Democratic Round-up: Signs of Life

Dare I say that the Dems are starting to vaguely resemble an opposition party...?

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on judicial nominees:

"We have approved for the president of the United States 204 judges the last four years," he said. "We've turned down 10. Even in modern math, that's a pretty good deal."

He said the 10 who did not get a vote in 2004 "were rightfully turned down." The White House announced last month that Bush would renominate them.

Asked whether the filibusters would be repeated in the new congressional session, Reid said: "Well, I don't know, unless something's changed, and I don't think a thing in the world has changed. The background of these men and women that he brought forward, the 10 that we turned down, should have been turned down, and we'll turn them down again."

Reid was reminded of Frist's threat to invoke a "nuclear option," which would let the majority in the 100-member Senate stop a filibuster with 51 votes rather than the current 60.

"If they want to carry that through, it's a short-term victory for them, because they're not going to be in the majority forever," he said. "We're going to be in the majority. That's the way history is. And I think that they would rue the day they did that."

Senator John Kerry on the election results:

"Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, eleven hours to vote, while Republicans (went) through in 10 minutes — same voting machines, same process, our America," he said.

In his comments, Kerry also compared the democracy-building efforts in Iraq with voting in the U.S., saying that Americans had their names purged from voting lists and were kept from casting ballots.

"In a nation which is willing to spend several hundred million dollars in Iraq to bring them democracy, we cannot tolerate that too many people here in America were denied that democracy," Kerry said.

Fmr. Gov. Howard Dean on running for DNC chair:

"If I get this position, I'm not running for president in 2008," the former Vermont governor said after he joined six other contenders in suburban St. Louis trying to win over party officials from 13 Midwestern states for the DNC leadership job.


Dean noted, "I'm not a very Zen person, but I have recognized since the presidential election that actually the way to get power is to give it away, to give people power in their home states to do the things that have to be done and to trust people."

Senator Byron Dorgan on the FCC-ordered probe of the Armstrong Williams scandal:

Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether the Education Department's payment to Williams violated a ban on propaganda — and, if so, to determine who should be held accountable.

"There are real questions whether this is a real expenditure," Dorgan said in an interview. "This has all the makings of political payola."

In the GAO request, Dorgan and Wyden also asked for a government-wide review of any payments to journalists, commentators or talk show hosts to promote the administration's policies.

Reps. Henry Waxman and John Conyers on their request for a congressional investigation into long Election Day lines:

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, the lawmakers said one nonpartisan voter hot line received nearly 1,400 reports of "excessively long lines" from 32 states, including the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.


"While it seems most Americans endured this wait where possible, it is clear that in some cases citizens left the polling places without having voted when personal responsibilities or health concerns made waiting exceedingly difficult," the letter said.

Rep. Jane Harman on the delay of the release of report on an internal CIA investigation into pre-Sept. 11 failures:

In an interview, Harman said the report was substantially completed in July. Before the November elections, she said, CIA Director Porter Goss told her it would be completed within a couple of weeks.

"I am baffled by this," Harman said. "It is a congressionally requested report. It should have been there in the summer."

While Harman made clear she was not alleging that anyone is interfering, "what I fear is that as time goes by there may be some attempts to interfere," she said.


Harman said her aides contacted the inspector general's office Friday and were told the report may be more than six weeks away. Among hang-ups, people who are named in the report have been invited to comment, but there are delays because some are overseas, Harman said.

"They have e-mail and computers," she added. "I don't think it's that hard to find people."

Others in Congress have also questioned the pace of the review. Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate's intelligence panel, wrote Goss in the fall about the report's progress and "the appearance that the inspector general's independence is being infringed."
The CIA declined to comment Thursday and Friday.

Senator Ted Kennedy on the Iraq War:

Iraq is "clearly is George Bush's Vietnam," said Kennedy, speaking on CBS's "Face The Nation" program.


According to Kennedy, Iraq "is a disaster because it's the a result of blunder after blunder after blunder. And it is George Bush's Vietnam," he insisted.

It has "absolutely been a mistake that we went into Iraq, instead of following (September 11 mastermind) Osama bin Laden," said Kennedy.

Further mistakes included not having enough troops for post-war operations, disbanding the Iraqi army, having single source contracts to groups like the politically connected Halliburton, the prisoner abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib, and the US refusal to accept offers by other countries such as Egypt to assist in training Iraqi forces, said Kennedy .

"Finally they have been unable to make up a plan -- they're making it up day by day. Until Iraqis are going to fight for their own country we are going to have a very, very dangerous situation," said Kennedy.


"Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves this very basic question. And that is, is the face of the United States part of the liberation and security and the stability in that country, or are we a force that is perceived to be expanding the kind of uncertainty and savagery and revolution that's taking place there?" he asked.

And Senator Kennedy once again on Democrats’ future:

We cannot move our party or our nation forward under pale colors and timid voices," said Kennedy, who has served 42 years in the Senate. "We cannot become Republican clones. If we do, we will lose again, and deserve to lose.

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