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January 25, 2006

(Bumped -- kos)

The debate continues. An interesting speech from Byrd is ongoing in which he is discussing the Sago mine disaster and mine saftey.

What might this have to do with Alito? This:

In RNS Services, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, 115 F.3d 182 (3rd Cir. 1997), the court found that a mining services company was violating safety laws under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act. The court rejected the company claim that it was not covered by mining safety laws, seeking to narrow application of the law to mines, not coal processing plants associated with such mines. Judge Alito's dissent argued to exempt the facility from those mining safety regulations.

Categories: Blogs
Guys, this is it. Your last chance to pre-order the special limited edition of Crashing the Gate. After today, you'll still be able to pre-order the book on places like Amazon, B&N, and Powell's, but it'll be the regular edition of the book, the same edition you'll be able to pick up at bookstores in late March.

The Progressive Partners special limited edition will come out nearly a month before the regular edition, it has a slightly different cover and thank you letter, you help fund the book's promotional efforts, and every dime you pay goes to progressive organizations. And it'll help the book debut on the best seller list.

Now I know that I promised a pony earlier on, but then I realized that distributing 5,000 ponies would be, well, a logistical nightmare. And the finances weren't working out so well either... Um, please don't sue me.

But I'm serious about this -- you buy this edition, you're doing the most to help make this book a success. And I can't help but appreciate that from the bottom of my heart. So this I'm serious about -- you buy this edition of the book, and the beer's on me. As we barnstorm through the country this spring promoting the book, you better believe we'll be hitting every Drinking Liberally chapter we can find. (Tour dates still being worked out.)

More info, reviews, blurbs, exceprts from the book here (The CTG tag page.)

And speaking of blurbs, here's another one:

In a political culture dominated by corporate money and conservative ideology, the revival of progressive citizen politics is American democracy's best hope. From the beginning, Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga have been in the vanguard of the "netroots" movement--and now, in their tough, insightful and forthright book, these pioneering activists explain how progressive patriots can win.

- Joe Conason, journalist and author of Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth

Categories: Blogs
The Senate is currently debating the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Watch the debate on C-SPAN2, streaming live here.

As of this morning, Senator Nelson of Nebraska remains the only Democratic Senator who will vote for Alito.  The Associated Press reports that Alito has the 51 votes required for confirmation.

Debate on the nomination is expected to last into the night. A final vote on Alito's nomination has yet to be scheduled.

Update [2006-1-25 13:7:34 by mcjoan]: Byrd up now, on the Sago mine accident. Listen up. I have a feeling his tie in to Alito can make this a big moment.

Update [2006-1-25 12:24:51 by mcjoan]: Here's the latest on the whip count:

(* denotes added today)

Dems voting "No"

Baucus (MT)
Biden (DE)
Boxer (CA)
Dodd (CT)
Durbin (IL)
Feingold (WI)
Feinstein (CA)
Harkin (IA)
Kennedy (MA)
Kerry (MA)
Kohl (WI)
Leahy (VT)
Mikulski (MD)*
Nelson, Bill (FL)
Obama (IL)
Reid, H. (NV)
Salazar (CO)
Schumer (NY)
Stabenow (MI)
Wyden (OR)

Dems leaning "No"


Dems voting "Yes"

Nelson, Ben (NE)

GOoPers voting "No"

None yet.

(This list will be updated regularly)

Categories: Blogs

C&J calls in the second-stringers to grace the front page while we get a facial and a massage fight the evildoers abroad...

"In a disturbing development this week, Iran broke open the seal on three of its nuclear facilities...which means even if they don't like them they won't be able to return them."
---Amy Poehler


"Vice President Cheney is on an extended tour of the Middle East. They love him over there. He's known as Lawrence of Arrhythmia."
---David Letterman


"Osama bin Laden released his first new audiotaped message in over a year. While there is some new material in the message, insiders say it's mostly a Greatest Threats collection. A White House spokesman says they plan to check out the message in its entirety, but they're too busy listening to your phone calls."
---Tina Fey


"According to a study at the University of Colorado, researchers say morning grogginess can give you a feeling of being legally drunk and unable to think straight. They say this condition can last anywhere from a few minutes in some people to as long as two entire terms in office."
---Jay Leno


"A Texas paper is reporting that lobbyist Jack Abramoff charged a client $25,000 to have lunch with President Bush. Not surprisingly, this is the most anyone has ever paid for lunch at Chuck E. Cheese."
---Conan O'Brien

Mmmmm....Cheese.  Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!]  RIGHTNOW!  [Gong!!]

Categories: Blogs

January 24, 2006

Not cool. Just five Democratic congresspersons have paid their annual dues to the DCCC (link to subscription-only Roll Call).

Why this matters:

Democratic House Members anted up more than $11 million in dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2005, but there remain 21 Caucus members who have not contributed a dime in the 2006 cycle and 13 others who have given less than 10 percent of what the DCCC is seeking from them.

