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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Lamont does New Haven, launches website

Just came back from hearing Ned Lamont speak in New Haven. I'm currently downloading the video, audio, and photographs so I'll hold back on my full report until I have everything uploaded.

From what I heard from him and his team, it's now fair to say that he's in the race. i don't want to give too much away becaue like I said, I'm uploading the video and all the photos I took today. Until then, go and check out Lamont's website which he just launched today at www.nedlamont.com.

I'll have a full post up soon so hold tight!

(note to Lieberman: from the amount of people I saw today (including a number of town committee members from various cities), you should have reason for concern).

Friday, January 27, 2006

Alito filibuster unlikely

It's not going to happen (Joe can stop sweating now).

From The Raw Story
As Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) mounts a longshot bid to filibuster Bush Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, more indications suggest that Democrats will back the nominee to the Supreme Court, despite widespread disaffection in the Democratic caucus.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire, along with today's Washington Post, signaled that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) are unlikely to support a filibuster, and may vote to support Alito.

RAW STORY's own surveys of Democratic senators, along with sources on the Judiciary Committee and Senate Democratic leadership, indicate Alito will be confirmed. While only three Democrats have formally announced their support for Alito, Democrats need only lose five senators to render a filibuster impossible.

Indications suggest that several senators that could vote against Alito -- including Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-FL) -- are unlikely to support a filibuster.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reported this morning: "With 2008 White House hopeful Kerry exploring a filibuster, Senate Democrats brace for expected defections of North Dakota's Conrad and Dorgan on Alito vote. Combined with Nelson of Nebraska, Johnson of South Dakota, and Byrd of West Virginia, who announced support for Bush's choice, that would give Republicans 60 votes if their party stays unified. Amid talk of longshot Kerry filibuster try, Republicans will try to rally that number in Monday vote to cut off debate."

Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) says the effort to filibuster is almost certain to fail.

"Having made a count," he said, "I have come to the conclusion it is highly unlikely that a filibuster would succeed."
I'll offer my views on this matter and why I think an attempt at a filibuster was important in a later post.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Will Lieberman support John Kerry's attempt at a filibuster

John Kerry is presently trying to gather the 41 members he needs to force a filibuster on Alito's nomination.

Will Lieberman add his support? It's easy to vote against a nominee like Alito (who's confirmation is certain because Republicans control the senate). A no vote for Lieberman in that scenario is a win-win situation. It won't upset his conservative base because Alito would be confirmed regardless on the vote and Democrats could not accuse Lieberman as a traitor to the pro-choice crowd.

Supporting a filibuster is a whole different matter.

This is the worse case scenario for Lieberman because he will be under extreme pressure to support the filibuster by the pro-choice Democrats (you can be sure that they're calling his office right now). He would also anger his conservative supporters if he goes with the filibuster because he would contribute in blocking their nominee.

I have confirmed reports that Kerry wants to filibuster Alito, and he is talking to his colleagues to round up the 41 votes he needs.

Three Democrats (Ben Nelson, Tim Johnson and Robert Byrd) support Alito. So right now, without the support of any Republicans, we still have 42 possible votes for a filibuster.

There are 4 moderate Republicans who should be targeted (Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Ted Stevens).

Three Democrats (Mary Landrieu, Ken Salazar, and Dianne Feinstein) oppose Alito but also said they oppose a filibuster. So we must persuade them that a vote against Alito is meaningless if they don't support a filibuster.

The best way to persuade them would be for the Democratic leadership (Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, and Debby Stabenow) and the five Presidential candidates (John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, Joe Biden, and Evan Bayh) to form a Emergency Save the Constitution Committee and enlist the support of pro-choice, pro-freedom, and pro-democracy activists in Louisiana, Colorado, and California) to persuade their Senators to support a filibuster.

If Kerry gets very close to the votes he needs (38-39), Lieberman is going to be on the hot seat.

Stay tuned...this isn't over yet.

Lieberman plays it safe, votes against Alito

I wouldn't read too much into Lieberman voting against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and the reason is simple; this vote is a safe political move by Lieberman that will not anger more Democrats in a state where every vote counts.


Lieberman is not dumb, he knew that if he voted yea to confirm Alito, the pro-choice crowd would rally against him in large numbers. Having the anti-war crowd upset is one thing but Lieberman would of set off a firestorm of anger in the state if he voted for the guy who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.


Could you imagine and anti-war and pro-choice crowd joining forces to kick Lieberman out of office?


