SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK: Looking abroad for tips (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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AP – The debate over whether the Supreme Court should look to foreign law when interpreting the Constitution is ultimately irrelevant because justices can read whatever they want when they are formulating their opinions, Justice Stephen Breyer said Wednesday.

AR-Sen: End of quarter push

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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Goal ThermometerIf you’re wondering why everyone is desperately hitting you up for money today, it’s because it’s the end of the fundraising quarter. Federal campaigns have to tally up their earnings for the quarter and report them to the FEC. Spending decisions, media buzz, party support, and candidate moral all hinge, in huge part, in what numbers these campaigns report.

So no more procrastination. Today, give to your favorite campaigns. Even if it’s just , it’s important to get engaged. The money is important, but it’s also helpful for campaigns to brag about the number of contributors. So even if you feel like you’re not helping out the bottom line with your , you’re helping out with the number of supporters. And remember, a lot of or donations add up.

We will soon be expanding our roster of candidates in the Orange to Blue ActBlue fundraising page, but for now, we have one VERY important one: Arkansas’ Bill Halter.

This is the only way to send a message to obstructionist Democrats in the Senate that you won’t tolerate them obstructing and watering down the progressive agenda. Seriously, if you’re angry that the health care reform law lacks a public option, remember this:

Let me be perfectly clear. I am opposed to a new government administered health care plan as a part of comprehensive health insurance reform, and I will not vote in favor of the proposal that has been introduced by Leader Reid as it is written…. I’ve already alerted the Leader and I’m promising my colleagues that I’m prepared to vote against moving to the next stage of consideration as long as a government-run public option is included.”

She even BRAGGED about that obstructionism in her first ad of the campaign, which we remixed here:

We’re looking for 1,800 total contributors from Daily Kos by the end of the day. That’s just 180 more contributors. Please help us send a message to Senate obstructionists. If you don’t, they’ll feel emboldened to do worse.

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How to fix CNN (Politico)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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Politico – The future of CNN suddenly looked dire this week when new ratings came out.

Recharging debate, Obama expands offshore drilling (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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US President Barack Obama speaks on energy security at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. Obama on Wednesday announced a plan to expand oil drilling off US coasts, drawing protests from green groups but charges by Republicans it did not go far enough.(AFP/Saul Loeb)AP – Shaking up years of energy policy and his own environmental backers, President Barack Obama threw open a huge swath of East Coast waters and other protected areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska to drilling Wednesday, widening the politically explosive hunt for more homegrown oil and gas.

GOP hopes ‘repeal’ rally cry won’t burn them

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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For Republicans, urging a full repeal of the new health care law will energize conservative activists whose turnout is crucial this year. But it also carries risks, say strategists in both parties.Top Republicans are starting to worry about their health care rallying cry “Repeal the bill.” It just might singe GOP candidates in November’s elections, they fear, if voters begin to see benefits from the new law.

AP sources: Powers agree to pursue Iran sanctions (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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Iranian technicians remove a container of radioactive uranium from the Isfahan nuclear facility in 2005. Six major powers negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program held fresh talks Wednesday after President Barack Obama said he wanted sanctions within weeks, a US official said.(AFP/File/Behrouz Mehri)AP – Six major world powers have agreed to begin putting together proposed new sanctions on Iran over its suspect nuclear program after China dropped its opposition, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Drill, Barack, Drill?

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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Like a lot of people, I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what President Obama would do what he said he would not do during the campaign.

If the intention is to actually benefit the US energy supply, it’s foolish. US oil production peaked in 1972, the largest field in the country (Prudhoe Bay) is in steep decline and no new discovery will replace it. Last year the US produced around 5.27 million barrels / day on average — which was actually quite a large increase. So some might point to the 2009 increase as evidence that we can improve our position. However, that increase was the  result of two things: a good deal of drilling that started over a decade ago finally coming on line and the fact that 2008 was such an awful year (hurricanes dented production that year to the tune of 200,000 barrels / day). Even so, in 1970 the US was producing 9.64 million b/d. All the drilling in the world won’t arrest that long term trend. Add to that the recession and our imports of oil last year were way down — and still the reliance on foreign oil was over twice what it was during the oil crises of the 1970s. If we drill every area available, its expected that the US may be able to hold a production “plateau” around 5 million b/d for the next decade. That’s the most optimistic outlook. However, over that same decade oil production out of Mexico will fall severely, meaning that we’ll actually be importing more oil from Middle East sources. You can drill Yellowstone and the south lawn of the White House, but at the end of the day the US will not not end utter reliance on oil sourced from areas subject to being under control of people who do not have our best interests in mind. Drilling, as a means of improving our position for energy independence and national security, is a loser.

