Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving America

What a great and glorious holiday this is--a truly and uniquely American holiday. It is a day for giving thanks. A day devoted to family, to country, and to God. A day of eating turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, dressing, and pumpkin pie. It is a day of parades, football games, and the beginning of the Christmas holiday season.

It is a day of family gatherings. Unfortunately, in too many homes this year, and as in the past 5 years, there will be too many empty seats at the dinner table. I hope everyone listening will join me in praying for our sons and daughters who are in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan, in praying for the eternal salvation of those who have died in these costly conflicts, and in praying for the speedy recovery of those who have been wounded. While we cannot hope to fill those empty chairs, we can hope that our prayers and our love and support will help to ease the sorrow at those tables.

Even with the turmoil of the past year and with so many of our sons and daughters in faraway lands, we still have so much for which to be thankful.

We are thankful for the Pilgrims--that courageous group of men and women who, in 1621, left their homes, crossed a mighty ocean, and settled in a strange, unknown wilderness so they could go to church so they could worship God as they pleased.

After months of privation, suffering, hunger, sickness and death, these men and women had a great feast to thank God for being good to them. Think about it. With all the brutal hardships they had endured, with all the death and suffering they endured, they took time to have a great feast to thank Almighty God for being good to them. In the process, they gave us our first Thanksgiving.

We are thankful for the heritage of liberty bequeathed to us by our ancestors. We are thankful for the wisdom and the foresight of our Founding Fathers who bestowed to us a form of government unique in history, with its three strong pillars of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each balanced and checked against one another.

In fact, Mr. President, that is the very point I want to emphasize. The very first national observance of Thanksgiving, which came in 1789, was to thank Almighty God for His role in creating our great country, and His assistance in the forming of our Constitution.

This happened when, in the very first Congress in 1789, Representative Elias Boudinot of New Jersey moved that a day of thanksgiving be held to thank God for giving the American people the opportunity to create a Constitution to preserve their newly won freedoms.

The resolution, as approved by both Houses of the Congress, requested that a ``joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the president of the United States, to request that he recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving.''

On September 26, 1789, the first Senate agreed to the House resolution, and a few days later a joint congressional committee delivered to President Washington a resolution ``desiring the president of the United States to recommend a day of general thanksgiving.''

Within a few days, on October 3, President Washington issued the first national thanksgiving proclamation. Our first and perhaps our greatest President proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789, to be a day of national thanksgiving.

That proclamation is a fascinating and informative document. It begins by proclaiming that, ``it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor.''

The Father of our country left no doubt about his belief that our Nation was not simply the creation of mere mortals but was, in fact, guided by a Divine Hand. As if to emphasize this point, his proclamation went on to praise ``that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.'' He exhorted the people of his young Republic to express their gratitude to Almighty God for his protection of them through the Revolutionary War. He wrote: ``We may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation.''

That was George Washington. That was the basis of our first national Thanksgiving.

But he was not through. This was a Thanksgiving proclamation, so he proceeded to give thanks. He asked the American people to be thankful to Almighty God for ``the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed.''

And he asked the American people to be thankful ``for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted.''

I hope everyone caught that. President Washington was thanking the Good Lord for the Constitution that created the American Government.

At the request of our first President, citizens throughout the land assembled in churches on November 26, 1789, and thanked God for their government and asked Him for His Guidance in the years ahead. As for President Washington, he spent the day worshiping at an Episcopal church in Manhattan.

As you celebrate this Thanksgiving, enjoy your families. Enjoy your Thanksgiving feasts. Enjoy your football games and your parades.

But like President Washington, you might want to think about attending church on this great and glorious day and give thanks for our many blessings. Like President Washington, you may want to thank God for watching over the United States and for His assistance in the creation of our Constitution, our Nation's most basic and sacred document, which has guided and protected our country for more than 200 years, through world wars, great depressions, and bitter, divisive elections.

Senator Robert Byrd - November 16, 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006

Beginning of the End of the 109th Congress

GOP Leadership Holds the Course.
Improved Election Performance Promised.

In an expected move, the GOP leadership of the House and Senate will be largely unchanged, being staffed with moderates such as Leader John Boehner and Whip Roy Blunt. Leadership choices in the Senate are only slightly uncertain, as most observers expect the Leader position to be filled by Mitch McConnell, with the Whip being either Trent Lott or Lamar Alexander.

In related news, leadership of the Republican Party is poised to make Kay Bailey Hutchison the Chair of the Republican Policy Committee (RPC). The RPC suggests, but does not drive, the Republican agenda for the Senate. Ms. Hutchison would replace border-hawk Jon Kyl.

Senator Mel Martinez has accepted an offer by the White House to become the new chairman of the Republican National Committee. His past votes on immigration and border protection measures indicate that Senator Martinez is a strong supporter of White House comprehensive immigration and expansive citizenship policies.

Republican leadership is confident that "staying the political course" will result in the Republican party being returned to power in the 2008 election. The leaders have said that they hear the public outcry for comprehensive immigration reform, and for adopting mainstream-moderate positions on other issues. "We know that the public prefers bipartisan solutions over disagreement."

Republican leaders also plan a soft and gentle offensive against hyper-critical pundits such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter. "It is obvious to any pragmatic person that the Republican program is better than the Democrats," said an anonymous Republican source, "We secretly hope the Democrats cause total failure in Iraq and the US economy, which will prove that our approach to election success has been the right one all along."


Drat. I missed Frist and Reid's opening shots, except to the extent that I heard Reid mention Iraq, education, and other stuff. I assume that the two openings illuminated some parallel and divergent measures for the 109th Congress.

Senator Salazar notes that one of his high points, in memory, is the Gang of 14 deal that facilitated the cessation of filibusters on judicial nominees. He's sad that Chafee and DeWine were defeated. I must say, the Republican leadership agrees with Senator Salazar, and feels the same pain. No doubt it will strive to find replacement candidates that are -more- bipartisan and agreeable than those that were lost.

UPDATE @ 15:15

Senator Hutchison brings up one of the easier appropriations bills, H.R.5385 - for military quality of life functions of the Department of Defense, military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies. This one was stalled in the Senate since July 20.