Lieberman's staff know that the smart thing to do is to show voters in Connecticut that he is a Democrat and not a Democrat in Disguise Only (DINO). Lately, he's toned down his pro-Iraq rhetoric and recently criticized the White House and FEMA over Katrina (although as readers of this blog well know, Lieberman had no problem approving Bush crony Michael Brown to head FEMA (even after reviewing Brown's now infamous resume). Lieberman knows that this is an election year so he needs to play it safe.


From the New York Newsday:

WASHINGTON -- Connecticut Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman will vote against confirming Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, a senior Lieberman aide said Thursday.


Aide Rob Sawicki said Lieberman would have no further comment until he takes the floor of the Senate, where the confirmation debate continued Thursday.


Lieberman, whose vocal pro-war support for President Bush has rankled fellow Democrats, joins Connecticut's other senator, Democrat Christopher Dodd, who said Tuesday that he will vote against Alito because his judicial philosophy is "outside the mainstream."

Will this tactic work? Who knows. It all depends on future events. The time between now and August (Democratic primary) is a lifetime in the politics and anything can happen but for right now, Lieberman is obviously not going to do anything that will anger more people in the state.

Funny parody on anti-immigrant group and rally

Although they used my photo in the article (hat tip to Bruce Wingate), this is not a shameless plug; it's a pretty good (and funny) article.


Give it a read.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It has begun


Boycott MSNBC and their advertisers until Chris Matthews apologizes for comparing Osama Bin Laden to Michael Moore.

Click here to read more!

Posting regarding Lieberman hits all the right points

John Hartwell for Democracy for Connecticut wrote an excellent post regarding Senator Lieberman and why the possibility of him losing in a primary challenge could very well happen (especially if he votes for Samuel Alito).

The January 11th Quinnipiac poll was accompanied by a raft of articles which proclaimed that even though Connecticut voters didn't like the war in Iraq they favored the re-election of Lieberman by large margins (64% to 24%). So why should anyone think he's vulnerable?

Let's look at the "internals", the breakdown of more probing questions by sub-groups of respondents. The first cause for concern (if you're a Joe supporter) is that his approval rating as a Senator among all voters has fallen 11% over the past twelve months, while his negatives have risen by nearly the same amount.

It's clearly not good when you're on a downward slope, and while he's helped by starting out so high (Jan last year = 73%), when public opinion begins to turn it often accelerates and the bottom drops out suddenly. This could happen to Joe, especially if at this point he does something that focuses negative attention (like voting for Alito). In the past he might have been forgiven; now he risks a "tipping point" moment that puts him in a tailspin.

Ding! Congrats Hartwell, you win the big prize for properly analyzing the poll!

Iraq and Alito, a deadly combination. As I stated in a earlier post, Lieberman has angered a great deal of Democrats in the state and he's walking on very thin ice with many liberals and anti-war critics. If he gets one more group pissed off (and pro-choice people would be VERY PISSED OFF if he votes for Alito) then there is a real strong possibility that Lieberman will receive his walking papers.

The key is getting the nomination, and here the Quinnipiac poll speaks loudly. To the question of whether Joe should be nominated "or would you rather see the Democrats nominate someone else", 39% of Democrats chose the latter. When you cut the data by political philosophy, it's a dead heat with liberals: 47% for Joe, 47% against.

Think about it: with no obvious candidate in sight, 4 of 10 Democrats would like to replace Joe. It's often said in politics that "you can't beat somebody with nobody", but in this case "nobody" comes close to beating a three term, nationally known incumbent. What happens if you add someone credible to the mix?

[...]

Making the war the primary issue and tying Joe directly to Bush and the war is clearly the best strategy. A full 35% of CT Dems say they disagree with Joe on the war and will vote against him specifically because of this issue. We need 50+1 in a primary to defeat him, and without a candidate we already have 35%. That's a great start.

What about the other 46%? Most of those (33%) say that they disagree with Joe on the war but won't vote against him because of it, while 13% aren't sure how they'll vote. If we can persuade half of the latter group and only a third of the former to vote for an alternative, we're over the top. And we've got from now until August to make the case.
I couldn't of said it better myself.

