Earmarks: Liability or Asset in Mississippi?

For the past few years, when drafting spending bills, Congress has forbidden the use of earmarks, which are legislative provisions directing that money be spent for a particular purpose. The practice was eliminated as a way of reining in Federal spending, and being known as a past recipient of earmarks can be a liability in Republican circles. However, in a couple races in Mississippi, a two Republicans are hoping the practice will be an asset. A group supporting Republican incumbent Senator Thad Cochran has made an add criticizing his opponent for not forthrightly supporting aid for the state following Hurricane Katrina. Former Representative Gene Taylor, a Democrat turned Republican, is seeking to retake his old seat from Representative Steven Palazzo, and has criticized the incumbent for opposing Hurricane Sandy aid when he requested money following Katrina. (Palazzo initially opposed the aid for Sandy victims, but supported it following a visit to the affected areas.)

National Journal: Pork Is Back on the Table in Mississippi

Secretary of State In a World of Hurt Following “Apartheid” Comment

Secretary of State John Kerry is in hot water today after The Daily Beast reported that he cautioned that Israel could become “an apartheid state” if Palestinians and Israelis do not come to an accord. His statement provoked strong criticisms from leaders back home. Not surprisingly, many Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senator Ted Cruz, condemned the remarks. Additionally, members of his own party rebuked him. Senator Barbara Boxer of California, for instance, tweeted, “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and any linkage between Israel and apartheid is nonsensical and ridiculous.” Another Democrat, Representative Nita Lowey of New York, tweeted, “Inflammatory rhetoric comparing Israel’s democracy to repugnant apartheid policy is irresponsible, inaccurate & counterproductive.” Secretary Kerry later issued a statement ruing his word choice and reaffirming his commitment to Israel.

Politico: Barbara Boxer: John Kerry Apartheid Critique “Ridiculous”

Roll Call: John Kerry Regrets Israel “Apartheid” Remark After Bipartisan Criticism

Pundits Predict Senate Majority

From now until Election Day, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the biggest recurring political news story will be whether the Senate remains in the hands of the Democrats or flips to the Republicans. The Wall Street Journal has sampled a number of DC pundits to rate the likelihood of a Republican takeover. Of the 17 polled, 9—all Republicans—said the GOP would take it. Two Democrats said the odds were even. The six remaining pundits—all Democrats—said their party would retain control. Juan Williams, writing in The Hill, has argued that, despite favorable predictions from respected analysts, Republicans do have cause for concern. Recent polls have the Democrats up in Senate races in Arkansas, North Carolina, and Louisiana. They are also raising more money in places like Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

The Wall Street Journal: Pols’ Picks: Who Will Win the Senate?

The Hill: Dems’ Hopes Rise to Keep Senate

And for our latest post: Using the “Pen and Phone” to Blur the Separation of Powers