Posts filed under 'Specter'

Deja Vu Epic Fail

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

The Pennsylvania State AFL-CIO voted to endorse Senator Arlen Specter for re-election today, David Dayen reports at our News Desk.  The state chapter of the AFL-CIO joins SEIU’s Pennsylvania State Council in supporting Specter.

(…)

Arlen Specter didn’t vocally oppose the Employee Free Choice Act.  He single-handedly killed the entire bill.

At the outset of 2009, the Employee Free Choice Act was cruising along quite well. With a big investment from unions and their allies, and a vocal opposition from the Chamber of Commerce and other Big Business groups, the debate on the Employee Free Choice Act was in full swing in political circles and the news media. While contentious, there was little doubt in my mind some form of significant labor law reform would pass early that year. (Disclosure: I was working for SEIU’s Employee Free Choice Act campaign at the time.)

Then Arlen Specter acted on the only thing he actually cares about: his own political survival. He could feel GOP primary opponent Pat Toomey breathing down his neck. A poll was released in March showing Specter getting crushed in the primary. So Specter made a move he thought would redeem himself with angry primary voters: without warning, Specter announced he would oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. When I say without warning, I mean no one saw it coming. The first person to hear about Specter’s newfound opposition was freaking Grover Norquist, who announced the news to a roomful of conservatives one morning. Grover knew before union leaders knew.

(…)

And so today, the unions of almost 1 million working Pennsylvanians have thrown their support to Specter’s re-election, promoting the fallacy that Specter is “the strongest advocate and supporter of…workers’ rights.”

Hey, remember when NARAL and Planned Parenthood told their members to thank Lieberman and Chafee for pretending to oppose Alito’s Supreme Court nomination by voting no on the nomination but yes on cloture?  When are supposedly progressive interest groups going to wake up and stop supporting their enemies and fair-weather friends?

1 comment March 31st, 2010 at 11:39am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Choice,Democrats,Labor,Lieberman,Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers

Sestak Succeeds Where Obama Failed

So let’s recap the Dawn Johnsen situation: Obama nominates her for the pivotal position of head of DOJ’s Office Of Legal Counsel about a year ago, and makes absolutely no effort to get her confirmed, ostensibly because even though Dick Lugar supports her, Nelson and Specter do not.  Instead of pressuring Nelson and/or Specter (who switched parties and is trying to get re-elected this year) or appealing to Snowe or Collins, Obama lets Johnsen twist in the wind for a year.

Then, a few days ago, the White House announces that Obama will renominate Johnsen, but there’s still no reason to believe that he’ll push for her confirmation this time.  Until Specter’s primary opponent Joe Sestak pressured Specter into publicly announcing his support for Johnsen, officially bringing her vote total to 60 and clearing the way for her to finally be confirmed.

What’s appalling about this whole fiasco is how obviously willing Obama was to let Johnsen twist in the wind, and the fact that she’s only getting a confirmation vote because Specter’s primary opponent forced him into a declaration of support that made her confirmation unavoidable.  Would Obama have let her dangle for another year, or until she finally got fed up?  And was his passivity a deliberate strategy to keep her out of OLC as long as possible to give him a free hand, or because he couldn’t be bothered to fight for her even the least little bit?

In any case, it’s a sad day when a sophomore Representative has more influence and moxie than the President Of The United States.

January 13th, 2010 at 07:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Obama,Politics,Specter,Wankers

Netroots Nation Arlen Specter Photoblogging

Hey look, it’s my new *cough* Democratic senator, Arlen Specter! He actually made a very good case for himself, provided you don’t know anything about his actual legislative record.

Specter 1

Arlen looks out at the audience and wonders what he’s gotten himself into.

Specter 2

Reviewing his index cards.

Specter 4

Behold, he smiles!

Specter 6

If I blow this up all the way, I can almost read his index card, but it’s just a little too blurry. Phooey.

Specter 7

Arlen gestures very sincerely.

August 23rd, 2009 at 01:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Netroots Nation,People,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh,Pittsburgh/PA,Specter

Deja Vu

Senate Guru points to some encouraging poll results (caveat: Rasmussen):

13.  What’s that number?  It’s the gap between Specter and Congressman Sestak in the latest Rasmussen Reports poll.  Specter’s lead over Congressman Sestak is only 47-34 according to Rasmussen.  Rasmussen’s last poll, in June, showed the 19-point deficit, a 51-32 result.

Rasmussen also reminds us that Specter still remains “much better known” across the state than Congressman Sestak.  In other words, Congressman Sestak still has plenty of room to grow in terms of name ID as his campaign gets underway, but has already cut his deficit by a third.  Also, this is the very first non-Franklin & Marshall poll (F&M’s numbers were relatively very low for both candidates) to show Specter under 50%.

(…)

This poll is bad news for Specter and great news for Congressman Sestak – not just because it shows Congressman Sestak closing the gap, but also because it adds credibility to his campaign.  Specter winning is not remotely a foregone conclusion.  The more that PA-Dem primary voters recognize that, the more open they’ll be to Congressman Sestak’s candidacy, and the less power the Ed Rendell machine will have to stop the political dam from breaking.

