Saturday, January 21, 2006

What's up with Ben Nelson?

Ben Nelson, the most conservative Democrat in the U.S Senate, is so far the only member of his party to pledge support for Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito.

Nelson is very conservative when it comes to his voting record. He votes with the Republicans on most social issues as well as many economic ones. He is staunchly pro-life, and supports a constitutional ammendment to outlaw abortion. He opposes most gun control legislation, but most prominently, he has shown consistent support for Bush's tax cuts. He doesn't really play ball when it comes to fighting the Republicans on judicial nominations and whatnot, and was one of the first senators to come out in support of Alito's confirmation. I guess what everyone is wondering is what makes this guy a Democrat? Here is his voting record.

Kean Jr. Drops the Jr.

Sharon picked this story up: Republican challenger to Bob Menendez's U.S Senate seat, Tom Kean Jr., plans to drop the "Jr" from his name and simply run as Tom Kean.

Now, lots of people don't like to be called Junior. Because not too many guys like to be the smaller version of their fathers, which junior at least subconsciously implies. However, Kean Jr's decision here is obviously strategic. His father, Tom Kean Sr., was probably the most popular governor in the history of the state. He is a symbol of moderate ideology and well thought out policy. Menendez is not. Kean Jr. could potentially get a lot of votes from people who simply mistake him for his father.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Commerce Committee Politics

Jeff Jarvis had a little post about his attempt to speak his mind at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on indecency on television and radio. Apparently Jarvis contacted the legislative assistant of our own senator and committee member Frank Lautenberg to secure a spot in the hearings. However, he was informed that the senior senator from the garden state can hardly request a witness, as he is not the chairman. "It’s a prerogative of the chairman," he said to Jarvis.

Historically, committees are notoriously autocratic, with the chairmen serving as dictators who yield power only to the most trusted members of their party. Ted Stevens, the chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, rules with an iron fist. Sometimes it's comical, yet, still disturbing. Last year he coldly rebuked the attempts by committee Democrats to make oil executives testify under oath, as is standard procedure in Congress...

Bush Administration Lays Out Defense For Wiretapping

The Bush administration released a 45 page report today defending their policy of eavesdropping on foreign telephone calls in the U.S.

House Democrats formally meet to begin their investigation of the matter tomorrow.

The Senate Judiciary Committee expects to hold hearings in two weeks. Would this be the case if a less moderate Republican was chairing the committee? Afterall, the House Judiciary Committee is chaired by Jim Sensenbrenner, a congressman considerably to the right of Specter, and a man who has had a much friendlier relationship with the administration in the past.

By the way, when is Specter going to repay Bush and company for helping him in that tough primary almost two years ago? Or maybe he did this past week...

Bin Laden Tape

Check out any political blogs today? If you looked at Daily Kos, Atrios, MyDD, Talking Points Memo, or most any other big-time liberal blog, you wouldn't have any idea that Osama bin Laden released a new, threatening audio tape this morning. (Not even left-leaning Crooks and Liars, which posts up newsworthy audio and video clips from all the big news networks, linked to a feed of the tape.)

However, if you checked out Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, Hugh Hewitt, or Michelle Malkin, all right-wing blogs, the bin Laden tape receives at least one posting.

I actually find it pretty reprehensible that particularly the guys over at Daily Kos, where there are some half-dozen or more people contributing to the posting, can make 12 posts today and not mention - even once - the story that will lead every newspaper in the country tomorrow morning.

It sure doesn't speak well for the hope that the War on Terror is not a purely "Republican" issue if Democrats pretend that news like this doesn't even break.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

SPEAKER TAKES ON K-STREET

Or at least that's what he says he's doing. From now on, lobbying firms are no longer allowed to take lawmakers on expensive trips or wine and dine them at D.C's finest restaurants...unless they also make a contribution to their campaign. However, if the lobbyist makes a small donation to a congressman's upcoming election warchest, any extra "travelling or meal fees" is taken care of by K-Street.

The reason is that although the GOP has taken the initiative to change rules on "gift giving and public disclosure," they have yet to make the necessary changes to campaign finance law that would make lobbyist funded vacations specifically illegal. The Washington Post elaborates.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Wanna Have a 'Shootout' With Bill O'Reilly?

Bill O'Reilly, the hateful right-wing commentator best known for inspiring Comedy Central's Colbert Report, is now offering his viewers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. According to his website, fans - or, more likely, detractors - can now enter for a chance to debate Bill on his show. Six winners will be chosen from all who enter. Entrants get to pick the topic of discussion.

The guess here is that O'Reilly's staffers choose a few of the most far-left, hippie contestants they can find, and that they also throw in a conservative who thinks that O'Reilly is too centrist on some issue. I'm sure some of these will actually be fun to watch, but I don't think we'll see real highbrow exchange of ideas. To O'Reilly's credit, he isn't really a coward. He seems more afraid of having a guest look good than looking bad himself. With this contest, he probably isn't going to pick stupid Democrats, per se, so that it's an easy segment, but will likely choose opponents that he can make to look silly.

What issue would you want to take to the set of The Factor?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Hey Hey Bob Ney, How Much Does Jack Pay to Play?

Via Political Wire, Representative Bob Ney is resigning his position as the chairman of the House Administration Committee, in light of the recent accusations about his connections to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

It's all up to the media now. It seems that, like most everything else, if the media wants to make two resignations within the GOP leadership sound big, it can. Take the primaries, for instance. While major news outlets often exaggerate the performance of the first place candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, they also make a big deal out of candidates finishing in "strong seconds" and "unexpected thirds", in hopes to keep the viewers interested in a race that may or may not be close at all.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

GOP is causing US to suffer

Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin said the GOP's "unprecedented concentration of power" is to blame for "preventing government from dealing with the real needs of our nation." Along these lines, he also criticized the GOP's association with Jack Abramoff claiming that the US's agenda is not set by the concerns of the people but by whoever pays the most money.

I could not agree more. The GOP has clearly associated with lobbyists who set the agenda using bribes and other means. The challenges facing America for these lobbyists are not problems to solve, but opportunities to exploit. Democrats are gaining momentum and I hope they stand firm and continue to attack the policies of the President and the republican controlled Congress which have led the country astray.

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