While the numbers suggest that Democrats are making progress toward compliance, they are still $20 million short of the $32.1 million they would reap if every member meets his or her obligations.

First of all, kudos to those Dems who have met their responsibilities to their caucus:

Rahm Emanuel (IL)
Nita Lowey (NY)
Steve Israel (NY)
Bill Delahunt (MA)
Tom Udall (NM)

Then there are those who apparently haven't paid their full dues, but have raised money directly for the D-trip: The DCCC also tracks how much money members raise for, rather than simply contribute to, the DCCC. Pelosi, for instance, is credited with bringing in more than $16 million in 2005. Emanuel had the second highest take, just over $10 million. Outside of the leadership, other top fund-raisers include two of the candidates for Caucus vice chairman, Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky, as well as Patrick Kennedy (R.I.), a former DCCC chairman, Ed Markey (Mass.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Dale Kildee (Mich.) and Steve Israel (N.Y.). Rep. John Murtha (Pa.) gets credit for raising $312,000. He attended a fundraiser and lent his name to an e-mail solicitation late in the year, after gaining national attention for his change of heart on Iraq. But then there are the deadbeats who are costing the DCCC about $20 million in this crucial election year, even though most are in safe seats. DavidNYC has compiled the names of Reps called out by the Roll Call piece:

Rep. District $ Given $ Due Committee Warchest Jesse Jackson, Jr. IL-02 $0 $150K Appropriations $1.1M José Serrano NY-16 $0 $150K Appropriations $46K Sherrod Brown OH-13 $64K $250K Commerce $2M Jim Davis FL-11 $0 $150K Commerce $27K Ted Strickland OH-06 $0 $150K Commerce $498K Edolphus Towns NY-10 $0 $150K Commerce $221K Julia Carson IN-07 $0 $150K Financial Services $271K Emanuel Cleaver MO-05 10% $150K Financial Services $194K Harold Ford TN-09 $0 $150K Financial Services $1.7M Darlene Hooley OR-05 $0 $150K Financial Services $548K Gregory Meeks NY-06 10% $150K Financial Services $146K Brad Miller NC-13 $0 $150K Financial Services $210K Ben Cardin MD-03 $0 $150K Ways & Means $299K* Pete Stark CA-13 $1K $150K Ways & Means $400K Robert Brady PA-01 $0 $100K $841K Tim Holden PA-17 $0 $100K $329K Jim Marshall GA-03 $0 $100K $626K Ike Skelton MO-04 $5K $100K $600K

Kucinich is also a deadbeat, who owes $125K but has only a little over $7K in the bank.

As to the chart above, it includes several people seeking higher office in 2006 -- Sherrod Brown, Ted Strickland, Harold Ford, and Ben Cardin. It looks like they've already checked out of the House. Perhaps they should be stripped of their committee seats?

Categories: Blogs
I have teamed up with Majority Report Radio to feature a Fighting Dem every Tuesday. Today's edition features Tim Walz in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District. The segment will run at around 9:20 p.m. ET, though your local Air America affiliates may have it at different times.

The "Fighting Dem" theme has been taking off, with latest count supposedly at 43 Dem challengers who are veterans of the Armed forces (including at least nine Iraq War vets). Republicans have two. The latest publications to jump on this trend are USA Today and the London Times.

USA Today:

"Since Vietnam, the Democratic Party has been viewed as the weaker on national security issues," University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato says. "Who better to make the case than veterans of the war? It's hard to accuse them of a lack of patriotism." [...]

Massa and Duckworth are among the "Fighting Democrats" party leaders hope will help recapture the House after 12 years of GOP rule. Some have formed a political action committee (www.bandofbrothers2006.org) to support veteran-candidates and fight back against conservative campaigns like the ones that targeted former senator Max Cleland. The Georgia Democrat, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was defeated in 2002 by Republican Saxby Chambliss, who ran ads picturing Cleland with Osama bin Laden.

Cleland says there is "a disquiet in the gut" of returning veterans. "They want to come back and tell the truth about Iraq," he says.

London Times:

ANDREW HORNE, clear-eyed, clean-cut and ramrod straight, never wanted to be a politician. But then something happened to the Marine Reserves lieutenant colonel who once supported the invasion of Iraq. He was sent to fight there.
It was an experience that turned him vehemently against President Bush and a war he now believes can never be won definitively.

"Iraq is a symptom of what's wrong with this Administration," Mr Horne told The Times over coffee near his Kentucky law office [...]

Mr Horne, 44, is not alone. He is one of a dozen Iraq war veterans running for congressional seats in the November mid-term elections. What makes this new band of political brothers extraordinary is that all but one are running as Democrats, and against a war that only months ago they were fighting in.

"It's unprecedented. It's amazing the Democrats have found this many," said Larry Sabato, a politics professor at the University of Virginia.

