Monday, January 08, 2007

Indiana native's album is due out this month...

In case you aren't tired of all the John Mellencamp music during the Chevy ads, here's some news. His new album is due out this month.
"'Our Country' is the most John Mellencamp-sounding record on it," he says. "I think people are gonna go, 'Wow!,' or they're gonna go, 'What is he trying to do?"' Elsewhere, Joan Baez duets with Mellencamp on the track "Jim Crow."
So I'm really backed like January 2nd!

A while back, the Herald Leader reported that House Democrats plan to shut out the GOP. We shall certainly see if that will be the case.

Shimon Peres was a representative of Israel during last week's state funeral of former President Gerald R. Ford.

Pat Crowley recently wrote of The Compassionate Community.
In the book, Miller, the incumbent state treasurer and a Harvard-educated lawyer, discusses the role religion and values should play in politics. He touches on policy and his own political experiences and background.

Miller also talks about his Jewish faith and how Democrats shouldn't be nervous about discussing religion and morality, something Republicans have had success with in Kentucky and across the nation.

"I am a Democrat because of my faith," Miller said earlier this week during a campaign "meetup" he and his lieutenant governor running mate, Jefferson County Attorney Irv Maze, held in Crestview Hills.

"Over the past couple of decades the party, particularly on the national level, has lost track of its grounding of where it comes from," Miller said. "And while oftentimes (the party) has reflected some very strong values, it has failed to articulate where those values come from and has let the Republican Party have a monopoly.

"I'm gong to speak from the heart," he said. "I'm going to speak from my core."
Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence premieres this evening at 10 eastern on PBS across the nation. If football is not your cup of tea, then be sure to tune in.

The following is an excerpt of Congressman Ben Chandler's email to constituents:
Minimum Wage
One of the first priorities of the new Congress is to help working families by increasing the minimum wage. Despite bipartisan support, a direct vote on the minimum wage was denied in the last Congress. Current legislation would raise the minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $7.25/hour over two years. If passed, there are 135,000 Kentuckians who would directly benefit from this pay increase.

Another important initiative for the new Congress is expanding educational opportunities for our young people by cutting the interest rates for student loans in half from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. On average, Kentucky students are graduating with over $15,000 in debt as tuition at our universities continues to rise. By cutting interest rates in half, over 5 million students across America will see a significant cut to their student loan debt.

Another issue of great importance to be brought up in the first 100 hours of Congress is making healthcare more affordable for our elderly by repealing a law that currently makes it illegal for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. Changing this provision will save money for our seniors who are struggling to pay for their medicines.
Former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe blasted John Kerry's presidential campaign in a new book.

Most Democratic Senators would have changed the way they voted for the Iraq War Resolution in knowing what they know now.
By ABC News' count, if the Senators knew then what they know now, only 43 -- at most -- would still vote to approve the use of force and the measure would be defeated. And at least 57 senators would vote against going to war, a number that combines those who already voted against the war resolution with those who told ABC News they would vote against going to war, or said that the pre-war intelligence has been proven so wrong the measure would lose or it would never even come to a vote.

For any Senate vote to switch from 77-23 in favor to essentially 57-43 against is quite remarkable, and far more so for a decision as significant as the one to go to war.

The issue was brought home last month by Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., who delivered an emotional address on the floor of the Senate, saying he regretted having voted for the war.

"I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day," Smith said. "That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that any more."

Twenty-eight of the 77 senators who voted to authorize the war in Iraq indicated, many for the first time, that they would not vote the same way with the benefit of hindsight. Six others indicated that, in retrospect, the intelligence was so wrong the matter would not have passed the Senate, or would not have even come up for a vote.

"This is very significant," said congressional scholar Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. "If they were asked that question a year ago, I think the likelihood of getting anywhere close to a majority voting against the war would be impossible. What this tells me is that Gordon Smith's very stunning speech was in some ways the tip of the iceberg."

The list of those who say they would vote differently is a bipartisan group whose ranks include former and current Republican Senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois, Bob Smith of New Hampshire, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.

An overwhelming number of the Democratic senators who voted to authorize use of force indicated they would vote differently today, including former and current Democratic Senators Joe Biden of Delaware, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, John Breaux of Louisiana, Jay Rockefeller West Virginia and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

A few former Republican senators gave their answer surprisingly quickly when asked if they would cast the same vote.

"No, I would not," said former Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H. "I know now there are no weapons of mass destruction."[...]

Senators being senators, their answers were not always the clear cut "yes" or "no" the question might imply.

Daschle, the Senate majority leader at the time, would not directly comment, but a source close to him told ABC News that he would change his vote knowing then what he knows now.

Schumer told ABC News in a statement: "I believe that when the nation is attacked, you give the president the benefit of the doubt. Obviously, if we knew then how badly the president would bungle the war start to finish, we would not have given him the benefit of that doubt, and we certainly wouldn't again."

Schumer's office agreed that it would be fair to include him in the category of those who would vote differently with today's knowledge.

Former Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C., would not answer the question directly, but clearly and repeatedly stated that he only voted for the resolution because of something the president said that Hollings now considers a lie.

Hollings said he was torn, and leaning against voting for the war resolution until President Bush said, just days before the vote, that "we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

"When the commander-in-chief said that, I knew he knew something I didn't know," Hollings told ABC News. That changed his mind and he voted for the war resolution, which he now says was a "mistake"

"I was lied to and now we all know that we were lied to," Hollings says.

Others did not return repeated calls and e-mails -- including former GOP Sens. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, Don Nickles of Oklahoma and Phil Gramm of Texas, as well as former Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia -- so ABC News categorized them as standing by their votes.

Unable to respond were three senators who voted to go to war: Former Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., died in 2003 and both Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., are medically incapacitated.
I encourage you to read the article in full if you have yet to do so already.

Some good news for the Miller-Maze campaign: Miller has raised the most amount of money in the filing period ending on December 31, 2006.

State House Judiciary Chairwoman Kathy Stein has vowed not to open extra debate on the issue of gay marriage.

The race for the White House is starting to heat up in the state of Florida.

State lawmakers have also called for an end of the death penalty.
"We've seen moves in other states to put some brakes on their machinery of death. There's plenty of evidence that a growing number of Kentuckians believe it's time to end the death penalty," Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, said at a Capitol news conference with four Democratic lawmakers and one Republican House member, David Floyd of Bardstown.

Burch, a veteran lawmaker who is chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee, pointed to a 2006 survey by the University of Kentucky Research Center that showed 67 percent of Kentuckians prefer sentences other than death for punishment in capital murder cases.

"Being locked up in a cell for years is a lot worse than execution," Burch said.
Is there a new Lennon-McCartney song in the works?

The New Yorker had an interesting article dealing with Senator Evan Bayh. I've yet to read it completely in full as I am still unpacking.

There's a lot of talk about Trey Grayson changing his mind yet again. We shall know for sure come January 30, 2007.

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