Archive for April, 2005

Congress Passes Budget

Friday, April 29th, 2005

From Fox News/AP.

The Senate voted 52-47 to approve the blueprint of tax and spending priorities just hours after the House passed it by a similarly close 214-211. The budget instructs lawmakers to freeze or shrink spending in many domestic programs outside defense and homeland security and restrain farm, student loan, pension and some other government programs that grow automatically from year to year.

It also includes oil exploration in ANWR. Here are the links to the roll call vote in the House and the roll call vote in the Senate. In the House, all the Democrats voted against it along with 15 Republicans while the 214 votes were all Republicans. Both of Maryland’s Republicans did vote for the budget. In the Senate, all the Democrats voted against the budget along and all the Republicans voted for it except the two Ohio Senators and Lincoln Chafee.

Also last night, the Republicans did manage to get cloture invoked on President Bush’s nominee for the EPA, by a 61-37 vote.

Complaining For The Sake Of Complaining

Friday, April 29th, 2005

Drudge is claiming three of the news networks dumped out of President Bush’s briefing last night in favor of their primetime programs.

CBS, NBC and FOX cut off President Bush, mid-sentence, in several time zones, after sacrificing one hour of prime.

The president was left standing on the stage as NBC rushed to Donald Trump, FOX to Paris Hilton and CBS to SURVIVOR: PALAU.

ABC and PBS stayed with talkative Bush until he left reporters in the East Room of the White House.

Sensing he was running into trouble, Bush joked, “We better finish this up, there are TV programs to show. For the sake of the economy.”

But it was too late.

They had already pulled away.

Just keep that in mind the next time you hear journalists complaingnig that President Bush doesn’t do enough full-scale press briefings. He goes ahead and holds one and the now the networks aren’t interested….

Mfume Defends Himself Against Allegations

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

From Friday’s Baltimore Sun.

Kweisi Mfume denied Thursday that he was forced to resign as president of the NAACP amid allegations of nepotism and sexual harassment, saying someone is trying to derail his campaign for U.S. Senate.

Speaking in Clinton at a rally of African-American Democrats Thursday night, the former congressman insisted the claims are “unproven and unsubstantiated allegations levied against me by some person or people trying to disrupt my campaign.”
….
Mfume’s remarks — which he said would be the last on the topic — come six weeks into his nascent Senate campaign, and five months after a much-publicized NAACP resignation speech.

While Mfume thinks this will be the last time he talks about this topic, I am pretty sure darn sure The Baltimore Sun and Washington Post, who obviously want Cardin to be the nominee in order to guarantee this seat stays Democratic, will make damn sure this is NOT the last time Mfume talks about this topic. In addition, another article from tomorrow’s Baltimore Sun reports that even fellow Democrats believe the allegations will be damaging to Mfume.

Allegations that Kweisi Mfume promoted women at the NAACP based on personal relationships with them could harm his fledgling campaign for Senate, political experts and several allies said Thursday.

“I think it is damaging,” said Del. Curt Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat and longtime supporter of the former Baltimore congressman. “Any time you are unfair or show favoritism, that is a general knock against a person’s ability to do a good job as an elected official.
….
“This is a guy who claims to have come up from the streets, straightened himself out and stayed on the straight and narrow ever since,” said Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at the Johns Hopkins University. “But it now seems, at least in the eyes of voters, he really hasn’t changed that much at all, if we believe these charges.”

Many Baltimore voters are likely aware of Mfume’s history, but the allegations could serve as a harsh and off-putting introduction to residents of suburban counties who may be reluctant to support a left-leaning politician who as a student in the 1970s helped take over a Baltimore community college building and replaced the U.S. flag with a black-power banner, Crenson and others said.

“Some would speculate that it would detract from the congressman’s crossover appeal,” said Herbert C. Smith, a political science professor at McDaniel College in Westminster.

This second article also suggests Mfume rough treatment at the outset of this campaign makes it more likely other high-profile Democrats will jump in the race.

Mfume’s possible weakness makes it more likely that Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat known as an aggressive campaigner, will enter the contest.

Van Hollen “stands to gain the most if Kweisi is not in the race, or if he is weakened in the race,” said Rushern Baker, a former Democrat delegate from Prince George’s and a likely candidate for county executive there next year. “Van Hollen is the natural person to take a significant amount of votes in Prince George’s County.”

There was no additional articles on the Washington Post website tonight over this issue. Interesting to see if theyfollow up in tomorrow’s paper.

Frist Offers Compromise On Judicial Nominations

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

First, here is the highlights of the so-called “compromise” on the filibuster for judicial nominees straight of the good doctor’s website.

Guaranteed up or down votes on judicial nominations.

– Circuit Court and Supreme Court nominees will receive an up or down vote on the US Senate floor.

– District Court nominees unaffected – no current problem.

Guaranteed debate time on judicial nominations.

– Up to 100 hours of debate which allows all members an opportunity to have their say.

– This length of debate time was available for members post-cloture until 1986.

Guaranteed reporting from Judiciary Committee to floor.

– Process to ensure nominees come to the floor – Senator Arlen Specter “protocols” are model.

– Committee serves critical investigative and oversight process, and that will continue.

Guaranteed fairness for Senators and nominees.

– No blockade at committee.

– Full and comprehensive debate – with an up or down vote on the Senate floor.

Guaranteed protection of the legislative filibuster.

– No changes for legislative matters – all rights of US Senators for legislation preserved.

