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March 16, 2006
Besides the typical shortcomings that any Republican budget bill has, this one has a particularly alarming problem: ANWR is in it and because it's a budget bill, we can't filibuster.
We need to call the 41 anti-drilling Dems (and Jeffords) and tell them to vote it down because of ANWR. Same goes for Chafee, Coleman, DeWine, McCain, Smith, Snowe, and Collins (gonna need some more convincing for McCain and Smith especially).
We need to call Burns, Ensign, and Coburn and tell them to vote it down because of the debt ceiling amendment and fiscal responsibility (as noted in the previous comment).
We need to call Akaka and tell him to vote down the budget because his amendment was not agreed to and subsequently, there isn't enough money for veterans in the bill.
Some others who are likely or may vote down the budget are Voinovich and Specter.
Etc, etc, etc.
In my opinion, the key votes will be: Landrieu, Akaka, Inouye, Specter, Snowe, Collins, McCain, Smith, Burns, Ensign, and Coburn. Call these Senators and tell them to oppose this disastrous budget!
There's plenty in this bill to fight. Use this diary to coordinate.
The New York Times this morning gleefully claimed that the censure move is rallying Bush's base (Read Digby's excellent take on it here). From Soledad O'Brien to the NYT to the pundits on TV who snickered and sneered when Feingold made his announcement, the press has minimized the story. During this morning's press conference, Senator Feingold put the press in its place:
FEINGOLD: It seems to me appropriate, when the spin machines are out there and people are using various language, to come out and reiterate my reasons for doing this.
I think that the press decided immediately that somehow this was a bad thing for Democrats and a good thing for conservatives. The facts don't bear it out. You don't have the polls to prove it. The way my colleagues are responding to me suggests to me they're thinking about this, that they feel that there has to be some accountability.
So the instant decision about what the story is, actually, I think is going to backfire on those who made up the story. I don't get the feeling that I had on Monday about this -- yes, people were concerned -- I'm not getting that.
And if the right wing really believes in this country that -- Rush Limbaugh and others -- that they can somehow turn the president's reputation around by saying, "You're darn right he violated the law, and it's a good thing," I think they're just as confused as they are about their Iraq politics. People aren't buying it anymore.
So not only do I not regret it, I felt an absolute obligation to do it.
Senator Feingold is correct. There are no polls to support the contention that censuring the President for his lawlessness would negatively affect Democrats. Indeed, in the first poll out on censure, 46% of Americans agree with the resolution, compared to 44% who do not. There are 10% who are undecided. From the way the media has portrayed censure, you would think we would see Dubai-like numbers with opposition at 80%. But the American people want accountability.
The discussion about the President's violation of the law is just beginning. As the truth unfolds, the American people will realize that this President broke the law, and possibly invaded their privacy on a grand scale. Will the media report on those numbers? As Chris Bowers notes, "Let's see how many news outlets are willing to actually report on facts and scientific surveys of public opinion on this story, and how many are just willing to write stories filled with "truthiness" and anecdotes.""
The fiscal irresponsibility of the GOP strikes again:
March 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Congress approved a $781 billion increase in the federal government's debt limit, the fourth time lawmakers have raised the cap since President George W. Bush took office.
The Senate voted 52-48 to increase the legal limit on federal borrowing to $8.97 trillion, up from $8.18 trillion. The House approved the measure last year, meaning the legislation now goes to the president for his signature.
52-48. Every single Democrat voted against imposing this financial burden on working Americans. Every. Single. One.
While Democrats are united in reigning in the out-of-control and reckless spending of this President, the Republican Party couldn't care less about our financial security. The rubber-stamp Republicans have increased the government's debt four times since President Bush took office , adding an additional $2.23 trillion cushion. The debt limit now stands at a record $8.965 trillion. TRILLION. The number boggles the mind. Even Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg confessed "It's hard to understand what a trillion is. I don't know what it is." What isn't hard to understand is that if voters want a change, if they want adults controlling the nation's purse, the only party that can restore fiscal sanity is the Democratic Party.
From MSNBC we get the breaking news:
50 aircraft, 1,500 soldiers attack targets north of Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military said on Thursday it had launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion of the country.
A military statement said the operation involving more than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops as well as 200 tactical vehicles targeted suspected insurgents operating in Salah ad din, located 60 miles north of Baghdad.
How many hearts and minds will this win? An in-depth Knight Ridder from a few days ago casts grave doubts on this strategy:
Osama Jadaan al Dulaimi, a tribal leader in the western town of Karabilah, a town near the Syrian border that was hit with bombs or missiles on at least 17 days between October 2005 and February 2006, said the bombings had created enemies.
