Rachel Maddow talks to Aussie reporter Geoff Elliot about the local reaction to the snub of the Obama's staying at Blair House so their children could start school on time in favor of John Howard staying there for one night.
Neal Rodriguez / The Huffington Post:
BART Cop Needs to Be Held without Bail — I have yet to see any widespread nationwide coverage on the New Year's execution style murder of Oscar Grant by a Bay Area Rapid Transit - BART - police officer. Somebody told me that they saw 5 minutes of coverage on CNN last night.
Ex-Senator Larry Craig has decided to give up on his appeals of his conviction for the bathroom stall sex-sting incident.
Craig is now back in Idaho. His tenure as senator expired this week.
Yesterday in his CNBC interview, President-elect Obama said that he doesn’t plan on living in a “bubble” during his time in office and will be “open to outside information, particularly criticism.” “I very rarely read good press,” he added. “I often read bad press, not because I agree with it, but because I want to get a sense of are there areas where I’m falling short and I can do better?” Watch it:
This opinion is a drastic departure from President Bush, who never reads newspapers. In 2003, Bush told Fox News, “I glance at the headlines just to kind of (get) a flavor of what’s moving. I rarely read the stories.”
This winter Chris Matthews toyed with the idea of running for Senate against Arlen Specter. Hey, his deliberations on the subject could have been a negotiating ploy with MSNBC, sure, and it looked like that ploy, if it was one, worked for Tweetie. Chris Matthews is out of the race on the Dem side to challenge Arlen Specter, he of the magic bullet theory. Specter, who has pretended to be independent and centrist while rubber stmaping Bush’s NSA domestic spying and torture programs the last eight years, is vulnerable. (I should note that to some eyes, Specter’s health problems may make him seem vulnerable, but that is not an issue for me.) With Matthews gone from the race (some would say good riddance) there’s a crop of Democratic challengers, from relative newcomers on the PA political scene, such as Joe Sestak and Patrick Murphy, to old-timers such as Joe Toresella and Allyson Schwartz. Hey, let’s handicap them, shall we?
The Philadelphia Daily News has a list of the potential candidates, so we’ll start there:
Matthews’ decision opens the door for the Democratic nomination to a long list of other potential contenders.
Those whose names have been mentioned include U. S. Reps. Joe Sestak, Allyson Schwartz and Patrick Murphy, state Auditor General Jack Wagner, state Rep. Josh Shapiro and the outgoing president of the U.S. Constitution Center, Joe Torsella.
Specter is vulnerable, though he has a big war chest, I’m sure. Still, this may be the most carefully watched Senate race in 12010 next to the race to replace Mel Martinez in Florida. Mel was a blatant Bush rubber stamp, while Specter played the media to try and show he was independent, but can be shown to have been a rubber stamp by the right candidate. And there are some right candidates out there. Let’s take them one by one.
Joe Sestak: Joe Sestak, according to Wikipedia, was elected to the House of Representives in 2006 from the PA 7th District to replace ethically embattled Curt Weldon. Sestak has been praised by Steny Hoyer, so he’s got a bit of cred from the Democratic hierarchy. Sestak, a retired Admiral, also has a good bit of cred in the War on Terror, and he’s a big voice in wanting to bring our troops home. That said, I’d like to see Joe Sestak stick around and serve the 7th District (where I work) for a very long time. I respect him as honest, a bit more conservative as I am, and a straight shooter, so if he does come out on top in this Democratic jousting for the challenge to Specter, I’m not going to get upset. But the 7th District is newly trending Democratic, and I’d like to see Joe Sestak hold that trend and expand upon it as their representative. (As a part of my full disclosure policy, I must mention that I met Joe Sestak at a Drinking Liberally session a few years ago.)
Patrick Murphy: Patrick Murphy (and the wiki for Pat) is young, young, young. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say ASZ championed Pat’s campaign in 2006, and we’re mighty proud he won in the PA 8th Congressional District. Patrick is a veteran of the Iraq War, and gained his seat based upon that experience. No, he’s not a hawk, but it can rightfully be said that he understands the issues of veterans and has been fighting for their rights and for them to come home. I applaud him for that work. But Patrick is young, young, young. He turned 35 this year, and I’m just not sure he’s ready to appeal to voters across the Keystone state. And I hesitate to say it, but Patrick is still growing into his political role. I want to see more seasoning here, despite how much I like Pat.
Allyson Schwartz: Allyson Schwartz (wiki for Allyson Schwartz) has worked hard for her seat in Congress. Until recently the 13th District was competetive every single year, and Montgomery County, PA has for a long time been considered Republican territory. Not anymore, at least since Schwartz successfully succeeded Joe Hoeffel there. Schwartz has a long history of liberal stances, at least since her tenure Founder and Executive Director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Center from 1975-1990. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was involved, as was my wife, in the dissolution of Blackwell a few years ago.) Schwartz’s other big liberal cred stems from her being a founder of Women’s Way, a Philadelphia charity devoted to supporting other women’s charities. (How many disclaimers can I run here? My wife and I are major donors to Women’s Way, an organization we support more strongly than any other, and with whom I had contact just yesterday.) Allyson Schwartz meets my standards as a liberal, especially on the social issues of access to safe women’s healtyh services and the issue of gay rights. Still, I worry about Allyson’s Schwartz’s political viability in the center of the state of Pennsylvania. Still, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had great success here, so I’m not about to dismiss Ms. Schwartz.