UPDATE @ 18:05

Senate is in adjournment until 2:15 PM, Tuesday Nov. 14
Order of business is HR 5385, which will be completed Tuesday afternoon

The other items that Senator Frist noted as coming up were the Vietnam Trade legislation and the India civilian nuclear power agreement.

UPDATE @ November 14

Looking at two parts of the Congressional Record from yesterday,

Senator Frist indicates a small number of items on the agenda for this week and the lame duck session of the 109th Congress. He did NOT mention taking up of Bolton, judicial nominations, or the NSA terrorist surveillance / FISA overhaul legislation.

This week the Senate agenda will focus, as we mentioned earlier, on completing the remaining appropriations bills, and in the days and in the weeks ahead, we will consider the nomination of Bob Gates as Secretary of Defense and, as we just stated, the Vietnam trade legislation and the U.S.-India civilian nuclear technology bill.

The fact that Bolton, NSA, and contentious judicial nominees weren't mentioned doesn't mean that those matters won't come up - it just means that they are not perceived as viable priorities.

Senator Reid's 1.MOVING FORWARD is a must read as well, as it lays out the counterpoint to Republican-pushed direction. I found the following particularly interesting:

I believe it is time for our President to call for a regional conference that he participants in. I spoke to the King of Jordan today. He thought it was a good idea to have the President call for a meeting of the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan--even Syria. It is a regional problem. Let's talk about this regionally. It is more their problem than our problem. They have more to lose or win than we do. So I think a regional conference would be very important to regionalize our strategy.

We must revitalize the failed construction efforts. It was stunning to see in the weekend news how much less oil is being produced there in Iraq than before the war. It was stunning to see how little potable water is being produced there than before the war. And to see that the electricity in Baghdad--as an example, prior to the war it was 16 hours a day, and now it is down to less than 4 hours a day. We have to revitalize our failed reconstruction efforts.

Heh, the Senator is doing foreign affairs. At any rate, at least as interesting as the "regionalization" aspect (which actually is something that President Bush has touted as the primary upside to reforming Iraq into a democratically-operated government - with Iraq being a model for other Islamic countries to admire and emulate), Reid tosses out some infrastructure performance statistics that if true, show slow and troubled physical rebuilding.


The following bills were placed on the calendar:

S. 3994. A bill to extend the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996.

S. 4041. A bill to protect children and their parents from being coerced into administering a controlled substance in order to attend school, and for other purposes.

A bill (S. 4047) to prohibit the issuance of transportation security cards to individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes.


The President did not submit, and the Senate did not receive any new nominations for Federal District or Circuit Court judges.


Washington Prowler - GATES OPEN

According to Capitol Hill sources, Democrat leadership in the Senate indicated to the President that they had no objections to the nomination of Robert Gates to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Look for a vote by the full Senate to take place perhaps as early as the second week of December. Hearings on Gates are slated to begin the first week of December.

"I wouldn't say it's a done deal, but it's pretty close," says a Democrat leadership staffer. "There seems to be consensus to move the nomination through the process and get it done."

UPDATE @ 15:45

Bit of a battle regarding a Conrad amendment 5144 (Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2006) relating to 4 billion dollars in disaster relief assistance for ranchers and farmers. Conrad insists on a vote on his amendment, and threatens that if he does not get a vote, he will stop the "wheels of progress" in the Senate by every manipulation of Senate Rules that are available to him.

The counterpoint is Santorum, who is threatening to have Conrad's amendment be rejected as being non-germane (Senate Rule XVI), with that ruling coming from the chair, and easily coming if any Senator makes the point of order and asks for the ruling.

I'm wondering if this amendment is similar to the one Ben Nelson was seeking as relief for "Drought David." Nelson's was for 6.5 billion, Conrad's is for 4.1 billion. A pittance - when the alternative is stopping the good work of the Senate. Just reject the damn amendment on a vote and get on with business. Sheesh. A majority of GOP Senators can't just vote this bloody thing down? Oh yeah, "compassionate conservatism," the amendment would pass.

UPDATE @ 17:03

Senator Specter introduces S.4051 - legislation to revise FISA. This being a modification of a proposal advanced by Feinstein and Specter. The legislation is a reaction to exposure of the NSA terrorist surveillance program. Senator Specter indicates that a referral to the FISA Court, to judge on the legality of the program, is now a moot proposal in light of cases winding their way through the federal court system.

The Specter proposal calls for warrants for all calls that originate in the United States, but not for those that originate overseas. It also calls for review (of what?) by the Supreme Court. I wonder how this bill compares with the House-passed legislation, and then how the two would be reconciled in conference.

Feinstein says that Specter is omitting a part that recites "exclusive authority of FISA" for surveillance, which is a reflection of the rock-bottom dispute regarding balance of powers between Congress and the President, as which will be the superior pre-determiner of "reasonableness" of a given surveillance activity.

Feinstein wonders if all calls coming in from overseas are exempt from a warrant requirement, and Specter says these calls are covered by the existing FISA regime - and the question between the President's interpretation (executive's Article II authority is superior) and Feinstein's interpretation (Congress' FISA-granted power is the limit of executive authority) being the "correct" one is a question that only the Courts can answer.

Feinstein says she assumes the introduction of the bill is meant as a marker, not to be taken up in the 109th Congress. Senator Specter says that he intends for this bill to be debated and voted in the 109th session, and that he believes the bill comports with Feinstein's sense of what a bill should and can say. A link to the Congressional Record ....

Introduction of Bill - Specter/Feinstein Colloquy

UPDATE @ 17:53

The Senate is on its way to passing, unanimously, on a roll call vote!, a motion to instruct the Sergeant at Arms to compel the attendance of Senators. I wonder what the ramifications of voting this DOWN would be ;-). At any rate, this is simply a formal way to get all the Senators in chambers in preparation for getting on with voting on pending amendments and the underlying appropriations bill. A "time filler" if you will. The last three Senators called? Obama and Clinton, then Reid.