The thing is, Democrats didn't find this many Fighting Dems. They came on their own, ready to work on behalf of the nation they served in uniform. And when given the choice between parties, they chose the Democratic Party. And every time they try to swiftboat any vet, like they just did to John Murtha, they won't take it lightly.

As for Walz, who we'll be talking to tonight, he was heavily featured in the recent Atlantic Monthly piece on the Fighting Dems:

Command Sergeant Major Tim Walz is a twenty-four-year veteran of the Army National Guard, now retired but still on active duty when a visit from President George W. Bush shortly before the 2004 election coincided with Walz's homecoming to Mankato, Minnesota. A high school teacher and football coach, he had left to serve overseas in Operation Enduring Freedom. Southern Minnesota is home to a large Guard contingent that includes Walz's unit, the First 125th Field Artillery Battalion, so the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are naturally a pressing local concern--particularly to high school students headed into the armed services.

The president's visit struck Walz as a teachable moment, and he and two students boarded a Bush campaign bus that took them to a quarry where the president was to speak. But after they had passed through a metal detector and their tickets and IDs were checked, they were denied admittance and ordered back onto the bus. One of the boys had a John Kerry sticker on his wallet.

Indignant, Walz refused. "As a soldier, I told them I had a right to see my commander-in-chief," the normally jovial forty-one-year-old recently explained to a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party dinner in the small town of Albert Lea, Minnesota.

His challenge prompted a KGB-style interrogation that was sadly characteristic of Bush campaign events. Do you support the president? Walz refused to answer. Do you oppose the president? Walz replied that it was no one's business but his own. (He later learned that his wife was informed that the Secret Service might arrest him.) Walz thought for a moment and asked the Bush staffers if they really wanted to arrest a command sergeant major who'd just returned from fighting the war on terrorism.

They did not.

Instead Walz was told to behave himself and permitted to attend the speech, albeit under heavy scrutiny. His students were not: they were sent home. Shortly after this Walz retired from the Guard. Then he did something that until recently was highly unusual for a military man. He announced he was running for Congress--as a Democrat.

Walz personifies two of this year's most interesting political trends, both of which appear to emanate from the country's growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq and the party most responsible for it. The midterm elections this fall will be the first in which a sizable number of veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq run for Congress. At least fourteen have declared so far. But in an era when military and national-security issues have long been the province of the Republican Party--indeed, are thought to have strengthened the GOP's grip on the White House and Congress in the past two elections--the bigger surprise is under whose banner these veterans are choosing to run. Like Walz, nearly every one of them is a Democrat.

The Minnesota 1st:

(Click image to enlarge)


Previous Featured Fighting Dems:

You can get streams of these segments on Air America's Fighting Dems site. And there's a Fighting Dem ActBlue page, so show your support if you can.

Update: The Band of Brothers website has 53 Fighting Dems and counting. Daaaaamn!

Categories: Blogs
The first thing that struck me when General Hayden made the ignorant observation that the Fourth Amendment didn't include a probable cause standard was that someone needed to tattoo the Bill of Rights on his chest, backwards, so he could read it every time he looked in the mirror in the morning. The second thing that struck me about his insistence that a "reasonable suspicion" standard prevails over probable cause for the spying program was that this Administration and the Congress already rejected a reasonable suspicion standard.  

In 2002, Republican Senator DeWine introduced an amendment to the PATRIOT ACT that would have lowered the FISA warrant standard for non-U.S. citizens from probable cause to "reasonable suspicion." The DeWine amendment, S. 2659, was rejected in Committee. Glenn Greenwald has a must-read,  excellent post on the DeWine amendment here.   DeWine's amendment would have lowered the standard ONLY for non-U.S. citizens. The administration expressed serious misgiving about the constitutionality of DeWine's amendment. In the end, his amendment did not pass.

The admission that Bush's spying program uses a "reasonable suspicion" standard rather than a "probable cause" standard is explosive and damning. Why? Because the Bush administration knew--indeed, took the position--that a reasonable suspicion standard with respect to non-U.S. citizens was probably unconstitutional.  Yet the administration now applies that same unconstitutional standard to United States citizens?

In the summer of 2002--well after Bush's spying program was already secretly implemented- the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence held a hearing on the DeWine amendment. (Hearing Report PDF) What transpired at that hearing proves that the Bush administration (a) knew that wiretaps of United States citizens are, pursuant to the Constitution,  always subject to a probable cause standard; and (b) Congress explicitly rejected a lower standard for non-U.S. citizens.

DeWine himself limited his amendment to apply only to non-U.S. citizens, recognizing that "we must be cautious not to endorse an overly permissive use of the surveillance powers of FISA."  The Committee heard testimony from the administration's top lawyers, and from top legal scholars in the field of eavesdropping and criminal law.

