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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

March 17, 2006 PERMALINK
India Deal In Trouble
But Without Public Pressure, Bush May Have Upper Hand
(posted March 17 1:30 AM ET)

Yesterday, the White House had to concede that it can’t win a quick vote on the India nuclear deal, and needs “several months” to win over Congress.

Which means there’s a real chance the deal could unravel.

Despite an attempt to persuade leading congresspeople with a W. Post op-ed by Condi Rice this past Monday, neither GOP chair of the House and Senate foreign relations committees is on board.

The House chair, Henry Hyde, is suggesting additional unspecificied conditions would need to be added, which the Administration is claiming would be a deal-breaker.

Problem is, this issue has quickly receded from the front pages and is strictly an inside-the-Beltway matter.

Which means there will likely be little public pressure on Congress (like there was with the Dubai port deal) to resist strong White House pressure.

How can Democrats drum up attention on the issue and create some public pressure?

Develop a comprehensive message about Iran, which will likely be a hotter topic in the coming weeks.

The moment to blow up the India issue big has passed, but regularly slipping in concerns about the deal when Iran comes up is feasible.

As LiberalOasis has previously outlined, the issues are linked.

Part of a Democratic approach to Iran should be a removal of the incentives for Iran to go to nuclear.

Scrapping the India deal would be a step in the right direction.

March 16, 2006 PERMALINK
Republicans Have No Ideas
Only Enemies
(posted March 16 1:30 AM ET)

According to top Republicans, what agenda item will motivate their supporters to the polls this year?

More tax cuts for the rich? More drilling in environmentally sensitive areas? Less help for the poor?

Trick question.

Since Republicans in Washington aren’t really into passing legislation anymore (when was the last time they passed something?), there’s no issue for their supporters to get excited about.

So what do Republicans have left? From the NY Times:

"Impeachment, coming your way if there are changes in who controls the House eight months from now," Paul Weyrich, a veteran conservative organizer, declared last month in an e-mail newsletter.

The threat of impeachment, Mr. Weyrich suggested, was one of the only factors that could inspire the Republican Party's demoralized base to go to the polls.

With "impeachment on the horizon," he wrote, "maybe, just maybe, conservatives would not stay at home after all."

Weyrich must think his fellow Republicans are truly moronic.

Feingold can’t get five Dems to back mere censure, and Republican voters are supposed to believe impeachment is suddenly on the horizon?

And of the course, this is particularly rich coming from the gang that impeached Bill Clinton and orchestrated the recall of California Governor Gray Davis.

But when your agenda is stalled, your biggest project is literally blowing up in your face, your polls are in the gutter, you have no interest in changing course, and no fresh ideas, what do you do?

Do what you do best. Concoct an enemy and sell fear.

Though apparently, they’re not even good at that anymore.

Or at least, they’re saving all their creative energy for Iran.

CLARIFICATION

Yesterday, LiberalOasis noted that John Kerry's office had said he supported the Feingold resolution, yet he was later seen ducking questions from reporters about the resolution.

After that post, a reader called Kerry's office and was told that Kerry has not taken a position on the Feingold resolution because he still needs to review it. However, he claims to support anything that will hold Bush "accountable."

March 15, 2006 PERMALINK
If It's Good Enough For Clinton...
(posted March 15 1:30 AM ET)

Busy Busy Busy (via firedoglake) dug up that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of the many Dems who have refused to take a stand on Sen. Russ Feingold’s resolution censuring Dubya for his illegal wiretaps, was happy to introduce a resolution censuring Bill Clinton in 1999.

But why just pick on Feinstein? She had many co-sponsors.

In fact, there were 24 other sponsors who are still in the Senate -- 19 Dems, 4 GOPers and 1 GOPers turned Dem-friendly Independent. (Full list at the end of this post.)

The question for all of them is: why would you censure a president for an office affair but not for illegal wiretaps?

The panic from the Senate Dems is nonsensical. As are the two main arguments for rejecting Feingold’s resolution.

1. In the polls, the public sides with Bush on wiretaps.

Both ABC and the W. Post implied this was a main reason for Dem skittishness. But that’s just flat wrong.

Some polls taken have shown an edge for warrantless wiretapping, some have shown an edge against. Some polls have shown both at once. The wording of the question appears to make a big difference.