Sucker's bet

From Senator Lieberman's interview with Fairfield Weekly, here is the pro-choice senator discussing his views on Supremem Court nominee Samuel Alito

When the United States Senate reconvenes later this month, the first order of business will be the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings. Lieberman, who voted in support of John Roberts, says he is reserving judgment until after the Judiciary Committee holds its hearings. "I met with [Alito] fairly early in the process," the senator told us, early in our interview. "Prior to that meeting, I read four or five of his opinions that were described to me as his most controversial. In each of them he reaches quite a conservative conclusion. It was my experience that there is not the ideological fervor coming off the page as you find very often in Scalia opinions, or even Thomas, but particularly Scalia. They were very legalistic but nevertheless quite conservative."

Still, Lieberman said that additional information that's come out of late regarding Alito's views on abortion, affirmative action and reapportionment is "troubling. [Those views] certainly appear on their face to be personal expressions of opinion about personal goals, such as the limiting of affirmative action case law and the overturning of Roe v. Wade . Both obviously I'm on the other side of where he expressed his opinion.

"Put me down as, that based on those personal opinions that came out . . . that I find them troubling. I know some of my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee find them troubling, and I expect that they'll be topics of some considerable questioning at the hearings in January."

And any question regarding a filibuster must also wait until after the Judiciary Committee hearings, says Lieberman, a proud member of the so-called "Gang of Fourteen," a bipartisan group of senators that hammered out a compromised deal to break a log jam over judicial nominees earlier this year.

Prediction: The Democrats wring their hands for a few weeks over Alito, and then vote to confirm him. Lieberman votes aye. Prove me wrong, senator, and lunch is on me, at a diner of your choosing.
I get the feeling that the guys at the Weekly won't have to worry about picking up Lieberman's lunch tab. The Senate Judiciary hearing has come and gone and although Senator Chris Dodd knows which way he is going to vote (and why), Lieberman (who found Alito's views "troubling" and said he's holding judgement until after the hearings) is predictably quiet.

From the Hartford Courant
Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd said today that he will vote against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito because his judicial philosophy is "outside the mainstream."

Dodd's decision came hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved Alito on a party-line vote. The panel's 10 Republicans supported Alito while the eight Democratic members opposed him.

[...]

"In Judge Alito's America, the president would act with radical new powers - unchecked by either the Congress or the courts as envisioned by the framers of our Constitution," Dodd, D-Conn., said in a statement.

Dodd expressed concern that Alito would seek to overturn the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision.

"The right to privacy would be in jeopardy because he has said that he opposes Roe v. Wade," the senator said.


[...]

Connecticut's other Democratic senator, Joe Lieberman, has not said how he will vote on Alito.


Like I said, I think this is a sucker's bet. Although I feel that Fairfield Weekly's prediction is correct, I also believe that a yea vote from Lieberman can turn out ot be a good thing for those who want give the senator the boot. Lieberman would cast a no vote is because he knows that a yea vote for Alito will further enrage liberals in Connecticut who are already upset with him. Lieberman casting a yea vote will increase the rift between Lieberman and the liberals and possibly anger women in the state (which would be a HUGE PROBLEM). The last thing Lieberman want is to anger the women in the state and give them a reason to hear what Ned Lamont has to say.

The anti-war and pro-choice crowd in Connecticut joining forces would be Lieberman's nightmare.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Lieberman forced to explain expenses

You learn alot about a politician when you look at their financial records and one should wonder why Lieberman took so long to comply with the Federal Election Commission's disclousure requests.

Could his connection to a Rowland crony have anything to do with it or are there more skeletons in Lieberman's financial closet?

From the Journal Inquirer
U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman - responding to a second Federal Election Commission warning to fully explain his campaign expenditures - has provided the agency with details about the quarter-million dollars he spent on his re-election bid last summer.

The 84 pages show the three-term Democrat, who as of Sept. 30 had $3.4 million in campaign cash on hand, spent most of the $253,503 he disbursed over the summer on routine operating expenses, including travel, food and beverages, and printing, as well as on fees and salaries and benefits for his staff and fundraising consultants.

But they also show that the senator's travel expenses included a $4,600 bill from a helicopter service in New Jersey, Liberty Helicopter of Linden, and that he contributed $4,000 in "excess funds" to Vernon Democrat Joseph Courtney, the likely challenger of U.S. Rep. Robert Simmons, R-2nd District.

Similarly, the records reveal that Lieberman on Sept. 30 - the last day of the second quarter covered by his latest finance report - refunded $2,500 in contributions to his campaign from Mark Wertheim, a West Hartford businessman linked to the corruption scandal surrounding the now-imprisoned former Gov. John G. Rowland.

Wertheim has functioned as a landlord for a company owned by Wertheim's wife, which secured two leases for state offices at a former shopping center in Windsor that were worth at least $838,000 a year.

