Tuesday, March 06, 2007

In the past few days...

Evan Bayh introduced a bill dealing with intellectual property.

Lieberman backers stay on the firm side and doubt that he would join the dark side.
One Democratic insider who stuck with Lieberman after his primary defeat told the Forward that, even among Lieberman’s backers, there are some pockets of discontent.

“There are people who have been unhappy with his intimating about a party switch,” the source said. When asked if he regretted his endorsement of Lieberman’s independent bid in 2006, the source hedged, saying, “I would like to have that conversation with him before I answer that.”

Other Lieberman backers were more skeptical about a party switch, and resolute in their support for him, even while acknowledging they disagreed markedly with the lawmaker’s support for President Bush’s Iraq policy.

“I’m a proud supporter of Senator Lieberman, glad that I endorsed him for re-election immediately after the Connecticut primary, and of course before the Connecticut primary, for that matter,” said California Representative Brad Sherman. “I disagree with him on the surge and about some of the other aspects of the Iraq policy, but agree with him on virtually every domestic issue.”

Michael Adler, a Miami Democrat who serves as chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, told the Forward that while he disagrees with Lieberman on the war, the issue had not dampened his support for the senator. “I don’t believe we should have litmus tests within the Democratic Party that on a single issue we have decided what is only and what is unholy,” Adler said.

Lanny Davis, 60, a prominent Democrat who served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton and has been friends with Lieberman since the pair’s student days at Yale, predicted a party switch “will never happen” since it would not be in Lieberman’s character to leave the Democratic fold over an issue of conscience like Iraq.

Stressing that he was speaking based on his own knowledge of Lieberman and not anything the senator had told him, Davis said he believed that a caucus switch could be prompted only by extreme disrespect from Democratic senators — of the kind he said was foisted on Lieberman by Lamont’s backers. Underscoring the gulf between Lieberman and even some of his staunchest supporters on the issue of Iraq, Davis said he disagrees “100%” with Lieberman’s support of the president’s surge plan. “We should do anything other than get out immediately of the civil war … and get our kids out of the crossfire,” Davis said.

But Davis said he would continue politically to back Lieberman, who is the godfather to his son, Seth, as long as he does not give the GOP control of the Senate. “That is the only place that I draw the line,” Davis said. “He’ll be my best friend for life … but I will never vote for anybody who votes for Republican leadership of Congress.”

Lieberman appeared to be attempting to diffuse the speculation last week, during a February 23 appearance at an education forum in Hartford, Conn. “I have no desire or intention to leave the Democratic Party or the Democratic caucus,” Lieberman reportedly told the crowd. “I hope and believe we’ll never get to that point, so I believe this latest flurry is much ado about nothing.”

Lieberman’s spokesman, Marshall Wittmann, told the Forward that the senator fits best within the Democratic caucus.

“Obviously, he disagrees with many people in the Democratic caucus about Iraq, however he votes with the Democrats over 90% of the time,” said Wittmann, a chameleon-like politico who has worked for both the Progressive Policy Institute and the Christian Coalition, and was hired as the senator’s spokesman following the election. “He agrees with Republicans quite a bit on national security policy, but he agrees with Democrats quite a bit on domestic policy, which essentially puts him in the tradition of John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman and Scoop Jackson.”

When asked if any circumstance could prompt Lieberman to leave the Democratic caucus, Wittmann demurred. “We’re not going to get into any hypotheticals,” he said, chuckling. “I’m sorry.”
Alan Zweibel spoke about his comedy career this past week at the Comedy Festival in Aspen.

Kentucky's senior senator prefers cash instead of having a conscience.

It looks like there is a Bunning we do not know.

Does it really have to?

AISH has come up with some hilarious headlines for Purim.

The Hillbilly Report has footage from last Friday's protest.

Joe Lieberman delivered the Democratic Radio Response this past weekend. Here it is:
Good morning. I'm Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut with a message about improving care for America's military heroes – our wounded troops who have served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recent reports in the Washington Post have uncovered completely unacceptable living conditions and inadequate services that some of our wounded warriors have been forced to endure at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

While it is clear that our soldiers do receive the best state of the art battlefield and in-patient medical treatment for their injuries, that high quality care has not extended to their out-patient treatment and recovery.

For instance, soldiers with brain injuries have gone weeks without being able to get doctors appointments. There is not enough staff with the right skills to treat and care for the severely injured troops. And rooms where some soldiers lived were found to be moldy and infested with rodents.

Our nation has no greater moral and patriotic responsibility than to ensure that these brave Americans receive first class treatment -- not only immediately after their injuries, but for their entire lives, through the Veterans Administration.

The White House and Congress have an urgent obligation now to fix the neglect at Walter Reed and the longer term issues that affect our wounded veterans.

That means we must act immediately to bring the buildings there up to standard so that they are safe, clean, and comfortable. We must make sure enough of the right health care professionals are there to treat our service members.

We also must remove the bureaucratic red tape that overburdens our troops and their loved ones when they are most vulnerable. No injured soldier should have to spend a year waiting at Walter Reed to find out whether he or she will be reassigned to new duties or discharged from the Army as disabled.

It is our responsibility to take care of our service members not only when they are serving our country, but for their entire lives. It is outrageous that veterans are waiting months and months to see the doctors they need. It is unacceptable that service members and veterans suffering from mental illness are not receiving the proper care. We know what the needs of our returning troops and veterans will be and we must build a life-long treatment system that serves their needs fully.