"The people of Karabilah hate the foreigners who crossed the border and entered their areas and got into a fight with the Americans," al Dulaimi said. "The residents now also hate the American occupiers who demolished their houses with bombs and killed their families ... and now the people of Karabilah want to join the resistance against the Americans for what they did."
The Knight Ridder article is worth a full read as we await news from Iraq.
Shock. Awe. Death. And the amazing destruction and intimidation of aerial weaponry.
Slowly, Senators are publicly standing up against the President's blatant lawlessness: Senators Feingold, Harkin, Boxer are confirmed to support censure. Senators Kerry and Menendez are possible supporters as well.
As for the rest of the Senate Democrats, I can only imagine what has transpired in the last few days. Meeting in locked rooms in huddled groups, whispering about how to deal with this "situation." The phone lines in D.C. are burning up as they contact their consultants, the Dan Gersteins of the world who advise them to delay, delay, distract, distract, and maybe the "situation" will go away. "Distance yourself from the angry bloggers," I bet is a mantra repeated by those consultants. "You don't want to appear extreme," they probably claim. Never mind that censure is one of the most reasonable and prudent steps a Senator can take in the face of the President's extraordinary crimes. If you've wondered why the Democrats have been so silent, it is because they're consulting--with polls (though not the ones that say 52% support impeachment, or the ones that say 77% don't buy the unitary executive theory); with mealy-mouthed consultants; with other Democrats who are pissed off Feingold sprung this on them; with the D.C. establishment who with chuckles and an obliviousness to the gravity of the situation asks them "how are you going to get out of this one?"
That process of appeasement and slipping away into the shadows is the root of our minority status. Democrats, there is one consultation to be had on this issue: a consultation with your conscience. Lock yourself alone in a room, take the phone off the hook, and pull out a copy of the Constitution. Hold that fiber of our democracy in your hands. Feel how such a light piece of paper has managed to carry the weight of national chaos, year after year,war after war for over 200 years. Hold it in your hands, and ask yourself: am I prepared to rip this into pieces? Are your trembling hands willing to shred it and let the tattered remains of our democracy fall silently to your feet?
Consult your conscience. The censure resolution will fail in the full Congress, but the success to be had is that the Democratic Party, in unison and in unwaivering voice, declares that the rule of law still means something in the United States of America. That our party is not willing to unravel the Constitution thread by thread to weave the Emperor's clothes.
The "angry bloggers" that your consultants warn you about are "angry" because we're not ready to toss the Constitution into the fire. We're the ones who you will ask to vote for you in upcoming elections. We're the ones you will send fundraising emails too. We're the ones you rely on to get out the vote. And we're the ones urging you to consult your conscience--and nothing more--on this critical issue.
And we'll keep urging you, day after day, to side with the rule of law and not the lawbreaker. So come on, citizens, let's remind the Senators of their oath, and let's get more than five Senators to save our Constitution.
Update: To clarify, the above is speculation on my part about what may be going on behind the scenes. It's not to imply that Senators aren't consulting their conscience. I'm sure they are. But it's possible that in the days and weeks to come, they'll also be bombarding with such advice, as has happened in the past. I would hope that the decision is based on what feels right, rather than what they're told is right. As for actually making that decision, it will take some time. Don't get frustrated by the undecideds. This is going to be a prolonged discussion, and a discussion our country needs to have.
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...
Been a little intense around here lately. Anyone in the mood for some late-night snark? Okay then...
"Everybody excited about March Madness...the big NCAA tournament? Here's how it works: It starts at 65, then 64, then 32, then 16. It's just like Bush's approval rating."
"The Sopranos are a lot like the Bush administration. There are wiretaps, people going to jail, and the second-in-command accidentally shoots his best friend."
"Pentagon records show that at least 8,000 members of the all-volunteer U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began. Hey, at least somebody has an exit strategy."
"More people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance. They're questioning his character now and they no longer consider him a strong leader on terrorism. Apparently there's a little more to this whole presidency thing than just not getting blown."
"The other day new-age musician Yanni was arrested for fighting with his girlfriend. Not to be outdone, John Tesh and Kenny G have gone on a killing spree."