James Baker was then counsel for intelligence policy at the Department of Justice and head of the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, which is the office that prepares and presents to the FISA court "all the applications under the FISA Act for electronic surveillance and physical search of foreign powers and their agents." If there was any expert on FISA warrant and applications at the time, it was Baker.  He began his testimony by praising the PATRIOT ACT FISA changes, testifying as follows:

In my view, the changes have allowed us to move more quickly and more effectively and to also be more focused in our approach in dealing with the kinds of threats that Mr. Bowman made reference to. So we at the Department are grateful for the changes that Congress made in the statute, because I believe they've been important and have been employed effectively.

No word of how "ineffective" FISA is there.  No testimony there from the Bush' top FISA guy about being hamstrung by the requirements of FISA.  Baker then stated the DeWine Amendment "raises both significant legal and practical issues." In his formal statement to the Committee, Baker wrote:
The Department of Justice has been studying Sen. DeWine's proposed legislation. Because the proposed change raises both significant legal and practical issues, the Administration at this time is not prepared to support it.

The Department's Office of Legal Counsel is analyzing relevant Supreme Court precedent to determine whether a "reasonable suspicion" standard for electronic surveillance and physical searches would, in the FISA context, pass constitutional muster. The issue is not clear cut, and the review process must be thorough because of what is at stake, namely, our ability to conduct investigations that are vital to protecting national security. If we err in our analysis and courts were ultimately to find a "reasonable suspicion" standard unconstitutional, we could potentially put at risk ongoing investigations and prosecutions.

The practical concern involves an assessment of whether the current "probable cause" standard has hamstrung our ability to use FISA surveillance to protect our nation. We have been aggressive in seeking FISA warrants and, thanks to Congress's passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, we have been able to use our expanded FISA tools more effectively to combat terrorist activities. It may not be the case that the probable cause standard has caused any difficulties in our ability to seek the FISA warrants we require, and we will need to engage in a significant review to determine the effect a change in the standard would have on our ongoing operations. [Baker testified twice at the hearing that the administration made "aggressive" use of the FISA process, and that the FISA court had not rejected ONE of its warrants under the probable cause standard]. If the current standard has not posed an obstacle, then there may be little to gain from the lower standard and, as I previously stated, perhaps much to lose.

More below the fold...

Categories: Blogs
Yesterday, I recommended that the national debate on whether Judge Samuel Alito should be on the Supreme Court should be extended:

Because of the importance of this decision and because of the importance of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's decisive influence on so many of the monumental issues the Court faced in the last 25 years, I urge the Senate to extend debate on this most important subject.

It seems clear to me that the significance of Alito's views on executive power, access to the courts, civil liberties, the right to privacy, the federal Commerce power, and a myriad of other issues, is only now coming into proper focus. More time is needed for the Senate to properly carry out its Constitutional function of advice and consent.

An appointment to the Supreme Court is for a lifetime. Samuel Alito is 55 years old and, like Justice O'Connor, is likely to sit on the Court for a quarter century if confirmed.

Given the stakes, an additional period of consideration and debate seems appropriate. The length of this additional period need not necessarily be long nor the debate protracted. It seems to me that with a fairly brief period of consideration, the members of the Senate can chart a course for appropriate action regarding Judge Alito.

Today, Byron York reports that:

Word is that Democrats will stage a talk-a-thon on the Alito nomination when it reaches the Senate floor. The nomination is expected to be approved by the Judiciary Committee this morning, and Majority Leader Bill Frist is expected to move it quickly to the floor. But now it is also expected that Democrats will push for extended debate on the issue, with every Democratic member taking the floor to stretch out debate in what will amount to a non-filibuster filibuster.

This could be encouraging. However, York writes that the Republicans have a counterplan:

But one Republican source says this morning that the GOP plans to "accommodate them without delaying the vote." By that, the source means that Frist will likely keep the Senate open very late to allow Democrats to talk into the night. And then Frist will file for cloture, and unless Democrats choose to filibuster the nomination, which seems highly unlikely, there will be a vote. "Judge Alito will be Justice Alito" before the president's State of the Union address next Tuesday, the source says.

An interesting situation could arise -- the Democrats could take this great opportunity to explain the monumental issues at stake to the American People and the country could have the national discussion that should have commenced in earnest about the extremist Justices that Bush promised to place on the Court. Judges like Scalia, Thomas and Bork. Is that what America deserves and desires? Let's debate it. In the Senate. Exercising its constitutional duty of advice and consent.

Categories: Blogs
Update [2006-1-24 16:2:36 by mcjoan]: Big update (hat tip to Viktor in the comments): Senator Bill Nelson (FL) will also vote NO on Alito.

From Senator Reid's staff:

Washington, DC --Following today's party-line vote on Samuel Alito in the Judiciary Committee, leading Democratic Senators joined members of the Judiciary Committee to announce that they were united in their intention to vote against his confirmation in the Senate.