The Wertheims were personal friends of Rowland and his wife and had held a campaign fundraiser at their home for Rowland. Rowland had thrown Mark Wertheim a 50th birthday party at the governor's mansion, and the Wertheims treated the Rowlands to a skiing vacation at a condominium they owned in Manchester, Vt.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal blasted the shopping mall leases as a "sweetheart deal" and the state auditors objected to changes made to them after an oversight committee had approved their outlines, saying they said would generate a $350,000 windfall for the Wertheims.

An FEC official wrote Lieberman's campaign committee in September, noting its failure to specify some $264,217 in operating expenditures and $16,892 in other disbursements. She added that the committee had until Oct. 31 to respond with either a written response or amendment to its latest report or face an audit or enforcement action.

The same official had sent a similarly worded letter to Lieberman's committee four months earlier, giving it until July 17 to explain $133,584 in operating expenditures that were summarized in its April quarterly report.
You heard of the expression "follow the money trail." Well, if the Journal-Inquirer can connect the dots between Mark Wertheim and Lieberman, you have to wonder other questionable donations you will find in Lieberman's financial records.

Impeachment?

Is the White House bracing for the worse?

From the Washington Times: Insight magazine (FYI: This paper is about as conservative as you can get).

The Bush administration is bracing for impeachment hearings in Congress.

"A coalition in Congress is being formed to support impeachment," an administration source said.

Sources said a prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. They said the hearings would focus on the secret electronic surveillance program and whether Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Administration sources said the charges are expected to include false reports to Congress as well as Mr. Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency to engage in electronic surveillance inside the United States without a court warrant. This included the monitoring of overseas telephone calls and e-mail traffic to and from people living in the United States without requisite permission from a secret court.

Sources said the probe to determine whether the president violated the law will include Republicans, but that they may not be aware they could be helping to lay the groundwork for a Democratic impeachment campaign against Mr. Bush.

"Our arithmetic shows that a majority of the committee could vote against the president," the source said. "If we work hard, there could be a tie."

The law limits the government surveillance to no more than 72 hours without a court warrant. The president, citing his constitutional war powers, has pledged to continue wiretaps without a warrant.

[...]

On Jan. 16, former Vice President Al Gore set the tone for impeachment hearings against Mr. Bush by accusing the president of lying to the American people. Mr. Gore, who lost the 2000 election to Mr. Bush, accused the president of "indifference" to the Constitution and urged a serious congressional investigation. He said the administration decided to break the law after Congress refused to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

"A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government," Mr. Gore said.

"I call upon members of Congress in both parties to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution,” he said. “Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of American government that you are supposed to be under the constitution of our country."

Impeachment proponents in Congress have been bolstered by a memorandum by the Congressional Research Service on Jan. 6. CRS, which is the research arm of Congress, asserted in a report by national security specialist Alfred Cumming that the amended 1947 law requires the president to keep all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees "fully and currently informed" of a domestic surveillance effort. It was the second CRS report in less than a month that questioned the administration's domestic surveillance program.

The latest CRS report said Mr. Bush should have briefed the intelligence committees in the House and Senate. The report said covert programs must be reported to House and Senate leaders as well as the chairs of the intelligence panels, termed the "Gang of Eight."

Trust factor

Just in case you're not keeping score...

From DailyKos

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
-- President Bush, September 1, 2005

WASHINGTON-- The Homeland Security Department was warned a day before Hurricane Katrina hit that the storm's surge could breach levees and leave New Orleans flooded for weeks or months, documents released Monday show.
-- Newsday, January 23, 2006

And who can forget the recent Monty Python "Spanish Inquisition" moment for Bremer:
Washington -- Paul Bremer, who led the U.S. civilian occupation authority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, has admitted the United States did not anticipate the insurgency, NBC Television said yesterday.
-- Globe and Mail, January 7, 2006

Rebuilding Iraq will require a considerable commitment of American resources, but the longer U.S. presence is maintained, the more likely violent resistance will develop.
-- Army War College Report, February 2003

And, of course, the granddaddy of them all, that "plane flying into buildings" thing:
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon."
-- Condoleezza Rice, May 16, 2002

WASHINGTON -- In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.

One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center. In another exercise, jets performed a mock shootdown over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet supposedly laden with chemical poisons headed toward a target in the United States. In a third scenario, the target was the Pentagon -- but that drill was not run after Defense officials said it was unrealistic, NORAD and Defense officials say.
-- USA Today, April 18, 2004
And now the Bush Administration wants us to "trust" them when it comes to warentless wiretapping Americans?