The Motion to Instruct the Sergeant at Arms to Compel Attendance was
PASSED (on November 14, 2006) on a 95 - 01 vote.
Senator Allen cast a NAY vote. Now I don't care what you think, that's funny.

On a completely separate subject ...

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
Ranking Member, Judiciary Committee
On the Nomination of Thomas M. Hardiman
November 14, 2006

The Committee returns during the lame duck session of Congress for a hearing today on the nomination of Judge Thomas M. Hardiman to an important seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. This lame duck session comes on the heels of national elections in which Americans overwhelmingly cast their ballots for change. For too long, the White House has undermined our bipartisan process for selecting judicial nominees by refusing to work with us on consensus nominees.

In the days following the election, the President spoke about becoming a uniter and working with Congress in a bipartisan way. Regrettably, it appears he will not be keeping that promise. I understand the President intends to renominate a number of controversial nominees. That unfortunate decision evidences that he intends to stay the partisan course when it comes to judicial nominations.

UPDATE @ 18:37

Sounds as though farmer rancher relief, the Conrad "need," has been agreed to move over to H.R.5384 - Appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies, where it won't be subjected to a point of order for being non-germane. I assume that it also won't be objected to as being a budget buster, because even if a budget point of order is raised, it can be waived on 60 votes.

UPDATE @ 18:45

Senator Hutchison reports two amendments, then final passage, where negotiations are aimed at adjusting the two amendments to permit adoption on a voice vote. She will know by 7:00 PM whether or not the Reid and Allen amendments have been settled, or if one or the other or both will require roll call votes. The order of procedure:

  • Reid amendment
  • Allen Amendment
  • Final Passage (will be done on a voice vote)

UPDATE @ 19:07

The Reid and Allen amendments passed on voice votes. Senator Hutchison is requesting a voice vote for final passage, which is granted as of 19:07.

UPDATE @ 19:50

Frist closes up shop. Senate opens at 2:15 PM tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be Ag appropriations. Looking for agreement with DEMs on taking up the US/India Civilian Nuclear Agreement.

The White House sent some nominations, none of them judicial, with the only "in your eye" repeat being that of Richard Stickler, of West Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.

UPDATE @ November 15

Trent Lott has won the position of Minority Whip. How energizing! Well, compared with Lamar Alexander, he is ;-)

I wonder who the House Republicans will choose for leaders. Boehner/Pence?

Mitch McConnell = Minority Leader
Trent Lott = Assistant Minority Leader (Whip)
Jon Kyl = Republican Conference Chairman
Kay Baily Hutchison = Republican Policy Committee Chairman
John Cornyn = Republican Conference Vice Chairman
John Ensign = National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman

UPDATE @ 14:20

Morning business, working on time agreement for US-India Civilian Nuclear Power bill and Agriculture appropriations bill. Need to get to the Continuing Resolution passed by the House as well. Some votes will occur this afternoon.

UPDATE @ 14:27

The Senate has reached a time agreement for handling the US-India Civilian Nuclear Power bills (S.3709 and H.R.5682) eventually resulting in passage of a version that differs from the House-passed one, meaning a conference will be required.

Quite a few amendments will be taken up. I noted only a few: Ensign - inspection (closed session); Reed; Levin; Obama ...

Senator Frist noted that this bill would be voted on by the end of the week, and that the Senate would then stand in recess until December 4th. Senator Reid noted that a number of the amendments to the US-India Civilian Nuclear Power bill would require debate, but that the DEMs would work with the GOP in order to have a vote by Friday.

UPDATE @ 14:52

Senator Bill Nelson, two items to be brought up in this session:

- Tax Extenders
- With Vitter, on appropriation bill for FDA, an amendment to allow Americans to purchase low-cost prescription drugs from Canada, by prohibiting US Customs from detaining shipments of FDA-approved drugs

UPDATE @ 15:09

Conrad - Recalls that he withdrew his amendment based on a promise from Frist that the Senate would go to the Agriculture appropriations bill today. Now he sees that the Ag appropriations bill is not the order of business today. Therefore, he (Conrad) is in a position to object to business of the Senate until his farmer/rancher amendment is given an opportunity for a hearing and a vote.

It will be interesting if he uses this as justification to stand in the way of the US-India Civilian Nuclear Power bill. Dorgan agrees with the summary of the GOP promise, and reiterates that the federal relief sought has been passed twice by the Senate.

[Page: S10900]

Mr. CONRAD. ... that I would have a chance to offer the amendment at that time and other Senators' rights would be reserved, and that I would withdraw my amendment from this bill with the understanding that we would go to the Agriculture Appropriations bill tomorrow. That is what we had tentatively agreed to. I think we just have to have the leader indicate publicly that that is his understanding as well. Then we can break the gridlock here and proceed to finish Military Construction. ...

Mr. President, I notice the majority leader has returned to the floor. I tried to recount for our colleagues the status of our discussion, and the understanding that we had reached, that I would withdraw my amendment from this bill with the understanding that we would go to the Agriculture Appropriations bill tomorrow and have a chance to offer it there. All Senators' rights would be reserved. That is the status of it. I just ask if that is the majority leader's understanding. If it is, I will then be willing to withdraw my amendment from the Military Construction bill and we can conclude that.

Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, in the last hour or so we have had numerous discussions on the floor, as our colleagues have observed, and many participated in the discussion. My understanding and the general agreement that we have is to go to the Agriculture Appropriations bill tomorrow. That does facilitate the progress we need to make on the current bill that is on the floor, which I hope and expect to be able to finish tonight. If that is the case, we plan on going to the Agriculture bill tomorrow. All rights will be reserved for all Senators, of course. We don't have an agreement, but that is the intention. The disaster ag relief bill is very important and has been talked about by Republicans and Democrats and we expect to debate it tomorrow. It is a more appropriate place for this amendment. So I think this is a good understanding. ...

[Page: S10935] - 9.PROGRAM

Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, today we did complete our work on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. Tomorrow afternoon, we hope to begin the Agriculture appropriations bill. We are also continuing our efforts to reach an agreement for the consideration of the U.S.-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act.