Alito failed to demonstrate his independence from the Executive Branch in his hearings. An independent Supreme Court is essential to protecting the Constitution and preserving the system of checks and balances that preserves our Democracy. Ironically, the vote in the Judiciary Committee came on the same day that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez was speaking about President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

"Judge Alito has failed to demonstrate a commitment to the system of checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.  "At a time when the president is abusing his power at every turn, I cannot vote to confirm a judge who won't be an independent check on the executive branch."


"Judge Alito has spent 15 years siding with the powerful at the expense of the rights of individuals.  He is the wrong choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, where he could be making decisions impacting the rights of our children and grandchildren for the next 20 to 30 years," said Senator Debbie Stabenow.

"Judge Alito took careful cover in platitudes about the law, with which no nominee who has ever come before the Committee could have disagreed. However, the American people were entitled to honest answers, not practiced platitudes. I expected, and the American people deserved, to hear more," said Senator Chuck Schumer.

These statements from Reid, Stabenow, and Schumer are their first statements of opposition to Alito. But I want to be sure not to overlook the critical importance of Senator Feingold's opposition, the first time in his career that he has opposed a Supreme Court judicial nominee.

This break in pattern by the man who is arguably the Senate's most adventurous thinker and independent player ought to serve as a basis for rethinking strategies with regard to blocking the nomination as it now moves to the full Senate -- up to and including the prospect of a filibuster.

Simply put, if Alito is unacceptable to Feingold, then he should be unacceptable to a good many other senators -- including moderate Republicans with whom Feingold has worked closely on campaign finance reform and a host of other issues over the years, such as Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee.


In an unusually blunt statement, Feingold went out of his way to distinguish the current nominee from the Republican who he backed just a few months ago to serve as the court's chief justice. "Judge Alito's record and testimony do not give me the same comfort I had with Chief Justice Roberts," said Feingold, who explained that, "Judge Alito's record and his testimony have led me to conclude that his impulse to defer to the executive branch would make him a dangerous addition to the Supreme Court at a time when cases involving executive overreaching in the name of fighting terrorism are likely to be such an important part of the Court's work." Update [2006-1-24 15:43:19 by mcjoan]: And this from Governor Dean: While Judge Alito dodged legitimate questions about his judicial record and philosophy, his agenda is clear. His troubling support of unchecked executive power, in light of current scandals over the President's domestic spying program, should concern all Americans. He supports intrusive government power over individual liberties, and has failed to protect crucial Family Medical Leave protections. He used legal technicalities to excuse gross sexual harassment, and supported prosecutors who constructed all-white juries to try black defendants. Worse still, Judge Alito broke his promise to the Senate to recuse himself from cases in which he had a clear conflict of interest--a deeply troubling failure in light of the current Republican corruption scandals. When the full Senate votes on this nomination, Judge Alito should be rejected.

Categories: Blogs
Today's New York Times tells us:

Senator Specter is one of only a few Senate Republicans who support abortion rights, but he said Judge Alito had convinced him that he does indeed regard the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as "settled law" not easily overturned.

Really? Specter's convinced Alito regards Roe as settled law?

Funny thing, that. Because over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times featured a story with the headline, "States Step Up Fight on Abortion," with the subhead, "Anticipating a more conservative Supreme Court, lawmakers are proposing bans in hope of forcing the justices to revisit Roe vs. Wade."

INDIANAPOLIS -- Taking direct aim at Roe vs. Wade, lawmakers from several states are proposing broad restrictions on abortion, with the goal of forcing the U.S. Supreme Court -- once it has a second new justice -- to revisit the landmark ruling issued 33 years ago today.
The bills are in direct conflict with the Supreme Court's 1973 rulings establishing abortion as a constitutional right...
Republican Rep. Troy Woodruff, serving his first term in the Indiana Legislature, wrote House Bill 1096 knowing it would conflict with Roe vs. Wade.

That was precisely his point: He wants his ban appealed to the Supreme Court, in hopes that the justices will overturn Roe and give states the power to make abortion a crime.

It's not just new laws either, the article makes clear. What's old can be made new again:

... At least a dozen states have criminal laws banning abortion. They can't be enforced as long as Roe vs. Wade remains binding. In theory, though, they could take effect immediately upon a reversal, subjecting abortion providers to penalties ranging from 12 months' hard labor in Alabama to 20 years' imprisonment in Rhode Island.

"What the public doesn't realize is that the building blocks are already in place to re-criminalize abortion if Roe is overturned," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York.

To be fair, the Los Angeles Times article brings in analysts from all sides, some saying this is nothing but a scare tactic, that Roe will stay in some form or other, and several scenarios - from no change at all to chipping away at the right to outright banning - are all considered.

