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Peter B. Collins
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January 19, 2006
So, the central idea of Bush's SOTU is, supposedly, going to be medical savings accounts which are probably about the worst idea ever. I don't understand why we're supposed to throw a bunch of money in the bank that we can only use if we can get sick. Why don't we just make all health care expenditures tax deductible?
But that isn't the worst problem with medical savings accounts. Basically they encourage young and healthy people to not buy health insurance, which makes the pool of insurance buyers on average older and sicker and more expensive, further driving up insurance rates, further driving healthy people out, etc... And good luck getting any insurance after you've gottten a couple pre-existing conditions (Translation: gotten sick once or twice) under your belt, unless you can get it through your employer.
Worst. Ideas. Ever.
Cheshire, Massachusetts is getting a new electronic voting machine much to the chagrin of local leaders. Last week, the Selectmen said that they would not buy a machine, which the state has mandated through the federal Help American Vote Act (HAVA).
The state has decided that it will provide the new machine, and the town will have to use it. The machine will come with programming for state and federal elections, but not local elections. Programming for local elections will cost the town $1,000 each election.
The town has not hesitated in expressing its anger over the action of the state. Selectman Paul F. Astorino said, "We don't want it!"
The action is part of Secretary of State William F. Galvin's plan to have the state comply with HAVA. This new machine, and others like it arriving in surrounding small towns, will replace paper ballots and provide better voting access to the handicap.
Selectwoman Carol A. Francesconi said, "I understand their philosophy on this, but they should have polled the communities before they put any plans in place."
Judith L. St. Croix, the president of the Massachusetts Town Clerk Associations, said that towns have no choice but to comply with the state and use the new machines.
Source: Democracy for America
The guardians of our elite discourse.
Thank God Matthews and Imus are credentialled members of the media. Thank God for the wonderful Michael Savage.
Interesting analysis from Leon H. at Red State (believe it or not):
The probability: I don't think Alito has 60 votes at this point. My estimate before the holiday break was right at 60, and I was including Baucus in that total. Remember that Baucus was one of the earliest defectors on Roberts, even defying Reid's order to keep silent until after the caucus meeting. At this point, I can't think of 5 Democrats who would be more likely than Baucus to vote for Alito (and if anyone can, I'd love to hear the list), and accordingly, I'd say Alito's chances of breaking 60 votes are pretty slim at this point. It's possible that Baucus is merely feeling his oats due to the various troubles Conrad Burns is facing at the moment, but apart from some consideration that I'm not currently aware of, Baucus's signal is a pretty good indicator that the Democrats will almost completely hold ranks over Alito (with the exception of Nelson, and perhaps one or two others.) Right now, I put the odds of Alito breaking 60 votes at around 33%.
Up in the air: Do the Democrats have 40 votes against cloture, so that invoking a filibuster would even make tactical sense? This is a much harder question. Apart from Nelson, I've not heard public statements from any of the other "Gangsters" on the Democrat side of the aisle. Assume that the Republicans start with 54 votes (Chafee is an issue that I will discuss below), plus one for Nelson. Probably Mark Pryor would also vote for cloture, if not for confirmation. In order to invoke cloture, then, we would have to believe that Byrd, Salazar, Inouye and Liebermann will all simultaneously keep their word to the rest of the gang. Personally, I am not very optimistic about such a scenario.
One thing you can be sure of, however, is that Harry Reid does know exactly who is behind him and who is not. And surely, after the caucus meeting today, he's got a pretty accurate count of whether he can hold a filibuster together and force the Constitutional Option or not. Based on that calculation, the situation presents Reid with a pair of interesting strategical dilemmas.
If he knows that he does not have enough votes to survive a cloture vote, does he call for a filibuster anyway? In so doing, he can at the very least put pressure on Lincoln Chafee, who is facing a very uphill battle in Rhode Island. Chafee is balancing on such a thin wire right now that a vote either way might very well doom his chances in the general election - a vote FOR cloture would be damaging with Rhode Island's overwhelmingly Democrat general election voters. If he votes no, that may well be the final straw that provokes GOP primary voters to kick him to the curb. For Reid, I think his choice is actually made easier if he knows he doesn't have the votes to survive a cloture vote: by calling for a filibuster anyway, he doesn't risk losing the filibuster as a future tool in the judicial battles, and he likely insures a gained seat for his party in 2006.
