Friday, August 31, 2007

One Warner for another?

Longtime Virginia Republican Senator John Warner announced today that he's done. No more Senator Warner of Virginia. Maybe.

Speculation around DC and in Virginia is that former Virginia Governor Mark Warner will run for the seat. Of course, he offered no comment today, ceding the spotlight to a lifetime of public service by John Warner.

Nonetheless, Mark Warner's approval rating in Virginia remains sky high. He is also rumored to be considering another run at the Governor's mansion, but my bet is that he'll seek a Senate seat that he can hold onto indefinitely.

The next couple of weeks are likely to reveal his plans. If he runs, he's a sure win.

Richardson pledges to respect DNC Primary Calendar

Bill Richardson just announced that he has signed a pledge to respect the Pre-February 5 window set by the Democratic National Committee. This is a great thing and here's why....

For those of you who missed my earlier posts about this, they are here and here. Basically, the Democratic National Committee set out on a years long process to open the early stages of the nominating process to more diversity than Iowa and New Hampshire had to offer. After a long process, and having given consideration to many States, Nevada and South Carolina were selected to join the original two "Early States".

However, Florida's Legislature moved their Primary date into conflict with DNC Rules. Michigan began the process to pass a law in response. In short, a chaotic nominating process was well underway that could soon have spun out of control. Thankfully, the DNC let it be known that they were sticking to their guns and would severely penalize anyone who held a delegate selection process in violation of the rules.

Apparently, it was heard loud and clear by Michigan, whose State Chair Mark Brewer seems to be backing down from the January 15 Primary he previously seemed to be pursuing. Michigan Liberal has this:

"The Michigan Democratic Party has made no decision as to whether to participate in a primary," (Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer) said in the article. "When enacted, this bill gives us another option in addition to our DNC-approved caucus. When this bill becomes law we will weigh our options and decide how to proceed."

And, in giving credit where it is due, Governor Richardson apparently heard the message loud and clear as well. Who will be the next candidate who is in favor of following the rules?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Marriage Equality in Iowa?

I'm getting initial reports that the Supreme Court of the State of Iowa has ruled that the State must grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. I'll update as I get more information, but this could have pretty big political implications.


Here's an article in the Des Moines Register. Gary in the comments points our that this was a County Judge. I'm not sure if there is another step or not before the Iowa Supreme Court hears this case. Either way, I'm all for striking down laws that discriminate against people.

DOJ investigating the Attorney General

From the Washington Post:
The Justice Department is investigating whether departing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave false or misleading testimony to Congress on a broad range of issues, including the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program and the removal of nine U.S. attorneys last year, the lead investigator said today.

The disclosure by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine shows that internal investigations that began with the prosecutor firings have widened substantially to include a focus on Gonzales's actions and statements.

Amazing, huh? The state of our Justice system must be pretty messed up when the Attorney General of the United States is being investigated by his own subordinates. Or perhaps it means that the system is finally starting to work....

Lobbyist Fred to (finally) announce

Michael Shear has the info over at the Washington Post's The Trail. Lobbyist Fred has hurriedly put together a 4pm conference call to announce to folks what we've known all along: He's running for President.

Once you get over the shock of the surprising news, you should be aware that this does not make his gross violations of Federal Election Law disappear. As Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks pointed out last week, "Just because Lindsey Lohan is driving sober today doesn't make her DUI charge go away."

We should all continue to hold Lobbyist Fred accountable for his intentional disrespect for the rule of law. This man is not Presidential material.

More bad press for Thompson

The Economist says that Thompson's campaign has gotten off to a rocky start. Oh, I mean, his "non" campaign or whatever it is supposed to be.

Either way, it doesn't bode well for a (non)candidate that is supposed to sweep Republican primary voters off their feet with only five months left before the first votes are cast. And...we still don't know when he's going to actually become a legal campaign.

NY Times omits Thompson's lobbyist career

This article in the NY Times was published a few days ago. It's a *very* in depth profile of his life and career. It's so detailed that we learn that he married his pregnant girlfriend in high school, but we don't know what came of that marriage.

We also learn that he was the go to man for the Republican Party when they came under scrutiny by the Congress. He was and is the ultimate insider Republican and has been cleaning up their messes for decades.