But that's just the point, isn't it? No one knows for certain if Alito will tip the scale to elimination of the right to choose. Specter seems confident he won't; a dozen or so states seem to believe he will. It's a crap shoot, and gambling with fundamental privacy rights is a high-risk game - a game that shouldn't be played in this country at this level, whatever a GOP senator soothingly tells the New York Times.

Categories: Blogs
  • I just saw an ad for a watch on TV. Does anyone still wear watches? I use my cellphone to tell the time. I've thrown up a poll to assuage my curiosity.

  • Conservatives are whining about those mean liberals gaming the Amazon reviews for Kate O'Beirn's crappy book. Except that it was conservatives who invented the tactic. From TAP in 2000:

    [M]ost conservative books [receive] 80 percent five-star ratings and 20 percent one-star, as opposed to pro-Clinton books, which receive 20 percent five-star, 80 percent one-star.

  • Over at Street Prophets, Pastordan has a cool interview with Ohio Democratic candidate for Guv Ted Strickland.

  • Arianna notes chinks in the "Hillary is inevitable" CW.

  • The Daily Kos store now has beanies (click on "extras").

  • Great article on Schweitzer and Tester from the environmental publication Grist Magazine.

    The high-dollar organic grains are about as wild and crazy, as progressive, as Tester gets, which seems to be just about the amount Montanans are pining for these days: not the regressive howlings of Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" politics, and not the old-school progressivism of politicians like Williams, yet. Like Schweitzer, Tester is homegrown; he knows that guns in Montana are not the same as guns in the inner city. Maybe a word for these new Montana Democrats might be transgressive -- easing, edging, into the future, and moving, finally, out of the past, even as they carry certain useful and beloved elements of it with them.

  • Jack Carter, who is running for Senate in Nevada and is related to that Carter, had an op-ed on the War on Terror a few days ago.

  • Jesus, Vermont governor Jim Douglas was a first-class wingnut while running his local College Republican chapter in 1970.

  • Nice weekend headlines for Abramoff's favorite senator, Conrad Burns of Montana: The Missoulan: "Burns changed vote on bill about the Marianas Islands". Great Falls Tribune: "Burns campaign chairman also a telecom lobbyist". Billings Gazette: "Burns can't escape talk of Abramoff". More Billings Gazette: "GOP urges voting in online Burns poll". Billings Gazette again: "Island official tied to lobbyist met with Burns". And, yeah, more Billings Gazette: "Burns packet includes column by paid-off writer". And believe it or not, there was more. But I think you guys got the point.

  • O'reilly is bat shit crazy. And damn, has a bully ever had a thiner skin than that joker?

  • Florida Republicans, having failed at finding an alternative to Katherine Harris, have finally rallied around her losing campaign.

  • I thank our lucky stars every day that Liddy Dole is in charge of the Republican Senate effort.

Categories: Blogs
It's not online, but beltway political analyst Stuart Rothenberg has updated his House 2006 preditions:

Democrats don't have as many top tier candidates as they need to make major gains. That means that their ability to pick up the 15 seats that they need for a majority depends on the size of the midterm wave.

Democrats still have the potential for major gains (even taking the House), but their current prospects are somewhat lower. As we begin 2006, we are increasing our estimate of likely Democratic gains from 4-6 seats to 5-8 seats, with a bias toward even greater Democratic gains. More competitive GOP open seats would enhance Democrats' chances of taking the House.

Categories: Blogs
Zack Exley ran John Kerry's internet operation. And while I had some public disagreements with him, the guy knows his shit. He's an old union hand, was one of the first people at MoveOn.org, and the Kerry gig was no small feat.

So Joe Lieberman won't be too happy to see this registrant information for what appears to be his challenger Ned Lamont's forthcoming website:

Intarweb Projects
Intarweb Projects
PO Box 1775
Portland, OR  97207-1775

Registrar: NameSecure.com
Created on 01-14-2006
Expires on 01-14-2007

Administrative Contact:
Intarweb Projects
E-mail: [email protected]

Technical Contact:
Namesecure Inc.
E-mail: [email protected]

Lamont's operation won't be amateur or shoestring. This is a legitimate challenge to Lieberman, and one whose conclusion is definitely not preordained.

Update: Zack says in the comments that he's not working the race. Rather, he bought the domain to protect it from squatters or his opponents.

Categories: Blogs

January 23, 2006

  • Brad DeLong at TPM Cafe revisits Sue Schimdt's past reporting on Abramoff in this ongoing "issue" of his "directing" money to Democrats: Washington Post reporter Susan Schimdt, February 22, 2004: "Under Abramoff's guidance, the four tribes -- Michigan's Saginaw Chippewas, the Agua Caliente of California, the Mississippi Choctaws and the Louisiana Coushattas... have loosened their traditional ties to the Democratic Party, giving Republicans two-thirds of the $2.9 million they have donated to federal candidates since 2001, records show..."
  • Only in this administration is this actually news: "Bush to Take Unscripted Audience Questions." Of course, the audiences are still screened and hand-picked. Kind of defeats the purpose, no?
  • With energy costs approaching an all-time high, and industry profits soaring, this story should garner some attention.
    If royalty payments in fiscal 2005 for natural gas had risen in step with market prices, the government would have received about $700 million more than it actually did, a three-month investigation by The New York Times has found. . . .

