Bloggers are debating the significance of the remaining charges against Tom DeLay. The nasty grades handed out by the 9/11 commission are getting attention, as is Chicago's pending smoking ban.
See you in court: A Texas judge dismissed a conspiracy charge against embattled former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay but upheld two more serious charges involving money laundering. The decision is a blow to the congressman, who would've tried to regain his leadership post had all counts been dismissed.
That isn't all DeLay ought to be worried about, notes Joshua Micah Marshall on Talking Points Memo. A CNN-USA Today/Gallup poll showed DeLay carrying just 36 percent of the prospective 2006 vote in his home district around Houston. "Those numbers aren't insurmountable for a pol more than willing to go thermonuclear on anyone who runs against him," Marshall writes. "But they ain't good."
Marshall also has a link to a post on his companion site, TPM Cafe, by Paul Begala, who grew up in DeLay's district. "My guess is folks are looking for a conservative, not a crook. I know [Democratic challenger] Nick Lampson," Begala writes. "He represents the best of my part of Texas - a strong sense of community, a real commitment to family values, a rejection of DeLay's brand of whorehouse politics and a passion for reform."
"(A) generic 'Democrat' may poll better than an actual living, breathing, human being," acknowledges liberal Daily Kos. "But in any case, this is glorious news. DeLay is worrying about retaining his leadership position. At this rate, that'll be the least of his concerns."
Of particular note to some bloggers is how major news organizations are covering the court decision story. Law professor Daniel Solove has a revealing roundup of headlines on Concurring Opinions. Example: "Texas Judge Lets Stand 2 of 3 Charges Against DeLay" (The New York Times); "DeLay's Conspiracy Charge Rejected" (Washington Times).
You can guess how left-leaning Political Animal Kevin Drum feels about this. "It's pretty obvious that the big news was the fact that the judge allowed the serious charges to go to trial, and that tossing out the one conspiracy charge was a decidedly secondary part of the story."
Failure is an option: The federal government received failing grades from the 9/11 commission, which said that the Bush administration and Congress have been slow to adopt its recommended anti-terror and emergency-response reforms. "While the terrorists are learning and adopting, our government is still moving at a crawl," said Thomas Kean, the commission's chairman. "Many obvious steps that the American people assume have been completed have not been. Our leadership is distracted."
Many bloggers, Progressive Lyceum among them, are indignant. "Distracted? By what? A fake threat and an occupation?" Criticizing the government here would be redundant—Kean & Co. have already done that—so Chris Rugaber at Limousine Liberal takes a shot at conservative bloggers: "Interesting how silent conservative blogs are on the whole thing: no mention of it at all at Instapundit; the National Review's the Corner says, briefly, that the commission is right, then quickly moves on; Michelle Malkin, Red State, all seem to have better things to discuss." (Actually, InstaPundit does make mention of the 9/11 commission; Glenn Reynolds laments that it "will never go away, apparently.")
Ed Cognoski, a blogger in the president's home state of Texas, ties the government's poor disaster preparedness marks to the war: "Despite President Bush's dwindling popularity, the one trait Americans still admire most about him is his steadfastness of purpose. It is ironic, therefore, that his obsession with war against Saddam Hussein distracted him from doing the things necessary to protect our nation's borders and homeland."
At least one blogger can't resist the obvious joke to be made. The Next Left delivers it: "Needless to say, the report card probably looks very familiar to our president."
Smoke-free in the Windy City: Chicago is set to become the latest major city to
enact a smoking ban. Aldermen reached a tentative agreement today on an ordinance banning smoking in virtually all indoor public places, although bars may get up to three years to comply.
"After countless nights of coming home smelling like the Marlboro man, I can't wait," writesEverything Isn't Under Control. Another Chicago blogger, Life In The Great Midwest, concurs after a smoke-ridden pub crawl through Wicker Park. "I got home just reeking of smoke. I might as well have lit up a few myself. Not only that, but I put my jacket in the closet, and the next day the whole closet stunk, too."
On the other side, there's a blogger—Gasdoc at Pro-Choice Smoking Doctor—who insists that the claims of smoking ban-related health benefits are hogwash. He cites a recent study showing that bans are unrelated to drastic decreases in heart attacks among nonsmokers exposed to smoke: "Incredibly the data even indicates that California's statewide heart attack rate went UP by 6% in the first full year of their total smoking ban!" The blogger, by the way, says he smokes 30 cigarettes a day.
Read more about the Chicago smoking ban.