This reminds me a lot of Lamont’s campaign against Lieberman three years ago.  Most CT Democrats were desperate for an alternative to Lieberman, and all Lamont really had to do was make sure they knew who he was, and could see him as a viable, more progressive alternative.  Of course, the problem in CT was that Lieberman was able to run as an independent and get the benefit of the Republican vote, where PA affords Specter no such luxury.

It is probably also worth noting that outside of the Democratic party establishment (feh), Specter’s Democratic support is almost certainly a lot thinner than Lieberman’s was.  Lieberman was a Democratic senator (in name, at least) for 18 years, whereas for Specter it will be closer to 18 months.

My prediction is that Specter will attempt the same play Lieberman used in CT: Pretend to be a lot more progressive than he actually is, than revert to form immediately after the election.  Again, though, decades of being an actual Republican will make that a lot harder for him to pull off than it was for Joementum.  Fingers crossed.

August 13th, 2009 at 09:23am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Lamont,Lieberman,Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Polls,Republicans,Specter

Finally, Some Good News

Not on healthcare, but I’ll take what I can get:

Some Pennsylvania insiders believe the Specter campaign’s aggressive pushback is a result of being spooked by Sestak’s strong second-quarter fundraising haul. Between April and June, Sestak’s campaign committee took in roughly $1 million — less than Specter’s $1.7 million but an impressive sum that Sestak operatives note came despite resistance from the Pennsylvania Democratic political establishment, which is backing Specter.

I find it very encouraging that the peabrained party establishment is not going to be able to starve Sestak out of the race.  Probably because so many Democrats really really hate Specter and are appalled by the idea of him pretending to represent their party.

July 20th, 2009 at 05:22pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Specter

Wanker Of The Day

Arlen Specter slams primary opponent Joe Sestak for not registering with a political party while an active duty admiral.  I would say that he misleads by ignoring Sestak’s military service, but he does refer to it… as a “lame excuse for avoiding party affiliation.”

It amazes me that anyone could mistake this prick for a Democrat.

July 10th, 2009 at 07:23am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Specter,Wankers

Run, Joe, Run!

Please say okay, Joe’s family:

Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak is planning to run against Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter in 2010 but those familiar with his thinking caution no announcement is imminent and that he could well change his mind on the race.

“I have heard from people close to him that he is in but will not announce for months because he does not need to announce yet for a fundraising bounce,” said one senior Pennsylvania-based Democratic operative of Sestak.

(…)

Polling suggests that Specter would start the primary as a decided favorite. A survey done for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in early May showed Specter leading Sestak 56 percent to 16 percent. A poll done for a labor-backed 527 group, however, showed significant softness in Specter’s numbers when voters are informed of some of the votes he made as a Republican.

(…)

Sestak, sort of, confirmed that he is going to challenge Specter during an interview on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” moments ago. “My intentions are to get in this race pending a final family decision,” said Sestak. He added that he looked at the Senate race as a “deployment” (Sestak is a lifelong military man) and needed final sign off from his family before making a final decision to run.

I suspect that a lot of Specter’s current polling advantage has to do with name recognition and his successful branding as a “moderate.”  If Sestak can raise awareness of just how big a Republican wanker Specter is, this could very well play out a lot like Lamont/Lieberman in 2006, except Sestak isn’t as liberal as Lamont, and – even more importantly – PA law does not allow primary losers to run as independents.

May 28th, 2009 at 07:23am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Specter

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

specter

More on D-Arlen Specter’s campaign to prove what a disloyal Democrat he is:

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter was thrust into the national stage last week when he switched from the Republican Party to the Democrats. However Specter insists he refuses to walk any party line, as evidenced by his trademark series of ironic anti-establishment t-shirts.

Democrats were ecstatic to receive one more seat in their ranks, putting them at a potential “filibuster-proof” 60 seats in the Senate, and are desperate to stay in Specter’s favor.  But Specter says he refuses to adhere blindly to party politics and remains his own man.  His first appearance as a Democrat last Friday clearly illustrated his disregard for the establishment.

Senator Specter showed up at work riding a motorcycle and wearing a leather bomber jacket.  Parking lot attendants confirm he was blasting Kenny Loggin’s Highway to the Danger Zone upon his arrival.

In the Senate, Specter repeatedly held up proceedings with his newfound attitude.  As the Senate hearing began, he was reprimanded for refusing to take off his aviator-style sunglasses.  Specter had to be asked several times to stop putting his feet up on the seat in front of his.  He even went so far as to filibuster his own legislation.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi pulled the newest member of the Democratic Party aside to an antechamber.  Anonymous sources saw her ask where this behavior was coming from.

“I’m a loner, Nancy, a rebel.”

“What are you rebelling against?”

“Whattaya got?”

He then dramatically took off his glasses for approximately the 38th time that morning.

Back on the floor he spurred on Olympia Snowe by answering her every question with “RepublicanLackeySaysWhat.”  When Senator John McCain voiced his disapproval of such actions, Specter offered to settle their differences with a drag race around “Dead Man’s Curve.”

Even majority leader Harry Reid lost his patience with Specter, saying on the Senate floor, “Your mouth is writing checks the state of Pennsylvania can’t cash!  Just who do you think you are?”

“I’m Senator Arlen Specter and I’m outta here.”