The article also reminds us that he was the Chief Senate Republican to lead the investigation into the fundraising activities of President Clinton. Isn't it ironic that he is now the subject of an FEC complaint himself?

However, this *detailed* article, while doing a good job at painting him as a total Washington insider, fails to tell their readers that Thompson was one of Washington's highest paid lobbyists for years and years. He has long been part of the problem in Washington. Now he seeks the highest office in the land as some sort of Republican savior. He's definitely done a lot of heavy lifting for the Republicans. But, this isn't what the American people are looking for now. It's time to do a little lifting for everyone, not just the right wing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Katrina still being talked about

Katrina hit New Orleans two years ago. We're still talking about the devastation that exists in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. That's pathetic.

We all know the Administration's response was embarrassing. But, promises by Democratic Leaders have also yielded little to show in the hardest hit areas of New Orleans.

It's time for somebody to take responsibility and use their position to demand that the proper attention be paid to rebuilding one of America's favorite cities. It would be really nice if it were someone like Nancy Pelosi. I mean, she could at least pass the job onto another Member whose job it would be to serve as a watchdog and oversee the Federal role in the rebuilding.

Every day that passes without progress is another day that America's reputation suffers. Enough is enough. Honor the lives that were lost in this tragedy by valuing the human beings who remain to carry on their memory.

GAO Report cites little progress in Iraq

Yet another headline in the Washington Post screams what we already know: there's little progress to be shown for the thousands of dead Americans and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the Iraq War. The Post snagged an early copy of the report. Here's a snippet:
The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Iraq commander Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. They are expected to describe significant security improvements and offer at least some promise for political reconciliation in Iraq.

The draft provides a stark assessment of the tactical effects of the current U.S.-led counteroffensive to secure Baghdad. "While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced," it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that "the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved."

The other interesting tidbit in the report is found here, in addressing how the Post came into possession of a report not yet released to Congress:

The person who provided the draft report to The Post said it was being conveyed from a government official who feared that its pessimistic conclusions would be watered down in the final version -- as some officials have said happened with security judgments in this month's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Congress requested the GAO report, along with an assessment of the Iraqi security forces by an independent commission headed by retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, to provide a basis for comparison with the administration's scorecard.

Interesting, huh? Government officials are now leaking reports because they fear the White House or the Pentagon will change them so much that they will no longer accurately reflect the truth. It's pathetic that I'm not surprised one tiny little bit. That's how far gone my trust in the Administration is. It's also all the more reason why Congress needs to stand up and put an end to this charade and stop the War.

A moving moment on the campaign trail

The Edwards campaign just sent out this video. It's incredibly moving. In the interest of full disclosure, I was a delegate for John Edwards to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I was for him in 2004 because he inspired me to believe that we could fight for a better America.

Thus far in the campaign, I haven't really felt the same way about his candidacy. I just can't put my finger on it, but something seems out of kilter....then I see something like this and begin to wonder if it is still there.

Thoughts on the Gonzo resignation

There has been no lack of chatter about the motivation behind the resignation of Alberto Gonzales. At first glance, it could also be that Gonzales was tired of being hauled to Capitol Hill and publicly flogged for lying to Congress.

But, I think that BushCo has a larger reason behind the resignation. We've clearly seen that the Democratic Congress is not (yet) capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. For instance, there are lots of hearings investigating the utter corruption that exists in the Administration. But, nothing substantive has yet to come from it.

With Alberto Gonzales gone, the Senate will need to confirm a new nominee. Lots of conventional thinking is that the President will appoint someone who will gain easy approval of the Senate, which is incredibly wary Bush nominees. Today's Washington Post reports that Bush is 'willing to fight for the right nominee'. This is the signal I was looking for.

The White House has stonewalled any attempt to investigate pretty much anything that has occurred there since January of 2001. We now find ourselves five months away from the start of the 2008 Presidential nominating contests. If BushCo can make it into 2008 without a major breach in their stonewalling efforts, they are likely to get off scott free. There is no indication that the Democratic nominee or the Democratic Congress have the political wherewithal to see this through to the bitter end.

Since the Republicans have made an art form out of exploiting the weaknesses of Democrats, the White House has surely found this as their final chess move to prevent the success of the investigations of corruption. By appointing an Attorney General that will create controversy, he will tie up the Senate for a couple of months. If indeed, he appoints Michael Chertoff, he could tie up the Senate for the rest of the year, creating two cabinet vacancies for Bush to fill. These confirmation fights, combined with the expert obstructionism of Mitch McConnell is all the White House needs.