I’m not exactly sure how this plan is really any different than the proposed rule change. Okay, so there will be a guaranteed 100 hours of debate, but in the end, every judge will get an up-or-down vote. It just might take a little bit longer than originally planned. Why on earth would the Democrats even think about agreeing to this? Lets face it, the Democrats could care less about the qualifications of the judicial nominees. The 100 hours of debate is absolutely meaningless. The only reason they are “filibustering” the nominees is pure politics, to placate their own base. So in this compromise, I do not see what exactly the Democrats gain politically by agreeing to this.

I breezed through the transcript of tonight’s briefing and it does not really appear that Presient Bush really had a chance to touch on the so-called “compromises” floating around. The only question I saw about judicial nominations was about the role of “faith” in politics.

More O’Malley Connections To Steffen

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

This is starting to get good. WBAL-TV, who has been on top of the story as of late, has some more details of a link between Joseph Steffen and Martin O’Malley.

New e-mail messages obtained by the WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team could shed new light on the governor’s claim of a political double crossing.
….
WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller said the e-mails are all tied to the former Ehrlich aide who was fired in February for spreading rumors about Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s personal life on the Internet.

Miller said the new messages provide details about former Ehrlich appointee Michelle Lane who was once a friend of Joe Steffen, the former Ehrlich aide who admitted to talking about the O’Malley rumor on a conservative Web site.
….
While the mayor prepared to take the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Boston last July, one of his closest aides in Baltimore met with Lane, Miller reported.

On July 27, weeks after she was fired, Lane requested to meet with O’Malley cabinet member Peter Beilenson. He said Lane was looking for a job, but new documents obtained by the 11 News I-Team indicate Lane had something to offer, Miller said.

Miller said Beilenson was advised in an e-mail written by his former deputy that Lane said she had potentially useful information to share.

Miller reported that handwritten notes from the meeting between Beilenson and Lane show that Steffen’s name came up in the conversation and the notes also include the writing: “How to spin this.”
….
Miller said another e-mail message shows that two weeks later, Lane met one of the mayor’s closest aides, Michael Enright, who said Lane again pushed for a job, and again brought up Steffen.

Months later — when Steffen knew he was about to be exposed for his rumormongering about the mayor — Steffen e-mailed first lady Kendel Ehrlich, Miller said. In that message, he referred to a former Ehrlich appointee whom he suspected was looking to do some damage.

E-Mail Message: “She has sold out to O’Malley,” Steffen wrote.

The 11 News I-Team has confirmed that the woman Steffen wrote about is Michelle Lane.

The connections to the Martin O’Malley campaign and the “outing” of Steffen are becoming more obvious day by day. It is going to be really interesting to see where this story leads, especially if it goes right into the heart of the Martin O’Malley campaign. If you want to know more the background of this story, go teh link for the above story and scroll to the bottom. WBAL has a list of their previous stories on this episode.

Zell Miller Hospitalized

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

No, I did not see a single minute of President Bush’s press briefing tonight.

From MSNBC.

Former Sen. Zell Miller fell ill Thursday while giving a speech and was taken to a hospital emergency room.

Miller excused himself from the stage at a banquet for the Gainesville Care Center at the Georgia Mountains Center and was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Dan Hurst, charge nurse at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said Miller was in stable condition and will remain in the hospital overnight for observation.

If you want to see Zell Miller’s speech from the RNC convention, one of the greatest convention speeches not given by presidential nominee in history, you can click here.

Open Thread 04/28/05

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

Haven’t had one of these in a few days….

Corzine Slips In New Jersey

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

Well, he only slipped by three points, but a slip is a slip. Here are the results, both primary and general, from the latest Quinnipiac University poll for the Gubernatorial race in New Jersey.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR
Corzine 47%
Schundler 33%

Corzine 46%
Forrester 36%

Forrester 36
Schundler 33
Murphy 5
Schroeder 4
DiGaetano 2
Caliguire 1

This poll was done April 19-26 of 2006 registered NJ voters and 366 likely Republican voters.

Let The MD Senate Campaign Begin

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

The Washington Post gets the Democratic primary underway with its first hit piece on Kweisi Mfume.

Allegations detailed in a confidential NAACP report claim that Kweisi Mfume gave raises and promotions to women with whom he had close personal relationships while he was president of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.

The 22-page memorandum, prepared last summer by an outside lawyer, did not accept as true the claims lodged against Mfume by a female employee but determined that they could be “very difficult to defend persuasively” if she filed a lawsuit.

Apparently The Washington Post feels the same way I do, that Ben Cardin is the stronger candidate for the Democrats, and is going to whatever it can to make sure Kweisi Mfume does not get the nomination. That is the most likely reason for this early ht piece on Mfume, to try and damage his campaign before it can even get started…..

Cardin Officially Announces Run For Senate

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

Apparently this happened yesterday while I was gone. Here is a link to the story from The Baltimore Sun. I’ve been saying all along that Cardin would be a favorite over Michael Steele, if he were to jump in on the GOP side. I did hear a dissenting opinion today, from another Howard County Republican, that if Mfume does not get the Democratic nomination, the African-American vote would decide to sit home and refuse to vote for the “white” Ben Cardin. Now some people said African-Americans satyed away from Kathleen Kenndy Townsend in 2002 because she picked a white running mate and helped Ehrlich become Governor. I am somewhat skeptical of that argument, but I throw it out there as a counterpoint.

Now that Cardin is officially in, a free-for-all now develops to replace him. The Baltimore Sun lists a slew of candidates on both sides, but the district is Democratic-leaning, so expect the Democrats to hold his seat.