Lesson - don't accept intentions or good understandings. The man said "we don't have an agreement," that is pretty clear.

I also wonder whether Reid is working behind the scenes with Conrad, to throw a wrench in the works. It seems to me that the Ag appropriations bill has to come up at some point before the end of the 109th Congress - although in Conrad's defense, Ag appropriations could easily be swept into an omnibus spending bill with little opportunity for amendment.

UPDATE @ 15:45

Lautenberg rendered a forgettable speech relating to US policy in Iraq.

Senator Conrad rises to say that he is open to accommodation -- in other words, he is softening his bellicose threat to stall Senate business. I'm not sure if he has the power to object to taking up the US-India Civilian Nuclear Power bill, or if the UC agreement recited by Frist earlier includes crossing the "motion to take up" barrier. If I recall correctly, the UC agreement began "at a time to be agreed upon by the majority and minority leaders."

Given the small number of hours left in the 109th, it is fascinating that the Senate is slow to get past Morning Business.

Senator Conrad moves to have the Ag appropriations bill taken up, and is faced with objection. He asserts that he then will object to other matters being taken up. He again asks for UC to move to the Ag appropriations bill, and is again rebuffed.

Dorgan makes the same point I alluded to, "If the Senate is doing nothing (as it is), why not do something? (that is, Ag appropriations)." Fair question - but I doubt it will be answered.

UPDATE @ 16:15

Conrad rises as routine UC is sought for four Committees to meet, and he objects. He says he regrets having to object, and explains that he does so because the deal made yesterday (to bring up Ag appropriations today) was not kept.

UPDATE @ 17:51

Senator Conrad says that leadership indicates an intention to adjourn for the evening, and he says that his understanding is that adjournment will preserve status quo (morning business).

This is a peek into how a minority can "control" the Senate. If Conrad had 40 like-minded Senators behind him, the Senate would be forced to accede to his wishes, being unable to assert otherwise via cloture.

White House Resubmits 6 Court Nominees
By DEVLIN BARRETT - Associated Press Writer

The White House submitted six names Wednesday: Terrence Boyle of North Carolina and William James Haynes II of Virginia to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.; Michael Brunson Wallace of Mississippi to the 5th Circuit in New Orleans; Peter Keisler to the D.C. Circuit; and William Gerry Myers III and Norman Randy Smith, both of Idaho, for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

Well I'll be dipped. Maybe the President will insist on disposition by up or down vote.

The Circuit Court Nominations Summary has been updated to reflect the renominations. I've been posting more of my thoughts on this subject here and here at

UPDATE @ November 16

Senate Iraq Hearings - Text of Prepared Statements


Bobby Chesney at the National Security Advisors blog has crafted an excellent summary of Specter's proposed NSA/FISA revisions.


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, tomorrow we will conduct a short period of morning business before turning to the United States-India nuclear bill. We were able to reach an agreement to limit amendments to the bill earlier today, and it is my hope that we will be able to expedite consideration and vote final passage tomorrow. We are also attempting to begin work on the Agriculture appropriations bill.


Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that at a time to be determined by the majority leader in consultation with the Democratic leader, the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 527, S. 3709, the U.S.-India nuclear bill. I further ask that a manager's amendment to be agreed upon by Senators Lugar, Biden, and Frist be agreed to as original text for the purpose of further amendment, and that the only other amendments in order be: Ensign regarding inspection, to be considered in closed session; Reed, Levin, Obama, two Dorgan amendments, Feingold, Boxer, Feinstein, Harkin, up to seven Bingaman, Kennedy, and Dodd. I further ask that all amendments except Senator Feingold's be subject to relevant second degrees and that all be related to the subject matter of the bill.

The Senate did basically nothing yesterday, ground to a halt based on Senator Conrad's objections, based on his feeling stiffed by leadership which had promised to bring up the Ag appropriations bill, but moved instead to the US-India Civilian Nuclear Power bill. That same issue is in place this morning, and the depth of Conrad's resolve has not been revealed.

UPDATE @ 09:37

Senator Frist summarizes what is to be done today, tomorrow, and in the weeks of December. The only items he mentions specifically are:

  • US-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement
  • Appropriations bills (Ag first)
  • Free trade agreements (Viet Nam and a couple of South American countries)
  • Tax (relief) extenders

Understanding is to do US-India nuclear today, then start the ag appropriations bill.

Senator Reid says that it's important to pass the US-India nuclear agreement, signaling that he may be leaning on Conrad to drop his objection to the order of business.

Senator Frist says that an announcement as to order of business will be coming within the next 20 minutes.

UPDATE @ 09:59

A number of Senators engaged in a colloquy regarding their faith, and Senator Lincoln even referred to her Bible-based faith. Notice that this is not a matter of Congress making a law respecting the establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Conrad has apparently agreed to the order being US-India then ag appropriations, Senator Frist announced a unanimous consent agreement, with the intention being to complete BOTH bills today, so there is no need for any voting tomorrow.

UPDATE @ 10:12

Senator Conrad asks if the UC agreement provides that ag appropriations be brought up today, and further that he be given an opportunity to enter a first degree amendment. He reiterates his understanding that the ag appropriations bill will come up today, several times, and the chair says that is in fact true.

I think that is a risky promise, given the Senate's ability to drag out any given bill for an inordinate amount of time, and that includes the US-India Civilian Nuclear bill.

S.3709 US-India nuclear bill is now the pending business of the Senate. Senator Lugar is the floor manager.

UPDATE @ 20:18

Bingaman amendment (5174) on a 26-73 vote
Dorgan amendment (5178) on a 27-71 vote
Ensign amendment (5181) on a 27-71 vote
Feingold amendment (5183) on a 25-71 vote
Boxer amendment (5187) on a 38-59 vote ...

The Senate PASSED S.3709 - United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act on a 85 - 12 vote

The House version of the bill (H.R.5682) now goes to conference.

UPDATE @ 20:38

Senator Frist propounds a unanimous consent request that the Ag appropriations bill be taken up at 2 PM on Tuesday, December 5th, with a vote at 5:00 or 5:15 PM. This is agreeable with Senator Conrad. I figure the Senate's business is basically done for the week and for the month.