Jack Wagner: Jack Wagner is the current Auditor General in PA. He’s been on the statewide ballot, but he’s not a big name and I don’t expect him to go far in this race. Perhaps he’s got an advantage by being from outside Philadelphia, as all these other possible candidates are very Philly-centric, but that’s the only advantage he’s got.
Josh Shapiro: Hey, why not bring a Jew in to challenge Arlen Specter? Josh Shapiro (his wikipedia entry is here) is Deputy Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and serves Montgomery County. His constituency overlaps with that of Allyson Schwatz. Josh suffers from the same problem Patrick Murphy suffers from — he’s young, young, young. The problem is that youth really plays badly in this state among older voters, and they’re typically more conservative. Patrick Murphy has the advantage of being a veteran, which cancels out the disadvantage of his youth, at least somewhat. Josh Shapiro doesn’t have that advantage. That said, I’d love to meet Josh Shapiro and find out what he’s all about. Yo, Josh, you able to get down to a Drinking Liberally in Philly sometime? We’ll toast you and grill you, man, but you’ll be glad you did.
Joe Torsella: Joe Torsella is a bit more experienced than these other candidates, but still young compared to me, I suppose. Most recently he’s served as President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, truly one of the finest new resources in our nation reminding us of our heritage. He’s shown some great leadership there. Torsella was instrumental in the successful Ed Rendell Administration here in Philadelphia in the 1990’s, and that’s no small thing. When I moved to the city in 1993 it was moribund, but Ed Rendell started us on a drive towards recovery and rebirth, and if Joe Torsella was a vital part of that, I certainly can’t ignore his bona fides. Joe’s from the other side of the state, the only candidate here with any of that kind of background, and I suppose that might help him.
This is going to be a far more interesting Senate campaign in Pennsylvania among the Democrats than it is going to be when it comes down to the Democratic nominee and Arlen Specter. Arlen will have his war chest, even if he doesn’t have support of the radical right wing of the Republican Party. The interesting thing is going to be if Specter gets a challenge from that radical right wing that weakens his candidacy in the general election. Also, a whole bunch of candidates nationwide int he last few years have been young, and that would measure well against Specter, who is going to be old, old, old when this election comes along in 2010. Sure, I noted that Patrick and Josh are very young, but they got elected in this state, and this state went for a very young Barack Obama, too. We just might be primed for turning the oldsters out.
And then there’s Arlen Specter’s ineffectual stance against Bush’s programs of torture, domestic spying and politicizing of the Justice Department, areas where Arlen Specter held oversight. It is time to bring him to account, and any of these candidates has to make that accounting.
Oh, this is a pretty, pretty thing to look forward to, the 2010 Senatorial election in PA.
One day before the announcement of Tim Kaine as the incoming chair of the DNC, Chris Matthews heaped praise Howard Dean for successfully implementing a 50-state strategy and turning the DNC around.
Matthews asked Dean what his future plans are. Dean said he'd be doing some work in the private sector, but most importantly, would push for the health care reform this country needs.
Dean still has a couple more weeks on the job -- and what a tremendous job he has done. He deserves as much credit as anyone outside the Obama campaign for what happened in 2008.
John Conyers comes out against Sanjay Gupta's appointment to surgeon general. Conyers is the House's most prominent single payer advocate, and Gupta angered those folks in his argument with Michael Moore. On a more procedural track, Gupta's confirmation[...]
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The Bush DOJ may not usually be inclined to hold its own members accountable for criminal wrongdoing. But when the alleged wrong-doing consists of embarrassing the administration by revealing the existence of a program that was illegally spying on the American people, the wheels of justice seem to start turning.
Last month, as we noted at the time, Newsweek unmasked the man, Thomas Tamm, who leaked to the New York Times the news that the NSA had been conducting a secret wiretapping program that was being concealed from the FISA court.
And as the magazine reported, Tamm, who spoke on the record to Newsweek for its story, has been in federal law enforcement's sights thanks to his fateful decision.
Now, DOJ has written a letter to his lawyer -- obtained by Salon's Glenn Greenwald -- asking whether, in light of his decision to speak to Newsweek, Tamm "is willing to reconsider his prior refusal to speak with agents of the FBI and/or to testify before the Grand Jury regarding his knowledge of and/or participation in the disclosure of TSP-related information to [James] Risen, Mr. Lichtblau and others."
(Risen and Lichtblau, of course, are the New York Times reporters who first reported on the program, based on Tamm's leak.)
The letter, signed by Steven Tyrrell, the chief of DOJ's fraud section, continues with what appears to be a veiled threat to subpoeana Tamm:
if I do not hear from you by [January 7], I will assume that Mr. Tamm is not interested in submitting to a voluntary interview or testifying before the Grand Jury.
In its report last month, Newsweek wrote that federal agents have "pursued [Tamm] relentlessly for the past two and a half years ... raided his house, hauled away personal possessions and grilled his wife, a teenage daughter and a grown son. More recently, they've been questioning Tamm's friends and associates about nearly every aspect of his life."
That pursuit appears to be continuing -- even as the department declines to bring charges against anyone in connection with the illegal program itself that Tamm revealed.
I have finally finished all of my meetings here in Israel, and will be heading back to the states tomorrow night. Hopefully the trip will give me a chance to digest a bit before I do some more writing on what I have learned. But before that, I just[...]
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