And now take a deeeep breath. And hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Keep holding. Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent.--Cal Thomas [Conservative elitist blowhard]
In Cal's tradition, let's do just that:
[Link] "Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints." (Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, 4/27/03)
Here's a winner:
"I'm waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types.... I just wonder, who's going to be the first elitist to show the character to say: 'Hey, America, guess what? I was wrong'? (MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/10/03)
Good point Joe, let us know when you and your fellow elitists are going to admit you were wrong. But don't stop with saying it to 'America'. How about all you media cheerleaders say you were wrong during your routine ratings whore visits to Walter Reed, to the faces of each and every injured man and woman, and to each Gold Star Family member? Compared to the price paid by almost twenty-thousand US Service People, that's not asking for too much character, is it? For more anniversary memories, see this superb post by Meteorblades.
March 15, 2006
Today, Condoleezza Rice called Iran "the central banker of terrorism." Tomorrow, Stephen Hadley will give a speech and release a revised 49-page National Security Strategy, reaffirming the doctrine of preemptive war.
Hadley will give his speech - I kid you not - at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
From the Washington Post (tomorrow's edition):
In his revised version, Bush offers no second thoughts about the preemption policy, saying it "remains the same" and defending it as necessary for a country in the "early years of a long struggle" akin to the Cold War. In a nod to critics in Europe, the document places a greater emphasis on working with allies and declares diplomacy to be "our strong preference" in tackling the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
Ah, back to the good old days of the Cold War. McCarthyism. Bogeymen. Black lists.
Security experts interviewed by the Post are none too thrilled.
"Preemption is and always will be a potentially useful tool, but it's not something you want to trot out and throw in everybody's face," said Harlan Ullman, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "To have a strategy on preemption and make it central is a huge error."
But where would the Bush administration be without trotting threats out and throwing it in everybody's face? Hasn't that been the grand design of diplomacy for the past few years?
Just to clear up any confusion about what country or countries we're getting in the world's face about, the National Security Strategy report makes it clear:
Without saying what action would be taken against them, the strategy singles out seven nations as prime examples of "despotic systems" -- North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe. Iran and North Korea receive special attention because of their nuclear programs, and the strategy vows in both cases "to take all necessary measures" to protect the United States against them.
We have all been here before .... We have all been here before .... Come to think of it, Bush has shown a partiality for spring invasions ....
HR 1606 was pulled after the Rules committee failed to come to a compromise on how to address the bill.
The "reformers" and their allies in Congress want a floor vote on the CDT bill (HR 4900).
HR 1606 went through hearings and much debate. But when it was brought up in Congress under suspension rules, opponents wailed that this was a gross violation of House etiquette (as Pelosi's office told me). It was merely a procedural disagreement, I was told.
Now, after HR 1606 has gone through the whole process, those hypocritical opponents are now pushing the CDT bill as an alternative, even though it hasn't gone through committee hearings and it hasn't been properly debated. And it looks like Pelosi is right there with them.
What we are asking is not unreasonable --
Yet the "reformer" groups, the same people who have overtly vowed to destroy this site, are suddenly running to the CDT bill. Why do so if it supposedly doesn't affect the very site they've set out to destroy? This has nothing to do with CDT, whose intentions I don't doubt. It's the Fred Wertheimers and Carol Darrs who I don't trust.
And despite Adam's call for them to guarantee they wouldn't use the CDT bill to attack Daily Kos, the only response has been silence.
I will not stand for attacks on a medium based on fantasies, when reality clearly shows that those problems do not (currently) exist. I have a responsibility and duty to this medium, and I will fight to protect all of us who operate in this space.
Given time and proper study, we may find that the CDT bill is actually not cause for concern and I'll drop my opposition. But we need that time for proper study. Rushing it into the floor of the House, bypassing the committee process and avoiding substantive debate and testimony is NOT the way to do it.
Update: Congress is in recess next week, so unless the FEC does another delay (and it should), we'll be seeing regulations next week.
Update II: Adam gives a great rundown of what happened today in the comments.
This much, we know: Congress has had since September 18, 2004 to tell the FEC and the courts that it never intended for political activity on the Internet to be regulated, or that they prefered that it be regulated in a certain way. The FEC, in turn, has afforded Congress every opportunity to speak on these issues and stalled as long as it could to allow the legislature to act first. Congress has abdicated this responsibility. They failed to speak. They punted.
It could make one wonder: was anyone serious in Congress about this? Did those supporting HR 1606 really want it to pass, or did they just want to look good in front of netroots on the right and left? Did the "reformers" really support a CDT proposal which would have granted some significant boosts to blogger freedoms, or did they only care about scuttling HR 1606?