What a productive week, eh? A simple military construction bill, elect leaders, and the US-India Civil Nuclear agreement. I suppose, in hindsight, it was more productive than "health week" and a few others.

UPDATE @ November 15

Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that when the Senate completes its business today, it stand in adjournment under the provisions of H. Con. Res. 496 until 10 a.m. on Monday, December 4. I further ask consent that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the Journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the Senate then automatically adjourn over until 12 noon on Tuesday, December 5; provided further that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the Journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved, and the Senate proceed to a period of morning business until 2 p.m., with Senator DeWine to speak for up to 2 hours.


We will return for business after the Thanksgiving holiday. The continuing resolution will expire at the end of that week, as of December 8, and therefore we will need to work toward a conclusion on the appropriations process. As I announced earlier, our next vote will occur on Tuesday, December 5, around 5 p.m. [on an amendment to the Ag appropriations bill]

The House Republicans have elected John Boehner to be minority leader, with 168 votes. Runnerup Pence obtained 27 votes.

Roy Blunt was elected minority whip with 137 votes, to John Shadegg's 57.

UPDATE @ 15:10

Joining Senator Leahy in proposing changes to the Military Commissions Act, Senator Dodd proposes amendments that would restore habeas corpus rights to military detainees.

Dodd's press release says, in part

The Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act:

  • Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees
  • Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants
  • Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials
  • Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable
  • Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions
  • Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight
  • Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions

I'll be looking to see if Dodd's proposed amendment removes the references to 18 USC 2340(2), 18 USC 113, and by implication, 18 USC 1365.

The bill is S.4060 - Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act of 2006, and it's text is at Page 11060 of the 109th Senate's Congressional Record.

At a glance, it preserves President Bush's definition of torture, cruel and inhuman, and other war crimes - in such a way that waterboarding is not legally torture.

Analysis at National Security Law Blog.

UPDATE @ November 22

The AP reports ...
GOP leaving spending bills to Democrats. Club for Growth has more.

So the GOP-lead 109th Senate will have a rather modest conclusion, taking on the Agricultural appropriations bill (with the farmer/rancher relief bill as an amendment), and crafting (and defending aginst howls of complaint) a continuing resolution for the rest of the approrpiations bills..

Monday the 4th is a "nothing day" (prayer, pledge, adjourn), and the Senate isn't planning to resume regular business until noon, Tuesday, the 5th. The first vote is expected to be on Conrad's farmer/rancher relief amendment, with that coming at 5 PM Tuesday. Senator Landrieu has proposed several amendments to H.R. 5384, and obtained time to speak.

1.--Ordered, That on Tuesday, December 5, 2006, at 2:00 p.m., the Senate proceed to the consideration of H.R. 5384, an act making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes; provided that the Senator from North Dakota (Mr. Conrad) be recognized to offer a first degree amendment following the statements of the two managers; further, that following the remarks of the Senator from North Dakota (Mr. Conrad), the Senator from North Dakota (Mr. Dorgan) be recognized to speak, and that following those comments the Senator from Louisiana (Ms. Landrieu) be recognized to speak for up to 10 minutes.

I suspect she will be pursuing her Amendment No. 5189 that adjusts royalty payments by oil companies to the federal government, for minerals extracted from the outer continental shelf.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Circuit Court Nominations Summary

Circuit Court Nominations Summary
109th Congress

Circuit Court Nominations Summary for 110th Congress

Six Nominations Returned on Sept 29, 2006
Were Renominated on November 15, 2006
Ten Nominations Returned on December 9, 2006

F = 7 subjected to failed cloture motions in 108th Congress
4 = "1 of 4" that DEMs offered to let GOP choose which 3 to dump
S = Positive mention in Specter's May 9, 2005 speech

M = MOU of 14 will not vote against cloture
m = MOU of 14 makes no promise regarding cloture
R = Post-MOU, Reid indicates desire to filibuster

C = Out of committee & on the Senate's Executive Calendar
c = Once out of Committee, now returned
U = Unanimous consent to debate - date TBD
D = Democrats offer to debate - date TBD
v = Debate and vote scheduled
V = Vote -on the nomination- concluded
x = Nomination returned to the President - President renominated
X = Nomination returned to the President - President capitulated
W = Nomination WITHDRAWN by Nominee or the President
Z = Zapped at the end of the 109th Congress

       Nominations Through Confirmation Process
       F4S  M-  CUV  Owen, Priscilla          (5th Cir)
       F-S  --  CUV  Griffin, Richard A.      (6th Cir)
       F-S  --  CUV  McKeague, David W.       (6th Cir)
       --S  --  CDV  Neilson, Susan Bieke     (6th Cir)  [Died Jan 25, 2006]
       F4S  M-  CUV  Pryor, William H.        (11th Cir)
       F4S  M-  CUV  Brown, Janice Rogers     (D.C. Cir)
       --S  --  CUV  Griffith, Thomas B.      (D.C. Cir)
       Jan 25   CUV  Chagares, Michael A.     (3rd Cir)  [Apr 04]
       Feb 14   C-V  Smith, Milan D.          (9th Cir)  [May 16]
       ---  -R  CxV  Kavanaugh, Brett M.      (D.C. Cir) [May 26]
       Feb 08   CUV  Ikuta, Sandra S.         (9th Cir)  [Jun 19]
       May 10   CUV  Gorsuch, Neil M.         (10th Cir) [Jul 20]
       May 18   CUV  Shepherd, Bobby E.       (8th Cir)  [Jul 20]
       May 04   C-V  Holmes, Jerome A.        (10th Cir) [Jul 25]
       May 18   C-V  Moore, Kimberly A.       (Fed Cir)  [Sep 05]
       Jun 28   C-V  Jordan, Kent A.          (3rd Cir)  [Dec 08]

       Nominations Withdrawn or Returned
       ---  --  --W  Payne, James Hardy       (10th Cir) [Withdrawn Mar 7, 2006]
       F--  mR  --W  Saad, Henry W.           (6th Cir)  [Withdrew self Mar 23, 2006]