If the intention of this announcement is to provide a negotiating position, either as a trade off for higher fuel standards or any other factor, then surrendering your one best bargaining chip up front seems like an extremely bad idea.  As with health care, it seems like we’re starting the argument far out on the side of the field where the Republicans have been playing for a decade. Now we may argue for a few things that actually do improve both the nation’s access to energy and the environment — maybe — but what else will we have to surrender to get it? WIth offshore drilling already in the bag, what are you going to give  away if you need a vote?

Finally, if the intention here is to position any further action on energy as bipartisan… that’s seriously disappointing. I would have thought that learning not to try and negotiate with people calling you a anti-American baby-killing socialist was one of the few good things to come from the health care ruckus. On the face of it, this action seems to buy into the false dichotomy between energy and the environment that the Republicans have been building for decades. It smells like surrender.

Overall this seems like a tremendous loss of focus, loss of the initiative, and misdirection of the public at a time where we could use some real leadership on energy.


Court: Defendants entitled to immigration advice (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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AP – Immigrants have a constitutional right to be told by their lawyers whether pleading guilty to a crime could lead to their deportation, the Supreme Court said Wednesday.

GOP hopes repeal-the-bill fire won’t burn them (AP)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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AP – Top Republicans are starting to worry about their health care rallying cry “Repeal the bill.” It just might singe GOP candidates in November’s elections, they fear, if voters begin to see benefits from the new law.

Federal Judge Rules Bush Illegally Wiretapped Americans

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2010-05-2008

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In the last-ditch warrantless wiretapping accountability case, Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled that the Bush administration illegally eavesdropped on American lawyers representing Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity, and that the attorney could pursue civil remedies.

The lawyers alleged some of their 2004 telephone conversations to Saudi Arabia were siphoned to the National Security Agency without warrants. The allegations were initially based on a classified document the government accidentally mailed to the former Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation lawyers. The document was later declared a state secret and removed from the long-running lawsuit weighing whether a sitting U.S. president may create a spying program to eavesdrop on Americans’ electronic communications without warrants

“Plaintiffs must, and have, put forward enough evidence to establish a prima facie case that they were subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance,” U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled, in a landmark decision. Even without the classified document, the judge said he believed the lawyers “were subjected to unlawful electronic surveillance.” (.pdf)

It’s the first ruling addressing how Bush’s once-secret spy program was carried out against American citizens. Other cases considered the program’s overall constitutionality, absent any evidence of actual illegal eavesdropping.

The Obama administration’s Justice Department staunchly defended the lawsuit. The classified document was removed from the case at the behest of both the Bush and Obama administrations that declared it a state secret.

Marcy is reviewing the decision at emptywheel, and highlights this snippet of the ruling, which perhaps reflects Walker’s impatience with the government over the long history of this case.

Walker gets a little snippy when explaining why the government’s arguments about why they shouldn’t have to prove they didn’t wiretap al-Haramain illegally.

Under defendants’ theory, executive branch officials may treat FISA as optional and freely employ the SSP to evade FISA, a statute enacted specifically to rein in and create a judicial check for executive-branch abuses of surveillance authority.

   [snip]

In an impressive display of argumentative acrobatics, defendants contend, in essence, that the court’s orders of June 3 and June 5, 2009 setting the rules for these cross-motions make FISA inapplicable and that “the Ninth Circuit’s rulings on the privilege assertion therefore control the summary judgment motions now before the Court.” Doc #672/105 at 6. In other words, defendants contend, this is not a FISA case and defendants are therefore free to hide behind the SSP all facts that could help plaintiffs’ case. In so contending, defendants take a flying leap and miss by a wide margin.

And that’s without even looking at Bush’s claim that Congress can’t tell the President he can’t wiretap Americans.

As of yet, the Justice Department hasn’t responded, but an appeal seems likely.