The obvious conclusion is that voters are split on the question of warrantless wiretaps, with some open to both arguments, not that everyone firmly sides with Bush.

Regardless of the polls, this isn't a hard vote to take or to explain.

Guy broke the law. We're calling him on it so he'll start following the law. Only then can we even start talking about if there is a need to change a law.

Not hard. No need to take another poll before making up your damn mind.

2. Feingold is just grandstanding for ’08. He rushed the issue and didn’t even give other Senators advance notice.

First, boo-frickin’-hoo.

Second, team play is always preferred. But if the team isn’t playing, don’t blame a guy for taking matters into his own hands.

Third, if don’t you want a guy to grandstand, then don’t cede him the stage.

What could have been a moment for Dems to stand together and show newfound strength and confidence in the wake of Republican decline, is now a moment for Feingold to show his strength and confidence, in stark contrast to his bumbling, frightened colleagues.

Finally, it would be easier to accuse Feingold of grandstanding if he had a pattern of empty symbolic gestures.

But while Dems can’t agree on an Iraq strategy, Feingold was the first Senator to propose a target date for ground troop withdrawal and redeployment to better fight Al Qaeda, moving the entire debate.

And while Dems failed to challenge Bush on the Patriot Act, Feingold risked scorn in consistently criticizing it and helped build grassroots opposition.

In that vein, his censure resolution is clearly in line with his long-standing commitment to civil liberties, trying to do all he can to get our government right with the Constitution.. He’s simply practicing his principles.

LiberalOasis can’t say if the entire rank-and-file is with Feingold on this one, but it is clear that the rank-and-file is thirsty for some courage and fight.

Prospective candidates have to ask themselves:

Do I want to let Feingold become the only Dem seen by voters as having a spine?

Or I am going to show some spine too? Will I support those who lead, and will I lead when no one else steps up?

Since, it’s in our interest to have as strong a 2008 field as possible, let’s hope other Dems learn the right lesson from this episode.

Here’s the list of Dem and Independent Senators who backed censure for Clinton (S. Res. 44 in the 106th Congress) and have yet to back censure for Bush:

Daniel Akaka
Max Baucus
Byron Dorgan
Dick Durbin
Dianne Feinstein
Daniel Inouye
Jim Jeffords
Ted Kennedy
John Kerry*
Herb Kohl
Mary Landrieu
Carl Levin
Joe Lieberman
Blanche Lincoln
Barbara Mikulski
Patty Murray
Jack Reed
Harry Reid
Jay Rockefeller
Chuck Schumer
Ron Wyden

The four GOPers who backed censure for Clinton are:

Pete Domenici
Mitch Mcconnell
Gordon Smith
Olympia Snowe

*LiberalOasis was told by a Kerry staffer that Kerry supported the Feingold resolution, yet Kerry has not made any formal statements and he ducked reporters’ questions about it yesterday.

March 13, 2006 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted March 13 1 AM ET)

First off, everyone today should follow the lead of firedoglake, and help Senator Russ Feinhold build support for his resolution to censure Dubya, for his illegal warrantless wiretapping, which was announced on ABC’s This Week:

Your action steps: call both your Senators first thing in the morning and ask if they support Russ Feingold's censure proposal.

If they don't, ask what their position is on the issue -- and why.

The more people we have calling, the more staffers in the offices start to realize that Feingold struck a political chord with a bunch of us in America.

Onward to the GOP presidential wannabes...

Some of them headed to the Sunday shows after gathering in a luxury Memphis hotel this weekend for a party conference and the first (meaningless) straw poll.

And they all shared one common trait: they’re all pretty lame.

Sen. Bill Frist, who had already flip-flopped on the Dubai port deal last month, went for the flip-flop-splat.

You may recall that earlier he had criticized the deal, then quickly succumbed to White House pressure and supported it.

Yesterday on This Week, as he was pathetically trying to accuse Feingold of aiding terrorists, sought to get right with the port deal’s grassroots opponents:

The American people feel vulnerable now. The people listening to us now feel this insecurity -- and we're seeing it a little in the Dubai Port deal...

Stephanopoulos didn’t let that go unchallenged:

...you broke with President Bush early on that. You said the deal raises serious questions about homeland security.