The Senator then popped his collar defiantly and left the Senate.

Senator Specter’s whereabouts between Friday’s departure and his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press are currently unknown.  Whether or not he is connected with several high speed chases in the area remains to be seen.

He truly is a rebel without a cause.  Or a principle.

May 6th, 2009 at 11:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Specter,Weekly World News

Mixed Messages

Michael Steele seems to have a bit of trouble making up his mind…

“All you moderates out there, y’all come. I mean, that’s the message,” Steele said at a news conference. “The message of this party is this is a big table for everyone to have a seat. I have a place setting with your name on the front.”

(…)

Steele said Specter’s departure was about political opportunism and not reflective of problems within the GOP. Specter was facing a tough primary election as a Republican, which Steele said he would have lost because of his vote for the economic stimulus bill.

“That vote on the stimulus bill was the effectiveness of a party call,” he said. “That was a stand-up moment for every Republican. . . . And so, you voted yourself out of the party. We didn’t kick you out.”

As Brad DeLong points out, this apparently means Snowe and Collins voted themselves out of the party as well.  I wonder if they know that.

I also wonder how much time elapsed between “We love moderates!  Come join our Big Republican Tent!” and “Vote wrong and you’re dead to us.”

(h/t Scarecrow)

2 comments May 5th, 2009 at 06:44am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Republicans,Specter

Run, Joe, Run!

I really liked Sestak’s answers in yesterday’s FDL Blue America session.  Not only was he more progressive than I thought, but he also refused to be intimidated by either Democrats or Republicans.  Here’s his response when I asked him what he’d say to Reid or Rendell if they asked him to drop out:

I will probably say the same thing I said to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when I informed them that I was getting into the 7th District Race 3 years ago, and they told me “they don’t want me”…and called back the next day to say that again, saying they already had someone else in the race. I said I had called to inform them, not to ask permission, although I respected their opinion. I do respect the Democratic leadership but this is really about us in PA and how it affects the nation. While we may disagree, I think we can still do it respecting one another.

And here’s what he said when asked whether the possibility of a less insane Republican candidate like Tom Ridge would affect his decision to run:

I honestly believe that you run for something, not against someone. Therefore, any decision I make will be predicated on running for the right things, not because of who else is in the race.

I also liked his response when asked what would dissuade him from running:

If Arlen Specter truly embraces the principles and policies necessary for good governance and the economic, health, energy/environment, education, and defense securities needed by Pennsylvanians and by our nation…and we believe he will stick to them for the full 6 years.

So unless he’s completely gullible and clueless, he’s running.

May 4th, 2009 at 07:09am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Specter

Great Moments In Republican Messaging

This is absolutely hilarious:

ANNOUNCER:  (Disclaimer) Hello, this is Jack.
I’ve recorded this message on behalf of the National Republican
Senatorial Committee located at 425 2nd St, Washington, DC or
202-675-4260 to help you welcome your newest Democrat Senator, Arlen
Specter.

We wanted to make sure that we properly introduced him to you.  Former President George W. Bush said this about Arlen Specter.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  I’m here to say it as plainly
as I can, Arlen Specter is the right man for the United States Senate.
I can count on this man – see that’s important. He’s a firm ally when
it matters most.  I’m proud to tell you I think he’s earned another
term as the United States Senator.

ANNOUNCER: Now here is Senator Specter on important issues to Labor and Democrat interest groups.

SEN SPECTER: I will not be an automatic 60th
vote. And I would illustrate that by my position on employee’s choice
also known as card check. Uh, I think it is a bad deal and I’m opposed
to it and would not vote to invoke cloture.

“Hi, Pennsylvania!  We’re the Republican Party.  Arlen Specter agrees with us on almost everything.  Is that the kind of senator you want to represent you?  Vote against Arlen Specter… because he votes with us.”  And if they really want to screw him over, they should get Bush and Cheney to go campaigning for him.

Man, I wish I could have been at the meeting where they asked, “How can we make the fact that we suck and everyone hates us work in our favor?”

April 30th, 2009 at 08:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Photoblogging,Politics,Republicans,Specter

You Might Be An Unprincipled Hack If…

…Even David Broder doesn’t buy your I-did-it-all-for-the-centrism narrative:

But much as Specter’s decision reflects an increasingly serious weakness in the Republican Party, there is no escaping the fact that it is also an opportunistic move by one of the most opportunistic politicians of modern times.

The one consistency in the history of Arlen Specter has been his willingness to do whatever will best protect and advance the career of Arlen Specter.

In 2004, when some in the GOP caucus challenged his elevation to the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Specter assured them that he would not use the post to block any of President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees. And despite his sometimes liberal record, he voted for both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

Just a few weeks ago, when he was still calculating how he might survive a Republican primary against Toomey, he announced that — despite his friendship with labor — he would not support the so-called card check legislation that is the No. 1 priority of the unions.

This is the man who now has the strongest claim upon the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania.

Specter has been welcomed to the Democratic Party by President Obama and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the most influential Democrat in Harrisburg. That makes it unlikely that Specter will face any serious challenge in next year’s Senate primary. And, if his health holds up, he will be a strong favorite against Toomey in the November election.

