The New Hampshire House today voted 226-130 “to repeal the state’s law requiring that a parent be notified before a minor daughter can have an abortion. … The bill, HB 184, moves to over the state Senate next, where it is expected to pass. Gov. John Lynch has said he favors the repeal.”
I by no means begrudge airport baggage screeners their newfound union rights. Still, the speed, alacrity, and daring with which the Democrats pushed forward on this issue does make a telling contrast with the parties sloth and timidity in taking the progressive side in other fights about national security issue. Just as during the 2002 Homeland Security debate, you see that the Democratic Party is very substantially the creature of public sector unions. When an issue is important to them, Democrats will really fight for it. Not just lip service — they’ll run meaningful political risks on behalf of the public sector unions.
To stop a war with Iraq? To halt torture? Illegal surveillance? Suddenly you see a lot less speed, a lot less determination, and a lot less backbone. Not that I begrudge the unions their influence, either. They won it fair and square — with organizing, with money, with volunteers, with discipline, with clear requests, etc. As you see with any influential group, securing influence takes work. Sadly, there are virtually no institutions of any consequence organized around providing a progressive take on the substance — as opposed to labor procedures — of national security issues. And until that changes, you’ll keep having what we have today; a Democratic Party with very clear ideas about whether or not airport screeners should be represented by unions, but very hazy ideas about how to deal with Iran.
Never forget this classic blog post in which Brendan Nyhan finds Charles Krauthammer using the same “appeasement” quotation in separate columns about Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has uncovered more potentially illegal activity by the head of the General Services Administration, Lorita Doan.
Waxman has discovered that Doan “used a January 2007 teleconference to ask senior GSA officials to help ‘our candidates’ in the next elections through targeted public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country.” Doan discussed with GSA officials “how to exclude House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from an upcoming courthouse opening in San Francisco and how to include Republican Senator Mel Martinez.” Doan’s activity is now being investigated as a potential violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits partisan campaign activities on federal property.
Doan’s inappropriate (and potentially illegal) behavior extends beyond partisan hackery. Last summer, Doan signed a $20,000 no-bid contract for a 24-page report “promoting GSA’s use of minority- and women-owned businesses.”
Doan made the deal with a firm called Diversity Best Practices, headed by Edie Fraser. Waxman has discovered that Doan “had a long-standing business relationship with Ms. Fraser that has not been disclosed previously. Moreover, “Fraser used her professional connections to advance Doan’s nomination to GSA and to provide personal favors, and…Ms. Fraser continued to provide services with the expectation of payment to Ms. Doan after she became GSA Administrator.”
Waxman released an email from Fraser to Doan on 9/6/06:
Lurita, I will do anything for you and will do for the rest of my life… But I have spent so much time at GSA from the report planning to these sessions with ZERO $$. How do we solve
Fraser’s $20,000 contract was eventually canceled because, at the time, GSA contracts worth more than $2,500 had to be competitively bid. But Doan wouldn’t go down without a fight. According to Waxman, Doan pushed her staff “behind the scenes to find a way to award the contract to Ms. Fraser,” even suggesting “that if GSA were to make the contract available through a competitive bid, Ms. Fraser could write the ‘Statement of Work’ describing the award for which her company would be competing.”
StopIranWar.com released its second in a series of video blogs today warning against a military strike on Iran. In the new release, Iraq war veteran Jon Soltz says, “You really can’t support striking Iran and support the troops in the field, because all you’re doing is making an extremely difficult mission that’s almost impossible right now, pure military force, more complex by striking Iran.” Clark adds that the mission of U.S. troops after a strike on Iran would be simple — “It’ll be about survival.” Watch it:
Statement from Universal Press Syndicate, which syndicates Ann Coulter’s column: “[Coulter] is not an employee and we have no legal power to ‘fire’ her, though, of course, any of her subscribing newspapers can drop her column at any time. Whether the words she chose in referring to John Edwards were misplaced humor or outright bigotry, we would not have distributed them in her column.” So far, two papers have announced plans to stop running Coulter’s column.
There is a growing consensus that America’s dependence on oil constitutes a triple threat to its national security, its economic vitality, and its environmental health. But agreement breaks down on the question of how, exactly, the country can best achieve dramatic, near-term reductions in oil consumption. We believe that the greatest potential for transformative change may lie in the emerging technology of plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs), which could become widely available in the United States in five to 10 years if government takes a few smart steps to help spur their commercialization.
Like conventional hybrid-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids save fuel by using small internal combustion engines in combination with electric motors. But while conventional hybrids charge their batteries with kinetic energy and power generated by their own internal combustion engines, plug-in hybrids, as the name suggests, have cords that can be plugged into standard, 120-volt electrical outlets.
That design — constituting a partial merger of the transportation and electricity sectors — can produce dramatic reductions in gasoline consumption. Equipped with more powerful battery packs than conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids can travel the first 20 miles or more on battery power alone, without ever firing up their internal combustion engines. That is farther than the average round-trip commute. After that, they can switch to a conventional hybrid-electric operating mode. In all-around driving, plug-ins could thus get between 80 m.p.g. and 160 m.p.g., compared to about 45 m.p.g. for today’s Toyota Prius. The gasoline savings could be even greater if plug-ins were designed to run on biofuels; they could travel 500 miles on a gallon of gasoline blended with five gallons of ethanol. Read more
Last night on Larry King Live, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan echoed Joseph Wilson’s call for the Bush administration to finally come clean about their actions in the CIA leak case. “I would be advising the White House to get out there and find some way to talk about this,” McClellan said.
While serving in the White House, McClellan orchestrated the White House’s stonewall on the leak story. Time and again, he claimed he could not answer questions about “an ongoing investigation,” even when the questions were unrelated to the investigation.
McClellan claimed last night that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had lied to him. “Knowing what I know today, I would have never said that back then,” McClellan said, referring to the assurance he gave the public that Rove and Libby were not involved.
McClellan didn’t talk about this quote, leaving it to the current Press Secretary to explain it:
If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday that the White House will continue its “principled stand” of not commenting on the leak issue.
Transcript: Read more
Yesterday, John McKay, the former U.S. attorney in Washington, revealed to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Rep. Doc Hastings’s (R-WA) office contacted him and attempted to pressure him in an ongoing investigation. McKay was investigating voter fraud in the hotly contested 2004 gubernatorial election, which had been certified in favor of the Democratic candidate.
After the hearing, McKay revealed that the White House was also upset that he refused to convene a federal grand jury to investigate voter fraud in the race, which may have been one the reasons he was denied a federal judgeship:
In remarks after the hearings, McKay said that officials in the White House counsel’s office, including then-counsel Harriet E. Miers, asked him to explain why he had “mishandled” the governor’s race during an interview for a federal judgeship in September 2006. McKay was informed after his dismissal that he also was not a finalist for the federal bench.
McKay applied for the federal judgeship in summer 2006, at which time “many local lawyers considered him the front-runner for the job.” Just three months later, he was forced to resign as U.S. attorney and told he was no longer in the running for the federal bench. Yesterday, the only excuse the Justice Department offered for firing McKay was that they were concerned with the manner “in which he went about advocating particular policies.”
In a statement yesterday, Hastings denied that his office ever contacted the White House about “whether he [McKay] was qualified to be a federal judge.” But Todd Young, Hastings’s chief of staff noted “Hastings had regular contact with the White House about judgeships.”
There is no evidence that McKay “mishandled” the Washington election investigation. The only thing that is evident is that Hastings, the right wing, and the White House were unhappy with McKay’s unwillingness to bend justice to politics.