Al-Maliki's "failure to condemn Hezbollah's aggression and recognize Israel's right to defend itself raises serious questions about whether Iraq under your leadership can play a constructive role in resolving the current crisis and bringing stability to the Middle East."
Murtha hits the campaign trail---Helping Democratic candidates could pay dividends in a race for majority leader against Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
Murtha says he thinks such a race is likely and told The Hill that if the election were held now Democrats would be catapulted into the majority.
"If it was today, we'd win 50 seats," he said, adding that Democratic strategists have assessed the field of competitive races in which they think he can help.
"In 41 seats they think I can help," he said. "They've got it narrowed."
Murtha said he plans to campaign in all of them. He also said, "I'm going to where Nancy sends me," referring to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
How to Rig Elections---In March 2001, Republicans held a five-seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because of its massive size, California would account for 53 seats in the House--or almost one out of every eight seats. Political junkies across the nation eagerly waited to see whether California--where Democrats controlled the state assembly--would redraw district boundaries to replace three Republican incumbents with Democrats and steal the U.S. House from the Republicans.
The task of actually drafting California's new districts did not fall to officeholders or their staffers, but to a chain-smoking, rumpled political consultant hired by Democrats. Fifty-three-year-old Michael Berman was a principal partner of BAD Campaigns, a firm known for running expensive campaigns featuring hard-hitting television spots and direct mail for many of California's most powerful Democrats.
Democrats, who held 62% of California's U.S. House seats and a slightly higher percentage of State Senate and State Assembly seats, effectively controlled the process and hired Berman to draw the new U.S. House and state senate maps (another consultant would draft the state assembly map with Berman's input). State Democrats paid Berman $1.36 million to draw the state senate districts, and sitting Democratic members of Congress collectively paid him about $600,000 ($20,000 each) to draw the U.S. House map.
"Twenty thousand is nothing to keep your seat,'' Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez told the Orange County Register. "I spend $2 million (campaigning) every election. If my colleagues are smart, they'll pay their $20,000, and Michael will draw the district they can win in. Those who have refused to pay? God help them."
Democrats Map Out Election Plan---Democrats plan to press for a minimum wage increase and ''tough, smart'' national security in their final push to wrest power from the Republicans in the November elections.
House and Senate Democrats will hold a joint meeting on Thursday to discuss events planned for the 100 days leading up to midterm congressional elections and lay out their party agenda, called ''A New Direction for America.''
It's a compilation of positions the party has staked out over the past few months on income, national security, energy, education, health care and retirement accounts.
''We're going across the country to make our case,'' Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. ''We're going to reject the divisive politics of the last six years, and unite America behind an agenda that works for all.''
His counterpart in the House, Nancy Pelosi of California, said Democrats offer change. ''Americans know the country is going in the wrong direction,'' she said.