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John Kerry

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Same Old Senate for Sale.

I don’t know,’ said Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio…’People are not really talking to me directly about lobbying. I think they’re concerned about some of the, quote, scandal, but I don’t have anybody come up to me and say there’s a lobbying problem. It doesn’t get that specific.‘” As such, one day after voting down an independent ethics office 67-30, the Senate passes a watered-down “lobbying reform” bill 90-8 that, for all intent and purposes. seems to be merely cosmetic. “The Senate measure toughens disclosure requirements for lobbyists and requires lawmakers to obtain advance approval for the private trips that were a central feature of the Abramoff scandal. But it does not rein in lawmakers’ use of corporate jets, and it fell far short of the sweeping changes, including a ban on privately financed travel, that some lawmakers advocated in January…’It’s very, very weak,’ said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.

Five Republicans and only three measly Democrats voted against the phantom reform bill: McCain, Feingold, Kerry, Graham, DeMint, Inhofe, and the “unlikely duo” of Obama and Coburn. (The West Virginia Dem delegation — Byrd and Rockefeller — abstained.) Still, “Mr. McCain predicted that there would be more indictments growing out of the investigation into political corruption, and said that such a development would lead Congress to revisit the issue again.

Cheney gets his chill on.

Entertaining the Vice-President? Set the thermostat, turn on FOX NEWS, stock up on Diet Caffeine Free Sprite, and hide the shotguns. The Smoking Gun gets ahold of Cheney’s “Downtime Requirements,” which have since been confirmed by the veep’s office. Update: Kerry’s requirements get unearthed as well, and they’re even more specific.

Would it help to confuse them if we run away more?

“‘I haven’t read it,’ demurred Barack Obama (Ill.). ‘I just don’t have enough information,’ protested Ben Nelson (Neb.).” As Senator Tom Harkin signs on as a co-sponsor of Russ Feingold’s censure resolution — which, word has it, is also now backed by John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and Robert Menendez — the Post‘s Dana Milbank watches the rest of our party head for the hills. “Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) brushed past the press pack, shaking her head and waving her hand over her shoulder. When an errant food cart blocked her entrance to the meeting room, she tried to hide from reporters behind the 4-foot-11 Barbara Mikulski (Md.). ‘Ask her after lunch’ offered Clinton’s spokesman, Philippe Reines. But Clinton, with most of her colleagues, fled the lunch out a back door as if escaping a fire.

Filibusted.

I already mentioned this in the Feingold post below, but it merits its own space: The brief Alito filibuster is already over, with nineteen Dems voting for cloture. There are a lot of blogs calling for the heads of the “Vichy Dems” right now, and, true, they’re not looking too good right now. But, frankly, neither is anyone else. The whole thing reeks of mismanagement and rank opportunism across the party.

I’m with Walter Shapiro: “In hindsight, the battle was effectively over after the first day of the Senate hearings when the criminally verbose Judiciary Committee Democrats failed to sustain a clear and consistent anti-Alito argument with all those cable networks broadcasting live. When politicians and interest-group leaders know that they are going to lose, they automatically retreat to a can-I-get-anything-out-of-the-wreckage calculus. So moderate senators from red states like South Dakota’s Tim Johnson decide that they can buttress their independent credentials with home-state conservatives by supporting Alito, since the outcome would be the same no matter how he voted. Groups like People for the American Way realize that shrill calls for a filibuster might preserve their fundraising base even if their years of urgent appeals to prevent a right-wing Supreme Court takeover failed to change a single Senate vote. And Kerry — whose late entry into the anti-Alito fray can be partly excused by his not serving on the Judiciary Committee — is also aware that such dramatic gestures help him maintain an up-to-date, ready-for-’08 e-mail list of Democratic activists.”

At any rate, the silver lining of this judicial nightmare (other than Judge Kennedy’s potential unpredictability) is that tomorrow, after Alito is voted through and Dubya gives his State of the Union, the GOP are officially out of good news. From tomorrow on, all the stories on tap, the continuing Iraq quagmire notwithstanding, are hearings and investigations — into the NSA wiretaps, into Abramoff, into Plamegate, into Katrina. So let’s pick ourselves up off the floor and get it together — We’ve got serious questions to ask of this administration, and, more importantly, we’ve got ourselves an election in nine months.

Rove: Feel the Fear.

“The curtain got pulled aside, and there’s not even a wizard behind it…these people are incompetent.” As you probably heard, Karl Rove emerged from hiding to offer his blueprint for Republican resurgence in 2006. Yep, you guessed it: terror, terror, terror, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, garnished with a smattering of tax cuts. But, to their credit, it sounds like Dems are relishing this coming fight, with Intelligence Committee Dem Jane Harman pushing back once more on the illegal wiretaps, and, in keeping with the recent trend of presidential also-rans finding their voice, John Kerry taking off the gloves on the Sunday shows. “Osama bin Laden is going to die of kidney failure before he’s killed by Karl Rove and his crowd.

Release the Hounds.

With the administration’s numbers in a continuing death spiral ever since their sheer incompetence, blatant cronyism, and general heartlessness was exposed by Katrina, several recent anti-Dubya speeches of note:

President Clinton: “Now, what Americans need to understand is that means every single day of the year, our Government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts. We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else…We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don’t think it makes any sense. I think it’s wrong.

John Kerry: “‘Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq, what George Tenet is to slam-dunk intelligence, what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad, what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy, what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning, what Tom DeLay is to ethics and what George Bush is to ‘Mission Accomplished’ and ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.‘”

John Edwards: “I might have missed something, but I don’t think the president ever talked about putting a cap on the salaries of the CEOs of Halliburton and the other companies . . . who are getting all these contracts…This president, who never met an earmark he wouldn’t approve or a millionaire’s tax cut he wouldn’t promote, decided to slash wages for the least of us and the most vulnerable.

Bill Maher: (I forgot where I saw this one first, but it’s a toss-up between Booknotes and Follow Me Here.) “On your watch, we’ve lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you’re just not lucky. I’m not saying you don’t love this country. I’m just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: ‘Take a hint.’

Diebold Redux.

“We…know that Bush ‘won’ Ohio by 51-48%, but statewide results were not matched by the court-supervised hand count of the 147,400 absentee and provisional ballots in which Kerry received 54.46% of the vote. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio the number of recorded votes was more than 93,000 greater than the number of registered voters. More importantly national exit polls showed Kerry winning in 2004. However, It was only in precincts where there were no paper trails on the voting machines that the exit polls ended up being different from the final count.None dare call it stolen? A new report by Pomona professor Dennis Loo offers considerable evidence that election 2004 witnessed more GOP monkey business than has been previously reported in the mainstream press.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.

“Our troops deserve better: they deserve leadership equal to their sacrifice.” In the NY Times, John Kerry offers some advice to Dubya on tonight’s Iraq speech. Update: That’s your speech? Terror, terror, terror, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, all over again? Pathetic and shameful.

The Final Tally.

The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate reported yesterday that more than 122 million people voted in the November election, a number that translates into the highest turnout — 60.7 percent — since 1968.” The Dems didn’t do so hot that year, either, but then we had Tet, Chicago, and the murders of both RFK and MLK. How are we going to answer for 2004? Also, “[t]he report noted that although turnout reached new heights, more than 78 million Americans who were eligible to vote stayed home on Election Day. The group estimated that Bush won just 30.8 percent of the total eligible voters.

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