Now, the President and Congress must hold the Pentagon and Army chain of command accountable for the neglect of our soldiers at Walter Reed; and together, we must prevent this from ever happening again.

We can all agree that taking care of our military veterans is one of America's greatest responsibilities. We are and must continue to be united as a country to ensure that our heroes – those who have served us – receive the care that they deserve. This is no less than our moral imperative.

I'm Senator Joe Lieberman. Thank you for listening.
Here's a nice article on the next Governor of Kentucky, Jonathan Miller. Speaking if Miller, he and others worked the crowd two weekends ago when Obama was in town.
We're told that Democrat Jonathan Miller was outside the Louisville Downtown Marriott hotel before Sen. Barack Obama's speech at a fundraiser on Feb. 25, greeting people as they waited in line.

But where was everyone else? Six candidates gave away opportunities to chat with 3,000 Democrats committed enough to shell out a few bucks to watch a speech.

And five nights later, no Republican gubernatorial candidates were on hand at the Seelbach Hilton when President Bush raised $2.1 million for Sen. Mitch McConnell's 2008 re-election bid at a fundraising event attended by more than 600 people.

Attorney general candidates Jack Conway and Stan Lee, however, figured out where to find votes. Conway worked the crowd at the Obama event, and Lee did the same at the Bush speech.
Obama delivered a policy address on Israel.
Obama learned Edwards’ lesson: In a speech made available to reporters before his appearance, he immediately coupled his warnings about the military option with his preference for peaceful engagement.

“While we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons,” he said.

Tough-minded diplomacy, he said, “includes direct engagement with Iran similar to the meetings we conducted with the Soviets at the height of the Cold War, laying out in clear terms our principles and interests.”

The Bush administration — backed strongly by AIPAC — until recently has avoided engagement with Iran, believing it merely would reward a regime that stubbornly resists transparency about its nuclear program.

But this week the White House agreed for the first time to participate in multilateral talks on Iraq that would include Iran and Syria among a host of regional players.

Obama had other messages aimed at the base whose support he needs if he’s to win the Democratic nomination. Much of the speech outlined his plan for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, something the AIPAC crowd greeted with applause. U.S. Jews overwhelmingly believe the Iraq war was a mistake, according to polls.

Obama framed his opposition to keeping troops in Iraq in terms of the danger the U.S.-led occupation poses to Israel.

“A consequence of the administration’s failed strategy in Iraq has been to strengthen Iran’s strategic position, reduce U.S. credibility and influence in the region, and place Israel and other nations friendly to the United States in greater peril,” he said. “These are not the signs of a well-paved road. It is time for profound change.”

Obama advocates a phased deployment starting in May and ending in March 2008, keeping some troops in neighboring countries.

In some areas Obama veered away from AIPAC talking points and more toward a Democratic Party that still embraces the deep involvement in Middle East peacemaking that characterized the Clinton era.

“For six years the administration has missed opportunities to increase the United States’ influence in the region, and help Israel achieve the peace she wants and the security she needs,” he said, repudiating Bush’s policy of waiting until the parties were ready for bold moves — a policy AIPAC also favors.

Obama also warned that Israel would have to make major concessions.

“Israel will have some heavy stones to carry as well,” he said. “Its history has been full of tough choices in search of peace and security.

“Yitzhak Rabin had the vision to reach out to longtime enemies. Ariel Sharon had the determination to lead Israel out of Gaza. These were difficult, painful decisions that went to the heart of Israel's identity as a nation.”

Still, woven throughout the speech were subtle signs of appreciation for Israel from someone who a little more than two years ago was a state senator from Illinois.

He began by describing an experience the pro-Israel lobby wishes on every aspirant for public office: a flight over Israel.

“The helicopter took us over the most troubled and dangerous areas and that narrow strip between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea,” he said of his first visit to Israel in January 2006. “At that height I could see the hills and the terrain that generations have walked across. I could truly see how close everything is and why peace through security is the only way for Israel.”

Obama also did not stint in expressing disappointment over the national unity deal that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the relatively moderate Fatah Party, struck last month with the ruling Hamas terrorist group.

“The reports of this agreement suggest that Hamas, Fatah and independent ministers would sit in a government together, under a Hamas prime minister, without any recognition of Israel, without a renunciation of violence and with only an ambiguous promise to 'respect’ previous agreements,” he said. “We must tell the Palestinians this is not good enough.”

Obama singled out Syria and Iran for arming Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group that launched a war against Israel last summer — but he also chided the Bush administration for allegedly not allowing Israel to pursue Syrian peace overtures.

“We should never seek to dictate what is best for the Israelis and their security interests,” he said to applause. “No Israeli prime minister should ever feel dragged to or blocked from the negotiating table by the United States.”

It’s the kind of message that could open up channels for Jewish support — until now a reservoir believed to have been tapped mostly by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) among the Democratic contenders.
The following should be noted as well:
One sign it’s working: Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), one of the most prominent Jewish congressmen, announced this week that he will chair Obama’s Florida campaign, citing the senator's position on Israel as a reason.

“I have spoken with Barack to discuss the dangers facing our ally Israel, and I am convinced there will be no stronger supporter of Israel than President Obama,” Wexler said in a statement.
Bayh criticized conditions at Walter Reed.

The Kentucky AFL-CIO refused to endorse Lunsford but did endorse Jack Conway, Dr. Dick Robinson, and Crit Luallen.

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