So, once again, Specter is likely to reap political rewards from his maneuvering. But the Democrats should be open-eyed about what they are gaining from his return to his original political home.

Specter’s history shouts the lesson that he will stick with you only as long as it serves his own interests — and not a day longer.

Broder is giving D-Arlen entirely too much credit – he won’t even stick with the Democrats now that he is one.  His defection may be a messaging disaster for the Republicans, but it’s going to be a practical disaster for the Democrats.

1 comment April 30th, 2009 at 06:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers

No-One Could Have Anticipated…

Hey, guess what!  Senate Democrats don’t like being leapfrogged by someone who’s only been a Democrat for a day:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) deal to allow Sen. Arlen Specter to retain his seniority after he switches to the Democratic Conference has not been received well by senior senators in the party.

Several Democrats are furious with Reid for agreeing to let Specter (Pa.) keep the seniority accrued over more than 28 years as a Republican senator. That could allow him to leap past senior Democrats on powerful panels — including the Appropriations and Judiciary committees.

“I won’t be happy if I don’t get to chair something because of Arlen Specter,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who sits on the Appropriations Committee with Specter and is fifth in seniority among Democrats behind Chairman Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Tom Harkin (Iowa). “I’m happy with the Democratic order but I don’t want to be displaced because of Arlen Specter,” she said.

One senior Democratic lawmaker told The Hill that the Democratic Conference will vote against giving the longtime Pennsylvania Republican seniority over lawmakers like Harkin, Mikulski and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) when they hold their organizational meeting after the 2010 election.

Specter was elected in 1980, and under his deal with Reid would jump ahead of all but a few Democrats when it comes time to dole out committee chairmanships and assignments.

“That’s his deal and not the caucus’s,” the senior lawmaker said of Reid’s agreement with Specter.

The lawmaker requested anonymity because the issue of Specter’s seniority is “a sensitive subject.”

I would love to see the Democrats leave D-Arlen high and dry with less seniority than Roland Burris.  Better yet, I’d love to see some of them so pissed off that they back Sestak or Torsella in the Democratic primary (Hey, if he gets voted out, seniority is kind of a moot point, right?).  Of course, I’m pretty sure Harry would view that as an inexcusable breach of party discipline – far worse than voting against cloture or campaigning against the Democratic presidential candidate in a general election.

April 29th, 2009 at 11:15pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Specter

Will The Specter Cross Over?

I’m trying to decide whether or not this would be a good thing…

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) does not have the fall-back option of running as an independent should he lose his 2010 primary election, giving the senior lawmaker strong incentive to abandon his party this year.

Specter faces an extremely difficult primary race against former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the conservative firebrand who lost his bid to oust Specter from his seat in the 2004 GOP primary by a mere 17,000 votes (out of more than a million cast).

Pennsylvania political experts say that Specter would likely face a more difficult challenge in 2010 because the Republican primary electorate in Pennsylvania has become more conservative.

“I think he has a lot of problems,” said Terry Madonna, a professor of political science at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. “I think this is the test of lifetime.”

Madonna estimated that between 150,000 to 200,000 centrist Republicans switched registration to the Democratic Party in the 2008 election cycle, leaving the remaining GOP electorate more conservative.

The Pennsylvania Department of State reported more than 130,000 switches from the GOP to the Democratic Party before the 2008 primary contest between President Obama and former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

The massive exodus of centrist-leaning voters from the Pennsylvania GOP leaves Specter’s right flank extremely vulnerable — fiscal and social conservatives have long viewed him as a bête noire.

(…)

“A candidate who loses in a primary cannot run as an independent in the general election,” said Leslie Amoros, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of State.”

(…)

Should Specter stay with his party and lose to Toomey, it would create a tempting pick-up opportunity for Democrats.

Democratic strategists say that Toomey would be an easier candidate to defeat because of his outspoken conservatism, especially after Democratic voter registration jumped dramatically in 2008.

On the one hand, I pretty much hate Specter’s guts.  His M.O. is to talk a good game, eloquently denounce Republican insanity or outright criminality… and then vote in favor of it.

On the other hand, it’s possible that he’s been voting against his own conscience out of fear of his own party, either in the form of primary challenges, or of being stripped of his Judiciary chairmanship back when Republicans were in the majority.  With that pressure removed, Specter might very well be more liberal than a lot of his Democratic colleagues.  It would also give the Democrats the magical 60 a year or two early.

I’m more than a little skeptical about that 60 number, which is really only meaningful if the planets are aligned just so: Al Franken has to get seated; Joe Lieberman has to behave, along with feckless conservative Democrats like Pryor, Lincoln, Landrieu, DiFi, Webb, and the Nelsons; and (sadly) Teddy Kennedy has to either stay healthy enough to vote or step aside.

From Specter’s perspective (perspecterive?), switching parties and running as a Dem makes sense, in much the same way that it made sense for Lieberman to run as a Dem in CT until he was finally exposed.  He’d have a tough time in a general election as a Republican, but he’d cruise to victory as a Democrat.  From my perspective, I’d rather have a progressive Democrat than a moderate or conservative one – we already have more than enough of those.  Yes, it’s tempting to get to 60 early, but if it’s not going to be a solid 60, it’s just not worth it.  Plus it’ll make Obama and the Democrats look even more pathetic every time Mitch McConnell eats their lunch.