Instead, Democrats in Congress need to act swiftly and stay focused on the important mission of getting to the bottom of every scandalous and corrupt action of this Administration. The success of this effort is important to the future of our political system.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Larry Craig blames the local newspaper

Republican Idaho U.S. Senator Larry Craig just held a press conference to deny that is gay. He further said that he panicked and made a bad decision to plead guilty to a criminal charge of lewd conduct. In fact, he blames it on the pressure he felt because of an investigation by the local newspaper, Idaho Statesman, into rumors about his sexuality.

He also revealed in the press conference that he didn't tell his family, friends, or staff about the charge. Just now on MSNBC, Ana Marie Cox of, just revealed that Senator Craig actually returned to Minneapolis a month after the incident to plead guilty to the charge. It is not the 'heat of the moment' plea that Craig wants us to think it is.

In the end, this is likely about another conservative hypocrite. He has been caught red-handed by a society which he has worked for decades to foster. That society is one in which LGBT people are treated separately and unequally under the law. The discrimination that exists because of people like Larry Craig is the very circumstances which have lead him to deny his sexuality by living in the closet and seeking sexual encounters in public bathrooms. The sooner that America moves towards true equality for all Americans, the sooner we can leave sad scandals like this behind.

Fred Thompson admits breaking law

The Daily Iowan editorial board addresses Fred Thompson's illegal campaign today. Towards the end of the column is an unbelievable quotation from Fred Thompson. The editorial board continues to make one of the most important points behind filing the FEC complaint:
Considering the importance of the office, it would seem critical to have a set of rules and guidelines to follow concerning the election process. Thompson dismisses those who say he is waiting too long to enter the race: "I wasn't around when they made those rules, and I'm not abiding by them."

Thompson should hope that no one reads too much into his apparent blasé attitude toward FEC rules. Doubtless, his supporters would remind such an individual that, as president, he would regard the rules of the job with much more respect.

Were I a supporter of Thompson, I would be jumping ship. He is starting to sound like the Enron of the Republican Presidential Primary.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Republican arrested in a bathroom stall

Roll Call newspaper reports that Senator Larry Craig, a 'conservative' Republican from Idaho, was arrested for lewd conduct in a Minnesota airport men's restroom in June. It marks the second such arrest for a Republican elected official in the past couple of months. It also marks another amazing example of hypocrisy on the part of the Republican Party.

The Roll Call article describes, in detail, the encounter that resulted in Craig's arrest. I had no idea there was an entire 'code' for seeking a bathroom encounter. But it appears that Larry Craig did. He actually plead guilty to lewd conduct and paid a fine. He remains on probation in the State of Minnesota.

Mike Rogers, at deserves a shout out here. He reported on Senator Craig's sexuality last year on his website. Although Craig and his office denied Mike's claim, it appears, in the end, that Mike was right and the Republican was a liar. Should we really be surprised?


I've just received a pathetic statement from Senator Craig's office:
Senator Larry Craig stated, "At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.

"I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

Doesn't it sound like a teenager caught doing something wrong? I really can't believe that a United States Senator is playing victim to the justice system. What is even more disturbing is that he still isn't coming to terms with his homosexuality.

How sad.

Hillary at the LiveStrong Presidential Forum

A little bit ago, I watched Hillary Clinton at the LiveStrong Presidential Forum. She made a couple of statements that are incredibly interesting.

First, she announced that she would declare a "War on Cancer" when she is President. She said that we need to unleash the potential of researchers to accomplish big things, like curing cancer. She believes that this is one piece of the 'big ideas' that she has been talking about on the campaign trail.

She contrasted the idea of a war against cancer with what she claimed was a "War Against Science" led by George Bush. It has become more and more documented the muzzle that his Administration has put on government scientists in order to promote the political interests of the White House.

Hillary has certainly got her detractors in the Progressive Movement. But this statement is something that we should be proud of. We need to have something that we can put our hope in. We need to believe that we can accomplish big things. Hillary's statements today do that. Good for her.

Miss Teen South Carolina: I swear we're not all this dumb....

