Earlier today, ThinkProgress noted that the Senate Rules Committee was voting today on the nomination of former Bush DoJ official Hans von Spakovsky to a seat on the Federal Election Commission. TPM’s Paul Kiel reports that after Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) broke party lines to support Spakovsky, Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) “chose to agree to send all four nominees, two Democrats and two Republicans, to the floor without recommendation. In other words, the committee did not vote to approve von Spakovsky, but he got through nonetheless.”
Insofar as Shawn Marion is demanding a trade and Andrei Kirilenko is demanding a trade and they’re both long-armed combo forwards with expensive contracts, there seems to be a logical deal to be made here.
Vice President Dick Cheney will speak to a super-secret, conservative policy group in Utah on Friday during his second trip to the state this year.
The group is called the Council for National Policy, and its mission is to plot ways to advance the right-wing agenda. The council was founded in 1981 by conservative luminaries such as the Rev. Tim LaHaye (author of the “Left Behind” series) and Paul Weyrich (who helped found the Heritage Foundation).
The council reportedly has 500 or members who pay several thousand dollars a year to “hear private, unvarnished presentations.” Some members include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Liberty University, and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform.
“The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before of after a meeting,” a list of rules obtained by The New York Times advises the attendees.
The membership list is “strictly confidential.” Guests may attend “only with the unanimous approval of the executive committee.” In e-mail messages to one another, members are instructed not to refer to the organization by name, to protect against leaks.
The group apparently keeps its agenda secret for a reason — it appears to understand it would have little support if it were shown in the light of day. From what is known about its views, CNP is vehemently anti-immigration, anti-same-sex marriage, and anti-tax. “CNP seeded Pat Buchanan’s protest presidential candidacy in 1992.” George W. Bush spoke before the group in 1999, reportedly committing “to appoint only anti-abortion-rights judges to the Supreme Court.” (The Bush team and CNP refused to release the audio from the event.)
Marc Ambinder reports that Mitt Romney will be attending the gathering as well.
To my way of thinking, the recent surge of commentary suggesting that Hillary Clinton now has an unbreakable lock on the Democratic nomination strongly suggests that she’s not as well-positioned as I’d thought. After all, isn’t this the sort of thing everyone’s always wrong about? And isn’t three months actually 3 million years in news-cycle terms. Then I see Marc report that “political prognosticators and many Iowa Democrats are buzzing about a coming Biden surge.”
Now, there are only two possible explanations for that. One is that political prognosticators are totally crazy and ignorant, in which case we should discount growing prognostication of a Clinton win, or else the prognosticators are correct, and totally crazy and ridiculous things are likely to happen, in which case Clinton’s apparently solid grip on the nomination as of today is probably worthless.
The number of students and faculty at Stanford University “protesting plans to bring former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the Hoover Institution next year as a distinguished visiting fellow.”
American right-wingers should probably give some thought to the fact that even Americaphilic conservative politicians from Anglophone countries don’t seem to share their perspective on world affairs. Here, for example, is Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper:
Unlike the U.S., Harper said, “Canada has no history anywhere in the world of conquest or domination. It’s probably hard to perceive of Canada being in that type of a position.”
In contrast, Canada is seen in the world as a “positive and non-threatening force,” he said. “What my government is trying to do is to use those values to promote positive change in concert with our allies.”
At the end of the day, this stuff isn’t brain surgery. Use America’s leading position in the world to contribute in a positive way to problems that people worry about around the world and you’ll be liked. Use it to pursue a policy of conquest and domination — not so much.
Yesterday, Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary and current board member of the White House front group Freedom’s Watch, appeared on MSNBC to defend a recent ad showing an injured Iraq veteran saying “they attacked us, and they will again.”
During the segment, host Norah O’Donnell showed Fleischer a video of a mother whose son was killed in Iraq. In the ad, the mother states:
Ari Fleischer helped to deliver this country to the war in Iraq through a campaign of ignorance, negligence, and arrogance. Since then, we’ve heard the sad truth. … And the weapons of mass destruction? My son Sherwood died protecting the Iraq Survey Group while they looked for the weapons.
Fleischer expressed no sympathy for the mother, instead using her grief as platform to spew more war-mongering rhetoric, alleging that all mothers would be at risk of losing their children if we leave Iraq:
Well, my fear is that unless we win in Iraq, there are going to be a lot more mothers who lose a lot more children. And that’s why we cannot afford to lose in Iraq. … There is going to be an attack on America. … It very well may be in Iraq.
Fleischer’s callousness is not new. Last month, he admitted he did not know the name of the wounded veteran who appeared in his own ad. Fleischer and his Bush surrogates doled out $15 million to run the ad nationally.
Don’t miss the World Resources Institute’s most recent comparison of climate legislation in the 100th Congress. Below is the basic image (here’s one larger), but visit the website for details.
Via Spencer Ackerman, the new world corruption rankings. Haiti has surged from most-corrupt down to a respectable fourth-most-corrupt. Iraq is in third-from-last place, ahead of Burma and Somalia (this must be the good news the MSM is trying to hide from you).
As usual, the Nordics are squeaky clean with Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway all in the top ten. The US is basically more corrupt than a northern European country, but less corrupt than a southern European one.
By a vote of 76-22, the Senate passed the Lieberman-Kyl amendment, which threatens to “combat, contain and [stop]” Iran via “military instruments.” Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) called the amendment “Cheney’s fondest pipe dream” and said it could “read as a backdoor method of gaining Congressional validation for military action.”
“Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated on September 16, 2007 that “I think that the administration believes at this point that continuing to try and deal with the Iranian threat, the Iranian challenge, through diplomatic and economic means is by the preferable approach. That the one we are using. We always say all options are on the table, but clearly, the diplomatic and economic approach is the one that we are pursuing.”
Read the full marked up amendment here.
UPDATE II: The roll call for the vote is here. The following senators voted against the amendment:
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL) didn’t vote.