Archive for October, 2009

In NY’s 23rd, conservatives bag a GOP heretic in Scozzafava

Well, the conservatives went hunting for a Republican heretic in upstate New York, and it looks as though they’ve bagged one. This will be the occasion for a lot of celebration on the GOP right, but regardless of what happens Tuesday, I don’t think it bodes well for the GOP nationally.

No party gets bigger by getting smaller.

From the Watertown Daily News:

Dede Scozzafava, the Republican and Independence parties candidate, announced Saturday that she is suspending her campaign for the 23rd Congressional District and releasing all her supporters.

The state Assemblywoman has not thrown her support to either Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, or Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate.

“Today, I again seek to act for the good of our community,” Ms. Scozzafava wrote in a letter to friends and supporters. “It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed …

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A little Sunday morning on a Friday evening

I love oldtime black gospel; when I’m in the house alone, I’ll put on a couple of CDs and crank it loud and lose myself in the power and the glory. Gospel provided the foundation of soul music, jazz, blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll, but none of those genres ever outshines the original form.

Some of the best of the archival material was collected and made available by the Smithsonian, such as this piece. Those of you who know your Dylan will recognize it immediately.

But here’s a song more apropos of this rainy Friday, by the inimitable Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Didn’t it rain, didn’t it rain. If this don’t get your spirit and your feet moving, call the coroner cuz you dead.

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Iran now rejecting nuclear deal

Iran is insisting on changes to a proposed deal regarding its nuclear fuel, and it’s pretty clear that those changes will be unacceptable to the rest of the world. “It’s a deal breaker,” Jacqueline Shire of the Institute for Science and International Security told ABC News. “It’s no dice if they want to do an installment plan.”

It’s possible that further discussion can convince Iran to accept the provisions it now seeks to change. But it’s far more likely that at the end of the process, no deal will be reached and the West will have to look to other alternatives.

Unfortunately, it’s also true that if Iran is sufficiently determined to acquire the bomb, nothing short of an outright invasion will prevent it from doing so. Every assessment I’ve seen says that an air assault on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would at best delay its program, not end it. Furthermore, that assault itself would harden Iran’s conviction that it needs the bomb to discourage outside …

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Ethics probes may be least of Congress’ problems

The Washington Post reports:

“House ethics investigators have been scrutinizing the activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling, according to a confidential House ethics committee report prepared in July.”

The probes are apparently in various stages of investigation, and many could end up dismissed. But one major focus involves seven members of a defense appropriations subcommittee, including its chairman, Democrat John Murtha of Pennsylvania. The question is whether members or aides inserted budget earmarks for campaign contributions and other considerations.

In addition to the ethics probes, the Justice Department has been sniffing around Murtha and his subcommittee, which could mean criminal prosecution.

It’s impossible to know whether indictments will be or should be issued in the case. Prosecutors will go where the evidence takes them. But the earmarking practice is so …

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Ahmadinejad defends possible nuke deal

This is interesting, and even encouraging:

From the Washington Post:

“TEHRAN — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended a possible compromise with world powers over a nuclear fuel deal Thursday as Iran formally responded to a U.N.-backed proposal aimed at stalling its ability to make nuclear weapons.

In a speech in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Ahmadinejad defied harsh criticism from domestic opponents who accused him of giving away too much in the negotiations. He said the West has been forced to alter its confrontational stance toward Iran, state television reported.

Under the proposed deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran would ship most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium abroad for processing into medium-enriched uranium, which Iran needs to fuel a research reactor in Tehran that makes isotopes for medical uses. The fuel would come back to Iran in a form that could not be diverted to produce the highly enriched fissile material needed for nuclear …

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It’s not peace in the Middle East, but it’s something

It’s been one of those days, but I still couldn’t help but crack a smile when I saw this report. (h/t TPM)

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge police Sergeant James Crowley were spotted at a pub in Cambridge Wednesday night.

The owner of “River Gods” told WBZ the two sat in a booth together and talked for about an hour.

Over the summer, Crowley arrested Gates for disorderly conduct while responding to reports of a possible break-in at Gates’ home. Gates accused the officer of racial profiling.

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Recession’s technically over, even if it doesn’t feel that way

Well, nobody’s throwing a tickertape parade, but ….

(Bloomberg) The U.S. economy grew in the third quarter for the first time in more than a year, propelled by stimulus-driven gains in consumer spending and home building.

The world’s largest economy expanded at a 3.5 percent pace from July through September, exceeding the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, after shrinking the previous four quarters, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. Household purchases climbed 3.4 percent, the most in more than two years….

“A lot of this is thanks to government support,” Kathleen Stephansen, chief economist at Aladdin Capital Holdings LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “The consumer, in fact private demand in general, is not ready yet to pick up the growth baton from the government.”

It doesn’t mean the worst is over. There’s an awful lot of pain out there, and some of it will never go …

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President pays respects to America’s fallen

Obama Fallen Soldiers

President Obama went to Dover, Del. in the wee hours of the morning to greet the returning bodies of U.S. servicemen killed overseas. He also met privately with the families of the fallen for a reported two hours.

He needed to do that. As commander in chief, he honored the sacrifice of those under his command. As president, he expressed the gratitude of the nation not just to those fallen but to all who risk their lives for the country. And as a human being, he saw and felt first hand the consequences of the decisions he is making. It’s a weight every wartime president must carry.

I continue to search for a convincing argument that Afghanistan can be “won.” I haven’t found it yet, and if someone comes across one, let me know. Even Gen. McCrystal’s assessment was pretty pessimistic if you read it. I’d love to sit McChrystal down and ask him one very private question: If we follow your advice, what do you think the chances that in 10 years, Afghanistan will be a peaceful, …

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Yikes! Newt Gingrich making sense!?!?

These are frightening words to type, but … Newt Gingrich and I agree with each other.

Talking to Greta van Susteren last night on Fox, the former speaker noted that Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate in New York’s 23rd congressional district, had been chosen by county party leaders in that district to be the GOP’s nominee in next week’s special election.

Yet Republicans from outside that district are trying to overrule that choice as ideologically unsuitable and impose their own candidate on the district.

Here’s an outtake of the discussion:

Gingrich: Well, I just find it fascinating that my many friends who claim to be against Washington having too much power, they claim to be in favor of the 10th Amendment giving states back their rights, they claim to favor local control and local authority, now they suddenly get local control and local authority in upstate New York, they don’t like the outcome.

There were four Republican meetings. In all four meetings, state …

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Scalia and the (supposedly) unchanging Constitution

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is probably the nation’s foremost advocate of “originalism,” or “textualism.” As he explained the idea in a speech at Catholic University in 1996, originalism among other things holds that the Constitution is immutable, that it does not change over time.

“What it meant when it was adopted it means today, and its meaning doesn’t change just because we think that meaning is no longer adequate to our times,” Scalia said. “If it’s inadequate, we can amend it.”

In that speech, Scalia contrasted originalism with the idea of the Constitution as a living, breathing document that must be reinterpreted to meet the demands of a changing country. Under that second, intellectually irresponsible approach, Scalia argued, “the Constitution means what it ought to mean. Not what it did mean, but what it ought to mean. And so, all sorts of rights that clearly did not exist at the time of the Constitution (exist) today.”

Advocates of originalism or textualism …

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