I just saw this video over at Queerty. It's just like the gays to call out a dumb blond. Given that it's Miss Teen South Carolina, I feel compelled to tell you that not all South Carolinians are this dumb. Hell, not all beauty queens are this dumb!

Gonzales' legacy according to Bush

I'm watching W's remarks about Alberto Gonzales' resignation. He has just credited Gonzales with being an architect in the 'War on Terror' and also said that the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act bear his influence. He further said that he has worked to root out public corruption and that he has reduced gang violence.

The comment on gang violence is pretty random. The rest of it is just crap.

Adoption of the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act represent some of the most serious abuse of the Constitution that we've ever known. To try to pass that off as a career accomplishment is a bad joke. I would contend that, rather than rooting out public corruption, Gonzales was the ultimate example of it. His tenure at the Department of Justice has been about little more than expanding illegal activity at the behest of the White House and covering up the efforts to do so.

Calls for his resignation have come from both sides of the aisle for months. It's about damn time that he heard it and heeded it. Good riddance.

Now we should focus our attention on helping to promote the idea of having an Attorney General that honors the rule of law and will begin the work that must be done to restore confidence in the United States system of justice. That is the most important thing that we can do.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Tale of Two Democrats: McNerney and Schakowsky

Progressives were recently chagrined over the remarks of newbie California Congressman Jerry McNerney upon his return from a Congressional trip to Iraq. He was elected as a progressive, anti-war Democrat, defeating a DCCC-backed candidate in the Primary and Richard Pombo, the only Republican Committee Chair to lose re-election in resolutions, to be more conciliatory with Republicans who might also be looking for a way out of the war.

McNerney's election was a huge victory for the netroots, as they wrote extensively about the race and steered significant amounts of money from readers to his campaign. He was expected to be a solid anti-war vote, but he has turned out to be a mixed bag.

During the August 2007 recess, McNerney traveled to Iraq to gain firsthand knowledge of the situation and receive briefings from military officials. The Washington Post quoted McNerney upon his return, giving reason for Progressives to be concerned.
But in an interview yesterday, McNerney made clear his views have shifted since returning from Iraq. He said Democrats should be willing to negotiate with the generals in Iraq over just how much more time they might need. And, he said, Democrats should move beyond their confrontational approach, away from tough-minded, partisan withdrawal.

"We should sit down with Republicans, see what would be acceptable to them to end the war and present it to the president, start negotiating from the beginning," he said, adding, "I don't know what the [Democratic] leadership is thinking. Sometimes they've done things that are beyond me.

Contrast this with remarks by Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. She has been in the Congress since being elected in 1998 and has, shall we say, considerable more experience than McNerney. The Washington Post also asked her about her impressions when she returned from Iraq.
But the military presentations left her stunned. Schakowsky said she jotted down Petraeus's words in a small white notebook she had brought along to record her impressions. Her neat, looping handwriting filled page after page, and she flipped through to find the Petraeus section. " 'We will be in Iraq in some way for nine to 10 years,' " Schakowsky read carefully. She had added her own translation: "Keep the train running for a few months, and then stretch it out. Just enough progress to justify more time."

"I felt that was a stretch and really part of a PR strategy -- just like the PR strategy that initially led up to the war in the first place," Schakowsky said. Petraeus, she said, "acknowledged that if the policymakers decide that we need to withdraw, that, you know, that's what he would have to do. But he felt that in order to win, we'd have to be there nine or 10 years.

In this comparison, it seems to me that McNerney is the victim of inexperience. It's almost as if he's a young, impressionable teenager. I'm sure it's quite convincing to sit across the table from General Petreus and listen to him assure you that progress has been made. Couple that personal meeting with all of the nuances of being a part of a Congressional trip to Iraq and you can feel pretty darn self important. No wonder he's strayed from his original position. He was under the influence of the ultimate propaganda: a Congressional junket.

McNerney would do well to go back home and listen to his constituents on the subject of the war in Iraq. That was the top reason he was elected.

He would also do well to consult with more senior members of his party. Maybe it is a little unreasonable to suggest this, but I think he needs a 'Congressional mentor'. Normally, a seasoned Chief of Staff would fill this role until a Member became accustomed to the demands of office. However, McNerney has his own impressionable newbie Chief of Staff.

Perhaps Jan Schakowsky will take McNerney under her wing and show him the way. Otherwise McNerney could end up on the wrong side of the biggest and most important issue of our time.