But about a week after that, you seemed to change your tune.

[You said,] "My comfort level is good. The Senate is behind the president 100 percent. We believe the decision, in all likelihood, is absolutely the right one."

So was this deal bad for national security or not?

Frist’s clear, principled, forthright response?

You know, we don't know yet.

He then proceeded to criticize the “review process” involving the Committee on Foreign Investment as “broken,” and blamed them for why he doesn’t know.

And then, when asked if he would “kill the deal” if Dubai can’t find a buyer, Frist ducked:

Well, it depends on the outcome of the investigation.

That’d be the second investigation of the Committee on Foreign Investment, the committee which Frist just criticized.

Frist also couldn’t answer straight whether he’d sign the South Dakota abortion ban if he was the governor, since he “didn't have to vote on it.”

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on CBS’ Face The Nation, and Sen. George Allen on NBC’ Meet The Press couldn’t quite match Frist’s level of lameness, but they were lame nevertheless.

Here’s Huckabee trying to sound positive about Iraq:

...there's going to be some messy start-ups, particularly with the Shias and the Sunnis trying to decide will they be ... Sunnis [and] Shias, or will they be Iraqis?

But you know, in America, we still sometimes have to decide, are we going to be Democrats, Republicans, or are we going to be Americans.

So, even though we don't -- maybe not -- we're not shooting at each other -- 100-something years ago we were shooting at each other.

So there is a process that we have to respect takes time...

In other words: Hey, cut them some slack! Even the best of us have a bloody civil war every so often!

Allen’s lameness yesterday might actually get him in trouble with GOP primary voters.

Stumbling with the S. Dakota abortion ban question, he offered that even if not having exceptions for rape and incest wasn’t his anti-abortion position, he thinks the whole issue is a state matter, not a federal one.

So Tim Russert asked the easy follow-up: “if a state said unlimited abortion on demand, you would abide by that?”

Allen clearly was not prepared, and not much for improvising. Because he blurted out:

I can’t imagine too many states or any state having one that allows abortion for all nine months for any reason or no reason at all.

But that would be the right of the people of the states.

So he managed to put himself on record that he’d allow a state to permit abortions at any point in a pregnancy, including after a fetus is viable outside the womb, for non-medical reasons – something that even Roe does not allow.

You can hear the “Does George Allen Respect Life?” ads already.

Bottom line: there are probably plenty of Republicans today with a nagging feeling that no one in the ’08 pool is ready for prime-time.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

Hullabaloo: "It appears on the surface that they are going to set up a shell company in the US in which the US taxpayer will guarantee DP World that it won't lose money. Nice deal. It will be interesting to see if that passes muster with the public."

The Left Coaster: "If Democrats were smart and able to pivot quickly, they would propose increased federal oversight at all ports of entry, and receive higher funding. Make the GOP tell us why that isn't necessary and keep them on the run"

Think Progress: Devil in the details on Dubai divestment proposal

Daou Report: "On the heels of [Chris] Matthews' defense of Joe McCarthy, and a day before a damaging new blog-generated report is due to be released on Matthews' Republican-tilted speaking engagements, Media Matters has just released a report entitled 'Hardball for the left, softball for the right: Conservatives dominate on Hardball.'"

Santorum Exposed: Lobbyist? What's A Lobbyist?; Shakespeare's Sister: McCain Loves K Street

Carpetbagger Report: Bush triangulates in New Orleans

Unclaimed Territory: Post-mortem on the Intelligence Committee wiretap vote

Huffington Post's Max Blumenthal: Abramoff Splits the Christian Right

Baghdad Burning: "We’ve been bombarded with Oscar propaganda for nearly a month now ... not to be outdone by Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey- we bring you the Baghdad Burning Oscar Special!!"

First Draft: "Here's the video I took yesterday of part of the lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. What is impotant to understand is the scale of NOLA destruction. You can go in any direction and see this. It's in St. Bernard Parish, Gentily, Lakeview, New Orleans East. It goes on for miles and miles."

Tapped: "John Bolton [said] that India and Pakistan’s acquisition of their nuclear of nuclear weapons was 'legitimate,' precisely because they are not parties to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty ... by Bolton's logic, A.Q. Khan’s proliferation of nuclear technology to Iran and elsewhere can be considered legitimate as well"

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