    The disparities in gas prices parallel those uncovered just five years ago in a wave of scandals involving royalty payments for oil. From 1998 to 2001, a dozen major companies, while admitting no wrongdoing, paid a total of $438 million to settle charges that they had fraudulently understated their sale prices for oil.

    Since then, the government has tightened its rules for oil payments. But with natural gas, the Bush administration recently loosened the rules and eased its audits intended to uncover cheating.

  • If you hadn't already noticed, ARG has Bush's approval at 36%. Go talk about it in JCPOK's diary.
  • Wingnut Richard Pombo (CA-11) has a primary opponent, former seven-term Congressman (and ardent environmentalist) Pete McCloskey. Says McCloskey, "Winning isn't the issue. The issue is forcing a debate on which way the Republican Party goes. . . . This guy Pombo, he wants to privatize the remaining public lands in California and he has the power to do it. He's the chairman of the House Resources Committee. He's up to his neck with Abramoff."
  • Check out this diary from the  Northwest Progressive Institute on podcasting. This is an exciting new use of technology that is a harbinger of things to come for the progressive community. Cool stuff.
  • Check out this intriguing profile of Ken Mehlman at Huffington Post. There's good stuff in there, way beyond whether or not Mehlman is gay. Here's a fun quote:
    Nevertheless, Republican sentiment about the upcoming 2006 and 2008 elections hovers somewhere between resignation and panic. "We are in danger of losing both the House and Senate next year," says a former aide to Dick Cheney. "That's the truth of it. Santorum is probably out, Talent [R- Missouri], [Conrad] Burns and Lincoln Chafee are endangered and we could lose everything in Ohio if we don't shape up."
  • Meteor Blades wants us to be sure to highlight this:
    NEW YORK -- More than a decade after 16-year-old Amy Fisher had a sexual relationship with a much-older car mechanic and shot his wife in the face, the one-time "Long Island Lolita" and Joey and Mary Jo Buttafuoco have agreed to appear together in a televised reunion. What Meteor Blades wants....

Categories: Blogs
Earlier, I posted the New York Times editorial opposing Judge Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court. It goes without saying I agree wholeheartedly with its sentiments.

But I think it is clear that a debate continues on whether elevating Alito to the Nation's highest Court is an acceptable result.

Because of the importance of this decision and because of the importance of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's decisive influence on so many of the monumental issues the Court faced in the last 25 years, I urge the Senate to extend debate on this most important subject.

It seems clear to me that the significance of Alito's views on executive power, access to the courts, civil liberties, the right to privacy, the federal Commerce power, and a myriad of other issues, is only now coming into proper focus. More time is needed for the Senate to properly carry out its Constitutional function of advice and consent.

An appointment to the Supreme Court is for a lifetime. Samuel Alito is 55 years old and, like Justice O'Connor, is likely to sit on the Court for a quarter century if confirmed.

Given the stakes, an additional period of consideration and debate seems appropriate. The length of this additional period need not necessarily be long nor the debate protracted. It seems to me that with a fairly brief period of consideration, the members of the Senate can chart a course for appropriate action regarding Judge Alito.

Thus, I urge the Senate, and in particular the Senators of the Democratic Caucus, to consider moving for extended debate to further consider the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

Categories: Blogs
Iraq ♥ Iran. Which puts the United States in the embarrassingly difficult position of having the nascent democracy it built cavorting with one of its "Axis of Evils." Kind of like hating your daughter's boyfriend. But worse, with the whole nuclear arms and civil war stuff thrown in the mix.

While the United States government has ratcheted up its rhetoric with respect to Iran, Iraq has come to Iran's defense. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that one of Iraq's most influential clerics vowed to use militias to protect Iran against foreign intervention.

The Iraqi cleric who once led two uprisings against U.S. forces said Sunday that his militia would help to defend Iran if it is attacked, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Muqtada al-Sadr, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with the top Iranian nuclear negotiator, said his Mahdi Army was formed to defend Islam.

''If neighboring Islamic countries, including Iran, become the target of attacks, we will support them,'' al-Sadr was quoted as saying. ''The Mahdi Army is beyond the Iraqi army. It was established to defend Islam.''

The comments could be seen as a message that Tehran has allies who could make things difficult for U.S. forces in the region if Iran's nuclear facilities are attacked.