If Reid knows that his filibuster would survive a cloture vote, his choice becomes much more difficult. If he presses a filibuster anyway, he buys at least a week of delay in the process - and he may be able to keep Alito off the court for the entire term. Also, forcing a vote on the Constitutional Option would provide great fodder for Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey in October television ads. However, this would come at a very steep price - the certain knowledge that the filibuster would be gone forever. Would Reid be willing to face a world without judicial filibuster in which Bush nominated Emilio Garza to replace Justice Stevens? My guess is that he would not. However, if he feels that he can win back control of the Senate entirely in 2006, he may chance it anyway, banking on the continued health and survival of the four liberal Justices currently on the court - at least for another 10 months.
Right now, the safest tactic for Reid to pursue is to call for a filibuster, but to give consent to the 7 Democrat "gangsters" to vote for cloture (or at least, enough of them to push the vote over 60). In so doing, he can significantly tilt the playing field in at least one critical race in '06, basically for free. However, the bolder move would be to exercise all the discipline that he can, and force the GOP to exercise the Constitutional option. And, if he feels that the majority can be regained in '06, this is actually the right tactical decision.
It seems to me that at least two things are relatively certain: (1) Alito will be confirmed, and (2) If Reid plays his cards right, he can make the GOP pay for it. Either way, I can't see how a filibuster doesn't make tactial sense for the Democrats at this point, given the current political landscape. And I don't see a way to avoid some damage from the fallout.
This is why I was opposed to "The Deal" at the time of its inception, and remain opposed to it to this day. First, it seems clear to me that "The Deal" played a major role in Harriet being foisted upon us in the first place. Now, it has enabled the Democrats to play this out on television, during election season, when we are in a weaker position than we were spring/summer '05. "The Deal" amounted to a failure to press the advantage when we had it, which inevitably results in a loss.
It seems now, however, that the loss will not be to the judiciary, but to the Senate GOP itself.
(Props to Adam B for bringing this to our attention.)
As Kevin rightly points out, this first stage of the Bush/Delay Medicare Drug Scam is just the warmup for round two.
Once total spending on drugs hits $2250, the scam plan stops paying for drugs until total spending hits $5100. Anger and chaos to follow...
(Bumped -- kos)
Dems voting "No"
Dems leaning "No"
Dems voting "Yes"
GOoPers voting "No"
(This list will be updated regularly)
URGENT ACTION ALERT! B y Sheila Parks Contact Sen. Kennedy to thank him for his work on the Judiciary Committee last week and ask him to filibuster Alito confirmation whether he has the votes or not and whether Frist threatens the nuclear option or not . Tell him to forget the Gang of 14. If this is not [...]
Source: Prog. Dems of America
If Laura Bush really wants to "debate" Hillary, I'm sure it could be arranged.
Otherwise, why run her useless "response" as though it means something?
This morning, all I'm hearing on the news is that Laura responded to Clinton, calling her characterization of the GOP House leadership "a ridiculous comment." It's run over and over again, as if it has any sort of meaning or intellectual weight. If the media want to turn this into a debate, let's have an actual debate. Let's have Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton have it out on 'Hardball,' or whatever forum they want. Let's hear Laura Bush air her views of the leadership style of the Congressional Republicans. Calling something "a ridiculous comment" doesn't really mean anything unless she can back that up with some sort of supporting theories or data.
The media coverage of this is what's ridiculous.
Someone ask Laura if she thinks Bob Novak, Newt Gingrich, the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, Newsmax, Townhall.com, Rush Limbaugh and the Washington Times are ridiculous for using that phrase.
Words don't actually mean anything.
I miss the old Deborah Howell. The one who said:
Funny how the GOP have put Santorum in charge of clearing up their act given his prominent role in the K Street Project that is in many ways the root of much of the GOP's evil.
Ricky has taken to pretending he's only peripherally heard of the K Street Project. Well, too bad for him the Google Cache exists, snagging this vintage 2001 piece from Roll Call:
With high-profile positions opening up at lobbying giants such as the U.S. Telephone Association and BellSouth Corp. in coming months, Senate GOP Conference Chairman Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and a group of well-connected Republican lobbyists plan to compile a list of candidates they will push for those posts.
Other targets include AARP, the Business Roundtable and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.
However, unlike the controversial hard-line tactics of the past, where threats of retaliation were made against those who didn't comply with GOP demands, this latest effort will be a more subtle reminder that Republicans control all the levers of power in town and that those seeking favors from Congress and the White House will be better served if their requests are delivered by Republican lobbyists.
"We control the White House, the House and the Senate," noted a well-connected Republican lobbyist familiar with Santorum's plans.
"The people who are doing the hiring and the recruiting [of top lobbyists] have to remember that. We're just going to remind them of that fact when they're out there looking, they better look for a Republican first."