       1st Session of 109th - Returned Dec 9
       F4S  mR  cxZ  Myers, William Gerry III (9th Cir)  [Thrice returned/twice renominated]
       --S  --  cxZ  Boyle, Terrence W.       (4th Cir)  [Thrice returned/twice renominated]
       ---  -R  -xZ  Haynes, William James II (4th Cir)  [Thrice returned/twice renominated]
       Dec 16   cxZ  Smith, N. Randy          (9th Cir)  [Thrice returned/twice renominated]

       2nd Session of 109th - Returned Dec 9
       Feb 08   -xZ  Wallace, Michael B.      (5th Cir)  [Thrice returned/twice renominated]
       Jun 28   --Z  Kethledge, Raymond M.    (6th Cir)  [Returned 12/9]
       Jun 28   --Z  Livingston, Debra Ann    (2nd Cir)  [Returned 12/9]
       Jun 28   --Z  Murphy, Steven J. III    (6th Cir)  [Returned 12/9]
       Jun 29   -xZ  Keisler, Peter D.        (D.C. Cir) [Twice returned/once renominated]
       Sep 13   --Z  Hardiman, Thomas M.      (3rd Cir)  [Returned 12/9]
Last updated: December 9, 2006

Owen: Cloture passed 81-18 on May 24. Confirmed 55-43 on May 25.
Brown: Cloture passed 65-32 on June 7. Confirmed 56-43 on June 8.
Pryor: Cloture passed 67-32 on June 8. Confirmed 53-45 on June 9.
Griffin: Confirmed 95-0 on June 9.
McKeague: Confirmed 96-0 on June 9.
Griffith: Confirmed 73-24 on June 14.
Neilson: Confirmed 97-0 on October 27. Died Jan 25, 2006.
Myers: Out of Committee on March 17, 2005, returned to President August 4, 2006, renominated September 5, 2006, returned to President September 29, 2006, renominated November 15, 2006, returned to President December 9, 2006.
Boyle: Out of Committee on June 16, 2005, returned to President August 4, 2006, renominated September 5, 2006, returned to President September 29, 2006, renominated November 15, 2006, returned to President December 9, 2006.
Haynes: First nominated May 9, 2001, renominated Sept 29, 2003, renominated Feb 14, 2005, returned to President August 4, 2006, renominated September 5, 2006, returned to President September 29, 2006, renominated November 15, 2006, returned to President December 9, 2006.
Kavanaugh: Returned to the President on December 22, Renominated on January 25, Out of Committee May 11, Cloture passed 67-30 on May 25, Confirmed 57-36 on May 26.
Payne: Nominated on September 29. Withdrawn by WH on March 7.
Smith, Randy: Nominated on December 16, Out of Committee May 4, returned to President August 4, 2006, renominated September 5, 2006, Out of Committee September 21, returned to President September 29, 2006, renominated November 15, 2006, returned to President December 9, 2006.
Chagares: Nominated on January 25, Out of Committee March 30. Confirmed 98-0 on April 4.
Wallace: Nominated on February 8 - FR Thread, returned to President August 4, 2006, renominated September 5, 2006, returned to President September 29, 2006, renominated November 15, 2006, returned to President December 9, 2006.
Ikuta: Nominated on February 8, Out of Comittee May 25, Confirmed 81-0 on June 19.
Smith, Milan: Nominated on February 14, Out of Committee May 4, Confirmed 93-0 on May 16.
Holmes: Nominated on May 4, Out of Committee July 13, Confirmed 67-30 on July 25.
Gorsuch: Nominated on May 10, Out of Committee July 13, Confirmed on a voice vote on July 20.
Moore: Nominated on May 18, Out of Committee July 27, Confirmed 92-0 on September 5.
Shepherd: Nominated on May 18, Out of Committee July 13, Confirmed on a voice vote on July 20.
Jordan: Nominated on June 28, Out of Committee September 26, Confirmed 91-00 on December 8.
Kethledge: Nominated on June 28, returned to President December 9, 2006.
Livingston: Nominated on June 28, returned to President December 9, 2006.
Murphy: Nominated on June 28, returned to President December 9, 2006.
Keisler: Nominated on June 29, returned to President September 29, 2006, renominated November 15, 2006, returned to President December 9, 2006.
Hardiman: Nominated on Sept 13, returned to President December 9, 2006.

Additional Reference Material

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Legislative Priorities for the 109th Congress

Update @ November 12

Senator Specter, on CNN Late Edition, indicates that he believes two parts of comprehensive immigration reform should be a priority for the 109th Congress. He has called on Chairman Sensenbrenner to seek agreement and a plan to press forward with legislating two parts of the comprehensive immigration package:

  • A Guest-worker, temporary visa system
  • Means to remove the stigma of "undocumented worker" from the millions of aliens presently residing in the country illegally. Typically, this angle includes a path to citizenship. This citizenship aspect pisses me off - I can see granting legal residency for some (maybe even most), but what is with the urge to grant full citizenship?

On Thursday, November 9, President Bush outlined his legislative priorities for the balance of the 109th Congress.

He also resubmitted the nomination of John Bolton to be US ambassador to the United Nations. President Bush did not renominate any of the judicial nominations that the Senate refused to act on, some for longer than a year - and Myers having been reported to the floor of the Senate for almost two years.

The bad news first

The Bolton nomination won't be handled by the Senate, the renomination is useful only to score points with political rhetoric. GOP leadership squandered a great opportunity in May/June 2005 when Bolton's nomination was filibustered by the Democrats. In hindsight, it was a perfect harbinger of the GOP lack of commitment to the confirmation process.

Given the other workload in the lame duck session, there isn't time to now reprise the "take up/object to vote/cloture motion on vote" song and dance on Bolton - what would it prove? That the Democrats are obstructionists and the GOP-lead Senate can't even get a nominee to the point of an up or down vote? We already knew that.


The fact that President Bush has not renominated the judges is a signal, to me, of his reluctance to "go conservative" on judicial appointments, and capitulation to a paradigm of pre-approval by the opposition party. The 60 vote hurdle is now firmly in place.