Well, you say. That's a cleric, not a formal representative of Iraq. The Iraqi government still has our back, right? Not quite. The official Islamic Republic News Agency reveals that Iraq's Foreign Minister has been meeting with leaders in Iran in order to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. As recently as this week,  in the midst of international fury over Iran's actions, the Iraqi Foreign Minister called for a  closer Iran-Iraq relationship:

Jan. 18th- Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, during a meeting with Iranian Charge d'Affaires Hassan Kazemi-Qomi on Tuesday, called for deepening of relations between the two neighboring countries.

He urged the two governments to continue the current trend of relations and speed up implementation of plans and agreements which have already been signed by the two countries.

In the span of a week, Iraq's Foreign Minister and one of the most influential religious leaders in Iraq have met with Iranian officials and expressed solidarity and support.  Indeed, after meeting with al Sadr, the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, called Iran and Iraq "natural allies."

And what feeds a relationship more than money? Last week, Iran meet with Iraq's electricity Minister Abd al-Muhsin Shalash. The purpose? The implement an agreement between the two countries to build nine electricity transfer plants.  Recall that Iran maintains it wants nuclear power for "peaceful energy purposes." So while the United States and other nations are threatening sanctions against Iran, Iraq is indeed strengthening its economic relationship with that country.  

Add to the mix that Iran and Syria issued a joint statement this week reinforcing their close relationship and common goals, and I'd say the situation in the region is fucked up. More so than usual, which is saying a lot.

These ominous developments do not bode well for the United States.

Categories: Blogs
To new members and new readers: Welcome, welcome, welcome! Traffic at the Daily Kos has exploded over the last year and even the last month; and now you're part of it. The site may run slow at times, you may see people griping about this traffic jam in some fashion in comments or on posts of their own. Rest assured the vast majority of us are thrilled that you're passionate enough to want to add your voice or read our material. Thrilled is not a strong enough word: We need you desperately to help save the country!

Below I have a few helpful hints I've managed to pick up that might lend a little insight into this wonderful community. Most of you probably know the basics already, but there it is for anyone who is new. More importantly, in comments please take the time to introduce yourself should the mood strike you, tell us a little about why you're here, your background; your story, and feel free to ask any questions. This post is for you.

Categories: Blogs

January 22, 2006

In an editorial published in tomorrow's edition, the New York Times comes out against Alito:

If Judge Samuel Alito Jr.'s confirmation hearings lacked drama, apart from his wife's bizarrely over-covered crying jag, it is because they confirmed the obvious. Judge Alito is exactly the kind of legal thinker President Bush wants on the Supreme Court. He has a radically broad view of the president's power, and a radically narrow view of Congress's power. He has long argued that the Constitution does not protect abortion rights. He wants to reduce the rights and liberties of ordinary Americans, and has a history of tilting the scales of justice against the little guy.

. . . It is likely that Judge Alito was chosen for his extreme views on presidential power. The Supreme Court, with Justice O'Connor's support, has played a key role in standing up to the Bush administration's radical view of its power, notably that it can hold, indefinitely and without trial, anyone the president declares an "unlawful enemy combatant."

. . . There is every reason to believe, based on his long paper trail and the evasive answers he gave at his hearings, that Judge Alito would quickly vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. So it is hard to see how Senators Lincoln Chaffee, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, all Republicans, could square support for Judge Alito with their commitment to abortion rights.

. . . The White House has tried to create an air of inevitability around this nomination. But there is no reason to believe that Judge Alito is any more popular than the president who nominated him. Outside a small but vocal group of hard-core conservatives, America has greeted the nomination with a shrug - and counted on its senators to make the right decision.

The real risk for senators lies not in opposing Judge Alito, but in voting for him. If the far right takes over the Supreme Court, American law and life could change dramatically. If that happens, many senators who voted for Judge Alito will no doubt come to regret that they did not insist that Justice O'Connor's seat be filled with someone who shared her cautious, centrist approach to the law.


Categories: Blogs
Today is the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade.  You can read the Court's opinion here.    Bush has declared today "National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2006".

Kate Michelman, former President of NARAL, published a column a couple weeks ago that is worthy of a closer look today. As we reflect on Roe's anniversary about the right to privacy and the interaction between the government and the individual, Michelman brings into sharp relief the true consequences of a world without Roe, and she discusses Alito's effect on the Court in the process:

Today, many people have a stylized, "Pleasantville'' vision of the pre-Roe era in which I grew up. They imagine fondly that almost all families had a daddy at the office and a mommy in the kitchen; that almost all family relations were well-ordered and unthreatening; in short, that life for most of us looked rather like "Leave It to Beaver'' -- and that, with a few legal adjustments, it could do so again.

The conservative movement has spent the past 20 years working to roll back social progress and make this fantasy a reality. It is time to stop seeing the fate of Roe as a Beltway parlor game. What really hangs in the balance in the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito are the fundamental rights to privacy, dignity and autonomy -- rights that transcend partisan politics, shape the course of our daily lives and lie at the heart of who we are as Americans.

More on the flip.

Categories: Blogs
Anything special on your mind?

Categories: Blogs