Santorum's latest attempt to boost the GOP's profile on K Street is part of a continuing philosophical battle that has raged in Washington since the Republican revolution of 1994.
"My perspective is, we want to have people at associations who will be receptive to our message and be fair to our proposals," Santorum said in an interview. "I'm just looking for some fair treatment." [...]
The latest stage of the K Street strategy is part of a broader campaign by Santorum and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, the GOP Conference vice chairwoman, to reach out to the business community.
Santorum has assembled a virtual Who's Who of Republican lobbyists, including a number of prominent ex-lawmakers, to advise him on how to improve communications and coordination between K Street and Capitol Hill as the GOP leadership seeks to push Bush's agenda.
As congressional Republicans try to cloak themselves in the mantle of "reform", let's remember their record:
The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent [...]
The Republicans in charge aren't just pro-business, they are also pro-government. Federal outlays increased nearly 30 percent from 2000 to 2004, to $2.29 trillion. And despite the budget deficit, federal spending is set to increase again this year, especially in programs that are prime lobbying targets such as defense, homeland security and medical coverage.
This is the practical face of modern conservatism -- cronyism, graft, corruption, criminality. It marks a complete abandonment of those so-called principles conservatives supposedly stand for in favor of a kleptocratic and unprincipled gold rush.
And Santorum has been there from the beginning. In fact, he was an architect of the rampant criminality infecting Congress.
Update: The DSCC is runnign an anti-Santorum web ad on this very topic.
One of the most depressing traits of the news media's timid performance during the Bush years has been their newfound fear of facts and the consequences of reporting them. Where Beltway journalists once eagerly corralled facts and dispensed them to the public, scribes today, like youngsters' endless checking to see if it's safe to cross the street, over-think the consequences and end up giving the Bush administration and Republicans a pass.
For instance, in the wake of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea on Jan. 3, some press outlets did their best, belatedly, to explain the crooked lobbying empire Abramoff had built with the help of Rep. Tom DeLay. And specifically, some news outlets addressed the K Street Project, the DeLay/Abramoff/Santorum/Norquist pay-to-play money machine that's playing a pivotal role in the GOP's deepening ethical morass. (Read a smart, concise description of the K Street Project here.) But even then, the media's descriptions have often been half-hearted at best. Appearing on the Don Imus radio show recently, Newsweek's Evan Thomas mentioned, "this thing called the K Street Project," as if he'd just heard about the day before over lunch at The Palm.
In truth, there's not a serious reporter in Washington, D.C. who for the last three years did not know exactly what the K Street Project was. (The GOP openly boasted about it.) The K Street Project was, hands down, the most important behind-the-scenes development in terms of how power/legislation was bought and sold inside the Beltway and represented an epic story with endless angles and repercussions. And yet for the last three years those same serious MSM reporters participated in a virtual boycott of the story, refusing to detail corruption inside the GOP. (Curious, because during the Clinton years the press couldn't stop writing about alleged Democratic funny money scandals that never actually materialized into criminal wrongdoing by prominent Dems.) Only in recent weeks, after Abramoff pleaded guilty and DeLay's grip on power loosened, have reporters felt confident enough to cross the street--to explain what the K Street Project is.
The chickenhawks don't have a monopoly on fear and cowardice. All of DC is infected with it. Pray the sun doesn't come out in that city, the panic at the sudden proliferation of shadows would cause mass suicides.
And that would be arguably a bad thing.
Blog for America features highlights from DFA-Link groups around the country each week. Jeff Gardner from NJ for Democracy writes about the Northern half of the U.S. on Thursdays. You can see more local DFA actions going on at www.dfalink.com.
DFA's power has always come from the bottom upthe grassroots that built our organization. Taking a look at the last week of DFA actions, nothing has changed. Whether coming up with their own ideas, or putting their own twist on national initiatives, local DFA groups are still leading the way:
Looking to set the tone for the future in state politics, the local DFA group is taking an interest in the race for Washington's State Party Chair. And, of course, where it all beginsthe local racesgroups are eyeing and readying the fight in places like the Ocean County, NJ Freeholders race and the Manchester, NH's executive council race.
Source: Democracy for America
Yes, you have to read it through the David Broder filter. He's not likely to actually be inducted into the the Occult and Hermetic Order of the Shrill any time soon. But, nonetheless, for Broder this is indeed shrill. I'm feeling nice so I won't bother to remind the world what Broder said back in Monica days.
Help Needy Monterey Families and Children
Children's Services International is a unique and wonderful local non-profit that serves homeless and low-income families and children throughout Monterey County. csichildcare.org
Call to participate 3-6pm PT:
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