"Thanks," feckless GOP. Clearly, mainstream GOP leadership does not hold that judicial appointments are a priority. They say they are, but they don't say it often. President Bush expressed no disappointment in the Senate's lackluster confirmation results. And Senator Frist (President's Bush's preference for Senate majority leader) said the GOP's confirmation performance was outstanding and commendable.

Of course it is - the Senate only takes up pre-approved nominees, hence no battles. Just like drawing the target after shooting the arrow. The tactic is obvious to anybody who bothers to look past the hollow rhetoric.

November 8th, 2006 - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., (R-Tenn.) made the following statement regarding the 2006 elections:

"The Senate Republican majority has accomplished many things I'm proud of: cementing in place tax cut policies which have created over 6 million jobs in the past three years, supporting a bold war on terror which has resulted in no attacks on the homeland in the past five years, giving our seniors prescription drugs, confirming numerous outstanding judicial nominees including two outstanding Supreme Court Justices, passing a forward-looking energy bill and fighting HIV/AIDS around the world and here at home, to name a few.


September 25th, 2006

"Today, with the confirmation of Francisco Besosa to the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, the Republican-led Senate continued its tremendous progress on confirming qualified judicial nominees who respect the rule of law and exercise judicial restraint."

The Senate has confirmed 88 percent of President Bush's judicial nominees, giving him the highest confirmation rate since President Reagan. Currently, 95 percent of all judgeships are filled, including more than 92 percent of all circuit court judgeships and more than 95 percent of all district court judgeships.

The Senate has made great strides in confirming the president's judicial nominees under Frist's leadership. Nearly 160 nominees have been confirmed, including two Supreme Court justices, 33 circuit court judges and 122 district court judges. The circuit court vacancy rate alone has decline by 44 percent since Frist became majority leader.

See also Senator Frist's comments of September 30th, 2006, September 5th, 2006, July 20th, 2006, and June 28th, 2006 (promise of up or down votes for all qualified nominees).

I expect no change in rhetoric from the President or from the GOP/RNC leadership - in their minds, their judicial confirmation performance has been an unqualified success, and any fresh detriment to confirmation "ability" is the fault of the voter.

Meanwhile, Frist can talk about percentages, confident that the President won't send more nominations (which would have the effect of depressing the "percent confirmed" ratio), thereby facilitating hiding of the substantive point - failure to get up or down votes - behind a sham accounting.

Talk about avoiding issues, a pox on their house.

Arlen Specter seems to think that Keisler (returned by the Senate, not yet renominated by President Bush) has a chance. This article says that Myers, Boyle, Haynes an Wallace are toast, but makes no mention of Smith.

Democratic Majority Throws Bushs Judicial Nominations Into Uncertainty
By NEIL A. LEWIS - Published: November 12, 2006

There is a strong consensus that the four most conservative of Mr. Bush's nominations to the federal appeals courts are doomed. Republicans and Democrats say the four have no chance of confirmation in the next several weeks of the lame-duck Congressional session or in the final two years of Mr. Bush's term.

The nominees are William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon's chief lawyer who was responsible for the much-criticized military interrogation policies; William G. Myers III, a longtime lobbyist for the mining and ranching industries and a critic of environmental regulations; Terrence W. Boyle, a district court judge in North Carolina; and Michael B. Wallace of Mississippi, a lawyer who was rated unqualified for the court by the American Bar Association. ...

"The last time I read the Constitution, the president has the power to nominate whomever he wants," Mr. Specter said. "The Democrats don't have to vote for those people, but I don't see it as a sign of truculence or defiance if he nominates people they won't vote for."

Mr. Specter said he hoped to move forward on other Bush nominees who were less controversial than those four. He said Peter M. Keisler, a senior Justice Department lawyer nominated to a seat on the appeals court in Washington, should be considered quickly.


The NSA terrorist surveillance act /FISA overhaul is DOA in the Senate.

Warrantless Wiretaps Unlikely to Be OK'd
By LAURIE KELLMAN - Associated Press Writer

Republicans for months have known that no bill accomplishing Bush's goal could get filibuster-proof support from 60 senators. Sealing off any hope was what Democratic leader Harry Reid put on his lame-duck to-do list. The warrantless domestic surveillance bill was conspicuous in its absence. ...

The Bush administration has a backup plan. In speeches over the next few weeks, the Justice Department will launch a new campaign for the legislation by casting the choice as one between supporting the program or dropping it altogether.

Okay. I'm starting to lose my sense of humor. Who are the "all or nothing" people again? The issue is being discussed at Volokh, but as yet nobody has brought up the issue that I crossed my mind from the start, namely the risk of failing to obtain convictions against bad guys because the evidence was obtained in an extra-constitutional (bootstrapped/pre-crime) fashion. At some point the authorities have to get past listening and into action. Will the individual surveillance activity be justified, viewed in hindsight?

The uncertain news

I don't have a handle on how the House views the "bipartisan energy bill," officially known as The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. I think they are not keen to get to it, seeing as how it's been "held at the desk" since the 2nd of August, and having had no action in the 2 months between then and the re-election recess.

Senator Reid can say he supports this, but as long as the measure is in the House, talk is free - he can't back up his rhetoric with support (agreement to take up, debate and vote), and he doesn't need to assert an objection to block it.

The good news

The India civilian nuclear power agreement has enough support to pass, as does any measure that grants normal trade relations to Viet Nam on the grounds that it has been accepted as a member of the World Trade Organization.


The spending and appropriations bills will be handled, there is little doubt of that. A presentation of the them is a bit tedious, but here it is ...

