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Georgia US Senator Saxby “OBL Ad” Chambliss to Retire

8:37 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

The most odious political advertisement of the post-9/11 era was run by Saxby Chambliss against triple-amputee Vietnam veteran incumbent Max Cleland in the 2002 cycle. Almost universally condemned by the polite political class, including now SecDef-designate Chuck Hagel and then-to-be GOP presidential nominee John McCain, the ad morphed Senator Cleland’s face into that of Osama bin Laden, only one year from the attacks on The Homeland.

That a chickenhawk like Chambliss could run an ad like this one offended just about everybody, although it worked: Chambliss won the seat in 2002′s swirling anti-terror fever election, when George Bush put war and “national security” on the midterm ballot.

The “basis” for the ad, if it can be said to have one, was that Senator Cleland was trying to craft employee protections into the emerging Department of Homeland Security, thus (allegedly) holding up the birth of the agency that would protect us from The Tall Man and his planet-wide evil terror operatives.

And now Chambliss has announced, or confided in Georgia’s governor who has announced it for him, that he will retire after two terms in the US Senate. Which is, in itself, reason for celebration, notwithstanding Chambliss’s possible GOP successors:

Two far-right state Republicans have already declared their intention to run for Chambliss’ seat, Roswell’s U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R) and U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens), who infamously declared in 2012 that evolution, quantum physics and other established scientific facts are “lies from the pit of Hell.” Broun announced on Tuesday that he was thinking of mounting a primary challenge against Chambliss, who has angered conservatives by participating in the “Gang of Six” effort to broker a budget deal in late 2012.

This is Georgia so the likelihood is that the GOP nominee will be elected Senator. But that was the conventional wisdom in both Missouri and Indiana this past cycle, and we know how those races turned out: with Democrats holding (Missouri/McCaskill) or flipping (Indiana/Donnelly) seats for unlikely Democratic victories. Could that happen in Georgia with a Democratic nominee attractive to the Obama coalition? Last time, Chambliss had to run-off to keep his seat, so it’s not a GOP lock.

Stay tuned.

PS: YouTube commenters note that this ad is not the original version with triple-amputee Cleland’s face morphing into OBL’s; apparently that one’s been pretty well scrubbed. But the point remains the same: it was a dastardly smear that offended Georgians (Zell Miller criticized the ad) and GOPs alike.

Senate Gang Skews Further From Majority Rule

10:03 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Skew

"Skew" by funkandjazz on flickr

The whole point of Senate gangs, whether of Four, Six, or Eight — or even Fourteen — is to obliterate the will of the American people having been expressed by electing Senators of one majority party or another. Right now, the Senate is firmly in Democratic control, but Gangs that emerge are evenly balanced, like the Gang of Six.

Evenly balanced Gangs mean that more conservative, GOP-friendly solutions will emerge, because there is no majority as there is in committees and subcommittees, where the people’s will is expressed through majority control. In order to get agreement on any ideas that emerge from evenly-balanced Gangs, the majority Democratic party members need to move to the right to accommodate the more conservative views of the GOP.

Views those Democrats might also hold, but now can blame on the need to obtain full Gang agreement. It’s rotating villains, Gangland style. Read the rest of this entry →

DADT Report: Open Service Will Have Little Lasting Impact

10:04 am in Executive Branch, Government, Legislature, LGBT, Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Today’s exciting release of the long-awaited Pentagon report for the Secretary of Defense on the effects of repealing Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell will say that allowing gay and lesbian military servicemembers to serve openly

would have little lasting impact on the U.S. armed forces, a major Pentagon review has found, several sources familiar with the results told CNN Tuesday.

Putting an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” would have “some limited and isolated disruption to unit cohesion and retention,” the year-long study found, but the effects would not be long-lasting or widespread.

Results of polling the military reflect America’s stance on DADT repeal:

Overall opposition throughout the military was about 30 percent — roughly the same as it is in America as a whole, according to recent findings from CNN/Opinion Research and the Pew Forum.

There are places where some early trouble might be expected.

There will be some strong minority opposition, particularly in the Marines and some combat arms specialist units, said the chairs of the study, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham.

As many as 40 to 60 percent of troops in those units were against changing the 17-year-old policy that lets gay and lesbian troops serve as long as their sexual orientation is secret.

The survey is one of the most extensive ever conducted, and completes a nine-month process commissioned by the President for his Secretary of Defense:

Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham will face intense scrutiny this week from lawmakers and advocates for and against ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which bans gays from openly serving in uniform. The future of the ban rests largely with 10 moderate senators who want to read the report before voting on a defense policy bill that would end it.

Johnson and Ham led a 66-person review team that met with gay rights leaders, social conservatives, military chaplains, service members discharged under the policy, the same-sex partners of closeted gay troops and gay veterans. Hundreds of thousands of troops and spouses also provided feedback through written surveys, an online dropbox and town hall meetings at bases around the world.

