Saturday, April 30, 2005

If ... Then the Terrorists Win. (You fill in the blanks)

According to Josh Marshall, Sen. Wayne Allard has told constituents that unless the GOP uses the nuclear option to assure that President Bush can appoint whomever he likes to the bench, the terrorists will win.

In light of recent terrorist attacks, it is readily apparent that we face a new age of global unrest, a world in which terror has replaced formal declarations of war as the major threat against freedom and democracy. A necessary component of providing justice to those who would do harm to our nation is to maintain an efficient court system - a court equipped with the personnel and resources that enable it to fulfill its role as a pillar of our constitutional system of governance.

The current filibusters of President Bush's Circuit Court nominees clearly demonstrates an active effort by a minority of Senators to block the confirmation of well-qualified judicial nominees. I firmly believe that these tactics have damaged the judicial nomination process to an unacceptable degree, and now it must be corrected. It is shameful that the action of a handful of Senators has created a vacancy crisis that threatens the service of the very justice upon which our great nation depends.

Can we please stop this? The nuclear option is primarily about one thing - power. There is no Constitutional right to have an up or down vote on judges, or if there is, it didn't stop the GOP from blocking 60 Clinton judicial nominees from getting an up or down vote.

The GOP wants to change the rules so that they can use their majority status to do whatever they would like on judges. Democrats want to use whatever tools at their disposal to stop that. This is a power struggle.

But Allard's comments are pathetic.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Interesting (and non-political)

American Cities That Best Fit You:

70% Chicago

65% Philadelphia

60% New York City

55% Atlanta

50% Las Vegas

Does Arnold have more in common w/ Jesse Venture than just Predator?

Mark Z. Barabak writes in the Washington Monthly than Arnold is running the risk of being the next Jesse "the Body/Brain" Ventura.

The Frist "Compromise"?

I was always taught that in a compromise neither side is happy, or gets what it fully wants, but that both sides get something that they are seeking. By that definition, Bill Frist's latest proposals cannot really be called a compromise.

Here is Frist's proposed "compromise" on Judges:

a) Guaranteed up-or-down votes on nominations for Circuit Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court nominees.

b) Guaranteed debate time of up to 100 hours for those nominees.

c) Guaranteed reporting of nominees from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor.

d) Guaranteed protection of the legislative filibuster.

I can only assume that Harry Reid has already said no, since there are no benefit to the Democrats under this "compromise". As a matter of fact, as far as I can tell, the Democrats gain nothing other than a specified, and limited, amount of debate time, which under the current rules are unlimited, until 60 Senators agree to close debate.

If Frist has the 50 votes, he should use them. If he doesn't then he will continue to talk about using the nuclear option, but not actually use it. Right now I believe that the latter is the more accurate description.

DeLay Retreat

Robert George, whose blog I enjoy a lot, even though I don't think that we agree on very much, has nailed the DeLay issue for the GOP.

At this point the GOP is just praying that the public isn't watching. Not because DeLay has broken the rules, which he very may well have, but because it just looks so slimy.

There is no good defense of DeLay - the "everyone does it" defense merely slimes everyone in Congress, and the "he hasn't been indicted or convicted" defense is always weak. Even the "liberals are out to get me" defense is a bad one, because there are clearly things that DeLay has done that the public won't like very much -- like flying around the globe on lobbyist's dimes.

But the GOP can't get rid of DeLay, because he is the one that appears to be holding the GOPers in the House together. So right now the DeLay plan appears to be to limit the amount of damage that is done, and hope that the public isn't paying attention.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bill Frist and the Nuclear Option (or Constitutional Option, if you like)

There is a lot that has been said about this, and a lot more that will be said (including by me), but the simple fact is that if Sen. Frist had the 50 votes he needed, he would have pulled the trigger on this. Despite what Mitch McConnell has said about having the votes, it is impossible to believe that if the GOP had the needed 50 votes they wouldn't do this tomorrow. After all one really bad news story is all that is necessary to sway Senators that might be willing to go along with the leadership, but aren't really comfortable with it.

Frist must be hoping that this will die down a little bit during the recess, or that constituents will push fence sitting Senators to approve the nuclear option. But both of those indicate that he doesn't believe that he has the votes right now. I cannot come up with any other sensible reasons.

And Frist knows the only thing worse than not having the vote is have the vote and not winning. He is on a tightrope, and his only hope is that three of the Senators that are on the fence (Snowe, Collins, Specter, Warner, Hagel and Smith) bail him out.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Now Greenspan Is Worried About Deficits

Um, Alan, should you have been more concerned about deficits and the resulting interest rate increases back when you were supporting Bush's tax cuts in 2001, even though he had no plans to significantly reduce spending?

Now, I am not an award winning economist, I have trouble balancing a check book and never did particularly well in math class, but even I can figure out that if you cut taxes and raise spending you will have deficits.

What is about the gospel of tax cutting that makes its believer ignore everything else?

So now Alan says that "the latest projections from the (Bush) administration and the Congressional Budget Office suggest, our budget position is unlikely to improve substantially in the coming years unless major deficit-reducing actions are taken."

As far as I know, there are only two "unless major deficit-reducing actions" that the government can undertake -- massive spending cuts or tax increases. However the Bush Administration and the GOP Congress doesn't believe in either, so we have a bit of a quandary.

UPDATE - Kevin Drum also takes Greenspan to task.

Did the Nuclear Option Just Become Less Likely?

The Hill is reporting that Rick Santorum is advocating delay in the use of the nuclear option to get judges confirmed. According to the story Santorum is reacting to private GOP polling that shows that Americans are against the parliamentary maneuvering that the GOP would like to use in order to confirm judges that have been filibustered by Democrats.

In addition to the bad national poll numbers, uncertainty if they have 50 votes from their own members and Santorum's own plummeting poll numbers in Pennsylvania certainly are factors as well.

Santorum has been a driving force behind the nuclear option, his uneasiness with going ahead at this time creates an even bigger dilemma for Leader Frist than he already faced. And it could also be a bit of positioning by Santorum, in case the option is used and ends up turning on the GOP.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Jeffords to Retire?

That is the rumor of the moment. That would put the Vermont seat up for grabs. Definitely a lean Democrat, but still competitive. Look for early speculation to engulf Howard Dean, but it is early in his DNC chairmanship to abandon his post and run for Senate, but the temptation will be strong.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Is the Pope Catholic?

Of course, and now he is German too. Benedict the 16th.

The conservatives seem to be happy with the choice, Andrew Sullivan seems to be devastated.

But amazingly, I have absolutely no opinion about this whatsoever. I could chalk it up to not being Catholic, but that hasn't stopped me from developing opinions before.

So really, the only point of this post is to mark a time when I have no opinion about an important world matter.