House Appropriations Committee
Status of FY 2007 Appropriations Bills

H.R.5384 - for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies - passed House, in Senate Committee

H.R.5672 - for Science, the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce, and related agencies - passed House, in Senate Committee

H.R.5631 - for the Department of Defense - signed into law

H.R.5427 - for energy and water development - passed House, in Senate Committee

H.R.5522 - for foreign operations, export financing, and related programs - passed House, in Senate Committee

H.R.5441 - for Homeland Security - signed into law

H.R.5386 - for the Department of the Interior, environment, and related agencies - passed House, in Senate Committee

H.R.5647 - for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies - in House and Senate Committees

H.R.5521 - for the Legislative Branch - passed House, in Senate Committee

H.R.5385 - for military quality of life functions of the Department of Defense, military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies - passed House, in Senate Committee

H.R.5576 - for the Departments of Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia, and independent agencies - passed House, in Senate Committee

Harry Reid's Agenda

I'll add to and comment on Senator Reid's "lame-duck to-do list," if I can find the darn thing. The items listed in the first article below represent what he plans to do in the 110th (e.g., he can't instruct committee chairmen until the 110th), not the 109th.

Reid Plans Senate Push on Cargo Screening, Drug Costs

Reid plans to advance through the Senate an increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 and a mandate that all cargo shipped into the U.S. be screened, Manley said.

Along with the legislative initiatives, Reid plans to direct Democratic committee chairmen to begin oversight hearings examining Bush's policies. Reid wants panels to focus on the Iraq war, investigating the use of faulty intelligence leading up to the conflict, contracting abuses, and what Democrats say is the lack of appropriate planning leading up to the conflict, Manley said. ...

Manley said that Democrats will likely work first to extend an expiring research and development tax credit that has bipartisan support.


For their part, Democrats are not shrinking from an agenda that Bush clearly does not like, including funding for embryonic stem cell research, government negotiation of drug prices and reinstating budget rules that would make extending the president's tax cuts difficult.

Senator Frist didn't budge on the tied-together estate tax, minimum wage and tax extenders - I commented at the time that my opinion was that being stubborn on the tying would create an unnecessary point of friction and an excuse for a future "get even" by the Democrats.


"Lame-duck" President, and Congressional Leaders Discuss Agenda

Senator Reid said the Democrats also believe the civil nuclear agreement with India is important to conclude during the lame-duck session.

"India is the largest democracy in the world," Reid told reporters November 8. "We want to work with them, and [it] is important we move along that line."

Reid also said the Democrats want to schedule legislation addressing bio-terrorism, pandemic flu preparedness, offshore oil drilling, tax incentives to encourage alternative energy production, assistance for university tuition, as well as pass the remaining federal spending bills.

The agendas of the Democrats and President Bush are in complete agreement as to offshore oil drilling, the India civilian nuclear power agreement, and getting the House-passed appropriations bills through the Senate. It is doubtful there is meaningful GOP or presidential opposition to:

  • legislation relating to bio-terrorism prevention and/or preparedness
  • pandemic flu preparedness
  • tax incentives to encourage alternative energy production

Depending on how it is phrased, "assistance for university tuition" may or may not be objectionable to the GOP. My sense is that the GOP will embrace this, particularly as college students are a voting block that now tends toward the DEMs, and the GOP has demonstrated a willingness to "buy votes."


As long as I'm piling on, may I recommend reading the President's Radio Address for November 11, 2006. I see:

  1. Laying the groundwork to introduce the results of Baker, Hamilton and Gates - to "change course in Iraq" while "staying the course" in Iraq. Also, laying responsibility for results to date at Rumsfeld's feet.
  2. Demonstrating that he has a tin ear (maybe disdain) for some of the traditional conservative principles of government, by saying that the loss to the GOP reflects a desire for bipartisanship. Maybe that's what the public wants, and maybe that's where the GOP is headed. If so, it's time for me to find a new party, because the GOP is too "big government" and too manipulative to suit me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election 2006 - Effects

Let the blame game begin. Not that blame shifting isn't useful, it is. It will illuminate where the GOP leadership intends to take the party. The blame game is also per se entertaining for those who enjoy flame wars.

Those who predicted, years ago, that immigration as an issue would divide the GOP to the extent of irreparable harm may gloat that their prediction has been vindicated. Not so fast, says I.

Maybe the election results would have been positive for the GOP if comprehensive immigration reform had been passed before the election. Maybe the root cause of the setback to GOP fortunes can be found in losers like JD Hayworth. His loss is, after all, being attributed to his "extreme views on immigration."

GOP leadership holds that "enforcement first" is a loser for the GOP. Tony Snow says a silver lining to the election is that Congress will now be able to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

My point being, that "immigration will prove to be the demise of the GOP" hasn't been established. Until that issue and others play out through another election cycle or two, the history as to effect on the GOP is unwritten. The object of the party is net votes, and kicking some voting blocks out of the big tent may draw bigger blocks. Want liberal immigration laws? Come to the GOP, so do we.

I personally think the GOP is in the process of shunning voters who express objection to liberal (as in number of entries per year) immigration and naturalization policies. And as I firmly hold that immigration reform to the extent of S.2611 is terrible domestic policy, the GOP aims to disabuse me of that view (or marginalize it, or horse trade it), so it can win my vote. And yours too.

"The people have spoken, conservatism is a fringe view." By shunning "fringe conservatives," the two parties will be competing on a modified battlefield.

What reasons does the GOP front for not energizing "its own" voters? Corruption. The GOP faithful didn't show up because of corruption (I assume this refers to Cunningham, Ney, Foley, Hastert's stiffing investigation to Jefferson). Corruption being No. 1, and Iraq being No. 2 - the GOP voters didn't show up because they disagree with the approach to Iraq.

As a "fringe conservative," those two issues don't turn my vote, period, end of discussion. And if the GOP "correction" to woo my vote is a repair to corruption and a change regarding Iraq, well, it totally misses my hot buttons. I'm pretty close to saying good riddance. Treat me like an idiot, and I'll vote like one. I don't like parties that make excuses.

Somehow I think the GOP won't outright shun the fringe conservative, but many of its amateur spokespeople do. The evangelicals are persona non grata, according to a significant number of stalwart supporters of the GOP. The ship is turning left, and the beat goes on.

November 9 - President Bush's Legislative Priorities for the 109th

  • Spending/appropriations bills
  • NSA terrorist surveillance act
  • Bipartisan energy act
  • India civilian nuclear power agreement
  • International trade - VietNam as member of WTO