Finally, a report from AmericaBlog’s Joe Sudbay from a conference call organized by a major advocate of DADT repeal, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

Just got off a conference call organized by SLDN. The call was billed as a preview of the week ahead “to discuss repealing DADT in the Senate’s lame-duck session, the release of the Comprehensive Working Group Report and the U.S. Senate hearings this week.” It gave a good overview of what we can expect moving forward. I tried to capture the highlights.

SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis began the call by saying, “I think we’re going to see a very historic day unfold before us.” He reported that briefers from the Pentagon were on the Hill this morning to brief Senators and staffers for Armed Services Committee on the report. Aubrey noted that the Executive Summary will be released at 1 pm with a Press Briefing at 2 PM.

Aubrey also said,”We think that this report will be overwhelmingly positive and very constructive.” And, he added, “It will be one of the best tools that repeal advocates can use in the lame duck session.”

“Historic” and “helpful” were the operative words.

And Your Objection Is?

12:17 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

GOP Senators threaten that using reconciliation to pass health care reform, or student loan reform, would be the end of the Senate as we know it.

Lindsay Graham, in Politico (sorry, no link):

“Many Republicans who were ready to pull the trigger on the nuclear option on judges are now glad they didn’t,” Graham said. “This place would have ceased to function as we know it. If they do health care through reconciliation, it will be the same consequence.

GlueHorse McCain:

"To go to the 51 votes, instead of this traditional 60 in the United States Senate, will have cataclysmic effects."

John Thune promises flying fur:

"If they go down that road, I think the fur is going to fly," Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said. "I suspect that there is going to be an awful lot of resistance, and we will exercise our prerogatives so that the rules of the Senate are respected."

Judd Gregg (who you’ll note is identified in the approved Village manner as Obama’s first choice as Commerce Secretary in this WaPo segment):

“That would be the Chicago approach to governing: Strong-arm it through,” said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who briefly considered joining the Obama administration as commerce secretary. “You’re talking about the exact opposite of bipartisan. You’re talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River

All this dire Senate dysfunction! Imagine the United States Senate thrown off its smoothly running processes! Just think, the Senate might actually pass something!

These superannuated, pampered snotwaggles are so out-of-touch, they think their empty threat that the Senate as we know it would end is a BAD thing. For the American people, that is an outcome devoutly to be wished.

In fact, that’s the point, you mooks.

Judd Gregg Loved Reconciliation, Defended It on Senate Floor in 2005

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, who must now be referred to by Village media elites in every instance as "Barack Obama’s first choice for Commerce Secretary," took time on the floor of the United States Senate in 2005 to school Democrats on how and why reconciliation was entirely appropriate.

So much for all that idiotic "nuclear option" chatter from the GOP. It sounds like they’ve known all along that reconciliation is regular order, just another Senate rule like any other.

Just imagine! There was nothing wrong with majority rule in 2005.

"If you’ve got 51 votes for your position, you win!"

Thank you, Senator Gregg, Barack Obama’s first choice for Commerce Secretary. This lecture will be very helpful in explaining to your GOP Senate colleagues exactly what the rules of the Senate are.

Not unethical, just the "rules of the Senate as they are set up to be used."

Thank you!

AARP to Score Cloture Vote on HCR; Will NARAL, NOW, Planned Parenthood Counter?

5:59 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

AARP has announced that their organization will ‘score’ the cloture vote on the Manager’s Amendment on health care ‘reform’ as a Key Vote, informing their members how Senators voted when the election comes around. Of course, AARP favors the Manager’s Amendment, which includes the odious forced-birth Nelson language that has led NOW, NARAL/Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood to come out against the bill.

Notorious for allowing Senators to slide on cloture votes in the past, will these organizations put their considerable muscle behind their opposition and announce they plan to ‘score’ votes on cloture as well as the bill itself?

First, AARP (letter at link):

In a letter to all senators, AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond says the Monday 1 a.m. cloture vote will be among those the group tells members about when the next election rolls around.

They also are doing a new ad campaign that focuses on older Americans. It will run through Wednesday in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska and North Dakota, states that are home to key Democratic senators and one Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

And here’s part of the NOW announcement, with no mention of whether they’ll score health care or the cloture vote:

The National Organization for Women is outraged that Senate leadership would cave in to Sen. Ben Nelson, offering a compromise that amounts to a Stupak-like ban on insurance coverage for abortion care. Right-wing ideologues like Nelson and the Catholic Bishops may not understand this, but abortion is health care. And health care reform is not true reform if it denies women coverage for the full range of reproductive health services.

We call on all senators who consider themselves friends of women’s rights to reject the Manager’s Amendment, and if it remains, to defeat this cruelly over-compromised legislation.

Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL/Pro-Choice America, had this to say, but was also mute on scoring or the cloture vote itself:

"It is outrageous that, two weeks after pro-choice Americans came to Capitol Hill united against the egregious Stupak-Pitts amendment, the Senate has succumbed to including further anti-choice language in its bill. While the Senate bill does not include the Stupak-Pitts provision, this new language is unacceptable. It is inexplicable that a bill seeking to expand health coverage for Americans would impose such great administrative burdens on women who purchase abortion coverage and plans that offer it.

"At every turn, our standard has been consistent and clear: Women should not lose ground in the new health-care system. The bill does include other provisions that will improve women’s access to reproductive-health services significantly. However, the language regarding abortion coverage comes at too high a price for reproductive health. Thus, we must oppose this new Nelson language. And NARAL Pro-Choice America withholds support from the overall health-reform legislation until we assess the totality of provisions in the final bill that comes out of a conference committee between the House and Senate.

Finally, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood issued this statement, which was also silent on how her organization would score a vote, and whether they’ll score the cloture vote as well:

"As many members of Congress and the president believe, Planned Parenthood does not think that health care reform is the forum to litigate abortion policy. Unfortunately, opponents continue to use abortion as a political wedge at every step of the reform process.

"There is no policy reason for this action, it is simply a political maneuver. We understand that leaders in the Senate and the White House want to move the process forward, but given this provision, we have no choice but to oppose the Senate bill. Planned Parenthood will now work with leaders to fix the abortion coverage language in conference."

These organizations need to understand that the progressive base understands cloture, and scoring for their handy scorecards published at election time. Thankfully, AARP has now brought cloture scoring front and center in the debate. It’s not enough to say you’ll oppose the bill and hope to fix it in conference, especially if both conferring Houses of Congress have passed draconian forced-birth language.

Banning federal funds for women’s health services ensures the continued financial health of these three organizations. If the fight goes on, so do they. Unless they announce, and quickly, that they will downgrade their ratings on any Senators who vote for cloture AND the Manager’s Amendment, their opposition means nothing.

Will Senators Boxer, Feinstein, Stabenow, McCaskill, Murray, Cantwell, Gillibrand, and the Mainers go against these women’s rights organizations if they know their vote will result in a downgrade on their pro-choice efforts? More importantly, will these organizations put their incumbent allies in a position to choose between a downgraded rating on an Election Day scorecard and the leadership’s need for all 60 votes?

Speak up, ladies: time’s running out.

Lieberman for Anything

2:20 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

The time has come for President Barack Obama to recognize the important accomplishments of Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. He should appoint Joe Lieberman to, well, just about anything. Surely there are some ambassadorships still available to loyal "with us on everything but the war" Senators like Joe Lieberman.

In an unexpected move, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the US Senate vacancy bill which takes away the governor’s power to appoint someone to a vacant US Senate seat.

The vacancy created by President Obama appointing Joe Lieberman to just-about-anything will now be filled by special election. There hasn’t been an appointed US Senator from Connecticut in 50 years, which means it’s time to take this shiny new law out for a test drive. Isn’t Obama still looking for an ambassador to The Holy See, and wouldn’t Holy Joe be the perfect fit? Read the rest of this entry →

Reid Calls for Stroke-of-the-Pen Repeal of DADT

4:35 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

For months, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has responded to questions about President Obama’s support for the repeal of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell by saying that the President seeks a long-term, legislative solution. Many organizations, including the Palm Center, have responded with careful analysis that shows that the President has the power to end the witch hunts, investigations, and discharges under DADT. Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lamented that he has no Senate sponsor of repeal legislation and that he hopes DADT can be ended "administratively."

"I haven’t identified any sponsors," he said. "My hope is that it can be done administratively."

A Democratic aide later clarified that Reid was speaking about the possibility of using an executive order to suspend discharges or perhaps halting enforcement of the policy by changing departmental regulations within the Department of Defense.

The New York Times has endorsed the President’s authority to end enforcement of this discriminatory statute with the stroke of a pen as well.

Referring to Obama’s stroke-of-the-pen authority to issue stop-loss orders which prevent service members from leaving the military, the Times states, “How much better to use the power to prevent the loss of gay service members eager to keep serving.” 

The Times joins a growing chorus calling for an executive action including Congressman Rush Holt, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center CEO Lorri Jean, and Knights Out, an organization of West Point graduates co-founded by Dan Choi, the Arabic translator about to be discharged because he’s gay.

If there is no initiative in the United States Senate to repeal DADT, is it time for the President to exercise his executive authority? Harry Reid says yes. Read the rest of this entry →

No Joke – Senator Al Franken

4:30 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

The last ballots have been counted. Unofficially, Al Franken is Minnesota’s next Senator.