One final caveat: The story lays out lots of reasons why it makes sense for Specter to jump parties, but provides no other evidence that he’s even considering it.  So this is all just idle specterlation.

2 comments March 8th, 2009 at 12:43pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Republicans,Specter

Wanker Of The Day

Snarlin’ Arlen:

Specter said in prepared remarks Tuesday that Obama did not consult with him before choosing Eric Holder Jr. to be attorney general, and he tells Legal Times that Obama also did not consult with him or notify him before announcing four other Justice Department nominees Monday.

“History demonstrates that presidents who seek the advice of members of the Senate prior to submitting a nomination frequently see their nominees confirmed more quickly and with less controversy than those who do not,” Specter (R-Pa.) said. “A recent example is that of President Clinton who consulted with then-Chairman [Orrin] Hatch prior to nominating Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Justice Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court. Both nominees were confirmed with minimal controversy.

“In contrast, on the nomination of Mr. Holder, President-elect Obama chose not to seek my advice or even to give me advance notice in my capacity as Ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, which is his prerogative.”

Interesting that the most recent examples Specter could think of both took place during the Clinton administration.  Other than Mukasey (WTF was Schumer thinking, anyway?), has Dubya consulted with the ranking Democrat on any of his major nominees for, well… anything? And has Specter ever taken him to task for failing to do so, if he’s so concerned about comity and propriety?

(h/t Adam Bonin)

1 comment January 8th, 2009 at 07:12am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers

Two More Reasons Why Gonzo Must Go

Arlen Specter:

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the committee, said Monday that keeping Gonzales as attorney general will be ”harmful to the Justice Department because he has lost his credibility.”

”When he said that he wasn’t involved in discussions or deliberations, and then is contradicted by his three top aides and also by documentary evidence, … his credibility has been substantially undermined,” Specter said in Harrisburg, Pa. ”And I think it does hurt the administration, and inevitably it hurts the (Republican) party.”

Specter added: ”As long as (Gonzales is) the attorney general, I will continue to deal with him, but whatever he has to say I will take with more than a grain of salt.”

When Arlen Specter says you’re a shifty, untrustworthy weasel, your credibility is actually below zero, and well into negative territory.

George W. Bush:

”The attorney general went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer — honestly answer — in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job,” Bush said.

If Gonzo’s testimony increased Dubya’s confidence in Gonzo’s ability to do the job, then we need to seriously ask ourselves just what job it is that Gonzo is supposedly doing.

2 comments April 23rd, 2007 at 06:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans,Specter

It’s A Trap!!!

This sounds good, but consider who we’re talking about here…

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter yesterday joined a top Senate Democrat to call for the creation of a multibillion-dollar public financing program for congressional races.

Mr. Specter, R-Pa., made the announcement one day after confirming that he already has started preparing to run for a sixth term in 2010, citing the exploding costs of modern campaigns and the need to raise tens of millions of dollars to be competitive.

“That time ought to be spent on our official duties,” he said yesterday, standing alongside Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Mr. Durbin’s office estimates that the average cost for the most competitive Senate races in 2006 was $34 million per campaign, double what it was four years before. To keep up, candidates often turn to interest groups for money.

(…)

“People who say the public shouldn’t pay for elections are missing the point. We already pay for elections,” Mr. Durbin said. “We pay when special interests are literally allowed to write their own bills.”

The public financing system would provide about $2.8 billion nationwide for each two-year congressional cycle. It would be voluntary.

(…)

Some of that money would go to vouchers for television air time, the largest cost for most campaigns.

Mr. Durbin said he expected resistance from both the television industry and many colleagues, who may be reluctant to give up their fund-raising advantages as incumbents. He said he would try to address their concerns.

“This really allows a senator to be a senator and spend less time on the road raising money,” he said of his bill.

(…)

Nick Nyhart , president of the nonpartisan group Public Campaign, praised the proposed legislation, calling it a “historic opportunity for every elected official in Congress to say ‘no’ to the politics of big checks and the endless money chase and ‘yes’ to putting voters first.”

I cannot understate how hugely important this would be, for all of the reasons cited in the story. Allowing de facto corporate sponsorship in our electoral system has crippled representative democracy by allowing wealth to usurp votes as the source of political power.

It might not affect Republican politicians much, as corporations and wealthy individuals are their natural constituents, but it might allow the Democrats to finally cut ties with the pro-corporate DLC and establish themselves as a more progressive, people-powered alternative.

Which is why I can’t believe that a two-faced toad like Specter would have anything to do with it. Either he calculates that it has no chance of passing, much less overcoming a filibuster or veto (and I think it’s going to face bipartisan resistance) and wants to burnish his bogus moderate credentials, or else the Republicans plan to use it as a velvet straitjacket on Democratic campaign spending (i.e., Democrats forego their own fundraising to opt in, and it turns out to be perpetually underfunded or slow to disburse, and the media vouchers are only valid between 2AM and 4AM…).

If Specter’s genuinely on board and can swing some Republican votes, good for him, that makes him 2-for-his-career (stem cells being the other, and probably only because he had cancer), but I have three words of advice for Durbin: WATCH. YOUR. BACK.

