Sunday, May 07, 2006

Specter and Biden on Fox News Sunday - May 7, 2006

An interesting exchange, covering a number of subjects. A quick summary, subject to mistakes due to my listening, brief transcription skills.

Possible Nomination of Hayden to Head CIA - NSA Terrorist Surveillance

With respect to General Hayden possibly being nominated to head the CIA, Senator Specter said that both nominations hearings and the budget process are "levers" that the Senate can use in negotiations with the White House. Specter says he can't judge the Constitutionality of the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program without knowing some of the details relating to its conduct. He has been vocally critical of the absence of input, and intends to use hearings (re: CIA confirmation) and the budget process, if necessary, to obtain information. He holds to this based on his belief of an obligation for the Senate to conduct oversight, to protect the balance of powers.

At the same time, Specter said he was not drawing a line in the sand. He is looking forward to the courtesy calls by the CIA nominee, so that he could make inquiries (assuming it is Hayden). Also noted that since the nomination is before the Intelligence Committee, he (Specter) has less power - which puts him in the situation of needing to use "budget" as an additional piece of leverage to get information.

Taking up of Immigration

With respect to immigration, Wallace asserted that the DEMs blocked a vote the last time around, and asked Biden if they were ready to vote, now. Biden expressed confidence in Specter's leadership on the matter, and basically said "Yes, the DEMs are ready to take it up again." On the same subject, Senator Specter reiterated that the McCain Kennedy program is not amnesty, and listed of "why not" (those availing must pay a fine, wait 6 years, then wait in line for citizenship).

Judicial Nomination/Confirmation

What got me started on this entry to "Senate by Cboldt" was the discussion regarding judicial confirmations. A subject near and dear. Wallace brought up Kavanaugh and Boyle, and those two names were the only ones raised. Wallace turned first to Biden, and asked if the DEMs would filibuster. Biden intimated that he was looking forward to the Kavanaugh hearing, but knowing what he does now, he would NOT filibuster Kavanaugh (this is part of the scripted conflict). But, says Biden, he is unalterably opposed to Boyle on the grounds of conflicts (GE stock deal, I assume), and he (Biden) WOULD participate in cloture abuse to prevent an up or down vote on Boyle.

Specter noted, with regard to cloture abuse (filibuster), that his job is get nominations out of Committee. At this point, I wished the name of Haynes would have come up, but figured it would not. It didn't. Haynes is being blocked in Committee by McCain and Graham, without public objection from Specter.

Following on Biden's "unalterable opposition to Boyle, up to the use of cloture abuse," Wallace asked Specter if Boyle represented "exceptional circumstances." Specter said that if Boyle is shown to have acted unethically, then Boyle is disqualified - a level BELOW "extraordinary circumstances, apparently, because Specter says DISQUALIFIED doesn't even raise the question of "extraordinary circumstances.

In a lapse of cover, and in a notably frank statement, Specter said that he does not want to take a chance of there being a filibuster. Hey, says I, that means that the only nominations taken to the floor are those that are pre-approved by the DEMs (or pre-approved by a 60 vote supermajority).

Senator Frist may have to consign Boyle to the memory hole. No problem, it's been done before.

15 . NOMINATION OF PRISCILLA RICHMAN OWEN

[Mr. FRIST - May 23, 2005] ... Now, the bad news, to me, or the disappointing news in this agreement. It is a shame that well-qualified nominees are threatened, still, with not having the opportunity to have the merits of their nominations debated on the floor.

Henry Saad has waited for 3 years and 6 months for the same courtesy. Henry Saad deserves a vote. It is not in this agreement. William Myers has waited for 2 years and 1 week for a fair up-or-down vote. He deserves a vote but is not in this agreement. If Owen, Pryor, and Brown can receive the courtesy and respect of a fair up-or-down vote, so can Myers and Saad.

UPDATE - May 8, 2006: Senator Specter was just interviewed on Fox 'n' Friends, and was asked about judicial confirmations. Senator Specter said he thinks the DEMs are looking for excuses to filibuster, and his aim is to take enough time and permit enough probing that there is no credible justification for filibuster. He used the examples of "long" and deliberate hearings for Roberts and Alito (vs. the quick timetable proposed by the White House) as examples that parallel the additional hearing for Kavanaugh. Each of these is an example of "taking away excuses."

With regard to Boyle, Specter noted that investigations were underway as to the Judge making any rulings under a conflict of interest. Said that if this is so, it is a per se disqualifier. Still, he does not explain how this disqualification is to be voiced, but I think he means that once the news wires carry word, the President is expected to withdraw the nomination. This is the same guy who decried the withdrawal of Miers by the WH, under intense constituent pressure. If Specter thinks Boyle will create the same sort of public opposition that Miers did, he's wacky. I don't blame him for trying, but I'm not buying.


May 7, 2006 Sunday Talk Show Links

While you sort and shuffle though the shoutshow commentary, you may find these links handy. ABC transcripts are always "pay for," but who cares, the show is a joke. And Meet the Press seems hold its transcripts for a few days, but provides a podcast on the day of the show.

CBS: Face the Nation - John McCain
http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/face_050706.pdf

CNN Late Edition
Pat Roberts, Jane Harman
Michael Leavitt
Benjamin Netanyahu
Mowaffak al-Rubaie (Iraq's national security adviser)
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0605/07/le.01.html

Fox News Sunday - Peter Hoekstra
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,194587,00.html

Fox News Sunday - Arlen Specter, Joe Biden
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,194590,00.html

April 30, 2006 Edition of Meet The Press
Gasoline Prices Roundtable [Durbin is a hoot in this one]
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12518683/

May 7, 2006 Edition of Meet the Press (Podcast - 11 Mb)
http://podcast.msnbc.com/audio/podcast/pd_mtp-05-07-2006-072205.mp3

The MSNBC.com feeds in the podcast format are provided free of charge for use by individuals for personal, non-commercial uses.

Pat Roberts brought up The National Security Act of 1947, linked there, and see also U.S. Code Title 50, Chapter 15. The U.S. Department of State provides excellent summary background information for the casual reader.

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