Do not listen to what they say; watch what they do. For all their talk about caring about bloggers, the members of Congress has failed to protect bloggers from FEC regulation or guide the regulatory process in any way. Next Thursday, the FEC will now fill their silence with rules and regulations, and it will be up to Congress again to decide whether it cares to do anything about it.
No link yet, but here's what she says. "I'm staying. I'm in this race. I'm going to win." She's going to put all of her own money ($10 mill?) into the race.
This is the best news I've heard all day. And now I can turn off Fox News.
Update [2006-3-15 21:42:36 by mcjoan]: What are they saying in Florida? Republicans can't be too thrilled must be crying in their pina coladas with this. Here's a story from the Palm Beach Post today: J. M. "Mac" Stipanovich, a Republican lobbyist and political consultant, said he thinks Harris will stay in the race.
"I have not talked to her or anyone in her campaign. I'm just sifting the tea leaves like everyone else," he said, adding that it would not make sense for Harris to go to New York to announce she was getting out. . . .
Rumors also are flying that Harris will resign from her congressional seat and pump $5 million to $10 million of her own cash into the campaign....
Stipanovich said if Harris stays in the race she will still have trouble defeating incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson because her campaign "is fundamentally flawed, and putting more money into is not going to fix that."
Markos did a great job on Countdown. I'm sure there will be clips circulating soon. Here's another open thread for you guys. Enjoy.
Next up, Harris on whether she's staying in. I'm actually watching Fox to see this. And I know Drudge has reported she's still in. I'm not posting it 'til I hear it out of her own grotesquely overly lip-sticked mouth.
Continuing lickety-split down the road of militarization of civilian life - and turning what used to be considered straightforward law enforcement policies into gung-ho, army-oriented problem solving - CBC News brings us the latest:
For the first time since 1817, U.S. Coast Guard vessels on the Great Lakes are being outfitted with weapons - machine-guns capable of firing 600 bullets a minute.
Funny how the Bush administration, chock full of people who declined to serve in the operating theater of a war when they had the chance, seem so enamored with finding military-style solutions to various domestic policing problems.
Feel safer yet?
Update: Many wise commenters here have made me re-think this news article and view it as not a bad thing. I think what so alarmed me when first reading the article was the last sentence in the blockquote ... that weapons are authorized under this treaty that would bring down helicopters or shoot through an armed vehicle.
However, the combined knowledge and great discussion has changed my view of this. The Coast Guard is a superbly trained force (and as one wise commenter pointed out, one of the few agencies involved in Katrina that seemed to know what it was doing).
Thanks for opening up my eyes and mind, particuliarly: chemsmith, TheCrank, snookybeh, JeffSCinNY, Mike S, dannyinla, bosdcla14, Roosevelt Democrat, BoyWonder, Chris Andersen, The Baculum King, bohdi777, catleigh, marksb, philgoblue, lesliet and sterno.
You all are why I love this place.
March 13, 2006
Still searching for rock bottom.
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released on Monday put President George W. Bush's approval rating at 36 percent, a new low for that poll but similar to his rating in other recent surveys.
The poll, taken Friday through Saturday, showed Bush's approval rating dropped from 38 percent in late February-early March, while his disapproval rating remained steady at 60 percent.
One of the potential benefits to the Feingold Censure Resolution, besides standing up for the Constitution, the rule of law, and our system of government (like anyone in the DC establishment [sorry for the offense to DC citizens] actually cares about that), is an unintentional one -- it will expose the hypocrites and phonies in the DC establishment.
"The Rule of Law! The Rule of Law!" How many time have we heard politicians, DC pundits, and partisans pontificating on the "Rule of Law" and restoring "Honor and Dignity to the White House"? We know from too many of their actions that they are mendacious hypocrites and sanctimonious suck-ups. And the biggest one of all? Media hero John McCain. What do you think McCain will say about Feingold's resolution? It probably won't sound anything like this:
Mr. Chief Justice, I intend to vote to convict the President of the United States on both articles of impeachment. To say I do so with regret will sound trite to some, but I mean it sincerely. I deeply regret that this day has come to pass.
I bear no animosity for the President. I take no partisan satisfaction from this matter. I don't lightly dismiss the public's clear opposition to conviction. And I am genuinely concerned that the institution of the Presidency not be harmed, either by the President's conduct, or by Congress' reaction to his conduct.
Indeed, I take no satisfaction at all from this vote, with one exception--and an important exception it is--that by voting to convict I have been spared reproach by my conscience for shirking my duty.
The Senate faces an awful choice, to be sure. But, to my mind, it is a clear choice. I am persuaded that the President has violated his oath of office by committing perjury and by obstructing justice, and that by so doing he has forfeited his office.