March 22nd, 2007 at 11:29am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Politics,Specter,Wankers

Oh. Joy.

And I was just wondering how I would ever live without him…

Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, a moderate [HA!!!] who has often clashed with the Bush administration and his fellow GOP lawmakers, said Monday he plans to seek a sixth term in 2010.

“There are a lot of important things to be done and finally after being here to acquire some seniority, I’m in a position to do that,” said Specter, 77. “I’m full of energy and my wife doesn’t want me home for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Good thinking, Arlen. As long as there’s still some Constitution left standing, your work is not complete. Look at that stupid Constitution! It’s mocking you! Mocking you, I say! You show that Constitution who’s boss!

Specter said he has fundraisers planned, including a large one April 4 in Philadelphia.

“It’s an enormous task, and that’s why I’m starting early,” said Specter, noting that he spent $23 million in his 2004 race.

Can we please get a tough, mean progressive to run against this wanker? We’ve got two years to come up with somebody, right? How about some of the new blood, like Joe Sestak or Pat Murphy?

Whoever it is, they must call Specter on his consistent pattern of speaking out against the Bush administration’s rampant criminality, and then actively facilitating it.

March 19th, 2007 at 06:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers

Teeheehee!

Ladies & gentlemen, for your amusement, the comedy stylings of Arlen Specter:

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the committee, said he had a long talk with [WH Counsel Fred] Fielding on Friday and was reserving judgment. Specter said he would like to see Rove and Miers testify openly.

“I want to see exactly what the White House response is,” Specter said. “Maybe the White House will come back and say, ‘We’ll permit them to be interviewed and we’ll give them all the records.’”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Thank you, thank you, he’ll be here until 2011. Try the veal.

2 comments March 19th, 2007 at 07:13am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans,Rove,Specter

Fool Me Once…

Spineless Senator Specter speaks strongly:

A Senate Republican on Tuesday directly challenged President Bush’s declaration that ”I am the decision-maker” on issues of war.

”I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider,” Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said during a hearing on Congress’ war powers amid an increasingly harsh debate over Iraq war policy. ”The decider is a shared and joint responsibility,” Specter said.

Yes, we’ve all seen what a firm believer in limiting presidential power Arlen Specter is. Check that: We’ve all seen what a firm believer in talking like a firm believer in limiting presidential power Arlen Specter is.

We’ve seen this same pattern repeat itself over and over again: Administration does something outrageous and/or criminal; Specter angrily denounces it in full-blown Guardian Of The Constitution mode; Specter quietly backtracks and gives Administration everything it wants. It’s only a matter of time.

Arlen Specter’s continuing employment, like Joe Lieberman’s, is proof positive that most voters just aren’t paying attention.

2 comments January 30th, 2007 at 11:40am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers,War

The Constitution’s Body Isn’t Even Cold Yet…

Habeas Constitution corpus…

Moving quickly to implement the bill signed by President Bush this week that authorizes military trials of enemy combatants, the administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that “no court, justice, or judge” can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future.

(…)

Habeas corpus, a Latin term meaning “you have the body,” is one of the oldest principles of English and American law. It requires the government to show a legal basis for holding a prisoner. A series of unresolved federal court cases brought against the administration over the last several years by lawyers representing the detainees had left the question in limbo.

Two years ago, in Rasul v. Bush, which gave Guantanamo detainees the right to challenge their detention before a U.S. court, and in this year’s Hamdan v. Rumsfeld , the Supreme Court appeared to settle the issue in favor of the detainees. But the new legislation approved by Congress last month, which gives Bush the authority to try detainees before military commissions, included a provision removing judicial review for all habeas claims.

(…)

A number of legal scholars and members of Congress, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), have said that the habeas provision of the new law violates a clause of the Constitution that says the right to challenge detention “shall not be suspended” except in cases of “rebellion or invasion.” Historically, the Constitution has been interpreted to apply equally to citizens and noncitizens under U.S. jurisdiction.

Riiight. Arlen is so concerned about the Constitution that he happily voted for the very law that he’s complaining about. This is what the damn thing was for. Well, this and torture; but as long as the president doesn’t call it torture, it’s totally okay.

“We and other habeas counsel are going to vigorously oppose dismissal of these cases,” Warren said. “We are going to challenge that law as violating the Constitution on several grounds.” Whichever side loses in the upcoming court battles, he said, will then appeal to the Supreme Court.

And that is what Roberts and Alito are for.

The fate of our democracy rests in the hands of Anthony Kennedy and Tony Scalia. God help us all.

3 comments October 20th, 2006 at 12:06pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers

I Feel So Much Better Now…

Arlen Specter is on the case:

President Bush is pushing Congress to put the agreement into law before adjourning for the midterm elections, but Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Sunday he “vigorously” disagrees with the habeas corpus provision of the bill.

The provision would allow legal counsel and a day in court to only those detainees selected by the Pentagon for prosecution. Other terror suspects could be held indefinitely without a hearing.

“The courts have traditionally been open to make sure that individual rights are protected, and that is fundamental,” Specter said on CNN’s “Late Edition. “And the Constitution says when you can suspend the writ of habeas corpus, in time of rebellion or invasion. And we don’t have either. So that has to be changed, in my opinion.”