Monday, January 23, 2006

36 percent

His approval numbers are back to normal...
George W. Bush's overall job approval rating has returned to its lowest point in Bush's presidency as Americans again turn less optimistic about the national economy according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. Among all Americans, 36% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 58% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 34% approve and 60% disapprove.

Among Americans registered to vote, 37% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 58% disapprove. When it comes to the way Bush is handling the economy, 35% of registered voters approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 60% disapprove.

[...]

Overall, 34% of Americans say that they approve of the way George W. Bush is handling the economy, 60% disapprove, and 6% are undecided. Among registered voters, 35% approve and 60% disapprove of the way Bush is handling the economy.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Op-Ed highlights Lamont

The Hartford Courant ran an Op-Ed piece which goes into the Ned Lamont story and the trouble this poses for Joe Lieberman.

Here are some highlights from the article which includes some points I've made several times on this blog.
At 52, Lamont is tan, fit and possessed of an easy confidence that often comes with being born into a fortune and making it bigger. He understands the long odds against succeeding in a primary against an incumbent senator. His interest in making the race springs from issues, not burning personal ambition. Lamont declared in a recent interview in his cable company office that "two things really got my goat." The first was the war in Iraq, which Lamont has opposed from the start. The other was last year's transportation bill with its emblematic millions for the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska.

Iraq, however, is the issue that will drive Lamont's race. He was inspired when hawkish Democratic U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., called for a withdrawal of American troops late last year.

That provided a stark contrast to Lieberman's stalwart support of the war, particularly his optimistic assessment of it in a Wall Street Journal piece in November. Lieberman's chummy relationship with President Bush has added to the "groundswell of anger" that Lamont detects.

So let there be a debate, says the earnest challenger, who will have no trouble mounting and funding a primary campaign. His sunny countenance is more that of the energetic go-getter than ambitious politician. He won't let the race degenerate into a series of bitter accusations.
IRAQ, IRAQ, IRAQ.

The war is the more important issue in this country and anyone who supported the President's policies in terms of the handling of the conflict, will pay a heavy price in a blue state like Connecticut. For liberals, Joe Lieberman is seen as a traitor within the party and would like nothing better than to give him his walking papers.

The junior senator has angered many in the party with his arrogance and willingness to criticize his own party. His hubris and cozy relationship with conservatives has never been a problem in the past because Lieberman has never been really challenged for his seat before (Republicans always put to inferior candidates to challenge Lieberman because they knew he was unbeatable and popular with conservatives).

That all changed onced the Iraq war started.

Lieberman's approval of the President's policies including his approval of the administration's handling of the war (i.e. agreeing with goverment's policy regarding the use of torture) has seriuosly hurt his relationship with a considerable segement of the Democratic party in Connecticut. If there was any indicator of this, it would be the 2004 primary and as the Courant states, Lieberman's 2004 primary preformance should of been a wake-up call for the senator.

Lieberman's dismal showing in the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries should have raised alarms about his popularity among the party troops. He never broke 10 percent in the few places he competed.

Polls show Lieberman in a strong position to win in November. His standing among state Democrats, however, is in decline. Three-term senators with disaffected party members can be ripe targets. That's why Lieberman beat Lowell Weicker in 1988. He's also been alerted to serious discontent that is growing louder in redoubts such as the Manchester and West Hartford Democratic town committees.
As I stated in many posts, and from what I learned, Lieberman is freaking out about the possiblitiy of Lamont challenging him and knows that there is a chance that he could lose ina primary showdown.

Let me state this again, THERE IS REAL POSSIBILITY THAT LIEBERMAN CAN LOSE THE PRIMARY. This is not the same as losing a general election because in that senario, Lieberman would have the support of conservatives which will always put him over the top. What's different now is that for the first time, the senator will be challenged by a party that don't approve of the war and don't approve Lieberman's realtionship with the unpopular administration. He knows that if Lamont runs against him that's things can become difficult which is why you have Lieberman making quotes like this...
But he has already accomplished more. Lieberman acknowledged to a newspaper reporter this month that he will be on the ballot in November, no matter what the Democrats do. Lieberman will not be bound by the decision of Democratic primary voters if he loses. To threaten to run as an independent is an extraordinary admission that trouble approaches. Lieberman will get no help from state Republicans. They are wooing a Greenwich millionaire of their own to run.