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More Road Closures for Joe Biden

I wonder if Joe Biden got any message from the complaints of his visit to Aspen. Today, freeways and other roads are closing in LA because he's attending private fundraisers.

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Joe Biden and his Apology to Turkey

Thanksgiving comes early for perennial gaffer Joe Biden. He has now apologized to the President of Turkey for his recent remarks that Turkey facilitated the growth of ISIS. Biden, speaking at an event, said:

"President Erdogan told me, he's an old friend, said, 'You were right. We let too many people through.' Now they are trying to seal their border,"

Turkish President Erdogan said Biden misquoted him and demanded an apology. Biden dutifully coughed one up. [More...]

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40 Years Ago Today: Richard Nixon Resigns

President Richard Nixon, the most unpopular president until George W. Bush, resigned from office 40 years ago today.

My favorite Richard Nixon article: Hunter Thompson's June 16, 1994 eulogy published in Rolling Stone, "He Was a Crook."

It was Richard Nixon who gave us the War on Drugs. Here's his speech on June 17, 1971. He also gave us the DEA, by executive order on July 1, 1973. [More...]

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Tone Deaf Dick Cheney

The years have not changed Dick Cheney, who in my view was the worst Vice-President in American history.

His latest: The war in Iraq was the right thing to do, and we should spend more on defense and less on the needs of the American people.

"[Defense dollars] ought to be our top priority for spending. Not food stamps, not highways or anything else," Cheney said.

Thank goodness he's irrelevant.

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Hillary Clinton Delivers Strong Critique on Income Inequality

She's running, if you had any doubt:

Clinton told the audience that middle class incomes had stagnated over the last decade even as the average worker’s productivity had increased significantly in the same period. She pointed to studies that showed 4 out of 10 children born into the lowest rung on the economic ladder remained there as adults. [...] “And where is it all going?” Clinton asked. “Economists have documented how the share of income and wealth going to those at the very top, not just the top 1 percent but the top 0.1 percent, the 0.01 percent of the population, has risen sharply over the last generation,” she said. “Some are calling it a throwback to the Gilded Age of the robber barons.”

She also explicitly contrasted her husband’s record on inequality as president with President George W. Bush. “The 1990s taught us that even in the face of difficult long term economic trends it’s possible through smart policies and sound investments to enjoy broad based growth and shared prosperity,” she said. She denounced the Bush administration for squandering those economic gains as well as a budget surplus [--]“That’s what happens when your only policy prescription is to cut taxes for the wealthy and then to deal with the aftermath of a terrible terrorist attack and two wars without paying for them,” she said. “Regulators neglected their oversight of the financial sector and allowed the evolution of an entire shadow banking system that operated without accountability.”

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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.

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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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