Of course, Specter being Specter, he will ultimately conclude that the only acceptable resolution for this kind of affront to the Constitution is to… rewrite the law to make it retroactively legal. I have to wonder if his problem is truly with the Bush administration’s contempt for the law, or with the law’s narrow-minded reluctance to accommodate Bush’s brilliance.

Specter is like a DA whose genius idea to eliminate all crime is to simply make everything legal. Problem solved!

2 comments September 25th, 2006 at 03:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers

Just A Quick Thought

John McCain is Arlen Specter with panache, plus the adoration of the media.

They’ll both talk a good game about holding the administration in check, and then hand them everything they want on a silver platter under the fig leaf of “compromise.”

Lord, deliver us from false moderates.

3 comments September 21st, 2006 at 10:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: McCain,Politics,Specter,Wankers

7/4 Changed Everything!

Christy at firedoglake has a great Fourth-Of-July roundup of excerpts from the Declaration Of Independence and the writings of the Founders. She focuses mainly on the dangers of an unchecked Executive, and how they attempted to thwart that accumulation of power.

Structurally, I believe the Constitution does about as fine a job of checking Executive powers as is humanly possible. The Founders understood that politicians’ lust for power is as immutable and constant as gravity, and used that fact to craft a balance, much as an architect or engineer factors in the pull of gravity when they design a building. Where their vision failed them was when Republicans in Congress began to make common cause with Republicans in the White House, to the extent of willingly yielding all their power to the Executive. No matter how far President Bush pushes the limits of his Executive powers (ignoring Constitution and law; using signing statements to override the will of Congress), Congress goes along with it. Occasionally they make some noise about expressing grave concerns, but they never actually act on it (I’m looking at you, Arlen).

But as bad as this consolidation of power is, it is only part of the problem with our democracy today. I believe that the larger problem, the problem which has in fact enabled this Executive takeover, is with the mechanisms of accountability, not balance. I have said it before, but I believe it is more important than all the issues combined, so it bears repeating, especially today:

accountability is the hallmark of democracy, while impunity is the hallmark of dictatorship. A democratic government must look out for the interests of its citizens, or be voted out (or worse), while a dictatorship has no such worries, other than staving off the occasional coup attempt. Almost every policy disaster, fiasco, and scandal of the past 4+ years can be attributed to the ascendancy of impunity over accountability, as the U.S. under Bush has increasingly come to resemble a banana republic.

…I believe that the two most important pillars of accountability are elections… and the news media, which is where most of the electorate finds out about what their elected officials are up to and what it means to them and the country and world in general, and I believe that both have become severely, if not fatally, compromised.

The Republicans have been able to consolidate power within an increasingly all-powerful Executive because they have not paid an electoral price for it. And the reason that they have not paid a price for it is that the corporate-owned media has consistently promoted the Republican perspective, and the elections are rigged and gamed in their favor through vote suppression, voter intimidation, and probably electronic vote-tampering as well.

Until accountability is restored, we will be at the mercy of a party that looks at the Constitution not with reverence, but with the cold, appraising eye of an Enron lawyer looking for loopholes.

2 comments July 4th, 2006 at 03:01pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Elections,Favorites,Media,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers

They Get Letters

I’m still pissed at Arlen Specter.

I’m sure I’m wasting my time, but if there is anything remotely human left inside that degraded, soulless husk, I would be remiss not to attempt to reach it. So…

Dear Senator Specter,

I read with interest your question, or perhaps lament, asking why it takes a newspaper investigation to get the Bush administration to comply with the law, and I have an answer for you.The answer is you, Senator Specter. You are the reason that this administration flouts the law on a regular, ongoing basis.

Every time the NSA or the CIA or any other government agency, or President Bush himself, is exposed as doing something illegal, you make a big show of questioning it, or saying that it is “troubling”, or even holding hearings to get to the bottom of it. And then you fold. You always fold. Instead of holding the administration accountable for the illegal actions you decry, in the end you seek ways to whitewash them, or even to make them legal. What incentive does the administration have to abide by the Constitution and the laws of the land if they know that the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to give them a free pass every time?

You do not get to throw up your hands and ask why this is happening. It is happening because you, the Constitution’s principal guardian in the Senate, allow it to happen. For the sake of all of us, for the sake of your own self-respect, for the sake of this country of ours and the Constitution that makes it great, I beg you to please take a good, long, hard look in the mirror. Run your fingers along your back and get reacquainted with your spine. For if you do not start to take your responsibilities seriously, you will go down in history as the man who let the rule of law slip away, the man who allowed America to devolve from a great democracy into a third-rate dictatorship. Is that really what you want as your legacy? To be remembered as the man who betrayed American democracy?

I understand that you have an obligation to your party. But your obligation to your country must come first.

Sincerely,

Eli

I’ll probably tinker with it a bit more before I send it, but that’s the general gist of it. I just had to get it out of my system.

UPDATE: I have swapped in the final post-tinkering version.

