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Up Front

Melted Steele Republicans had the highest of hopes for the candidate they recruited to seek retiring Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes' seat: Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele. But since entering the race in October 2005, Steele has trailed the leading Democratic candidate, Representative Ben Cardin, in almost every public opinion poll, often by double digits. And it's clear why: Steele has alienated audiences at nearly every turn. Speaking before a group of Jewish community leaders in February, Steele compared stem-cell research to Holocaust experiments on Jews. (“You of all folks know what happens when people decide they want to experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a tool.”) Then, as he tried to contain the political fallout, he told a conservative talk-radio show that, lo and behold, he supports embryonic stem-cell research after all. Beyond this gaffe-athon, personnel disputes inside his camp are metastasizing. His campaign manager...

Up Front

Liberals weren't enthusiastic when the powers that be in Pennsylvania Democratic circles began pushing heavily for Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. to be the party's nominee to run against Rick Santorum. That Casey is pro-life is one thing. More troubling was the news that Casey opposes embryonic stem-cell research. But then, Casey said in late January that he favored the confirmation of Samuel Alito as Supreme Court justice. It's time to re-think the premise that Pennsylvania is really the place where the Democrats need to start running social conservatives for office. Despite the Keystone State's famous reputation as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between,” the past four presidential elections have seen Pennsylvania go for pro-choice Democrats over pro-life Republicans. In the 2002 gubernatorial election, pro-choice Democrat Ed Rendell prevailed easily over a pro-life Republican. Rendell's elected predecessor was a pro-choice Republican, as is Santorum's fellow senator, Arlen...

Up Front

The code of omertà has been shattered. Big Jack Abramoff has cracked; the feds will make him tell all. And up on Capitol Hill, on the Republican side of the aisle, it soon will be the season of the rat. The prosecutors will begin with the small fry. The staffers will sing first (the notion that any former DeLayista would actually do time for Tom strains all credulity). That was how Archibald Cox, John Sirica, Sam Ervin, and Woodward and Bernstein brought down Nixon; it was how Rudy Giuliani got the Gambinos. There are, of course, subtle gradations here. Can a lesser congressman deal to bring down a greater one? Can Bob Ney offer up Tom DeLay? Now that Time has reported that Duke Cunningham wore a wire during his final weeks on the Hill, we know that the feds show some consideration to members who record their colleagues' deepest meditations on how to get a Redskins skybox when their bundlers are in town. Indeed, the Prospect predicts that the mere thought of a wire-wearing colleague...

Up Front

Alito's Excuses With the discovery of an entire arsenal of smoking guns documenting Judge Samuel Alito's fervent opposition to abortion rights, the media haven't really looked into the Supreme Court nominee's other questionable attributes. Which means we may need to wait until his confirmation hearings in January to learn what Alito was thinking when he failed to recuse himself from a 2002 case involving three companies owned by the Vanguard Investment Funds -- in which he had more than $500,000 invested. Alito has offered half-a-dozen implausible explanations of how he missed this glaring conflict of interest. He has variously argued that since the panel of judges ruled unanimously, his participation really didn't make a difference, and that the pledge he made to the Judiciary Committee in 1990 to recuse himself from cases involving Vanguard had simply lapsed. But easily our favorite Alito excuse is this one: In one letter, he called his participation in the case an “oversight,” even...

Dossier: The New New Orleans

New Orleans' population before Hurricane Katrina was 462,269 … Today, 138,026 households, or two-thirds of the 2000 census population, are still forwarding their mail to new addresses … The city's budget for 2004 was roughly $16.8 billion … It operated a deficit that year of approximately $600 million … According to the 2004 Current Population Survey, the average per capita income in New Orleans was $4,309 less than the U.S. average of $24,020 … The total city workforce in 2004 was 213,323 … In October, Mayor Ray Nagin laid off 3,000 city workers , nearly half of New Orleans' public employees … Last month, New Orleans suffered an unemployment rate of 14.8 percent … Before the hurricane struck, 23.2 percent of New Orleanians were living below the poverty level , compared with 13.1 percent nationwide … The rebuilding of the city is estimated to cost $200 billion … So far, the federal government has allocated $62.5 billion in disaster relief … The Federal Emergency Management Agency (...

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