You all remember, of course, what that was about. THE RULE OF LAW! THE RULE OF LAW!
McCain really is the biggest phony of them all. Oh, and when he starts the inevitable "time of war," "helping the enemy" nonsense, let's remind him about what was going on in Kosovo when he voted to remove Clinton:
Update [2006-3-13 17:26:24 by mcjoan]:: Hahahaha!!! Lieberman doesn't scold Presidents!! Well, maybe just Democratic presidents. In a significant break with his president, Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman took to the Senate floor Thursday to condemn President Bill Clinton's marital infidelity as immoral, disgraceful and damaging to the country.
Lieberman of Connecticut said he was angered and disappointed in Clinton's behavior, and what he called Clinton's "premeditated" deception.
Lieberman said Clinton "apparently had extramarital relations with an employee half his age and did so in the workplace in the vicinity of the Oval Office. Such behavior is not just inappropriate. It is immoral."
Now here's a twist. Sure, I post weekly updates on where we're at with bird flu. And I'm very interested in the fact that ABC News will be presenting bird flu coverage all week (they've put together a helpful summary):
Avian flu has the potential to be a major crisis, and top government and public health officials are planning for the worst. However, almost without exception, they all say the worst-case scenario -- easy transmission from human to human -- is unlikely, but still possible.
Here are two key facts to help put the virus in context:
Right now, this is a virus that primarily affects birds. More than 200 million birds have died or been killed, while 97 humans have died worldwide. Each year in just the United States alone, 36,000 people die from seasonal flu.
In China, the disease is widespread among birds. The World Health Organization has confirmed just 15 infections and 10 deaths among humans in a population of 1.3 billion people -- a rate of one case per 86 million people and one death per 130 million.
But there's an interesting political story brewing. In order to make sense of it, let me quote two recent articles from some excellent reporters. From Nicholas Zamiska, WSJ:
Even as the World Health Organization presses China and other countries to share bird-flu data for the public good, the WHO itself runs a database limited to a select group of scientists and containing a massive trove of data - some 2,300 genetic sequences of the virus, around a third of the world's known sequences, according to two people familiar with the database's contents. Any one of those sequences could hold clues to an effective human vaccine or drugs that could kill the virus, or help scientists determine how great a threat it poses.
Now, a lone Italian researcher has cast a harsh spotlight on the WHO's system, suggesting that it places academic pride over public health - and snubbing it by posting prized bird-flu data in plain view.
Steven Salzberg wants the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as well as researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health to place their virus sequence data in open-access databanks on an as-processed basis. He hopes such a move would entice scientists elsewhere, as well as governments in H5N1-afflicted countries, to end a pattern of virus hoarding many believe is undermining the world's ability to battle H5N1.
"I think what ought to happen is that the U.S., starting with people funded by NIH and the CDC itself ought to start releasing all of their data and all of their samples -- and lead by example," says Salzberg, director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland.
"Because one complaint I've heard from other scientists in other countries is: `Hey, the CDC in the U.S. doesn't release all their data. So why should we?' And that's a very legitimate complaint."
We need your help to make sure scientists in the US and abroad working on this issue have access to all the data they need. The next effective vaccine may require sequences from Indonesia, China, or who knows where. And George W Bush's NIH and CDC may be part of the problem.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien's interview with Russ Feingold today would have made Kyra Philips proud. In a magnificent feat of bimbotude, O'Brien goes from claiming censure is a "kind of a slap on the wrist" to "something quite serious" in one minute flat. "The jury's not back" on the program, she claimed, to which Feingold replied "the jury's been dismantled". Feingold brilliantly called her on her ignorance, telling her the RNC intimidated her, because that's the only way someone would think there is a serious debate about the legality of the program (almost all legal scholars have declared that the program is blatantly illegal).
O'Brien's performance demonstrates what Armando touched on here, which is how the acceptance of an argument as reasonable rests largely on how many times it gets repeated. Like I said, almost EVERY SINGLE legal scholar agrees with Feingold that the legal issue here is already resolved: the President broke the law, and you don't need an investigation to prove that. He admitted it. Yet notice how O'Brien and other media puppets claim there is a "serious debate" about the legality of the program. Why? Because those who seek to excuse the President's crimes have dominated the discussion thus far. Their lies and disingenuous legal positions have taken hold because we haven't been shouting the truth from the rooftops: the law is clear, and the President broke it.
Add your voice to the chorus and let's drown out the lies. Contact your Senator and ask them to sign on to Feingold's censure resolution.
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