7 comments June 25th, 2006 at 12:48am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Favorites,Politics,Specter,Wankers

Why I Hate Specter So Very, Very Much

Arlen Specter is such a humongous tool, he actually makes Joe Lieberman look integritty. I think the following quote, buried in the NYT’s Cheney-is-mad-at-us-for-reporting-on-the-government-spying-
on-financial-transactions article might just set some kind of world record for complete and utter lack of self-awareness:

“Why does it take a newspaper investigation to get them to comply with the law?” [Specter] asked. “That’s a big, important point.”

Because you never do, you posturing, useless, insincere little phony of a manturd. If you would for just once do your job instead of folding every time Cheney or Rove make that little snipping motion in your general direction, Bush Jr. might actually think twice about wiping his ass on the Constitution every time he messes himself. Jaysus.

(hat tip to The Heretik)

2 comments June 24th, 2006 at 08:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Favorites,Politics,Specter,Wankers

The Arlen, My Friends, Is Blowing In The Wind…

In case anyone was all excited about the possibility of Arlen Specter standing up to Dick Cheney and the rest of Dubya’s goons:

I’m not accusing anybody of anything. And I’m not saying the vice president acted in bad faith.

This is nothing personal between Arlen Specter or Vice President Cheney. This is a matter of civil liberties. It’s a matter of separation of power. And it’s a matter of important congressional oversight. And, so far, we’re not getting there. And that’s why I prepared a fairly strong letter. . . .

I don’t think the president has acted in bad faith here. I think he is functioning on something which he thinks needs to be done to protect the country. But he doesn’t have a blank check. He’s not the final word. We have a Constitution. The Constitution says that the Congress has oversight. And, on a constitutional issue, that’s the Judiciary Committee.

There, you see? Nothing to worry about, it was all just a big misunderstanding. The President is a fine man and he means well, and I’m sure that after Senator Specter conducts a thorough investigation, we’ll all see that the President has done absolutely nothing wrong. And if not, you can be sure that there are plen-ty more strongly-worded letters where that came from.

I don’t know about you, but I’m breathing easier already.

(Hat tip to The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin)

2 comments June 8th, 2006 at 06:45pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Constitution,Politics,Specter,Wankers

Yeah, Right.

Arlen Specter talks tough again. Y-A-W-N.

The powerful Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee all but declared war on the White House yesterday, and accused Vice President Cheney of sneaking around behind his back.

In a blistering letter to Cheney, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) laid out a long list of grievances over the White House seizing more and more power “at the expense” of Congress.

“It is neither pleasant nor easy to raise these issues with the administration of my own party,” he wrote. He cited the administration’s domestic spying, the gathering of Americans’ phone records and the recent FBI raid of a congressman’s offices.

Specter was particularly peeved that Cheney called Judiciary Committee members to kill closed-door hearings the senator had planned with phone company execs – and didn’t tell Specter, even when they were at lunch Monday.

(snip)

The irate chairman threatened to dish out subpoenas and suggested the two branches of government were headed for a “constitutional confrontation.”

I’ll believe it when I see it. Specter has a long, long history of talking tough and then caving (I guess he figures everyone will remember the talk, but not the walk… or lack thereof). The next time this useless toady stands up to Bush & Cheney will be the first.

June 8th, 2006 at 07:40am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Constitution,Politics,Specter,Wankers

Oathiness

This sounds kinda familiar…

Monday’s hearing into the NSA program got off to a rocky start when Democrats protested that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should be given a sworn oath before testifying.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the panel’s senior Democrat, argued that Gonzales should be sworn in like any other witness. At the very least, Gonzales should be asked if he would volunteer to being sworn in, Leahy said.

“It’s not up to him,” said Specter, who was upheld by a quick party-line vote by the GOP-led committee.

Is there an innocent explanation for this? The last time I remember Republicans opposing an oath was just before the oil executives lied their asses off about participating in Cheney’s super-duper secret energy task force (and before that, of course, there was our brave preznit’s 9/11 testimony with Cheney holding his widdle hand). I know the Republicans are anti-truth, but do they have to be so obvious about it?

Gonzales, who was not sworn in, told the committee he would voluntarily take the oath if the committee so desired. Either way, “my answers would be the same whether I was under oath or not,” he said.

Wow, he admits that he would lie under oath? Pretty ballsy.

9 comments February 6th, 2006 at 12:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Politics,Republicans,Specter,Wankers

Asbestoshole.

Arlen Specter calls shenanigans!

FOR over two decades, Congress has wrestled unsuccessfully with the difficult problem of asbestos. Now, with Congress about to produce legislation that will compensate Americans hurt by asbestos without clogging the courts and causing undue economic hardship, Dick Armey, a Republican and the former House majority leader, has led a huge and misleading advertising campaign to defeat the bill.

(snip)

…in radio ads that have run in 15 states, Mr. Armey says the bill would levy $140 billion in new taxes to create a federal trust fund for asbestos victims. He knows better. Manufacturers, which are liable for asbestos injuries, and their insurers have offered to create the $140 billion trust fund to avoid further liability. The bill is explicit that the federal government would pay nothing into the fund.

Mr. Armey also asserts that the fund would set aside billions of those tax dollars as payoffs to trial lawyers. In fact, the bill caps lawyers’ fees at 5 percent, compared with current contingent fees of 33 percent.

Just leave the check on the Dresser.

1 comment May 16th, 2005 at 07:59pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Puns,Republicans,Specter,Wankers


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