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Congrats to Chelsea Clinton and Husband Marc

Chelsea Clinton announced today she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are expecting a child.

Hillary and Bill are of course, excited. Hillary tweeted:

“My most exciting title yet: Grandmother-To-Be!”

The new addition to the family is due "sometime later this year."

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Freedom of Speech: Freedom of Protest

With the resignation of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla after protests, both within and without the Mozilla organization, led, yet again, to mass confusion about the most basic principles of free speech rights. Today, a new shunning, this time of anti-Islam activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University, will no doubt add to the confusion.

It so happens I agree with the "shunning" of Eich but disagree with the shunning of Hirsi Ali (I am pretty strongly anti-organized religion.) But my personal views on the relative merits of these actions is really not to the point -- free speech rights include the right to criticize and yes, shun.

Let me give the most obvious example that in fact everyone agrees with this conception (that non-state actors can shun, boycott, protest, etc. anyone for their speech) - imagine an accomplished person in any field espousing the view that interracial marriage should be outlawed. Who do you suppose would protest in defense against calls for removal of such a person from a position of public leadership? No one, that's who. And therein lies the point - we all agree that lines can be drawn. We often disagree with where the lines are drawn.

Let's discuss the line drawing on the flip.

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Sen. Feinstein's CIA Allegations

Here is the transcript of Sen. Diane Feinstein's remarks accusing the CIA of removing documents from the Intelligence Committee's computer network. The documents related to the Committee's investigation of the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program.

The resulting staff report was chilling. The interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the CIA detentions sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us.

As to the removed documents, Feinstein explained the process of her committee's access to them. She said the CIA had not wanted the documents being reviewed at the Senate, so then CIA Chief Leon Panetta set up an alternate plan for them to be reviewed offsite.[More...]

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Document Dump Today on Chris Christie's Bridge Scandal

The New Jersey Assembly will release 907 pages of documents obtained pursuant to the subpoena of Port Authority official David Wildstein. The documents will be posted to a state website today.

The previously released emails are here.

Christie took a big risk yesterday when he emphatically and categorically denied any knowledge of his aides actions and said he was blindsided. If the new batch of documents shows differently, he's got big problems.

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Gov. Christie: Damage Control Mode

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has fired his top aide, deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly, and is giving a news conference. He maintains Kelly lied to him and said he's embarrassed and humiliated by his team's conduct.

DOJ is now investigating whether laws were broken.

A judge in NJ has refused to block a subpoena for David Wildstein, a former executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, to testify before the legislature.

Christie also instructed his former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, to withdraw from consideration as Republican party chair of N.J.[More...]

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Senate Votes to Limit Filibuster of Nominees

No more filibustering of presidential appointees. The Senate voted today to end it. Via the New York Times:

The Senate voted on Thursday to eliminate the use of the filibuster against most presidential nominees, a move that will break the Republican blockade of President Obama’s picks to cabinet posts and the federal judiciary. The change is the most fundamental shift in the way the Senate functions in more than a generation.

This is a big deal for the judiciary. Republican efforts to thwart Obama's picks will be diminished, particularly on the influential DC Circuit Court of Appeals which has three vacancies.

Overall, there are 18 vacancies on federal appeals court and 75 on federal district courts.

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Tuesday Afternoon Open Thread

In case you haven't heard, the United States of America is shutting down in the next few days, as a bunch of lunatic morons, enabled by "serious people," refuse to allow the paying of bills by the government.

It was a nice country for a while anyway.

Open Thread.

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Government Shuts Down

Republicans are stupid. They shut the Government down. The public will be unforgiving.

Boehner refused to yield. He instead won approval, in a 1 a.m. largely party-line roll call, requesting a special House-Senate committee to meet in the coming days to resolve differences between the two parties, leaving in limbo the fate of millions of federal workers and the services they provide.

[More...]

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Countdown to Shutdown or Compromise


The countdown begins. Will Republicans let the country fall apart? We've been down to wire several times in recent years but the media isn't holding out much hope for a compromise. From the NY Times:[More...]

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Government Shutdown: Law Enforcement Exceptions

I don't believe there will be a government shut-down on October 1. I think the Republicans will cave before then and a continuing resolution will be passed.

But, if there was, what would it mean for the federal courts and law enforcement? Would the DEA have to shut down wiretaps and put pending investigations on hold? Would it mean a suspension of DEA and FBI busts? Would DOJ be unable to prosecute cases? Would the NSA have to suspend its electronic surveillance programs?

According to the 2011 DOJ contingency plan, the answer to all of those questions is "No." All services essential for national security and public safety—including law enforcement are safe. The DEA, NSA, FBI, ATF, US Marshals and Bureau of Prisons will be open for business as usual. [More...]

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Michelle Bachman 's Exit

Michelle Bachman is not running for reelection. I can't think of any reason to care. I've never devoted even a single brain cell to thinking about her. Sounds like it's time for her to retreat into the obscurity from which she came. Unless she gets indicted, she's now less than a footnote in the history of national affairs.

If anyone wants to discuss her, here's a thread to do so.

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Hearing on IRS Underway

The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Former acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller is testifying now. You can watch here.

Also expected to testify: Former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman. Shulman was in charge when the targeting began in 2010.

Miller says the targeting was not partisan-engendered.

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Acting IRS Director Steven Miller Resigns

President Obama tonight announced that Acting IRS Director Steven Miller has resigned, at the request of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

A transcript of Obama's remarks at his press conference tonight is here.

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AG Eric Holder Grilled by Congress

Attorney General Eric Holder is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. You can watch live here.

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Failing To Respect The Third Rail

Setting aside the policy implications of Chained CPI, what the President and his men have discovered today is that there is still a lot of juice in the Third Rail. There are protests against characterizations of President Obama's budget proposal as a "fumble." The protest is 'these are smart people. They know what they are doing." I think this misunderstands the "fumble" description.

I'm not someone who thinks President Obama made this proposal knowing it would be rejected out of hand. I think he thought he could get to a Grand Bargain from this proposal, picking up a little support from the GOP and a lot of support from The Media and these combined would let him muscle this through the Democratic caucuses.

More . . .

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